Monday, November 2, 2009

100-Mile Thanksgiving, November 6, 2009

Ashfield is all things to some people. Last
week, Senator Kerry's staff saw fit to cross the worn threshold with the intent to find out, what the
people want, according to an in-store announcement. If Kerry's team
choose to show up early, they would find
regulars discussing a one car traffic jam, (reason: cow)
tourists having the pancakes made famous by Yankee Magazine and a
woman writing a novel or a very long love letter.

An active bulletin board does a lot of the talking for a town:

"Wanted, a home for two fuzzy brothers: 11 month old
kittens," "Pet Portraits, Painted," "Yoga at the Ashfield Library,"
"Yoga at Kripalu Center," "Massage Therapy for Women" and "Drum
Lessons," "Drum Repair," and "Elmer's First Annual Grateful Harvest,
100-Mile Thanksgiving. Reservations only."

The food at Elmer's is good, famous in certain respects, and when they get revved up for a party, they swing for the fences. This menu will be interesting because the 1-horse town is rife with grass fed cows, heirloom pigs, foraged mushrooms, chestnuts, pears and other specialty delights. Also, the famous, only in Ashfield, Chocolate Chevre Truffles. Amazing. Click here for the Thanksgiving Menu at Elmer's.

ValleyLocavore Interview with Elmer's owner Nan Parati:

VL: So why the local Thanksgiving Dinner?

Nan Parati: The whole country is trying to claw its way back to
something authentic and we live it every day right here in Western
Massachusetts! That's why I decided to call it "Grateful
Harvest"--because I am so grateful and happy that we have the means to
grow all this food and can harvest it and appreciate it actually quite
easily! Easy for me to say because I have a restaurant with a chef!

Why are you hosting Grateful Harvest two weeks before (11/6/09)
two weeks before the actual date of Thanksgiving? Catering to folks who want to beat the traffic?

Nan Parati: One of the things I'm grateful for is that we close on
Thanksgiving Day. Running a restaurant, even one the size of Elmer's
takes about 100 hours/week and so we did not want to do this on
Thanksgiving the Day, itself. We also wanted to do this to give
people ideas about local foods they can cook for their own
Thanksgiving dinners. I think we should all wear big hats with buckles on them during the dinner.

How might have noted Ashfield residents have spent Thanksgiving in
the old days?

Nan Parati: I think that all of those notable nineteenth century scholars who
came to Ashfield for their recreation time would have sat around by
the fire philosophizing while their womenfolk were outside wringing
the necks of their pet turkeys and being not as grateful that they had
to cook the food from absolute scratch by themselves. In the
un-insulated house.

What are some of the farms contributing food to your locavore menu?

Nan Parati: We get a lot of our dinner food (and what we sell in our retail
section) from Paddy Flat Farm, Sangha Farm, Springwater Farm, Sidehill
Farm, Williams Farm, Manda and Steady Lane Farms. Then there are a
number of people like Tom and Sandy Carter whose farms I can't
remember the names of, but we get food from them, too.

What is your favorite dish on the locavore thanksgiving menu?

Nan Parati: Jim could cook local truck tires and they would be good. I am
serious! That boy can cook! So I look through the list and, not even
knowing how he's going to prepare these things, I am all warm and
happy just anticipating what he might do. The only thing on that list
that I don't care for in the real, non-Jim world is mushrooms----but
just a couple of weeks ago he did a whole dinner out of various
mushrooms, specifically Hen and Chicken of the Woods and I could not
believe that was how mushrooms actually tasted! So I don't care what
he cooks. I'm going to eat it and dream about it later on.