Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stone Hollow Farmstead and Steel City Pops



The Pantry









Our last day trip to Birmingham started with a visit to Saw's Soul Kitchen and Freshfully Market and ended on a personal note.  Facebook got the ball rolling..

  One of the best things about Facebook is the ability to reconnect with friends from your past and that is just what I did not too long ago.  One of my high school classmates, Dale Stone, was super excited about our class reunion coming up in 2014.  She started a Facebook page to try to reach members of our graduating class and that is how we rekindled our friendship.  Classmates started communicating, making plans and reminiscing on Dale's page.  She was enthusiastic about seeing everyone next year and wanted to locate as many classmates as possible.  I think the fact that she was a breast cancer survivor made her appreciate life that much more and her enthusiasm and excitement were contagious.  Sadly, Dale's cancer returned and even though she fought bravely, she lost the battle a couple of months ago.  Our class now has a permanent hole that can never be replaced, but we are all better for having known Dale.  Her cheerful and irreverently funny personality, positive attitude and never give up spirit make me very proud to call her a member of my class.

During our Facebook chats, Dale mentioned the wonderful farm owned by her brother and sister-in-law.  I was curious.  I always knew that Dale had two older brothers, even if I never really knew them personally.  I think having older brothers was one of the reasons Dale was always one of the first girls to be picked for any team sports we played in school.  I was a little jealous, because I tended to be one of the last ones chosen.  Everybody knew I could not hit a ball with a bat to save my life! Dale was one of the girls everyone wanted on their team.

Anyway, I wanted to know more about the Harpersville farm belonging to Dale's brother, Russell and his wife, Deborah. I went to their website to check it out. The name of the farm is Stone Hollow Farmstead and I was very impressed by what I found.  Deborah Stone creates natural products from the botanicals she raises on her farm.  She also raises goats and makes her own goat cheese.  I happened to be at Whole Foods in Birmingham one day and found some of her goat cheese.  Of course I had to buy it and it was the best goat cheese I had ever tasted.  I am not just saying that.  I loved it.

 Check out Stone Hollow's website here: Stone Hollow Farmstead
Pretty amazing!

I also noticed that Stone Hollow has a shop and cafe called The Pantry in Crestline Village located in Mountain Brook, where they not only sell healthy meals, but also the cheeses and other products they make on the farm.  From the moment I first read about it, I wanted Three Friends and a Fork to visit The Pantry.  So, that's what we decided to do. After our excursions to Saw's Soul Kitchen and Freshfully, Sherri had an appointment. Our good friend and coworker, Merri, happened to be in town, and she said she would join us even though she had eaten a late lunch and wasn't very hungry.  She was just going to come and visit.  We told Merri we would call her when we were done with Sherri's appointment and that's just what we did. By the time we were ready to meet Merri at The Pantry, it was almost 5 o'clock.  Perfect...well sort of!   I read the information about the Pantry's hours wrong and didn't realize it until after the fact.  What the website said was
Our summer hours are Monday - Friday 7a - 2p open for breakfast and lunch, and 2-6p juice bar, food to go and retail
Thursday and Friday evenings 3:30p - 9p dinner and the wine bar open
Saturday hours are 8:30a - 4p"
We were there on Tuesday and somehow I missed everything but 7 am to 6 pm!
Stone Hollow Farmstead Goat Cheese

The folks at the Stone Hollow Pantry were super accommodating and polite.  We arrived shortly before Merri, marched in and announced we were there for dinner and they never batted an eye!  They seated us and handed us menus instead of telling us they finished serving 3 hours before! They brought us out a cheese board with some of Stone Hollow's yummy herbed goat cheese and some crackers.

 Luanne's pork and greens from lunch were pretty filling, so she was still not hungry. The pink lady pea and pork belly salad I had eaten and the BLT Sherri had were light enough that we felt we were ready for a light dinner and the items on The Pantry menu sounded so fresh and healthy.  

Here is what the introduction to the menu says:


THE PANTRY BY STONE HOLLOW FARMSTEAD’S PHILOSOPHY IS SIMPLE. WE HARNESS THE BEST THE AREA HAS TO OFFER. WE CONSCIOUSLY SOURCE PRODUCE, MEAT, FISH AND OTHER INGREDIENTS FROM THE SOUTHERN REGION FIRST, INTENT ON FARM TO TABLE TRACKING. THEN WE REACH BEYOND OUR SOUTHERN BORDERS TO OBTAIN THE REST OF THE BEST. WE REQUIRE SUSTAINABLE, FREE-RANGE, AND WILD CAUGHT ORIGINS FOR ALL OF OUR MEAT AND FISH. THE STYLE OF FOOD WE SERVE DRAWS ON INSPIRATION FROM DEBORAH’S DEEP SOUTHERN ROOTS; A RUSTIC, YET CLEAN APPROACH. STONE HOLLOW’S EXTENSIVE LIST OF ONE-POT SOUPS AND STEWS ARE MADE
IN OLD SOUTHERN TRADITIONAL CAST IRON COOKWARE. THE MENU CHANGES DAILY AND IS DICTATED BY THE SEASON, AROUND THE AVAILABILITY OF LOCAL AND SEASONAL INGREDIENTS. TRUE SOUTHERN SIMPLICITY, THE PANTRY BY STONE HOLLOW FARMSTEAD. 

Now if that doesn't sound healthy, I don't know what does!  The Pantry features a raw bar with healthy juice blends, a smoothie menu of freshly made smoothie or shake combinations, fresh garden salads, sandwiches, a one pot daily special of soup, chili, stew or chowder and other daily specials.  
Richi's Tomato Sandwich with Yellow Bell Pepper Pate'
Lu's Enzyme Juice

Sherri's Tomato Pie with Apple Walnut Salad
The raw bar menu included juices made from greens, enzymes, roots, nuts, fruits and veggies.  Luanne decided to try one of the enzyme juices made from pineapple, mint, and green apple.  Sherri chose one of the specials.  It was tomato pie with a side of cinnamony walnut apple salad.  I decided on a marinated tomato sandwich made with tomatoes marinated in aged balsamic vinaigrette, Boston lettuce, arugula, micro greens, avocado, garlic aioli and Stone Hollow Farm goat cheese. It came with a side of yellow bell pepper pate' with carrot and celery sticks.  Merri got a to go order of the tomato pie and apple walnut salad to take home for her supper later.   Sherri loved her tomato pie and apples, especially the apples.  They were fresh and crunchy and full of spicy cinnamon flavor.  The pie was a personal pan size with a tasty pastry crust and hearty, tomatoey filling.  My tomato sandwich was just what I needed.  The tomatoes were fresh, juicy and flavorful and marinated in a sweet balsamic vinaigrette.  The garlic aioli added a lot of flavor .  The tomatoes and avocados were folded in a whole grain wrapper.  I loved it.  Luanne drank all of her enzyme juice, but it might have been a little bit too healthy for her.  She liked the idea, but enzyme juices are not something she has very often, so they might have to grow on her.  I think the next time she comes she will try one of the food items instead.  Or, she might try a different juice, smoothie or shake.  She drank it all, however, and felt much healthier for having done so! 

We wish we had a Stone Hollow Farm Pantry near us.  How wonderful to be able to pick up fresh, healthy, locally grown foods as an alternative to fast food burgers and fries.




After we finished our Stone Hollow meal, we headed out into the backyard of The Pantry for dessert at the Steel City Pops stand.  What are Steel City Pops, you ask?  I thought it was a band of musicians to begin with and although these pops produce a symphony, it is of flavors rather than sounds.  Steel City Pops are some of the most amazing popsicles you will ever put in your mouth.  According to their website they are all natural with nothing artificial, ever.  They are made with  fresh fruit, organic cane sugar, raw sugar, with locally harvested produce, if possible.  If that isn't impressive enough, then check out some of the flavors!  These are not your ordinary, run of the mill popsicles!  They come in two types, fruity and creamy.  The fruity ones include flavors like cantaloupe, hibiscus, strawberry fig, sweet tea, watermelon and lime.  The creamy ones have names like blueberry cream, banana, avocado, buttermilk, maple bourbon bacon and chocolate chili.  This was a difficult decision!  I had to laugh when I realized everyone of us ended up with one of the creamy pops!  Sherri went with banana.  Merri got the blueberry cream, Luanne chose the buttermilk and I, bravely, picked the maple bourbon bacon.  These popsicles were so good, but I have to say, my choice was the best.  At  least that is what I thought.  I think the others thought they also chose the tastiest pop.  If you are in Birmingham and you have an opportunity to try out a Steel City Pop, go for it!  You can't go wrong!  They have a website, too.  Here it is: Steel City Pops

S is for Sherri!
Chess, Anyone?
We were feeling so healthy after our meal at The Pantry and our yummy Steel City Pops, that we were energized enough to walk around Crestline a bit.  It was too late to go in any of the cute shops, but we are great window shoppers.  As the sun began to sink into the horizon, we, once again, were happy to have shared a fun day and some yummy meals with one another.  And I think my friend Dale would approve.  As the sign said, good food, good friends, good times!
                                                                                   
                                                                                                       Richi, Sherri and Lu





 Three Friends and a Fork and our Friend, Merri, give The Pantry and Steel City Pops
                                                     

                                                          Three Yums Up!

                                                               


                                                                 The Fork
Where's the Fork?

We had a fork!



Ok...so we now have a fork...but, darn it!  We cannot seem to REMEMBER the fork!  So, we decided to start a little contest.  In future blogs, we will hide the fork in a picture.  The first one of you to find the fork and leave us a message on our blog telling us where the fork is, will be invited to be our guest on the next adventure.  Lunch or dinner or dessert will be on us as long as 1) you can go with us and 2) you aren't one of those people with an over-active appetite!  Otherwise, you just get a thumbs up from us for your eagle eye! We are just poor school teachers after all!






The Pantry on Urbanspoon Steel City Pops on Urbanspoon