An excerpt from the email sent to our July 18 guest list:
We’re looking forward to returning to Cure Organic Farm this Saturday! Our menu will reflect the season, featuring the summer’s last peas and favas alongside the first zucchini and squash blossoms, and maybe even a cherry tomato! We’ll also be preparing Frank Silva’s Scottish Highland hanger steak on our wood fire.
A reply from a guest:
To whom it may concern,
We received an email yesterday with the menu on what we are going to be served for dinner and to be honest we are very disappointed. For the price we are paying we assumed we are getting something better than peas and a flank steak. We would like to cancel our reservation for two reasons. First, my fiance doesn't eat red meat and it doesn't look like there is another option and second, for the price we are paying we assumed there would be better food than a flank steak. Please let me know what we need to do to receive our money back.
I am sorry that you were disappointed by our brief description of tomorrow’s menu. Indeed, we tend toward brevity in our announcements—our guests have developed a sense of trust in our approach and our standards, and enjoy a certain element of surprise when they arrive at our table. Rather than describing our menu, and the work that goes into it, in detail, we choose to offer only a brief sketch of what is to come—largely to inform wine selections and to allow guests to let us know of any dietary restrictions or preferences so that we may prepare an alternative course wherever applicable. We are always happy to do so.
I have processed a full refund for your reservation for two for the July 18 farm dinner at Cure Organic Farm.
But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that the food we prepare is not carefully considered, conscientiously crafted, and of the highest quality. Our motivation for bringing a mobile kitchen and a wood-burning grill to the farm, and setting our table among the crops, was originally—and has remained—to serve the best possible ingredients in a fashion that highlights their extraordinary quality. Take the peas, for example; as soon as they are picked, their sugars begin to turn to starch. Unless you’ve had the opportunity to eat a pea that has just been picked and shelled, you have never really tasted a pea. But once you have tasted a pea, you will always know that there is nothing pedestrian about it. Tomorrow, we offer our guests one last sweet taste—then it will be gone, till next year.
The meat: we know the man the who raises the shaggy, red, long-horned, affectionate animals known to us as Scottish Highland cattle. He tends to them from birth to their final moments. To us, their flanks—or the hanger steak which we’ve prepared for tomorrow—are no better or worse than a ground shoulder or a rib roast, for we are committed to the practice and art of whole-animal butchery. What matters is that each cut is prepared in a way that is appropriate to its distinctive attributes.
The hanger steak is a small muscle—only about a pound and a half—of a steer or a heifer. It is also known as the ‘butcher’s tender’ because it is one of the most tender cuts of beef, and butchers would often keep it to themselves rather than offering it for sale. It takes to a strong marinade, and is best cooked quickly over high heat, such as our wood fire. This is how we will prepare the hangers tomorrow. We will serve them with pearà, a traditional sauce from the Veneto, made with butter, bone marrow, bread crumbs, beef stock and porcini mushrooms. The marrow—purified in salted water—was extracted from its bones; the bread was baked by our chef’s father-in-law; the beef stock was made from oxtails from the same animals from which we have the hangers; the porcini mushrooms were foraged—by us—in the mountains of the Front Range. This is simple food, but it is food made with a great deal of effort and care.
My intention here is to illustrate the attention to detail that goes into our menus. What reads as ‘hanger steak’ in a brief description sent via email, will in fact be the outcome of a process that has been days—or weeks—in the making, in an effort to do well by by the people who grow our food, and by the ingredients themselves. There is no better way to taste the season, and the place, than at a table set in the field among the crops.