Eigensinn Farm

•May 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment
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One of several working ovens spread out across the property.  We camped close to this one.

This past Friday I spent a lovely evening at the Eigensinn Farm. It’s an unusual place in several ways, not least for the fact that it is top class fare in a family setting, a ten course set menu served by polished servers. The food is farm to table, which makes for another unusual element. Last, the farm itself is an artscape. As we were told, Michael Statlander, the owner-farmer-chef, sees himself first as an artist who cooks in his spare time.

Art decorates the walls; the ceiling; the buildings; the fields; the woods; just about everywhere. It’s mostly Statlander’s, some his son’s, and it is prolific. Paintings, immense sculptures, installations, and the land itself is the medium. Most originally, to myself, is what I took to be a Champagne path, a dirt road lined on each side with the empty bottles of diners’ past. Many bottles of which are Champagne, distinctive for their thicker glass and uniquely turned necks.

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What amazes me is the testament to the drink brought by guests over the years.  See the next image for the bottle pine tree in the background.

There’s no question the value of the meal: it was a filling, substantial, and delicate ten course meal. The highlight being an Eigensinn Farm piglet, of which we could have seconds–and indeed, as I did–thirds and fourths. It’s a warm environment, candlelit dinner, a fire started mid-way through, and all accompanied by the wines you bring. It’s a labour of love, and well worth every penny.

When you realize that Statlander moved to this farm twenty-seven years ago to start a movement that reflected his passions, it’s inspiring. It may not be that life allows you all of the options, but there certainly is something to be said about making opportunities by working towards them. When you consider that there are only one to three sittings per week, limited to a dozen guests, and they are only open for six or seven months of the year, this is a life of happiness.

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So, here it is, a post from the nether regions, following a several years’ hiatus. The drawbacks of a life spent reading and writing and learning a new trade mean there’s little love for a blog, which is at best a venue for the roving mind with some time, and more particularly, energy to spare.  There’s also that question of what to write about, if nothing of interest is happening.  Perhaps that’s a timid defence, but I’d like to point out that the past four years can be summed up thus: hustle, bustle, and a fair tussle.

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In any event, this meal represents a trip I’d wanted to make more than a decade ago when I first learnt of the farm.  Since then, time has passed, a journey in many stages, and of which the current one is still unfolding, with no better place than this to have marked a point in time.

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Some Favorite Quotes from Dickens’ David Copperfield

•July 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

A great book.  Truly.  What draws out Dickens as a great writer are the following nice passages which felt more like autobiography than fiction.  And in this way seems like the observations of a writer at the top of his game, eliding his own views into the mouth of his favourite of all his characters, David Copperfield.

Chapter XLII

“I have been very fortunate in worldly matters; many men have worked much harder, and not succeeded half so well; but I never could have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one object at a time, no matter how quickly its successor should come upon its heels, which I then formed.  Heaven knows I write this in no spirit of self-laudation.  The man who reviews his own life, as I do mine, in going on here, from page to page, had need to have been a good man indeed, if he would be spared the sharp consciousness of many talents neglected, many opportunities wasted, many erratic and perverted feelings constantly at war within his breast, and defeating him.  I do not hold one natural gift, I dare say, that I have not abused.  My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.  I have never believed it possible that any natural or improved ability can claim immunity from the companionship of the steady, plain, hard-working qualities, and hope to gain its end.  There is no such thing as such fulfilment on this earth.  Some happy talent, and some fortunate opportunity, may form the two sides of the ladder on which some men mount, but the rounds of that ladder must be made of stuff to  stand wear and tear; and there is no substitute for thorough-going, ardent, and sincere earnestness.  Never to put one hand to anything on which I could throw my whole self; and never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was; I find now, to have been my golden rules.”

Chapter LII

“Again, Mr. Micawber had a relish in this formal piling up of words, which, however ludicrously displayed in his case, was, I must say, not at all peculiar to him.  I have observed it, in the course of my life, in numbers of men.  It seems to me to be a general rule.  In the taking of legal oaths, for instance, deponents seem to enjoy themselves mightily when they come to several good words in succession, for the expression of one idea; as, that they utterly detest, abominate, and abjure, or so forth; and the old anathemas were made relishing on the same principle.  We talk about the tyranny of words, but we like to tyrannise over them too; we are fond of having a large superfluous establishment of words to wait upon us on great occasions, if they be but fine and numerous enough, so the meaning or necessity of our words is a secondary consideration, if there be but a great parade of them.  And as individuals get into trouble by making too great a show of liveries, or as slaves when they are too numerous rise against their masters, so I think I could mention a nation that has got into many great difficulties, and will get into many greater, from maintaining too large a retinue of word.”

Chapter LXIII

“‘It’s a mort of water,’ said Mr. Peggoty, ‘fur to come across, and on’y stay a matter of fower weeks.  But water (‘specially when ’tis salt) comes nat’ral to me; and friends is dear, and I am here.–Which is verse,’ said Mr. Peggotty, surprised to find it out, ‘though I hadn’t such intentions.'”

Wise Words

•May 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Ian Binnie (photo credit Andrew Balfour).

Ian Binnie (photo credit Andrew Balfour).

In the words of former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie, “Ordinary tort doctrine would call for the losses to be allocated to the ultimate cost of the products and borne by the consumers who benefit from them, not disproportionately by the farmers and peasants of the Third World.”

The Bag Lady – London’s Kitschy Restaurant Par Excellence

•November 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

London, Ontario, mind you.  And nothing wrong with that.  It’s good to have character restaurants in the middle of residential neighbourhoods.  With excellent food at reasonable prices, so the day goes on well.  Check out their website here.

The Bag Daddy Big Stack -- a variation on the eggs benedict.  Sourdough bread, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, melted mozarella, spinach leaves, and a tangy fresh hollandaise.  Nice.

The Bag Daddy Big Stack — a variation on the eggs benedict. Sourdough bread, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, melted mozarella, spinach leaves, and a tangy fresh hollandaise. Nice.

The breakfast burrito.  Need I say more?  Stuffed tortillas are by definition delicious.

The breakfast burrito. Need I say more? Stuffed tortillas are by definition delicious.

A daily special - a frittata  of distinct quality.

A daily special – a frittata of distinct quality.

Fall Feathers

•October 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A quiet time of the year for the landscape.  Some colours of the fall feathers that decorate the path home.

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