Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Riverdog Farm Tour with the Camino crew

beautiful barn
Camino is a quintessential 'farm to table' style restaurant located in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland. It was the very first restaurant we ate at upon moving up here (our third day in town!) and remains one of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.   
Head chef and co-owner Russ Moore earned his stripes at Chez Panisse for 20+ years, where he built close relationships with the C.P. farms and farmers who now supply to Camino as well. 
Each May, the Camino staff is invited to tour one of these farms and share a pot luck lunch in celebration of the restaurant's anniversary. 
By a strange and serrendipitous sequence of events I leaped at the opportunity to be one of the Camino server's 'plus one'. (well, more like 'plus third', but who's counting!?) 
Riverdog Farm
touring in the rain
This year, the crew trekked up to Riverdog Farm in Guinda, Ca in the pouring rain. I packed the wagon full of fun new gal pals and delicious pot luck dishes and drove 2 hours North of the city into the valley of Capay County.
Riverdog greenhouse
Riverdog Farm is a sprawling 300 acre California Certified Organic farm with boundless produce as well as pastured hogs and hens, both of which has its own adorably dedicated blogs: Hog Spot and Coop Scoop.
grain meals for hog feed
baskets of beets
dragon-tongue radishes
Partners Tim Mueller and Trini Campbell generously spent 4+ hours touring the facilities (greenhouse, chicken coop, hog pastures, ect.) and explaining the processes of farm life.
Riverdog raises baby chicks from hatching to 8 weeks, at which time they arrive at the markets or on our dinner table (yes, 2 month old chickens sounded super young to me too).
Christy with 1-week old chick
2-week old chicks

Casey with 2-week old chick

5 weeks

6 weeks
In addition to the young chickens are several mature egg-laying chickens.
egg-laying chickens in the coop
a make-shift hammock!
The hogs were the highlight of the tour. Upon uploading my digital camera I sheepishly realized I'd taken over 100 pictures of pigs alone! There really is no argument the pigs are the cutest and most fascinating of farm animals!
wild boar
mamma pig about to give birth
baby piglets with mamma; all in a line
grown pigs; again in a line
follow the leader!

that's one dedicated mamma!
For lunch we all piled into the Western Yolo Grange, a modest but charming community center. I immediately envisioned this place hosting some fierce square dancing competitions.

lunch spot
western yolo grange; inside
One can imagine how intimidating cooking a dish for a room full of professional chefs could be, let alone Chez Panisse-trained chefs! I opted for super simple stewed chipotle-black beans with oven-baked Mexican rice dish. Certainly not a stand-out dish but that wasn't really the point.
a bountiful feast
Not only was the food divine but the rose wine was the perfect pairing. 
Most of all, the company was the best part. It truly felt like a celebration and what a wonderful way to celebrate 3 years in one of the hardest industries to last a day! 
Cheers to Camino!

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