Nora Crist, the manager of , said the relationship started last year, when Chris Lewis became the chef of . He walked across the street from his restaurant situated on MD 108 to Crist’s farm stand and picked up some produce.
At first, said Crist, he was just testing out the local produce, making sure it would work in his dishes. But soon, he was coming over every morning, picking up produce, meat and more recently, even a whole hog.
“I started raising pigs last fall,” said Crist. She said Lewis had encouraged her. “He was interested in them, so I figured out if I could do it and then bought some pigs. We just sold our first pig last week.”
The duo's collaboration exemplifies the farm-to-table theme being pushed across Howard County this month, which is , a promotion that started on July 18 and runs until August 6.
Do you have a restaurant you love that embodies the farm-to-table approach? Tell us about it--and your favorite dish there--in our comments section.
That Berkshire hog was sold to Lewis, who is now using it in a variety of dishes at Iron Bridge. He’s also using her freshly picked heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, greens and herbs.
Unlike many restaurants that will only serve specific dishes during restaurant weeks on fixed price menus, Iron Bridge is offering its full menu at fixed prices—three course lunch for $20 and three course dinner for $35.
“The fun thing about Iron Bridge is that we offer the whole menu for restaurant week,” said Lewis. “It’s basically just another busy week for us and hopefully new people will check us out because it’s a great deal."
Besides produce and meat from Clark’s, expect other local food on your plate at Iron Bridge. Steve Wecker, one of the owners, said they get Swiss shard, red onions, heirloom tomatoes and watercress from a farm on Folly Quarter Road; eggs and honey from Discovery Farm in Glenelg and fruit from Larriland Farm in Woodbine.
Dishes such as grilled flatbread include tomatoes from Clark’s and wild ramps from West Virginia. The quiche of the day on Wednesday was served with Andouille sausage made from the Clark’s hog and Discovery Farm eggs. The local peach dish, which combined Chantilly cream, pistachio bits, vanilla shortbread, rhubarb and salted caramel was served with peaches from Larriland farm, but purchased from Clark’s farm stand.
“Farm to table kind of came as a natural thing,” said Wecker. “Chris is very 'from scratch' to the point that we don’t buy tomato sauce, we don’t buy bacon, we do our own.”
Wecker described the mantra behind his restaurant as serving the best possible ingredients prepared in a creative way.
“We buy corn across the street, which [Lewis] smokes and then it goes into the heirloom salad,” said Wecker. “For our English pea risotto, we have a guy in the back actually shucking peas.”
Wecker described the meal he had earlier in the week—one that is now available as part of restaurant weeks—it included an appetizer of lobster bisque, with large chunks of lobster, and an entrée of pork loin stuffed with figs.
“If you can find a better deal in the state, tell me,” said Wecker. “This is about dining, and not about fine dining, fun dining. I’ll put our food up against anybody on the planet and I think people are going to say ‘Wow’ and it’s because we use fresh food at the peak of their seasons.”