The Season of Stone Fruit

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Sweet and savory recipes to capture summer’s gems

By Emily Connor, EdibleDC contributor, photography by Jennifer Chase, EdibleDC

My mind races at the first sight of stone fruit at my neighborhood farmers market. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots—they represent the peak of summer and, for a recipe developer, endless possibilities. Each weekend, I leave the market laden with as much fruit as I can carry, and then hurry back the next weekend to stock up anew.

I do this confidently: There are so many delicious, unexpected ways to enjoy stone fruit all season long—from peaches piled high in big, wooden crates week after week to the ephemeral season for apricots and plums. And what’s better than eating a fresh peach or plum out of hand, letting the sticky-sweet juices drip down your chin? Well, obviously nothing. However, I’m here to tell you that stone fruits are most exciting when brought to the plate. Each summer is an adventure for me; I can’t wait to explore market-fresh stone fruit’s potential in simple dishes that emphasize both its range and depth.

Here are four of my favorite recipes (two savory and two sweet) for showcasing summer’s stone fruit. As these recipes show, the orchard’s juicy orbs are equally suited for getting charred and deeply caramelized over an open flame for a hearty panzanella as they are for slicing and piling atop a rich, creamy labneh panna cotta. They’re equally at home in a spunky, no-cook, Thai-inspired salad as they are when baked inside a flaky, almond-shingled galette served warm at your next backyard barbecue.

This grilled peach salad is delicious for a summer lunch or dinner.

This grilled peach salad is delicious for a summer lunch or dinner.

Varied as they are, these recipes have one thing in common: They require minimal fuss for maximum reward—my guiding mantra for summertime cooking.

Better yet, there’s absolutely no need to worry about finding an elusive perfect peach, or waiting until your plums or apricots are at peak ripeness. In the spirit of the lazy days of summer, use stone fruit interchangeably (or in combination) in any of these recipes. Bottom line? Let their varying levels of sweetness, tartness and ripeness inspire you

Grilled Peach Panzanella

Serves 4

This peachy spin on panzanella, the Tuscan bread salad traditionally made with tomatoes and stale bread, is one of my summertime staples when it’s too hot and humid to even think about turning on the stove. Charred peaches, salty prosciutto, creamy mozzarella, crispy croutons and a spunky chopped pesto vinaigrette—what’s not to love? It’s tailor-made for eating al fresco, glass of rosé in hand.

Olive oil for grilling

4 slices (½-inch each) from a loaf of crusty bread (such as ciabatta or sourdough)

4 large peaches, halved (pits removed)

3 ounces prosciutto

6 to 8 ounces mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

A big handful of basil and mint, roughly torn

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped pesto vinaigrette

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons shaved or coarsely grated parmesan

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 large lemon

Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

To make the chopped pesto vinaigrette: Mound pine nuts and parmesan together on a cutting board and finely chop. Add the basil and continue chopping. Aim for a fine yet varied texture. Immediately transfer to a bowl and add extra-virgin olive oil so the basil doesn’t discolor. Add lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper, whisking to combine. Adjust seasoning and acidity, to taste.

Prepare a gas grill with all burners on medium, or a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the rack with olive oil.

Brush both sides of the bread with enough oil to thoroughly and evenly coat. Grill the bread a few minutes per side (checking frequently) or until charred in spots but still soft in the middle. Let the bread cool, then cut into ½-inch cubes.

After the bread comes off the grill, brush the peach halves lightly with oil and grill, flesh side down, until deeply caramelized.

On a large serving platter, arrange the grilled peaches, bread cubes, prosciutto, torn mozzarella and herbs, then drizzle with the chopped pesto vinaigrette and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Thai Salad with Apricots, Chiles and Cucumber

Serves 2 to 4

This savory, spicy, sweet Thai-inspired salad checks all of the flavor and texture boxes I want in a good salad. It’s great on its own as a light lunch, or as a side to grilled meat or fish. For a completely different, no less delicious take, chop all of the ingredients (versus slice) and serve more salsa-style. No matter which way you go, you’ll be very glad to have this no-cook gem in your summer repertoire.

3 apricots, thinly sliced

4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 red chile, diced

3 tablespoons peanuts (I use roasted and salted), roughly chopped

A big handful of fresh mint and cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Fish sauce vinaigrette

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon water

Finely grated lime zest

1 tablespoon lime juice

To make the fish sauce vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until the sugar is dissolved. Adjust acidity, to taste.

In a bowl, combine apricots, cucumbers, chile and fish sauce vinaigrette. Marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. When ready to serve, add the peanuts and herbs. Serve the salad on a large platter or individual plates, using a slotted spoon to drain off the vinaigrette.

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Labneh Panna Cotta with Peaches and Pistachios

This next-level panna cotta, adorned with peaches, crushed pistachios and a drizzle of good honey, is one of the simplest, most elegant desserts of summer. It’s impossibly tangy, rich and creamy from labneh, a thick, strained yogurt that’s used across many Middle Eastern cuisines. If you can’t find labneh, use an equal amount of Greek yogurt.

16 ounces labneh

3 tablespoons cold water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2¼ teaspoons)

1 cup heavy cream

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 peaches, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped or crushed

Honey, a good floral type, for drizzling

Place the labneh in a large bowl. Whisk several times until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Place 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let soften for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat just before the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the gelatin mixture immediately to the pan, whisking until the gelatin completely dissolves. Whisk in the vanilla.

Pour the warm cream mixture into the bowl containing the labneh. Whisk to evenly combine.

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Divide the mixture evenly among 6 (6-ounce) jars or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 3 to 4 hours. 

Top each panna cotta with sliced peaches, pistachios and a generous drizzle of honey. Serve.

Plum Galette with a Rye-Almond Crust

To me, there’s no better way to showcase summer’s most beautiful plums than in a rustic galette. The crust is amazingly flaky and almost cookie-crisp from a fancy-sounding yet simple French technique called fraisage, which involves nothing more than smearing the dough on the counter a few times. The smearing process creates long layers of butter in the dough, which translates to long flaky layers in the cooked crust. To make a good thing even better, sprinkle the dough with finely ground almonds before adding the plum filling (the almonds absorb excess juice as the plums bake) and top the folded edges with sliced almonds for added flavor and texture.

For the rye-almond crust:

1 cup (120 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup (60 grams) rye flour

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For assembly:

4 to 6 plums (about 1½ pounds), pitted and cut into wedges (no need to peel)

⅓ cup granulated sugar

Finely grated zest from 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons almond flour (or finely ground almonds, pulsed in a food processor)

3 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or an egg white, lightly beaten)

Heat oven to 400°F.

To make the almond-rye crust, in a food processor pulse the flours and salt to combine. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture, then pulse until the butter is the size of large peas, about 6 to 8 pulses. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over mixture and pulse a few times, then repeat with 1 tablespoon of water at a time, or just until small curds start to form and dough holds together when pinched with fingers. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand.)

Empty dough onto clean counter or piece of parchment paper. Using bench scraper, gather dough into a rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Starting from the farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one sixth of dough against your work surface away from you. Repeat until all of your dough has been smeared. Using bench scraper, gather the dough again into a 12-inch-long and 4-inch-wide mound and repeat smearing of dough with heel of hand. The dough should be smooth and cohesive at this point; if not, repeat smearing process again. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

To assemble the galette: In a large bowl, mix together plums, sugar and lemon zest; set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll out dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer dough onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the almond flour evenly over the dough, then mound the plums in the middle, leaving a 2½-inch border around the edges. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling. (If your dough is getting too warm at any point and is difficult to manage, return it to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes, then proceed.) Brush the folded edges with heavy cream (or egg wash), then sprinkle them with almonds (pressing to adhere as needed) and turbinado sugar.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden. Cool for at least 30 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Great Eats Right Outside of Washington, DC in Montgomery County

brought to you by Visit Montgomery and EdibleDC Magazine

Montgomery County’s claim to fame is an authentic dining experience ranging in flavors from around the world, a community of hidden gems and tasty treasures. With over 1,000 restaurants across the county, there’s an outstanding dining option for every day of the week. Here are a few restaurants that should be on your summer “great eats” list this summer – right outside of Washington, DC.

City Perch Kitchen + Bar
North Bethesda

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City Perch Kitchen + Bar offers seasonal American cuisine with an emphasis on unique, seasonal dishes, natural ingredients and contemporary comfort foods. The diverse range of flavors is complemented by a sophisticated beverage program specializing in hand-crafted farm-to-glass cocktails and boutique wines.

The Manor at Silo Falls
Brookeville

Located on 40 acres of rolling farmland, The Manor at Silo Falls is a historic mansion with a full-service kitchen and bar. The breathtaking property features a large lake, farm silo and many areas for beautiful photography.

Terrain Café
Bethesda

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Using hand-selected local produce, meats and dairy products, the Cafe’s culinary team takes pride in crafting menus from the seasonal harvest of farmers they know and trust. Located in the Bethesda Row shopping district, Terrain Cafe is connected to the terrain and Anthropologie retail spaces and it features an interior dining space with bar seating plus additional exterior seating on the patio.

Fogo de Chão
North Bethesda

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Leading Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão recently opened its doors at Pike & Rose. The steakhouse offers guests an elevated experience at the reimagined, contemporary bar with lounge seating and dedicated bar staff. Guests may choose to add a single selection of fire-roasted meat or have the full churrasco experience. Brazilian-inspired seafood options are also available a-la-carte, including shrimp and lobster appetizers, mango Chilean sea bass and a seafood tower.

Copper Canyon Grill
Silver Spring & Gaithersburg

At Copper Canyon Grill in Silver Spring or Gaithersburg you will enjoy full-flavored, fresh American cuisine served in an upscale, yet casual and energetic atmosphere. Make sure to try their made-from-scratch iron skillet cornbread.

Our On The Farm

For those looking to take the idea of “farm-to-table” to a whole new level, spend the evening surrounded by abundant beauty in Montgomery County’s 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve.

Calleva Farm’s Dirty Dinners
Dickerson

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Experience the spring and summertime glory of Calleva’s 200-acre farm, featuring a meal comprised of local ingredients, local wines, and live music from local artists. Dirty Dinners give adults an opportunity to experience the relaxed joys of farm life, and the great outdoors in Montgomery County.

High Point Farm
Clarksburg

Whether it’s spelled barbecue or BBQ, the flame-kissed goodness is the centerpiece of High Point Farm’s catering services. Their team will bring the grills to you or serve on-site at the farm.

Smokey Glen Farm
Gaithersburg

Known as “the company picnic place,” Smokey Glen Farm encourages guests to mix business with a hearty helping of their famous barbeque chicken. Throughout the summer, get a taste of Montgomery County’s rural side with Fridays on the Farm.


For more information visit http://www.visitmontgomery.com

Kicky Summer Punches for a Great 4th of July Celebration

Here’s to you! Batch up your cocktails for easy home entertaining

Mixologist members of Chocolate City’s Best bar guild gather on the roof of The Apollo on H Street to test Kapri Robinson’s summer drinks recipes.

Mixologist members of Chocolate City’s Best bar guild gather on the roof of The Apollo on H Street to test Kapri Robinson’s summer drinks recipes.

By Kapri Robinson, from the Edible DC Summer 2019 Issue

I was given the quintessential summer challenge from the Edible DC editorial team: What can a host make ahead of time, in a large format, and finish off easily—so that guests can serve themselves and the host can relax? Here are three punch or pitcher-format cocktails—bright, fresh, sparkling and citrusy. If you have a punch bowl, bring it out. Otherwise, now is the time to find a beautiful large pitcher and fun summer cocktail glasses.

All recipes serve 4–6 people.

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The Old Cuban

This is one of my favorite rum drinks. My inspiration was drawn from Hank’s Oyster Bar on the Wharf who did an Old Cuban to share last year. It’s a great cocktail and just screams summer.

16 ounces lime juice

16 ounces simple syrup

32 ounces Santa Teresa 1796 or another dark rum*

8 dashes Angostura Bitters

Fresh mint leaves

1 bottle sparkling white wine

Pour all ingredients into a punch bowl. At party time, add ice and top with sparkling wine to your liking. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

*If you prefer a stronger punch, use 48 ounces of rum. In hotter months, the ice may melt more quickly, diluting the strength.

Sinners and Saints, garnished with grapefruit slices.

Sinners and Saints, garnished with grapefruit slices.

Sinners and Saints

Going away from sweet, I wanted to do a cocktail that was a tad bitter and not citrusy at all—but light and refreshing and, of course, great with food.

32 ounces Cynar

48 ounces St-Germain 

1 bottle sparkling white wine

Pour into the Cynar and St-Germain into a punch bowl. At party time, add ice and top with the sparkling wine to your liking. Garnish with grapefruit slices. 

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Blackberry Cachaça Daquiri

My idea for this punch came from last year’s Chocolate City’s Best competition and The People’s Choice Award Winner, Chris Martino, currently at Taqueria del Barrio in Petworth. Berries and cachaça go so well together—it’s a drink that is easy on the eye and summery with a rum funkiness in the background.

32 ounces fresh lime juice

24 ounces blackberry syrup*

64 ounces Leblon cachaça

Add the ingredients to a punch bowl, add ice, stir, then enjoy! Garnish with lime slices and whole fresh blackberries. 

*To make blackberry syrup, put 2 cups of water, a cup of freshly puréed blackberries and 1 cup of sugar into a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil, then add a small jar of unsweetened blackberry jam. Stir well to incorporate. Take off the heat and let cool, straining to remove the seeds. Keep the extra syrup in a jar in your refrigerator for up to a week.


Kapri Robinson is founder of Chocolate City’s Best bar competition. Robinson is profiled in the Summer Issue of  Edible DC  in the feature story, “Cocktails of a Different Feather.”

Kapri Robinson is founder of Chocolate City’s Best bar competition. Robinson is profiled in the Summer Issue of Edible DC in the feature story, “Cocktails of a Different Feather.”

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland's First Natural Wine Festival Celebrates the Beginning of Summer

by Jessica Wolfrom and photos by Linda Wang

This weekend, Maryland was awash in natural wine. 

Winemakers from across the world gathered under a giant tent in Clarksburg, Maryland to celebrate Summer Solstice, a natural wine festival put on by Drew Baker and his sisters, Lisa Hinton, and Ashli Johnson of Old Westminster Winery.

The Burnt Hill Project. Photo by Linda Wang

The Burnt Hill Project. Photo by Linda Wang

Maryland isn't considered an epicenter for the natural wine movement, but this is starting to change.


“If you were to tell me that something like this would have happened when I moved here last year,” said Eric Moorer of Domestique, a natural wine shop in D.C., “I don’t know if I would have necessarily believed you.” 

Eric Moorer of Domestique. Photo by Linda Wang

Eric Moorer of Domestique. Photo by Linda Wang

But now, consumers and winemakers alike are reconsidering the way wine is made and the kinds of wine we are putting into our bodies. 


The festival took place at Baker’s newest vineyard, The Burnt Hill Project, which he planted just months ago. “Rather than sit back quietly and wait four years to release our first bottle of wine,” said Baker, who is farming Burnt Hill biodynamically, “we wanted to host Summer Solstice to celebrate folks who inspire the way that we farm and elevate the beauty of natural wine.” 

Drew Baker at Summer Solstice Festival. Photo by Linda Wang

Drew Baker at Summer Solstice Festival. Photo by Linda Wang

Baker was adamant that the people pouring the wines at the festival were the ones who made them. Producers like Laura Brennan Bissell of Inconnu, Todd Cavallo of Wild Arc Farm, Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars, Nate Ready of Hiyu Wine Farm, and, Old Westminster’s very own Lisa Hinton joined Baker on Burnt Hill to pop corks and spill wine into eager glasses on the year’s longest evening. 

Photo by Linda Wang

Photo by Linda Wang

“I heard from a lot of people that this festival is not like other festivals,” said Moorer. At larger festivals, he said, the rock stars of the natural wine world generally attract mobs, leaving lesser-known producers feeling passed over and dejected. 


“At Solstice, it felt like everyone in attendance was interested in each and every table,” said Moorer. 

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Although there is no official definition of natural wine, its overarching philosophy prescribes a kind of stripping away. Natural and low-intervention winemakers encourage fermentation without adding things like yeasts, bacterias, and acids to manipulate or enhance the wine’s flavor or balance. Baker describes these as “wines without makeup.” 

The DMV has seen a surge in natural wine recently, both in the retail and restaurant space. In D.C., places like Dio wine bar and Domestique are expanding Washingtonian’s palates for the natural stuff. Fadensonnen in Baltimore is a similarly popular pilgrimage for those seeking out low intervention wine across Maryland. Restaurants like Bad Saint, Komi, and Little Pearl have started pouring pet-nats (and other natural wines) with abandon. 

Photo by Linda Wang

Photo by Linda Wang

But as writer Jamie Goode points out, the natural wine world can feel a little like a cool kids club. For those unfamiliar with vins de soifs - wines that exist simply to quench thirst - or glou glou, literally ‘glug-glug’, which implies that the wine is so good you can’t help but drink it, it’s easy to feel left out of a world already oversaturated with nomenclature.

“Natural wines are definitely new to me,” said Baltimore-based food blogger, Linda Song. “But I really enjoyed the festival. The location was beautiful, and both the staff and attendees were enthusiastic about sharing their love of these wines.” 

Photo by Linda Wang

Photo by Linda Wang

Moorer agrees. “It does feel like the vibe is different here,” he said. “These producers don't have to be friends, but they are here to support each other, taste each other wines, and share ideas.”

Supporting each other, at least in Baker’s mind, was the whole point. Summer Solstice might be over, but the relationships forged on Baker’s hillsides will last far into the future. 







Sbagliato Summer Cocktail Recipe

The Buzz

Think (and Drink) Pink

Make Whaley’s Sbagliato to start summertime fun

By Tim Ebner, photography by Jennifer Chase

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The Sbagliato

  • 1 ounce Tiber orange liqueur

  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth

  • 3–4 ounces sparkling grapefruit rosé or prosecco 

  • 2–3 drops peach bitters

  • Garnish with a blood orange or grapefruit peel

Fill a large goblet or wine glass with ice. Then pour all the ingredients into the glass. Next, slightly stir the drink and garnish with either a grapefruit or blood orange peel. Finally, raise your glass and say, “Saluti!”

To add a pop of color into your summertime fun, skip the ordinary—your G&Ts, Moscow Mules or Rum and Cokes—and opt instead for something with more flavor and flair, yet still easy enough to make at home. 

The Sbagliato, which in Italian means “mistaken” or “messed up,” is a drink you can make in minutes, and it’s only a bit messed up in that it doesn’t call for your standard rail spirits—gin, vodka, rum, bourbon or whiskey. Instead, this drink calls for an aperitif, and there’s no better option this summer than Tiber, a slightly bitter orange local liqueur made by Capitoline Vermouth (bottled and sold at New Columbia Distillers in Ivy City). You can think of this aperitif as the much cooler cousin to Campari or Aperol. 

And when poured into a cocktail it makes for the perfect shade of pink, which is something meant to be for Whaley’s summertime Rosé Garden, where everything is pink, including the drink menu. At this summer-only outdoor bar, Tiber is being used for a distinct variation of the original Sbagliato. 

Whaley’s Wine and Beverage Director Brian Zipin says his version has much more of a bold and refreshing bite—thanks in part to the Tiber, but also to some sparkling grapefruit rosé, peach bitters (he uses Fee Brothers) and Cocchi Torino sweet vermouth, known for its red and orange citrus flavor. When these ingredients are mixed together, it becomes a simple way to cut through DC’s horrendous heat and humidity. 

“This drink is so easy to make, and it’s going to be your classic summer, hot weather, aperitif cocktail,” Zipin says. “It’s an aperitif drink that’s slightly lower in alcohol and is so versatile. It works for brunch. It works for a cocktail before dinner. It works for barbecues. Or, it works for anytime when you’re, like, ‘Hey, I don’t know what I want to drink yet.’”

Together this cocktail blends together places near and far, highlighting the greatness of DC’s distilling scene while also featuring a French style of rosé.

“We wanted to feature the local distillery scene here this season at the Whaley’s Rosé Garden, as well as the range of rosé worldwide,” Zipin says. “We use a French grapefruit sparkling wine, which I thought was a joke when I first heard of it. But I was doing a tasting, and this stood out and really surprised me. It’s well made, balanced, refreshing and not too sweet at all.”

If you’re in a pinch and can’t find a dry sparkling grapefruit rosé, Zipin says any sparking rosé or prosecco will do the trick. Just steer towards ones that are less sweet, so as not to overwhelm the main star of the cocktail, the Tiber orange liqueur.

“The spirit is really well-defined as its own voice—it’s not Campari and it’s not Aperol, but it’s reminiscent of those Italian aperitifs,” Zipin says. “Of course, Tiber being local is great. But even if this wasn’t local, we still would have used it. It’s very good.”


Our Associate Publisher, AJ Dronkers, also made this drink on Fox 5 DC with Erin Como as part of a summer drinks segment.



The Biggest Little Farm is a must-see for Summer

A lot of people spoil their dogs. Very few purchase farms for them.

But when John and Molly Chester faced either eviction from their cozy Santa Monica apartment or giving up their boisterous rescue dog, Todd, they chose the dog.

So begins the premise for the film, The Biggest Little Farm, out in theaters this week.

Biggest Little Farm Poster. Photo Credit: NEON

Biggest Little Farm Poster. Photo Credit: NEON

“This all started with a promise we made to a dog," said John, a cinematographer, who doubles as the movie's narrator and director.

The film follows the couple, plus Todd, as they work to revive an abandoned farm in Ventura County, California, using regenerative and biodynamic farming principles. The farm they find, Apricot Lane Farms, is far from the Eden that they envisioned. The soil is dead, and so are many of the fruit trees that once grew here.

“The first thing we had to do was rebuild the soil,” said John. They found a mentor in the agricultural guru, Alan York, who helped them “diversify, diversify, diversify.”

Under Alan’s instruction, the Chesters planted over 75 different varieties of fruit trees and hauled in hundreds of chickens, as well as cows, sheep, ducks, and a pregnant pig named Emma.


But when you import swells of life, you must also be prepared to confront death.

The film bends towards the philosophical when the couple is forced to deal with death on a colossal scale; pests and predators swarm the farm, enticed by the biodiversity the Chesters have cultivated here. Coyotes flock to their chickens, killing indiscriminately, snails adhere to the trees while gophers gnaw at the roots below and birds descend from above, pecking at the fruits of the Chesters’ hard-won labor.

“From a spiritual perspective,” said Chester, “I’ve begun to appreciate the impermanence of life.”

Perhaps nothing brings the temporality of life into focus like farming, which is predicated on harvesting life for profit. The film doesn’t shirk away from this notion, dutifully documenting Chester as he is forced to put down sick animals, send healthy animals to slaughter, or even shoot and kill a covetous coyote.

You feel incredible loss when things die,” said Chester. “Beyond the economic impact, this loss of life requires a tremendous amount of grief. Acceptance of that grief is part of the job.” In the process of becoming a farmer, Chester realized that “death is not nothing.”

To Chester, soil is death reborn. And soil becomes the main focus of Apricot Lane Farms. “Soil is not only the alchemizer of all death back into life, but it is also the central supporting element of our entire planet’s immune system,” he said.

John and Molly Chester with their son, Beauden. Photo credit: NEON

John and Molly Chester with their son, Beauden. Photo credit: NEON

Although the film never defines it, the Chesters’ farm Apricot Lane regeneratively and biodynamically, which is to say, everything they do is in service of the soil. The film makes it clear that it isn’t easy to farm this way, especially in California’s protracted drought. It also presents a pathway for how to move away from a monocultural agricultural model.

But convincing others that farming in a way that helps sustain the earth rather than extract from it wasn’t as easy as they initially thought. It wasn’t until they starting selling their eggs that they saw interest in their products skyrocket.

“Our eggs were like this gateway drug into the world of what regenerative farming could produce,” said Chester. “Once you’ve had an egg that has that deep mineral-rich flavor and buttery taste you become a convert. You want to know how much further this can go.”

Todd the rescue dog. Photo Credit: NEON

Todd the rescue dog. Photo Credit: NEON

Over the span of eight years, the Chesters have transformed this barren land into a thriving Shangri-la. “We reversed 45 years of extractive farming methods in seven,” said Chester, “but that was with consciousness.” This film too, sparks a new consciousness about what farming should look like, and at the very least, what our food should taste like.

Now when you John ‘who saved who’, he will always tell you that it was Todd who rescued him and Molly.


The film is currently screening at Landmark E Street Cinemas and ArcLight in Potomac, MD.

Jessica Wolfrom is a contributor to Edible DC and a graduate student in journalism at Georgetown University.