As Brad and his crew approach the opening of the restaurant, his hours are getting longer. Since it was built from scratch, the construction is still underway. Last week the equipment was delivered and the crew spent the better part of the week cleaning and unpacking and it still looks like a construction site! Jodie, who worked with Brad in Sacramento and was our neighbor, has brought her pastry talent to Cleveland last Tuesday and will be the pastry chef at Urban Farmer! Brad, Reggie and I are very happy and comforted to have her and her dog Bernie just around the corner. The restaurant opening was originally slotted to open on May 1 but has been pushed back to May 5th. Pushing the opening back is a blessing and a curse: Brad is ready for the beast to be open and running and I want that for him so badly as well.
Spring has sprung and spring in the northern parallels means ramps, and people who harvest ramps are in heaven. Enter: Rebecca Traxler, Brad’s PM sous chef at Urban Farmer. She grew up on a blueberry farm outside of Cleveland and has the salt of the earth coursing through her veins. Her resume includes (but is certainly not limited to): making her own mead, vinegar, kombucha, and harvesting ramps; this year she is trying to beat her own 48-pound ramp record. Ramps are a perennial, wild, vegetable in the onion family, which grow in the northeast of the United States and parts of Canada and Oregon. The forest floor is covered with their green leaves and as the wind blows the smell of garlic and salt wafts through the air. Their growth window is four to five weeks at most; so harvesting more than 48-pounds while working alone or in a small group is a feat. Rebecca and her sister showed Jodie, Brad and I a ramp wonderland; we got down and dirty in the forest for a few hours. To harvest, you dig the soil up underneath the ramps, allow the dirt crumbles to fall off and pull the sheath around the base of the ramp off. The sheath was a bit bigger than the bulb since the ramps haven’t reached their prime, but Rebecca promises by next week, they will have reached their prime. We also learned about trout lilies and skunk cabbage; which grow alongside the ramps and add a bit of color to the mix. Trout lilies have a beautiful yellow flower and skunk cabbage is an umbrella of leaves that grow to be a couple of feet high. We are looking forward to harvesting in the coming weeks.
Above: Brad, Jodie and Rebecca
We ordered a couch two months ago and it finally arrived yesterday. After the two months of sitting on an air mattress to watch TV, it was a welcome arrival, until it wasn’t. The couch wouldn’t fit up our stairs and around the corner into our living room so we had to get creative (meanwhile, Brad is at work). Luckily, Peter, our seventy-five year old landlord had pulled up and casually told the delivery men to leave the couch and he would get a couple of his buddies to lift the couch up onto the balcony with ladders (which is on the second story of the house) and into the living room. A few hours later I heard Peter holler my name, so I headed to the front door; no one was there. I hear my name again and realize it is coming from the balcony. Peter has placed two ladders, transported by mini-van, up against the balcony and is climbing off the ladder and over the bannister in his shorts, tank top and flip-flops. His skin has a residual leathery-bronzed look from his five-week vacation in Panama and his wrists and ankles are adorned with native jewelry. “Are you decent?” he asked? I guess it wouldn’t matter if I was or wasn’t because it was too late. He informed me I didn’t need to help and he’d be back in 10 minutes with his buddy the get the ladder up. So Peter and his buddy Michael put the couch on their shoulders and pushed it all the way up the ladders and onto the second story balcony. He took the door off and successfully brought the couch into the living room. I don’t even want to think about what is going t happen when we move. Needless to say, we have the best landlord ever!