I retrieve an item from the shelf, pour over the label, searching for provenance. In the market I make choice selections discerning where my food comes from. Food from far off places evokes curiosity and exotic charm. Yet, food is worth further examination, compelling one to question the import label.
At the local farm-stand, I choose fresh, just picked blueberries. Dark Prussian Blue gems with deepening blush of magenta still visible, the sweet and tart breaks open and twirls a flavorful dance. The farmer’s price asks too little. He reaches for change. I insist that he keep it. Anything of quality, harvested or hewn by hand is worth more. These I will pair with pancakes laced with ricotta and lemon curd, and topped with a fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream. At home I collect greens from my garden to spin into a crustless quiche made with gruyere and cheddar cheese. Local eggs add brilliant yellows and enriched accent to mid-morning weekend feasts.
A leisure drive into the sunset. Chasing streaks of lavender and melon westward as foggy mist emerges from forest shadows skirting fields and pastures. Red clay, black soil, Alabama blue sky fades into night. At Acre, the first course brought to our table reflects the southern sea and sky. Upon slate glistens a salt formation, elevating the oyster to new heights. Sourced local to Alabama, Murder Point Oyster Company has supplied Chef Compton with the evening’s shining star. Elegantly constructed this art-worthy composition inspires the painter to pick up the brush. A medley of delectable flavors present Blood Orange Mignonette with Sunburst Trout Roe, Peach Blossoms, Cucumber and Fennel. An informative bouquet which raises the bar.
The delightful experience is followed by the charcuterie board, exhibiting the house’ best cured salami, picked grapes, peanut brittle, pecan mustard, Asher blue and Stone Hollow goat cheeses…the list goes on. For the main course, Pan Roasted King Salmon with sweet corn bisque, garnished with okra, heirloom tomatoes and jalapenos. And for the table a 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. A final flourish for the evening, curated by the Chef De Cuisine, the desert flight including bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and crumbled proscuitto, a blonde tarte, and the ever decadent peanut butter pie with meringue.
The farm to table establishment calms in the late evening, as diners, all too satisfied, consider the time. It has grown late, the restaurant is aglow with ambient light. Another day has come and gone. The chefs and the farmers continue collaborations here, setting standards where food’s provenance, the harvester’s hands, the line cooks, wait staff and chefs all have an integral role to play in this continuously sensational production. The values of farm to table and southern hospitality are alive and well in the home state.
*compliments, credits and kind regards to Chef David Bancroft, Chef Jeffrey Compton and the team at Acre who strive and succeed at serving Alabama’s very best in farm to table cuisine.
To learn more, visit Acre in Auburn, Alabama, follow Chef Bancroft via davidbancroft @ instagram, follow Chef Compton via cheffreycompton @ instagram