Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wealth Underground

(late october. number 35.)

Wealth Underground Farm is a small, picturesque piece of land located within Portland's city limits. We first visited the farm to hear a talk on the relationship between art and agriculture, toting with us a plate of leaf-shaped shortbread cookies as potluck contribution. 

Over the next year and a half or so, I visited a few other times– last year's fall harvest party and a late summer evening blueberry picking session, to name the best. Last winter, I solicited Nolan Calisch (who runs WU with Chris Seigel) for advice on starting our side yard kitchen garden, and he generously offered support, instruction, and recommendations. Nolan took the signature Secret Garden before/after photos, became a sometimes guest at Secret Restaurant, and the accompanying Secret Garden Party Potlucks

This year, Wealth Underground did a fall-only CSA. The idea came up for Secret Restaurant to "cater" the fall harvest party put on for their shareholders, using only produce grown on the farm. 

NOTE: This was our second direct farm collaboration. In 2011, we did an afternoon lunch at Let Us Farm outside of Olympia, WA.


We were extremely lucky to have to assistance of one Russell Melia of Eugene, who has been guest sous-chef for us many times in the past. Nolan chipped in with chopping, shelling, and DJing the kitchen scene. Chris kept the cider press churning outside.

It was a wet afternoon, but a huge group of people (WU shareholders/friends + Secret Restaurant regulars) made it out to the farm and passed through over the course of many hours. 


Rain and woodsmoke. Sipping cider. Warm bowls resting on our knees.

The food was served as if Secret Restaurant had become a northwest autumnal organic rustic vaguely asian-fusion buffet. Stop us!


Kale/collards/mustard greens gratin with garlic, buttermilk and grain mustard 
   Possibly the ultimate greens gratin. Get into it! Do it at home!

• Red cabbage w/apple cider vinegar and juniper berries
   Credit to Nigel Slater, my fairy godfather of cooking. So perfect for the day/event/time of year/everything in between I don't even know what to say about it.

• Mildly curried cauliflower/onions/potatoes with cardamom coconut cream.    
  Super unusual/delightful curry, eaten on beds of arugula leaves. 

• Bok Choi with garlic and oyster sauce
   Nigel Slater and Russell, meeting together on a delicious playing field. 

• Harukei turnip and chévre "quick pie"
  Also served in dairy free and gluten free versions! These turnips are unsung heroes. I take personal pride in making their deliciousness known to the world.

• Water Avenue, just-brought-back-from-its-country-of-origin-and-just-roasted Columbian coffee.
  Brewed/served on site by Aaron, the roaster himself!

• Freshly pressed cider from Wealth Underground apples

Potential authors-portrait for the back flap of a future Secret Restaurant Portland cookbook? Anyone out there with a book deal lying around? 
All photography by Peter Schweitzer