A day in the life of a farm-to-table restaurant owner

Dear Friends,

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings I get up early and head over to Boggy Creek Farm in East Austin. This can sometimes be a challenge if the previous night at the restaurant is a busy one - as happened this past Tuesday evening when a rather sizeable gathering of food and wine industry folk came to the restaurant to honor the lovely and wonderful Carenn Jackson. She is about to decamp for the bay area, where she will shortly become the west coast rep for highly respected Copain Winery. So Wednesday morning this week was a hard one. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't go back to a day job for love or money. But just saying - the struggle can be real.

Despite the night before, I manage to roll out of bed a little before 7. The Tessa (my beloved borzoi) - who loves nothing quite so much as sleeping in - somehow rouses as well and and follows me to the kitchen, probably because the one thing she actually does like better than sleep is breakfast. I brew coffee under the unforgiving florescent light over my kitchen sink (as it was still basically dark out) and I wonder why I have never changed that thing out, not for the last time. I matriculate myself into something resembling proper clothing and am out the door by 7:30am - so that I pull up the rutted lane at Boggy by around 7:45 am.

And this is necessary, because if you wait until 8am, the official opening time, the place can be flooded with early morning shoppers there jockeying and elbowing for position as you try and load up on Carol Ann's astoundingly perfect arugula. This Wednesday, the coast was mercifully clear as I stepped under the eaves of Boggy's wooden farm stand shed and took a quick mental survey.

I grabbed the aforementioned arugula first, filling two or three big plastic bags, and then used one of my green farm bags for the gorgeous fall cucumbers - the ones with ridges running down the sides (I think they are called Tasty Jades). Carol Ann's helper Maria puts squash blossoms out in the galvanized tub. Their stems poke down through green plastic strawberry cartons so they stand upright, with the stems down in the water and the blossoms up. This was unnecessary as I quickly scoop up every last one of them, counting as I go so I won't have to get them all back out when Tina checks me "ooot" (she's Canadian after all.)

Essentials now secured, the time approaching 8 am on the nose, and still being the lone shopper so far this Wednesday, I have the leisure to take a longer look around and grab a few more things. I snag ten bunches of long beans, five red and five green. I get a small bag of frilly mustard greens, along with two bunches of mustard green flowers and a couple of bunches of purslane (yes i know it grows wild on every sidewalk in town - but Boggy's is better). I throw in a few beautiful green striped pattypan squashes, along with four pounds of delicate, new crop, cream peas, a pound of Larry's hand-ground polenta (aka cornmeal) and I'm almost ready to check out.

At the last minute, I also remember to scoop up a dozen green, white and brown eggs from the wicker basket on the back table for home use. Did you know that a fresh farm egg can sit out for as long as 2-3 weeks without refrigeration?

I load up my black Honda Element and head out, past rows of yellow squash blossoms that line the east end of the front plot, and face a choice: where am I going to get coffee today? I can get coffee nearby from Erin - she's serving great espresso out of her old school trailer called Flitch. There, The Tessa can roam around under otherworldly pecan trees in their lot just south of the Tillery overpass. Today, though, I opt for Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors on Chicon. The coffee there is also awesome and it's still on my way back to the shop. I arrive to find none other than Josh Williams, one of the TFB managers, having a pour-over and a Panna water (flat) at the counter, so I join him and order my own cup (sans water - I'm not quite hip enough to get the whole coffee, water back thing).

As Josh and I visit, I think about what a terrific little niche I've managed to gin up for myself in this work that I do, for which I am both fortunate and grateful. This weekend, you'll see a lot of this Boggy Creek veg worked into the menu. Hope to see you all in soon.

bon appetit,