Happy Tuesday, friends. The winds are pretty fierce outside, and there’s a serious chill in the air, but, otherwise, we three Englishes are find and dandy in the cove today. Sending lots of love and light to those in the Northeast suffering the ravages of Sandy. Whew. What a whollop. The power will eventually be restored, the waters will receded, and life will regain a semblance of order. In the meantime, be safe out there.
We spent a good chunk of time this weekend with our genius chocolatier buddies, Jael & Dan Rattigan, and their two sons, Sam and Max. Saturday, owing to the last day of fare weather predicted for days and a desire to check out the scenery one last time before the wind blew every leaf still parading its splendid color away, we headed out to Hickory Nut Gap Farm. A multi-generation farm currently being run by Jamie & Amy Ager, Hickory Nut Gap offers beef, chicken, and pork raised on sustainably managed land, apples and cider, eggs, and more. Their farm store is rife with local offerings, from jams to ice cream to ceramics. The service is friendly, the food is wonderful, and the views are epic.
I also had the wonderful pleasure of bumping into Molly Hamilton. Mama of 4, a member of the extended Ager family, and the force behind Farmer Jane Soap (a small measure sponsor), we officially jumped the fence from digital to real-world acquaintances, right beside the hay maze, which, really, is as good a place as any to make new friends. Ever since Molly graciously gifted me with 4 sample bars of her goat’s milk soap, it’s been my staple item for bathing. Soft, silky, fragrant, and gentle, it has hand’s down become my soap of choice. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.
On Sunday, we hooked up with the Rattigan clan again, this time at their home in West Asheville. They’d made some spiced pumpkin seeds, a salad of fresh lettuces and radishes, mashed sweet potatoes, a glorious apple crisp, and homemade pumpkin ice cream (heavy on the cardamom, which is just how I like it). Our friends Andy & Katherine and their daughters, Ina and Juno, brought over a brisket (picked up from the Chop Shop) and a kale & white bean salad, while their buddy Anthony arrived with his sons Gabe and Nolan and a mess of steamed N.C. shrimp. We brought a “Warming Steak & Brandy Cottage Pie”, a recipe I was working on for the new book.
The older I get, the more I want to socialize simply. Fresh air, good friends, happy kids, and hearty fare. I’ll take it.
May the week ahead bring nothing but health, happiness, and a safe home for you and yours.