We went to a pizza farm over the weekend. It’s basically an old fashioned family farm that on Friday nights serves up pizzas made mostly from food produced on the farm. You put your order in outside the screened-in brick oven behind the farmhouse and then spread your blanket or set up your chairs on the front lawn, overlooking the chicken and duck runs and the herb garden.
The sausage and pepperoni are made from hogs raised on the Hawkins Family Farm, though they were so far out back behind the barn we didn’t walk out there to see them. (There was plenty to investigate on the front half of the farm, and it seemed like we’d no sooner set up our dining space than our pizzas were ready.)
There was a guest chef for this night, which was the last Pizza Friday of the season, and she served up a gourmet pie of balsamic glazed pork belly with German butterball potatoes, carmelized tomato and shallot sauce and olivade. If Ben had been back from college he probably would’ve enjoyed that one, but my mom and I were the only ones who were interested. It was a tangy combination of flavors, though I wouldn’t ordinarily want to eat something called “pork belly.” Colleen, who’s a vegetarian, liked that the cheese pizza wasn’t just called “cheese” but was named after the fresh oregano it was topped with (and that we’d seen growing in the nearby herb garden.) It actually was kind of light on the cheese but was very tasty with plenty of flavor.
The crust was kind of plain tasting, with scorch marks from the fire in the brick oven. If we’d been sitting in a restaurant we might have said the crust was boring compared to all the flavor-explosion crust varieties at even the cheapest pizza places. But how can you not appreciate a crust made from locally grown and milled wheat that you just saw extracted from an outdoor brick oven? As my mom said several times during the evening, “it’s not so much the food but the experience.”
The stately old farmhouse behind us had two front doors side by side, which my dad said was identical to the style of home his grandparents had on their farm. At his grandparents’ place, one of those doors led directly into a bedroom while the other one was more of a public entrance. Another similarity was the outhouse, though this one was almost certainly more stylish than the one he remembered:
Jeff Hawkins, who took our order, said they can’t call their farm organic because they don’t follow every regulation to the letter. But they don’t spray their veggies or give their animals antibiotics unless they’re sick. Their chickens and ducks looked extremely robust scrambling around their poultry runs. Colleen had a lot of fun taking pictures of the menacing looking roosters, which led Dad to tell her about the mean old rooster who used to chase him and his brothers when he was growing up.
We had a lot of fun, but I couldn’t help feeling bad that we hadn’t known about this place while Rowan was still going to Manchester University just a couple miles away in North Manchester. We were always complaining about the dearth of restaurants for a college town, little realizing that we could’ve taken her to the Hawkins Family Farm for pizza.