Monday, October 18, 2010

I dreamed a dream...

The Mast Farm Inn, NC
Smell the remnants of fresh baked bread in the air, the free range chicken roasting in the oven alongside turnips, potatoes,carrots and onions from the garden.  Observe the vibrant colors of home grown lettuce, tomato, corn mixed together in one pleasure filled bowl tossed with fresh lemon juice, high quality olive oil and pungent garlic. Feel the anticipation in the air of a gathering of friends and family.  Taste the aromatic bouquet of the wine created from organically grown grapes.  Soon Ryan and Randi's 6 guests will savor every bite of the fresh, home cooked dinner and anticipate the freshly churned basil balsamic ice cream.  All 8 people are happy, healthy and filling their bodies with fuel for life. Ryan and Randi host these dinners 1 night a week on a weekend for the cost of the food only. They start out inviting just friends and family but word gets out and they not only host these dinner parties at their home but for a small fee and the cost of the food go to others homes and cook the meal, explaining what each course contains, how it is prepared and what benefits it has for your body.  The home host/ess determines their level of commitment and sometimes will even help prepare and present the meal for their guests. 
Flash forward to a quaint home redesigned to be a restaurant each room filled with local artwork, hand sewn linens and table cloths, comfy handmade wood chairs. There are tables of 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 filled with eager customers who have waited for months to try the featured menu of the evening. These guests might not have known each other before tonight.  As they taste the freshly baked baguette topped with Ryan's tuna bruscetta special made with freshly caught tuna their eyes sing with pleasure.  They know where their food came from and that makes it taste better, gives it more life and makes it healthier for their bodies.  Next up on the menu is a roasted veggie platter.  Filled with vegetables organically grown in Randi and Ryan's garden and topped with fresh herbs and an amazing vinaigrette made from champagne vinegar and fine olive oil. Ryan is behind the bar making "old fashioneds" using Florida oranges, bantering with a patron about the upcoming growing and cooking courses they will be holding for both adults and children. Randi is in the back putting the baby to bed,  he/she has just finished his/her mashed butternut squash and scrambled egg dinner.  Randi will soon join her and Ryan's guests before retiring once again to the back with a glass of wine, ready to work on the lesson plan for the organic gardening course this weekend and make a shopping list for tomorrow's client shop-a-long.
Ryan and Randi spend most mornings together planning menus for nights to come, shopping for the restaurant, working on the business, tending to the garden and spend early afternoons with the baby outdoors reading and playing before they take turns on the early shift at the restaurant preparing for their guests. Randi continues to teach the value of good nutrition to the local community a couple of days a week and loves to do it. Ryan has a passion for making furniture and spends time in his workshop doing so. Two months of the year the restaurant closes for repairs, renovations and travel time for the family.  These two months are never the same for the first few years but when the family purchases property in the mountains of North Carolina, the months of closure become more and more consistent.
Flash forward again. Inspired on their honeymoon by a place in Costa Rica, Ryan and Randi have turned their North Carolina property into a self sufficient "Food and Farm resort.".  Part of the property is used for rustic, yet cozy guests quarters decorated with handmade local artisan furniture and fresh linens.  The other portions are used for growing produce, making cheeses, canning, fishing, livestock, a vineyard, a micro brewery and of course, Ryan and Randi's private 1 acre residence. The restaurant in Florida is still open but has been taken over by a young couple who share Ryan and Randi's vision for health and happiness through food and hard work.
The resort could run itself due to its amazing young and empowered staff, but Ryan and Randi are still very much present in its every day going ons. Every year they host Thanksgiving for their friends and familes at the resort. When they are not at the resort they are traveling and learning more about other cuisines and cultures of the world or visiting friends and family all around the country. The children are in college but spend summer with friends helping on the resort, excited about the promise of a full time career running the Farm after College.

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