Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Weekend at Luna Farm

A few days ago a group of us experienced a magical weekend at a sprawling farm in Pennsylvania.  Unbeknownst to us at the time of booking, we ended up staying at chef Jose Garces' magnificent Bucks County estate.  The 40 acre compound included an antique Pennsylvania bank barn, the main house which was built in the middle part of the 1800s, a large greenhouse, some outbuildings, a pool, and acre after acre of lush meadows.  Really and truly, the estate was magnificent to say the least.


I'm extremely fortunate to have gathered with several generous and loving individuals who live by the same principles that I do, who share common interests and have the same tastes that I do, and who love of all things Martha. It was a weekend filled with cooking, baking, wine tasting, gift giving, trampoline jumping and relaxing poolside on this verdant 40 acre property called, Luna Farm.  We also spent a day antiquing and shopping for some of our favorite collectibles near and around the New Hope, Lambertville area. On this particular excursion we ran into someone we weren't expecting to, which made everything that much more exceptional.   

Friends came from around the country, including San Francisco, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.  From the moment we walked into the main house, we knew we were in the presence of kindred spirits. Several of us had never actually met face to face, which made it all the more exciting, and in the end we found that the group clicked instantly.


We wasted no time in prepping dinner the moment us early birds arrived at the farm.  Two large chickens were placed on beds of vidalia onions, which were then given a slathering of dijon and lots of freshly ground pepper. Several sprigs of fresh herbs from the garden were tucked underneath the skins of the breasts and into the cavities of the roasters.  Everything was then given a pouring of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of a fresh lemon.  My friend Trellis prepared red bliss potatoes for roasting, adding more herbs and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.  All were roasted in very hot, 425F ovens.  The 5lb. birds took about 1-1/2 hours to roast, while the potatoes took about 45 minutes.


What is nice about every single one of us is that we are pros in the kitchen.  We all know how to cook and bake well, just like Martha has taught us to through her television shows, her magazines and her books.  

Having a set of commercial grade Blue Star appliances also helped.  If you look at the Blue Star website (click here), you will see that chef Jose Garces took the time and care to design his Luna Farm kitchen just as expertly as he designs his restaurant spaces.  Professional ovens, multiple burners and large refrigerators are key.  I still find it amazing that we were here.


The giant Kalvinator refrigerator was stocked with cheeses from Wisconsin, butters from the Amish in Pennsylvania, wines from around the world and vegetables from local farms.  Everything was carefully planned.


Our friend Nick who flew in from San Francisco on the red eye was very adept at handling sheet pans and frying pans filled with tender asparagus.  In they went into one of the four Blue Star convection ovens set at 400F for about 15-20 minutes.


Jeffrey opened several bottles of Vouvray, rosé and Dr. Loosen German Reisling.  The latter was such a fine wine to have with the roast chicken.


Nick came up with the ingenious idea of tying a different sprig of fresh herbs around the stems of our wine glasses in order to keep track of each person's pouring.  As Martha would say, it's a good thing. 


As we were getting dinner ready, Dennis surprised each one of us with a custom made apron.  Our meadow-green aprons were embellished with an embroidered design of Martha Stewart's iconic Martha by Mail mail truck.  At the bottom of the aprons, Dennis had the Martha Stewart Everyday mixing bowl logo embroidered in white thread, to contrast with the green apron.  We all just about squealed when we saw what he had done for us.  


Do you see how richly detailed the apron is?  It's a one-of-a-kind (well 7 or 8 of a kind!) collectible.  I will forever treasure my apron and use it for cookie crafting projects.  Thank you, Dennis!!


While some of us were cooking dinner, our dear friend David from Washington decided to set up the farm table in the second dining room, with several American-made jadeite baskets filled with beautiful African violets. He surprised us all.


Dinner consisted of herbed roasted chicken with vidalia onions, roasted asparagus and herbed red bliss potatoes.  This is the typical dinner that I serve at home every single Friday to my husband, so it meant everything to have my friends partake of the same repast.


Jeffrey made Martha Stewart's Le Weekend Cake in Massachusetts the night before and brought it down for us to have for dessert that first night.  Dennis had some farm-fresh cream which he whipped & sweetened to perfection, and Trellis hulled and cut some fresh strawberries picked in West Virginia.  Utterly delicious.  It was the perfect ending to our meal.


The first morning was spent lounging around to a delicious brunch of farm fresh eggs (I brought those and set them in a large bowl, Martha style), local bread, homemade jams, Amish hand pies and some Martha Stewart Cafe coffee courtesy of Dennis.  Everything was delicious! 


If the eggs are fresh and they haven't been washed of their protective coating, they can be left out at room temperature just like Martha is known to do.

Trellis runs a successful bed and breakfast in West Virginia and he is used to cooking for large crowds.  He was a master at scrambling eggs for a group of hungry guests.


After brunch and a quick clean up, we then piled into one of the large SUVs and headed toward New Hope, PA for some antiquing.  What did we do?  We watched episodes of Martha Stewart Living as we drove into town.  So much fun!

If you've never visited the New Hope area in Bucks County, you really should spend a day or weekend there, because it is such a quaint, yet lively area.  One can go to art galleries, restaurants, wine tasting bars, bistros and antique shops there.  If you cross the bridge into Lambertville you can experience more of the same.


Here we are at one of booths filled with so many collectibles.


Underneath one of the display tables, Jeffrey and I came across a stack of large ironstone bowls.  We examined each one and picked our favorites.


Armed with a stack of yellow ware bowls, some linens and pieces of jadeite, I negotiated a small deal.  Remember to ask vendors if they offer discounts when paying with cash or check.


It just so happens that on our afternoon of antiquing, Trellis spotted Fritz Karch (pronounced Karsh) while walking through a tag sale.  Our radars went off and we immediately zeroed in on him!  Fritz Karch is the former Editorial Director of Collecting for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and it is because of Fritz that we had a beautifully curated selection of merchandise for Martha by Mail while it was in business; he essentially gave it the look, style and uniqueness that we've all come to love.  It was Fritz who shaped the stories on collecting at Martha Stewart Living, which in turn sparked our interests in so many collectibles.

Fritz was so humble, generous and extremely kind to have spent time telling us stories of working with Martha for so many years (he says she'll live to be 120!).  He listened and answered so many questions we had for him.  This man is truly a one-of-a-kind treasure.  We are indebted to him for shaping our tastes and styles through his years at MSLO.


Our group standing with Fritz.  I will forever remember this moment spent with some of the best men that I know.  Truly amazing.


The morning we were due to leave, we were treated to the most amazing cinnamon rolls baked from scratch by our dear Dennis.  These oversized rolls were buttery, rich and perfectly sweet.  With hot cups of coffee, we were well fed before our journeys home.  


After I got home and began to unpack, I have to be honest with you and say that I got depressed at having to say goodbye to such wonderful friends. Nobody wanted to leave the farm and each other's company. We all made memories that will last us a lifetime.


Here is a small sampling of what I brought home with me:  vintage tea towels, chicken figurines given to me by Trellis, and some eggs laid by Dennis' hens.


Just look at the colors of those eggs.  The Marans are breathtaking.  Again, thank you Dennis.  You are pure gold!


Nick's eagle eye spotted a stack of Fire King jadeite bread and butter plates. These restaurant ware plates have eluded me, but I now have a full set on which to plate appetizers or small breakfast items.


Jeffrey, Trellis, Dennis, David and Nick: words cannot express the love that I have for each one of you.  While some may have had a little trepidation at having to spend a weekend with those of us who had never met, I knew deep down inside that we were all going to hit it off.  It is why I chose you for this experience.  It is no surprise that our group's chemistry was nothing short of perfect.  My Martha boys.  I cherish you.  I love you.  I hold you close to my heart.  


Cheers!

2 comments:

  1. I always admire your baking and decorating talents, your hobbies and Martha collections. I can't help but wonder which one is you in the above photo??!! Thanks for sharing your passions!

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  2. Thank you for saying that! I'm the one in the middle, at the end of the dining table. I'm also standing next to Fritz wearing sunglasses (why didn't I take them off for the photo???? 😭😭)

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