Sunday afternoon, the boyfriend, little brother and I jumped in the car and headed down to Ellenwood, GA, for the Big Fig Pig Jig, a true farm-to-table event that was raising money for Slow Food Atlanta.
We got there just in time for Farmer Neil Taylor's guided tour of the farm. I could have done without the rather aggressive biting fire ants attacking me throughout the tour, but I did really enjoy picking figs for myself right off of the tree. Dodging angry hornets who were jealously guarding the succulent little figs, I managed to grab a couple and thought the reward was well worth the risk. I particularly loved the giant green juicy figs which don't at all resemble the little brown ones you usually find at Whole Foods.
Picnic tables were set up to maximize shade, so we grabbed a seat and enjoyed some super sweet muscaberry juice, which combines blueberry and muscadine grape juice and no added sugar. Lunch was served buffet style and included pulled pork from a pig they had roasted themselves as well as pigs feet and crackling for the adventurous. I tried crackling, and although it wasn't bad, can't say I have an urge to eat much chewy pig skin. The fig BBQ sauce, provided by Alon's, was sweet and delicious and stood out from your typical sauce. Turns out figs make just about anything better! An heirloom tomato salad, grilled corn, and tuna and fig sandwiches on mini brioche were all hits with our table, too.
The desserts were sweet, simple and absolutely a perfect accompaniment to a casual outdoor meal on a hot day. Bacchanalia provided a fig tart, which was lightly sweet and delicate. Fig gelato was little brother's favorite and certainly helped cool us off as the temperature continued to rise. For me, though, the absolute best dish was the fig custard, provided by students from the Chattahoochee culinary institute. It was creamy with an alcohol tinged kick to it. Not sure if there was actually alcohol in it, but that somewhat unidentifiable ingredient helped it rise above just being a basic custard. If I'd been alone, I might have licked the plate! Despite having already had seconds of the pork and a hefty serving of everything else, I found room to just about finish all three desserts! I heard some exclaim that the corn was actually the best part of the meal, but I've gotta go with the fig BBQ sauce or the custard as the highlight.
We got a chance after eating to chat with Farmer Neil about local farmer's markets and his CSA program. He said he's stretched pretty thin serving multiple farmer's markets and his increasingly popular CSA program. Wouldn't it be nice if there was one huge farmer's market in town, akin to NY's Union Square Green Market so the farmers had fewer places to go, and shoppers could get a huge selection?
The boyfriend and I haven't taken the plunge into CSA membership yet, but Farmer Neil said we could do a half share and unlike many others, his CSA lasts year round, so as many farmer's markets wind down at the end of the summer, we might just do it. It'll force me to cook vegetables more often, but that's a good thing, right?
In the end, the event was a huge success, at least from my perspective. It was a unique chance to actually see the farm where my food was coming from and to talk to the man who's responsible for it all. I ate more figs than I probably have in my whole life, and I loved every second of it! More fig custard please...
Interested in finding out more about TaylOrganic's CSA program? Check out http://taylorganic.blogspot.com or www.taylorganic.com.