Screen Doors & Ice Tea
Pickled Pink with Veggies and Pork Belly
The August heat subsided for just a few hours at Burge Plantation on Sunday, August 15th. Rich in history from the 1800s and passed from generation to generation, Burge Plantation was the perfect site for a true For Food’s Sake farm-to-table dinner. Since 1809, Burge has been owned by the Morehouse Family. Forty For Food’s Sake members, who were chartered 45 minutes from Atlanta to Social Circle, were greeted with ice cold Georgia peach tea with lemon grass and pears, served in old fashioned mason jars. As soon as the jars were filled, everyone was invited to pile on the tractor for a hayride through the plantation.
Driven by plantation owner Sandy Morehouse and narrated by Farmer Cory Mosser, members were enlightened to several of the crops growing on the farm, as well given insight into farming tips and techniques that explain how organic farming is maintaining its success. We learned that before WWII, chemically-derived nitrogen was unheard of, as all farmers used crop dusting to nourish the soil. But, at Burge, they’re cultivating the soil with legumes, which “fix” nitrogen into the soil as they grow.
Together, Sandy and Cory are reviving the organic farming heritage at Burge, now selling produce to both chefs and consumers. (Find them at the Peachtree Farmer’s Market every Saturday!) Harvests include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, broccoli, asparagus, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers, garlic, lettuces, beans, okra and corn, and it changes yearly and seasonally, as they learn what works in the soil.
…Getting hungry yet?
At the conclusion of the hayride, Chef Andrew Featherstone served appetizers while guests toured the historical main house and story cottage, both filled with artifacts found on property dating back to 8000 BC. Guests munched on fried quail from the plantation, fresh okra with bacon and mozzarella, and fried green tomatoes topped with okra caviar and crawfish mayonnaise.
Dinner started with a self-serve She Crab Soup, topped with Georgia-caught shrimp. Creamy and delicious, it was the perfect perk to begin a 6-course meal. We sampled pickled okra and beets, quail eggs, fresh goat cheese, garlic chips made from the rare and indigenous garlic growing on the plantation. It didn’t stop there… the food kept coming, with soft Johnston dairy buttermilk sorbet, pickled watermelon rind, tender pork belly and a fresh fig topped panna cotta. Six courses down, everyone had full bellies and new inspiration to start their own gardens at home.
Aside from indulging our appetites, we expanded our minds, learning a little something with each course. For example, overgrown okra is too hard to eat, but you can use the seeds and serve “okra caviar” (thus exemplified in the appetizers) instead. Chef created the evening’s garlic chips after a long process of figuring out just how to cook them. His experiment led to some crisp and delicious chips he sliced right off the garlic, boiling and drying them 3 times over, and then deep-frying. He served them with fresh goat cheese alongside a medley of pickled veggies.
Currently, Burge Plantation is a private hunting club and fully working farm. In the course of its existence, it’s gone from crop farming to cattle operations, hay production and back to crop production. They’ve discovered indigenous garlic growing on the property which they’re naming Burge heirloom garlic. It’s elephant garlic related to leek, showing off beautiful blooms around mid May. Currently, they’re storing over 100 pounds and selling it at The Farmers Market.
Passed hors d’oeuvres
Chilled Mason Jar of Georgia peach tea with lemongrass
Fried Green Tomatoes & Crawfish Mayo & Okra Caviar
Gum Creek Bacon, Okra & Smoked Mozzarella
Cornmeal Fried Quail Roasted Eggplant & Red Curry
Charleston she crab soup, Calypso Hoppin’ John with Georgia shrimp and lobster oil
Pickled Salad: Quail egg, beet & Okra – Coles Lake goat cheese & Garlic Chips,
Sun Gold Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
Chilled Winter Squash Puree with Yogurt & Local Honey
Johnston dairy Buttermilk sorbet & Pickled Watermelon Rind
Crispy Pork Belly – star anise and cinnamon, Fennel , Arugula & Cucumber Slaw
Panna Cotta & Sun drenched Burge Figs
Photos provided by Kitty Ray Swain