January 19, 2018

Lambstock 2012! (Part I)

Lambstock 2012

Man… talk about being in the right place at the right time!  Two weeks ago I was playing a guitar gig at Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur, Virginia.  The owner, Diane Flynt, asked me if I had heard of a gentleman named Craig Rogers.  Nope…  I had, however, heard of Rogers’ business, Border Springs Farm.  For over a decade Border Springs has been supplying some of the world’s best lamb to chefs all over the country.  In fact, there are very few food purveyors out there who can boast of a customer list like Rogers’: it reads like a virtual who’s-who of the culinary world.

Diane proceeded to tell me about this event thingy called “Lambstock” and how Rogers had had two bands cancel on him for the event.  She thought I might be interested.  Lambstock (I learned) is an under-the-radar foodie dream: a celebration of all things lamb with a bit of pork, heritage turkey and other delectables thrown in.  No amount of money can buy you a ticket – you have to be personally invited by Rogers.  The guest list is almost entirely industry insiders: chefs, butchers, food purveyors, brewers, winemakers, cider-makers (like Flynt) and, just for fun, musicians (lucky me!)  Yes, I believe I am interested.  After a lengthy phone conversation with Craig wherein he determined that I wasn’t some kook and was not only qualified musically but, perhaps even more importantly, I “got it” – the “zen” of Lambstock… I was in!

Lamb Corndogs!

Upon arrival my equipment and I were shuttled via golf cart to the stage area.  After unpacking I ventured down to the pavilion where most were gathered to check out the goings on.  My initial priority was to snag a beer.  Fullsteam Brewery in Durham was there pouring Fullsteam Southern Lager and the delicious “Summer Basil” Farmhouse Ale.  I settled on the ale.  Also pouring were Foggy Ridge Cider and Cardinal Point Winery.  In addition, the Virginia Wine Board was on hand pouring offerings from a dozen or so outstanding examples of Virginia wineries.

Beer in hand, I surveyed the goings-on.  The first thing I see is Chef Rob McDaniel from the Springhouse restaurant in Alexander City, Alabama.  McDaniel appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America back in February as Sous Chef to Chris Hastings (incidentally, during the battle they vanquished Iron Chef Bobby Flay).  Rob and his crew were carefully constructing a fire in order to smoke handmade lamb sausages.  After that they put a stick in them and battered and deep fried ’em… LAMB CORNDOGS!  They were absolutely remarkable and served with whole-grain mustard, harrissa, tzatziki and a homemade peach hot sauce.  That was just a little snack.

Pork Charcuterie

I then took a venture into the realm of the pig.  Kevin Johnson, Executive Chef at The Grocery in Charleston, South Carolina produced a wonderful assortment of porcine goodies: I enjoyed a pork liver mousse, pork liver terrine and pork head cheese all served with okra and green bean pickles and a butterbean hummus that was truly one of the best bites I had all day.  There was also a beautiful posole.  While traditionally a hominy and pork stew, this version was made with not only pork but with a handmade lamb chorizo as well.  It was purported to be the best hangover cure ever.  My visit was for Monday only so I had no need of the cure but several of the party-goers who had been there since Saturday evidently enjoyed its benefits greatly.

Next I witnessed a feat that was truly remarkable.  Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress Restaurant in Charlston, South Carolina brought out a field-dressed whole lamb carcass and proceeded to filet the entire thing.  In one piece.  In front of the whole crowd.  Without making any mistakes.  It was beautiful to watch.  He then added fresh rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil and rolled and tied it into one big roulade about three feet long and eight inches in diameter.  He put it on a spit and hung it high above the fire to roast for the next four hours.  Meanwhile he rendered out the fat from the trimmings and used the animal’s own fat (infused with oregano) to baste it during the long, slow cooking process.


NEXT WEEK:  Music, oysters, and charcoaled lamb bones!

Filleted Whole Lamb


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