Our next family meal: Four Centuries of Heritage Grains

This past fall, when we were filming for a segment with CBS Evening News, they asked if we had any old grains on hand they could shoot with the camera. Straight away we set to the four corners of the kitchen and the freezer to pull together everything we could, and on a random Tuesday in early October we had about a dozen on hand. We lined them up in little ceramic dishes and I went down the line with the camera explaining each one. That was one of the only moments in my life when I inspired myself, when I realized what I am doing in the present is special. It also made me want to do a dinner focused on these heritage grains.

You might say it is in spite of our whole animal cooking ethic, but I’d say it’s in sympathy, that over the last few years we’ve garnered a substantial vegetarian following because we cook with as much zeal when we’re handling vegetables as when we’re working with animals. A lot of folks with preferences for eating vegetarian have found us a reliable spot for creative vegetable cookery. I’ve mentioned many times that in spite of my omnivorous proclivities, I maintain a strong kinship with vegetarians because I was a vegetarian myself for several years.  For me it was a decision to check out of the industrial meat system, and as I found sources for responsibly raised animals, I gradually started eating everything again. Still, I know first hand how hard it is to find restaurants that 1) will cook vegetarian, 2) use quality ingredients that I myself would eat, and 3) do interesting things with them.

So, I hope to accomplish two things with this dinner – keep a place open at our table for our vegetarian friends, and showcase some stellar grains and field peas from our suppliers such as Anson Mills, Three Sisters, Giusto’s and Natural Way Mills. In these days of homogenized and commiditized everything, I hope this will be an eye opener to the possibilities of  renewal – a reawakening to the possibilities that are presented by heritage and heirloom grains, and a reminder of what we’ve had and what we’re in danger of losing.

The grains we feature for this dinner have all been grown organically, but more importantly, they are all old heirloom crops that are our common heritage – no one owns a patent on them, they haven’t been monopolized or sold out to the lowest common denominator. They haven’t been genetically engineered to withstand toxic chemicals or produce their own toxic pesticide. they’re just the same good, natural food that got us to where we are. And, they are phenomenally delicious.

Over the next week or so, I hope to tell some of the stories behind each of these grains and peas, so please check back and see what you might be able to learn. Either way, please come join us for this one-of-a-kind family-style dinner. I promise it’ll be one you won’t soon forget.

Heritage Grains of the South – Four centuries of the cultivated South

  • Sea Island Red Pea Bisque with rustic bennecake flour biscuits and green tomato chutney
  • Carolina gold rice risotto with garlic confit, cauliflower, yellow eye peas, and chives
  • Bread service: House-Milled Red Fife Sourdough – House-cultured sour starter and house-milled antebellum red fife wheat bread served with home made pear butter
  • Green Farro Salad – 0rganic green wheat, local black walnuts, parsley, and mint
  • Heirloom Squash Noodle Casserole – local kuri squash & Farina di Maccheroni “00” heirloom flour noodles, leeks, tupelo honey, and pumpkin seed oil
  • Rustic Aromatic Buckwheat Crepes with satsuma marmalade, toasted almonds, and laurel-aged Charleston gold rice horchata sorbet

25 dollars per person, children under twelve $1 per year Available 5-9 pm, changes weekly and with the seasons