This past weekend at Sunbird Farms was really just your ordinary, family-of-four, autumn weekend. Friday was a regular “fall cleaning” day, that included disking the garden, pulling out dead or dying plants, pruning all the roses, lavender and blueberries surrounding the house. At the same time, we moved the entire contents of our two daughters’ rooms into the rest of our house (think, “no place to sit or eat but lots of furniture where it shouldn’t be.”) Not too much work, if you don’t consider the various papers, projects and postings that were graded, reviewed, and uploaded for my graduate students. The night ended with tryouts for play practice at the high school…a typical Friday really.
In an attempt to out-do Friday, Saturday started with painters arriving at 8am, followed by our immediate departure thereafter for back-to-back, soccer playoff games. Elated and then crestfallen, we made our way back to the farm, just in time to get ready for the family hayride and weenie roast. We started at 2pm and went until sundown (which was only 6pm, but it felt like 9pm), with multiple trips up and down the orchards, all the while being “encouraged” to “go faster, giddy-up.” Retreating into our home to what looked like an Ikea display that had been part of a Northridge earthquake, we foraged our way to small, clear spaces where we could all crash, lulled to sleep by the faint essence of drying paint.
Which brings us to Sunday… the day of rest…at least that’s what we’ve heard. As if to not miss a beat, Sunday started with us just slipping out the door before the painters arrived; AYSO playoffs wait for no one. Another inspiring, but tragic game, followed by the only suitable response to moral defeat; we arrived early for church, a spiritual victory. As we sat/stood singing and later introducing ourselves to “people we’ve never met” at the pastor’s request, it quickly became clear to me that I had washed my face and brushed my teeth, but the rest of me was…well, “farm fresh.” We rushed off to a quick lunch and then home to prepare for the afternoon’s agenda: meeting a lovely little family that was coming to reserve their chicks, moving whatever furniture we could back into the newly painted rooms without scratching the walls (almost), and preparing for the main event of the evening… roasting the “World’s Best Tasting Chicken,” the American Bresse.
Now if you were reading this expecting that it would be a review of the “subtle flavor profile” of this highly-touted, French-pastoral poultry experience…its coming. But what I’m hoping to demonstrate here is that, of all the weekends in which a sane person might set out to do what can only be described as “attempting to recreate the French Laundry,” it might have been better not to choose the weekend that resembled more of a “post-apocalyptic, family-of-four-on-the-run, freshly-painted-farm-house-with-an-oven-that-has-literally-been-rebuilt-by-the-author” weekend. But not at Sunbird Farms. No, this bird was going to be roasted this Sunday, because Sundays are for roasting chickens, eating potatoes and onions, and relaxing…that’s right, I said relaxing! When this bird was done, Buddy the Elf himself was going to come busting through our door, climb over the desks and mattresses that blocked his path, and congratulate us on the “world’s best tasting chicken.”
In the end, I will say this: no matter what your day has been like, nothing brings it to a close better than sharing a home-cooked meal with family. As my father-in-law so aptly summarized, “it was worth the effort.” For those that often ask us “how” does the American Bresse taste, well, it tastes like chicken, if we had any idea what chicken should taste like. But to be more exact, the texture is excellent, the flavor is rich without any hint of gamy, the breast meat is some of the whitest I’ve seen. The thighs were like that of a small turkey, with succulent dark meat. After nearly 20 weeks of pasture, grains, and milk, this bird was delicious, with all the tenderness of a young chicken and the flavor of pastured poultry. It was worth every penny, and the time invested only made the experience of dinner that much more meaningful. Unfortunately, Buddy did not show up, but that was probably a good thing. He would have interrupted a delightful family dinner, on TV trays of course, finished off by homemade lime cake, fresh cut strawberries, and Season 2 of Downton Abbey. Yes, it was the “world’s best tasting chicken,” and we will enjoy it on many Sunday nights to come.