June 8, 2009

Lambstravaganza


Yesterday, I spent 8 hours at Prairie Grass Farm in New Florence, Missouri, for Slow Food St. Louis's annual Lambstravaganza event, an 8-course meal prepared by the city's top chefs and featuring the farm's own lamb.

According to FairShares.org: Prairie Grass Farm is a third generation, small family owned farm that produces grass fed lamb and free-range eggs in New Florence, Missouri. The Hillebrands, husband and wife, raise nearly 700 lambs a year on their 520-acre farm. They sell an array of lamb products, including summer sausage, lamb kabobs, racks, and stew meat. During the summer season they also offer blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes. David Hillebrand grew up on this farm, which has been in the family for three generations. As a kid, his parents focused mostly on row crops, though they kept some livestock, and often while the others left home each morning to tend the field crops, David stayed behind to take care of the chickens. His interest in raising sheep came from his grandfather, who was the first in his family to raise lamb. Prairie Grass Farm's grass fed lambs and free-range eggs are served up in some of the area's finest restaurants.

Dave Hillebrand gives us a tour of his farm.

Some of their lambs with one of the ferocious guard dogs.

They keep over 600 free-range chickens.

I've bought eggs and lamb from PGF at the farmers market before, and it was so awesome to see where that food came from and to meet the people who tend the animals...including the Hillebrand girls who are in charge of the goats.

Baby goats like this one were born on Saturday.
(photo from BabyGoatFarm.com)

Dinner was wonderful. I thought I would be sick of lamb after 7 lamb dishes, but each was unique and I didn't feel too lambed out at the end...though I was full!

My favorites were the potted lamb (similar to a rillette), the vindaloo braised shanks & mango lassi (I can't wait to make a lassi at home now!), and the tongue faggotini (a stuffed pasta served in a delicious broth).

Tables were set up in an old barn, and I was relieved we weren't sitting out in the sun all afternoon! (Yes, those are flowers potted in a blender on our table!)


First course: Potted lamb with a salad of pickled spring veggies (radish, carrot, squash) & egg. Prepared by Margaret Kelly & Dave Owens of Bissinger's Chocolatier.



Second course: Vindaloo braised lamb shanks & toasted naan with pepita coriander pesto & a shot of mango lassi.
Prepared by Andy White of Schlafly's Tap Room.


Third course: Grilled leg of lamb with homemade feta (using the farm's goat milk), crispy mint gremolata, & shaved radish salad.
Prepared by Josh Galliano of Monarch.


Fourth course: Chermoula spiced smoked lamb with harissa & saffron aioli.
Prepared by Timothy Grandinetti & Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe.


Fifth course: Lamb's tongue faggotini.
Prepared by Gerard Craft of Niche.


Sixth course: Rack of Lamb with orzo & asparagus.
Prepared by Lou Rook of Annie Gunn's.


Seventh course: Lamb loin & sweetbreads with beet risotto.
Prepared by Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe.


Eighth course: Pistachio cream puff with local strawberries, homemade jam & local honey.
Prepared by Christy Augustin of Sydney Street Cafe.


After dinner, I stuck around talking & drinking wine (and homemade limoncello) with a few friends and the Hillebrand family. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. I can't wait to go again next year!

In the meantime, I am going to (finally) become a Slow Food member and I'm going to continue supporting local farmers by buying meat & produce at the farmers markets. It really is amazing to see where our food comes from and to know that a family is behind that food...that they live and work the farm as they had been for generations.

5 comments:

Annie said...

Looked amazing! So glad you had a great time!

Jamie said...

lambed out! ha!

Denzil said...

I wish "whole" foods weren't so expensive. I also wish I knew how to cook more than your average meat, vegetable, and starch meal. I wish I could find a realistic healthy cookbook instead of the ones that try to be fancy. Half the ingredients I've never even heard of.

Were those shots taken with your new camera? They look really good.

KELLY said...

Denzil,

You NEED to take some cooking classes!

No, those pics were taken with my old camera...but they were outside, so the lighting was good. I'm still trying to figure out my new camera.

Maybe we could trade skill lessons??? Cooking lessons for photography lessons??? Hmm....

Stephy said...

Oh, thise sheepies are so cute, may I borrow your picture??