by Nicole

This past Saturday, we got the chance to go to yet another Dai Due dinner. The theme this time was “Garlic Feast” and they played a documentary called Garlic Is As Good As 10 Mothers during the dinner. They projected the movie onto the side of an old barn filled with–what else–drying garlic bulbs! The movie itself was really fun to watch and there was this one scene that I totally related to. This guy was talking about the process of peeling and cutting garlic vs. just using garlic powder or dehydrated garlic. He said that it’s a little weird to talk about how he loves prepping the garlic so much because it makes people think you’re “a hippie dipshit”. Darius and I relate to that so much. There’s something so therapeutic about breaking down your food–peeling, chopping, washing, etc.–but people look at you like you’re crazy for enjoying it.

The dinner was hosted at Green Gate Farm, which is just east of Austin. We met one of the owners, Erin, and I told her that it was actually my first time on a farm. She took us around the farm a little and she showed us one of their 900 pound pigs. I was shocked at how huge it was! I honestly had no idea that they got that big. We walked around and looked at some of the crops and we also went into the old barn to look at the drying garlic bulbs. At one point, I asked Erin if they ever sell at either of the farmers markets. She told me that they used to, but have now chosen not to so that they can get people to come out to the farm to see where their food really comes from.

The experience really struck a chord with me. Darius and I always felt like we knew where our food comes from because we buy it at the farmer’s market instead of a grocery store. But actually being at that farm made me realize how little we actually know. Yeah, we get to pick out our own produce and we get to see it in a more natural state than in the supermarket (potatoes usually have dirt on them! greens do not wash themselves! shocking!). We might joke around with the guy who gives us our eggs or bacon or arugula each week to establish a repertoire. But past all that, in the end we’re still just exchanging cash for product; we’re still not active participants in the process.

I think alot of people are fine with not being active participants in the process. After all, it’s usually a rule of thumb that if you don’t know how to do something, you pay someone else to do it for you. Case in point–I don’t know how to fix a car, so I take my car to a mechanic. I’m not an active participant and I don’t care how they fix it, as long as they do. I’ve never grown my own food before, so I have essentially been paying someone else to do it for me my whole life. But to me, food is a very intimate thing, and I want to be assured that what I put into my body is of good quality. This is the reason why I care about where my food comes from. Besides, it’s obvious that food is our biggest passion, so it’s only natural that we’d want to explore it on a deeper level.

Erin mentioned to us that we could come out to the farm if we ever wanted to volunteer. We can’t wait to take her up on that offer and we are planning to go this Saturday. I’m a little nervous about what we’ll be doing; I have never pulled a single weed, I have no idea how to harvest anything, I have never interacted with a farm animal, I don’t know how to save seeds, I have never even put a single seed in the ground (excluding when we tried to make an herb garden, which failed two weeks later because we forgot to water it). So this will all be incredibly new to me. And when we decided to go this Saturday, my first thoughts were, “Well we can’t go early in the morning because then we’d miss the farmers market and I don’t want to have to get everything at the grocery store!” HELLO, WE WILL BE ON A FARM THAT HAS A FARMSTAND! We can help out around the farm and then buy directly from that farm that we just helped out. But somehow that did not occur to me at first…

Anyway…the dinner… The food was amazing as always and Jesse and Tamra are such nice people (along with all the other attendees) that you can’t help but feel uplifted and at peace, especially in such a beautiful setting. Most of the food was served family-style, which was alot of fun since it was more interactive. Here’s a rundown of some of the dishes that I can remember off the top of my head (I forgot the menu at home).
Eggplant and Garlic Puree on Toast
Roasted Elephant Garlic on Toast
Pureed Tomato and Garlic on Toast

The three spreads on toast were SO delicious and although they were each simple preperations, it really demonstrated how high-quality ingredients can elevate a dish.
Garlic-Stuffed Suckling Boar with Grit Cakes
The boar was so flavorful and had a really unique, delicious texture since it’s more gelatinous than “grown up” boar. The grits were earthy and delicious and pairing perfectly with the boar.
Garlic and Tomato Saucisson Sec

We had heard that Jesse and been curing some of his own sausage, so we were really excited to get to try this. It was smoky and spicy and had sort of a floral note that really rounded it out. Can’t wait to try more of his charcuterie in the future!
Grilled Pizza with Amaranth and Blue Cheese
I was surprised at how much I loved this because I hate alot of blue cheeses…But the cheese melted perfectly with the greens and the grilled crust was just amazing.
This was a great mix of vegetables and was really flavorful and delicious. If you’ve never had ratatouille–TRY SOME!
Grilled Mako Shark with Tomatillo
This was our first time to eat shark and it was really good. The texture was similar to that of a piece of steak.
Grilled Shrimp with Grilled Corn
The shrimp was grilled perfectly and still tasted of the ocean, which makes the best shrimp. The corn was just how we like it because it was just cooked very briefly and was so sweet and perfect.
Green Beans and Potatoes with Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)
First of all–if you’ve never had “fresher” potatoes than from the supermarket, you HAVE to go the farmers market (or directly to a farm!) and get some…They are so much better than “normal” potatoes…I can’t even explain. And the aioli was so good that I couldn’t stop dipping the veggies in it!
Cucumbers and Rosemary
Great way to cleanse the palate. Very refreshing.
Summer Fruit

A great way to end the meal and demonstrate (AGAIN!) how great simple food can be with good ingredients.

Thanks to Dai Due for the great dinner and Green Gate Farm for their great location. I really encourage all of you to go to a Dai Due dinner if you ever get the opportunity.