All words: Svetlana Legetic
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
Recently, BYT has been spending some (quality) time close to where some of the best food in the area is made and then brought to your restaurant table (see: our day on the river with the Rappahannock Oysters and Farrah’s great “Farm-to-table dinners: What Are They All About?” essay). In fact, you may say that we’re becoming VERY INTO knowing where our food came from. We know, we know.
So, squeezing in one final chance to resemble a Portlandia sketch before the weather turns cold, when the fine gentlemen of Beuchert’s Saloon invited us to spend a day inside their
pinterest board farm at East Oaks Organics Farm in Poolesville, MD, where most of their fruit and vegetables are grown and their chicken raised, we packed into a car and headed their way, no questions asked. The fact that the day was going to involve a pig roast, seasonal punches AND pies overseen by Chef Andrew Markert and owners Nathan Berger and Brendan McMahon, helped. No one says no to the 3 P’s (PIGS+PIES+PUNCHES=heaven). And we were right- It WAS lovely.
Also, obviously-we learned a lot. While most farm-to-table concepts simply work closely with local farms to procure their ingredients, Beuchert’s team is involved in every step of the growing and raising process that results in 75% of the food in the restaurant coming from East Oaks. From planning to planting and harvesting, they’re there every step of the way. In fact, sometimes dishes are adapted on the fly to reflect a particularly lovely bounty of, say, eggplant or peppers, OR the fact that some of the shishitos turned out a little spicier that expected since they were planted too closely to the hot peppers and the land transferred a portion of the heat over. The more you know…
All chicken and eggs for the restaurant are also raised on the farm, in conditions more humane that most starter apartments in DC are like. And the deviled eggs we had on site were as sunny and fresh as any we’ve ever had.
After all the picking, petting and endless instagramming (the farm is also where McMahon’s family raises thoroughbreds, making it complete catnip for the phone camera trigger happy among us) it was time to eat.
And eat we did. The table was exactly what you hope an early fall table would look like: delicious autumn salads, pickles which made us swear to order the House Made Pickle Jar off the menu at Beuchert’s every time we’re there (including the last of the good ramps), and of course, a whole pig and a chicken. All the food was planned and executed to highlight what was available at the farm RIGHT THEN, which does mean that it is not all on the menu as we type this but don’t let that deter you. In fact, let this gorgeous series of pure food porn fall goodness inspire you:
Our favorite part of the day though was probably how natural it all felt. The Beuchert’s men were relaxed, at home at the farm and legitimately excited to have a bunch of city eaters to entertain and feed.
Often times these “educational food trips” risk veering towards the preachy, but here the takeaway was that the food and drink are made the way they are made because, well, it is simply the way they prefer it and there was never really any other option in their book. Even if farm-to-table was not a thing, they would have had a farm-to-table restaurant, since it is the way THEY want to eat and drink. And that, in a nutshell, is why it all works so well.
It also definitely made us want to persuade them to host days like this on the farm more often, because we’d come every time (call us, you guys). On that note-we will leave you with these gorgeous photos by Stephanie, and next time you want to REALLY KNOW where your chicken (and your berries, and your peppers, and your purple cauliflower) is from – head to Beuchert’s (623 Pennsylvania Ave SE, open for dinner and brunch, fyi)