There are the typical farmers market discussions involving the final peach season days and those first fall apples. And then there are the back alley conversations about angry ostriches and vulture migrations, like the one we had behind Weiser Farms' stand at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market.
"The 'meat' ostriches are really mean," Tehachapi-based cartographer Anthony McDemas assured us as we were discussing the "what-if" psychological ramifications of eating ostrich on an ostrich farm. "It's the 'maters' [or breeding ostriches] that are the nice ones."
"He's right," nods Alex Weiser in agreement. Weiser Farms is in Tehachapi (about 90-miles north of L.A.), as is Indian Point Ostrich Ranch.
You'll sometimes find McDemas mingling around the market with copies of his new Tehachapi Lifestyle magazine in tow. On Wednesday, he was also handing out postcards for his upcoming series of Taste of Tehachapi "Feast at the Farm" dinners this fall.
As our eyes glazed over at the thought of yet another Outstanding in the Field-type glossy variation on the farm dinner theme, McDemas assured that his afternoon suppers are more laid back, authentic country affairs that happen to take place on farm. Of course, there will be the requisite crew of imported L.A.-area name brand chefs manning the stoves (Ray Garcia of Fig and Claud Beltrand of Noir notably among them), with a high-dollar price tag to match. And though a portion of the proceeds will benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand, McDemas clarifies it is not a non-profit fundraiser (we asked). "I'm a capitalist," he adds, grinning.
But we're most interested in those "mean" ostriches from a neighboring farm that will be on the menu at Weiser Farms dinner in September. There will also be a local blacksmith, one of Weiser's neighbors, opening with a hammer and anvil act. "He's going to make a new branding iron," explains McDemas, adding that The Happy Neighbor Club string band will be strumming tunes for the evening. A very neighborly evening, indeed.
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But McDemas assures us the most exciting Tehachapi neighbors in September and October are the vultures. "They migrate down from Canada through California and down to Sonora, Mexico in September and October," he says, visibly excited. "You haven't seen anything until you've seen 2,000 vultures swirling overhead."
Funny, we've always considered not seeing vultures a good thing.
Feast at the Farm Supper, Saturday, September 24, Weiser Farms, 3 p.m. Tickets are $150.