Tag Archives: GA

Maiden South does White Oak Pastures

White Oak Pastures Farm in Bluffton, Georgia | oysters and pearls

A couple of weeks ago, Jessica and I (also known as the Maiden South maidens) went on a field trip to White Oak Pastures up in Bluffton, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes from Bainbridge.  Amber Reece contacted us a while back about some of the goods they make at their zero waste facility (nothing at this place goes to waste… literally, nothing!) and we jumped on the opportunity to finally visit this place that we have idealized for so long.  It didn’t disappoint!

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Jenni Harris, owner Will Harris’ daughter (on the right), gave us a personal tour of the whole operation.  It was so sweet of Jenni and Amber (left) to take an entire morning to show us around, and we appreciated it so much.  Plus, we had a TON of fun with these farm girls.

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First up on the tour were all the birds!  All the chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, and turkeys are White Oak Pastures are free range.  They have giant chicken tractors (like a coop but move-able) for them to provide shade, nesting boxes (for chickens), supplemented food and water, but other than that, the birds are free to go and do wherever and whatever they darn well please.

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The eggs from this group of free range birds (chickens and ducks) are collected from their nests in the woods for sale.

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Chickens have their own hen houses with laying boxes.

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These turkeys can be yours come Thanksgiving!

The only exception to the free range rule applies to the baby birds.  They need added protection until they reach a certain age, so they get special treatment.  They are even given toys to play with to keep them engaged and happy!

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So many little chicks!

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Baby Guinea fowl

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Happy baby guinea fowl

In addition to all the birds, White Oak Pastures has so much more to offer.  A personal favorite part of the trip was meeting these very special pigs.

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Iberico Ham from Spain is the most expensive, most delicious type of ham in the world.  A quick introduction:

The story of Jamón Ibérico ham is steeped in mystery and romance. The ancient oak pastures of Spain, the noble black Ibérico pig, the mountain air which caresses each ham as it magically is transformed into one of the world’s most exquisite foods – all play a part in this uniquely Spanish phenomenon. Without each ingredient the recipe is disturbed. Greatness can only be achieved with patience, skill and adherence to traditional methods.

The Pig

The origin of the Ibérico pig goes back millennia, even to the time of the cavemen who decorated the caves of Spain with their art. These are the original swine of Spain, tamed over the centuries. Only in the last couple of hundred years have the pink pigs of our imagination invaded their territory. The Ibérico hog is big, with slender legs and a very long snout. Ibérico pigs are black, with very little hair. They have black hooves as well, which is the source of the phrase “pata negra” which describes the black hoof that remains on the ham throughout the curing process and distinguishes it from a Serrano ham. They are also much fatter animals with veins of fat running through the muscle of the pig. This, along with the large amount of fat layering each ham, allows the Ibérico hams to be cured much longer, resulting in a much more complex, intense flavor, with a note of sweetness that is unparalleled.

Here we must make a very important point – not all Ibérico pigs win the Jamón Ibérico lottery and live free in the Spanish countryside. Most Jamón Ibérico is made from Ibérico pigs who live normal pig lives eating corn and other feed. It is still an excellent ham, benefiting from the noble lineage of the Ibérico pig. But for the ultimate ham, you must add ‘bellota’, or acorns. As an indication of the difference, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota can cost twice as much as a normal Ibérico ham. So note well the difference between the two main types of Ibérico ham: there is Jamón Ibérico , and then there is Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, or acorn fed. If they are lucky enough to be destined for Bellota status, the Ibérico pigs finish their lives on the dehesa (more on this later), in small family clans, until their day of “sacrifice” arrives. The favorite pastime of Ibérico hogs is rooting around the pastures in the dehesa, foraging for acorns as well as herbs and grasses. All this running around feasting, especially during the acorn season, does more than make for a well rounded, happy pig. It makes for exquisitely marbled raw material, packed with natural antioxidants – a key ingredient for extended curing of the ham.

Long story short, thanks to our Southwest Georgia climate and the love and care White Oak Pastures puts into each and every animal, they are now the proud owners of a small herd of Iberico pigs.  And Jess and I got to meet them!  Maybe one day we’ll get to taste them, too.

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After a long visit with future (crazy expensive) bacon, we got to see what the farm does with cow hides, along with various other parts that normally would be wasted.  Hides that can’t be turned into something much prettier (i.e. leather or cowhide rugs) get scraped and strung up to dry for dog treats.  This is done the old fashioned way, without bleach and harsh chemicals.

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Once dry, the hides are cut into either squares or strips that are then rolled and further dried to become rawhide doggie treats.  I can personally attest that Amber gave me a couple treats to take home and Juin loved them.

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Not only do they make and sell the rawhide dog treats, but they also do bully sticks, dried trachea, animal feet, and more.  Good, clean fun for dogs! Albeit, maybe not a treat for use indoors.

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We wrapped up the tour with a trip to see the rabbit operation, which included getting to hold a baby bunny.  It was almost the highlight of my day (spoiler alert: lunch was the highlight of my day).

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Nothing cuter than a baby  bunny!  Except maybe this burger.

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Jenni and Amber treated us to lunch at the White Oak Pavilion, which was the bomb.com, in case you were wondering.  My burger was on a fresh potato roll, topped with cheese, bacon, and a fried egg, micro greens and aioli. We also were fortunate enough to get to eat with Will Harris himself and hear more about this history of the family and the farm, which goes back five generations.

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It’s an amazing family business, which started as an industrial cattle operation employing 3 people full time at  minimum wage.  White Oak Pastures now employs 115 people, all above minimum wage with benefits – something the Harris family is very, very proud of.  It’s clear that the good people who work at White Oak Pastures are crucial to this well-oiled operation, and they make all the difference in their zero waste, chemical free, grain-fed free, antibiotic free, hormone free, organic farm.  All meat is slaughtered on site in a Temple Grandin-designed kill floor, where the animals are fear-free and calm when they meet their end.  Everything left over from every single process on the farm is composted and returned to the soil.  They even use leftover cooking grease from the Pavilion to power their diesel farm vehicles.  They are completely committed to a better, healthier process for better, healthier food and better, healthier people.

White Oak Pastures, Bluffton, Georgia | oysters and pearls

More to come on the real reason we visited White Oak Pastures (hint hint: LEATHER!), but for now, take a minute to visit them at www.whiteoakpastures.com to learn more, sign up for their meat or organic veggie CSA, or shop online – everything ships directly from their freezer… I’ve seen it!  Or better yet, stop by next time you pass them on Highway 85 and grab a burger. You won’t regret it.

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

The Yard at Crave Eatery is Open!

A quick post today to let you locals know that the Yard at Crave Eatery is open! We got a little sneak peek last night, and it is awesome. Lori and her team have worked really hard to turn what once was a couple of parking spots into a relaxing, casual outdoor dining area with loads of charm.  They turned their own leftover wine bottles into lighting, planted all the borders and beds full of herbs for the kitchen, and they’ve really turned into a place full of style and ambiance.  They’ve even got an order in for candles from The Refinery for all the tables.  I love that Lori is committed to getting creative with repurposing materials and shopping locally to support the women of Still Waters.

I, for one, can’t wait to do some happy houring out in the Yard!

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The wall mural was painted by local artist Ashley Long, who you can visit over at Artsy on the Square.

So, you should sit in the Yard today for lunch – it’s going to be a gorgeous Spring day!  And just in case you haven’t yet been to Crave, here are some of my ‘grams from the past to tempt your tastebuds.  As you may deduce, the nutty chicken salad salad is one of my absolute favorites.  Be sure to like Crave on Facebook and/or follow Crave on Twitter for a heads up on the daily lunch and dinner specials.

As a side note, for those of you with Instagram or Twitter, try searching the #bainbridgega hashtag- it’s a neat way to see what people in town are up to!

And as another side note and recent news to me, BAINBRIDGE HAS AN APP.  You can search “bainbridge georgia” in the iTunes App Store and download it for free.  It needs a little work IMHO (being able to share events on your own social media straight from the app would be ideal), but it’s pretty great overall!  It’s an easy way to find out what’s going on, where to eat and drink, where to shop, and generally explore Bainbridge.  It would be especially great for those visiting!

That’s my two cents for today, and I apologize it doesn’t affect anyone but SoWeGans, but I am just so ridiculously excited about outdoor dining downtown at one of my favorite restaurants that I had to share!

Until Next Time

Weekend Recap

Good morning!

It’s time for your regularly scheduled weekly weekend recap.

If you follow me on Instagram (which you should), you are already well aware that Wheat and I were in Athens this weekend, but before we went, we had an impromptu little oyster roast Friday night.


Carolina Shuckers Queen Anne Oyster Knife

More on that Friday! We were actually supposed to go to Athens a couple of weeks ago, but Wheat worked the ice storm in Georgia and we ended up not going.  The reason we were going to was to see the unveiling of a portrait of Wheat’s grandfather in the UGA Law School, so we really wanted to make the trip up to see it in person.

 Wheat’s grandfather is on the left (also Bruce Wheat Kirbo – my Wheat is the third) and his brother Charles Kirbo is on the right.  Both men are/were outstanding citizens, excellent attorneys, and generous, caring people.  If you look closely, you can see a drawing of the Decatur County Courthouse hanging on the wall in Papa’s office, as well as a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Kirbo on their wedding day.

The first and the third Bruce Wheat!  :)

After I got a tour of UGA Law, I got a tour of the rest of Wheat’s old stomping grounds.  These mainly consisted of bars.  Not that I’m complaining.

 North Campus was really pretty.  I could have walked around and read all the historical markers, but there wasn’t time.  We had food to eat and drinks to drink.  We lunched at Ted’s Most Best.  It was delicious, but no pictures. :/  I do, however, highly recommend the salads!

We also did a little shopping!

 We made a pit stop at Onward Reserve, co-owned by Thomasville native, T.J. Callaway.  It is an awesome shop, geared primarily toward men, but with plenty of gifts and other items for the ladies.  As my loyal readers probably know by now, I’m not exactly the girliest of girls, so a ton of the items in the store were right up my alley.  I love the durability and functionality of menswear and all things geared towards men.  Traditional menswear is generally high-quality, simple, functional, and timeless – all things that I can get down with.  I added multiple items from Onward Reserve to my personal wish list, including a pair of Red’s Outfitters sunglasses (these or these?) and a Hudson Sutler weekender bag (even cuter colors in store, and oh so desperately needed).  Wheat and I both really loved that we got to drink a beer while we shopped, and the owners’ love of the cold ones was further reinforced with this collection on display.

 Love it.

After shopping, we had our own personal pub crawl, hitting all of Wheat’s favorite haunts. 1) The Melting Point – watched John Keane & Strawberry Flats rehearse over a Terrapin Golden Ale; 2) Had a Fat Tire beer on the rooftop of the Georgia Theater; 3) A couple of drinks and some cheese and pickled veggies at The Branded Butcher; 4) A delicious dinner at The Last Resort; 5) Fancy cocktails and live music at High Wire; 5) nightcap at the Blue Sky speakeasy.

Whew!

Sunday morning we got up early, hit up Jittery Joe’s, and headed to Jefferson, Georgia (about 15 or 20 minutes north of downtown Athens) to visit Tallahassee native Will Manning at Heartwood Forge.

More on that to come, too!

It was a jam-packed, fun, exciting, relaxing, leisurely, wonderful weekend.  Sometimes it’s just really nice to get out of town and out of your routine.  I had a great time visiting all Wheat’s favorite spots, and Athens never disappoints for a good time – even for a Gator fan! ;)

Until Next Time