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I showed up for my visit to Moss Mountain Farm with great flair and style. The farm is about 15 miles from civilization, including gas stations. I drove about halfway to the farm on a gorgeous fall morning, then looked down at my gas gauge. It was hovering precariously on Empty. I had no choice but to double back, otherwise there was a greater than zero chance I’d be stuck.
So what started as a leisurely drive in the country, with plenty of time to make my appointment, ended up as a frenetic drive after pumping my gas. I arrived at the farm about 5 minutes late and a little frazzled. Without reading the instructions that came with my invitation, I assumed that the meeting was in the (gorgeous) main house.
After a quick knock on the door, I assumed that the meeting had already started so I let myself in. I was greeted at the door by a little scottie dog. I was so frazzled I didn’t even note the fabulous-ness of the interior of this impressive house. P. Allen Smith himself walked into the entry hall, coffee mug in hand, & asked if he could help me. When I explained that I was here for a blogger event, a member of his staff escorted me to the barn. When I tried to apologize profusely for barging into the man’s home, he graciously brushed it off & explained that it happens all the time.
Like the rest of Moss Mountain Farm, this was no ordinary barn. The tables were set with a beautiful fall scenes. After we got ourselves situated with coffee, P. Allen came in to kick off the day.
He was a real delight and told us about the history of his farm, which was established in 1840. By the time he acquired the land, the farm was in a state of disrepair. 8 years later, he has one of the most prime, scenic plots of land I’ve ever visited and he’s finished it with a variety of gardens, meadows & buildings that make it a joy to explore.
Initially when he began keeping chickens, he moved a bunch of trailers together to make a giant village. But that required an upgrade after a writer told him the structure looked like a chicken shantytown. The new poultry palace is based on an Italian palazzo. It’s situated alongside a swan pond, just adjacent to a rolling meadow where sheep dogs mind grazing sheep. I’m not making this up or spewing some kind of Martha Stewart inspired poetry.
One of the most interesting parts of the tour for me was the sleeping porch. Not because it afforded some of the most beautiful views of the Little Maumelle River (though it did). Not because of the copper bathtub situated next to the 3 wrought iron beds. No, my fascination with the sleeping porch was because I dreamed about it the night before my visit. In my dream, the sleeping porch had 6 beds of varying heights. In my dream, P. Allen told us that the tallest bed was reserved for the most important person.
In reality, the designer who helped with the sleeping porch designed it with 6 beds. When P. Allen told the designer that it “looked like a tuberculosis ward,” the bed count was reduced to 3. All beds are the same height. But the coincidence is uncanny.
After a simple but delicious lunch of sweet potato & spinach salad with grilled chicken, we began our presentation. I was here to learn about college savings and why it matters. As you may recall, I have some anxiety on this subject, so the timing couldn’t be better. I’ll be blogging about the excellent advice I got on college savings soon, but for now, let’s just enjoy some home design p@rn, shall we?
So, I CAN’T be the only mom who spends waking
moments hours some nights staring at the dark ceiling iPhone? Some little noise in the house will wake me up. If I’m lucky, I’ll drift right back into dreamland. But some nights, that just doesn’t happen. Those are the nights worry creeps in.
So many things to worry about! So little time! Why not use the hour from 3-4 am to fill in? Brilliant!
Top of the list: money! college! kids performance at school!
This “little” girl goes to college in 3. years. Lord willing.
That’s where this great contest comes in.
Thanks to Arkansas Women Bloggers for the invite to a blog event at Cajun’s Wharf – on the Arkansas River in Little Rock. I’ll get to the food & drink experience in a bit, but first I must say – the ladies at the event were a real treat! I’m happy to have met some fun people & hope to see them all again very soon. As a bonus, I sold the shirt off my back to one of my new friends. So there’s that.
But we weren’t only invited to Cajun’s to socialize. We were there to eat! and drink! The day started with a wine tasting (I mean it was 12:10 pm, so at least we weren’t morning-drinking, just day-drinking) 2 whites (a reisling and a sauvignon blanc) and 2 reds (a pinot noir and something else I didn’t get to) for each of us. We got a quick talk from the head of beverage service, where I learned that Cajun’s and its sister restaurant Capers are both regularly recognized by Wine Spectator for their wine cellars.
After our quick sampling, we tucked into our first meal of the day – lunch off of Cajun’s daytime menu. We started with an insane sampler plate of appetizers. When I missed out on the oysters bienville, one of my new friends made some magic happen and a brand new platter of oysters appeared. They were magic.
Nevermind that I was already full and had moved on to iced tea by the time our entrees arrived. Had to soldier on with a delightful Kentucky Hot Brown, served open-face with swiss cheese, sliced tomatoes and a bechamel sauce. During lunch, the head chef & partner in the restaurant group told us her philosophy on food: cook with real food & start from scratch. And that philosophy showed. The food was beautiful and tasty.
We ended up with a platter of gorgeous desserts. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves here.
Then we waddled on over to the open kitchen for a demo. Chef Mary Beth prepared some clams & mussels in a white wine sauce that was redolent with fresh herbs and talked to us about Thanksgiving techniques, including turkey brining. I don’t think I’ll ever take that on – it’s just too much of an ordeal – but I do enjoy a cooking demonstration and talking technique with a professional, so it was great fun.
Along with a swag bag, Chef Mary Beth sent us on our way with recipes, which I appreciate.
After a sample of the mussels, we moved into the bar (Cajun’s is ginormous! They offer catering as well as restaurant service & can cater groups from 20-500 or more). Here’s where things got (even more) fun. A local whiskey expert brought some bottles from a distillery in Nashville. We got little samples of whiskeys, ranging from “traditional” to “more complex”. I’m FAR from a whiskey expert, but this stuff was great. And the fall light played into the bar so beautifully – a really pleasant space to wind down the afternoon.
With no designated driver and a full slate of mom-duties to return to, I plopped back to reality a little early while the rest of the group moved on to a pretty Christmas drink & social hour. Rest assured, I’ll be back.