I have always respected Mariquita Farm for their sense of community and their use of direct fundraising to help that community when possible. Last year, I wrote about an event that Andy and Julia of Mariquita held at their farm when one of their employees was in a car accident.
After Hurricane Rita this year, Andy and Julia saw another need that they could fulfill, and went to work doing so. Instead of holding an event to give money to the Red Cross or another big organization, Julia contacted Slow Food Louisiana and was connected with Taylor's Happy Oaks, a Louisiana farm that is a lot like Mariquita and that had been hurt in the hurricane.
Combine Mariquita's produce and goats with chef Anne Gingrass and her restaurant Desiree, and a fundraising event was created. Last Friday night, a dinner cost of $45 was admittance to a wonderful dinner at Desiree Cafe in the Presidio.
Potato and caviar puree with cucumbers and flat bread
Pimientos de Padron sauteed in olive oil
Lemon and egg soup
Eggplant and feta cheese salad with paprika and cilantro vinaigrette
Roast goat with green olives and buttered Israeli couscous
Baklava with frozen honey yogurt
The dinner was held in two seatings, and the 8.30 seating ran a bit late. We were all happy to see the appetizers -- potato and caviar puree made of whitefish caviar, grated potato, and topped with tobiko, pimientos de padron sauteed in olive oil, flat bread, and marinated cucumbers. The potato puree proved to be one of my favorites of the evening, and combined with the flat bread it was consumed quickly. There was plenty of food to go round, and the dinner was served family style.
Mariquita Farm raises goats and provided several for this dinner. While they don't do anything with the goats that technically makes money, they are an important part of the farm environment. They are natural weed eaters, and have the added benefit of being given as gifts to farm workers for special events, and for being provided for fundraisers such as this. Chef Gingrass prepared the goat with a smashed olive and garlic sauce, and surrounded it with olives and cherry tomatoes.
By the time dessert arrived, we were full up, but we all managed to taste the baklava and the luscious frozen honey yogurt. The baklava had a wonderful citrus taste to it. I ended up taking it home and it proved to be a delicious breakfast the next day.
This dinner was the second in a series of family-style dinners that Chef Gingrass hopes to have at Desiree. Not all will be fundraising events, and they will be an opportunity to have dinner at a restaurant that has a cult-like following for their lunches and breakfasts. The next dinner will be in the middle of November, and will most likely feature a whole slow cooked pig, cooked in a wooden box that is specially created for such a purpose. If you are interested, contact Desiree Cafe directly.