Update: See the sandwich here (this one was a sample pre-outing quickly devoured by willing guinea pig Eric Larkee, MGFD sommelier.
With a delicious surprise from our friends at Lake Meadow Naturals, forager Ali Lauria and chef de cuisine Bradley Herron decided the MGFD food cart should make an appearance at this Saturday’s Wynwood Gallery Walk. Find our gourmet mobile outfit in the lot with all the food trucks at Northwest 22 Lane and Northwest 22 Street from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., or until will sell out.
The star of the menu will be braised local goat sandwiches with local herb slaw and curry aioli– topped with Chef’s new bottled ‘ass burn’ hot sauce if you like a little fire in your belly. I spoke with owner/farmer Dale Volkert this morning to get the backstory on this new offering.
“It was one of our employees that had stopped by a farm where the owners were moving,” Dale explains. “They were going to leave their goats, and we didn’t want to see that happen. That was three and half years ago.”
Those first five goats were all nubian, with the exception of one devilish-looking pigmy. Like Hani Khouri’s flock, nubians are built for milking. Dale and his staff including Brandon and Shalamar (whom you may remember from our shoot for Michael’s television pilot last October) decided to buy a male Boer goat, 10 female nubians, and mate them. Boers are a large, robust, and meaty breed, with males weighing about 250 pounds. The goats are part of Lake Meadow’s pasture management system, hanging out and feeding on grasses with its geese, guinea hens, Rhode Island Red chickens, cows, and turkeys. One big happy family.
“We processed the first three and sold out in first 24 hours,” says Dale. ”That was probably a couple of years ago, before we put the hydroponics in behind Shalamar’s house. We did nine the second time.”
Our goat is a part of the 13 in Lake Meadow’s third round of processing. Dale takes them to Ocala, where there is a USDA processing plant called South Marian Meats. It’s difficult to get the needed clearance to process on-property, like Jim Wood from Palmetto Creek Farms is able to do with his Hereford Hogs. It’s much better on the animals without the stress of transport — and on the farmers who don’t have to incur the extra time and expenses of travel.
“We have to take the chickens all the way to South Carolina, where the nearest USDA-approved plant is,” Dale adds.
Through our relationship with White Oak Pastures, we hope that will change for Dale, since they are about to finish building a poultry abattoir which will be the only such processing plant available to independent poutlry farmers in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. I mentioned this to Dale this morning, who was excited at the prospect and eager to connect with owner Jenni Harris. It’s just an example of the progress that can be achieved through maintaining good relationships with our food sources. This sharing of best practices improves the product for our restaurant customers at the end of the day, too.
Dale’s got his hands full lately. The new baby goat isn’t suckling from its mama, so they are bottle-feeding the little one. We’re also excited about the new poussin Dale is now offering, a young spring chicken, which we tested a couple of weeks ago. Bradley’s going to place our first order soon, so be on the lookout for them on the menu real soon.
So, back to the food cart. We’ll also have a vegetarian option in cold lentil salad with cilantro, radish, cumin, and yogurt dressing, which can be enjoyed separately or as an accompaniment to the goat sandwiches. Bar manager Ryan will offer iced tea. See you out there!