A Feast At Windrose Farm

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This guest-post comes to us from Mira Advani Honeycutt, author of California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide: From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles. She frequently contributes wine and travel pieces to the Good Food Blog.

Barbara with a platter of French breakfast radishes. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Barbara and Bill Spencer are renowned for Windrose Farm, their 50-acre organic ranch, but they are also known for the traditional Boxing Day (day after Christmas) family style dinner at their Paso Robles farmhouse.

My husband and I were fortunate again this year to attend this feast on the way to our wine country cottage in Paso Robles.

While Bill was busy playing tour guide to some of his guests around the farm, Barbara welcomed us in the house filled with delicious cooking aromas. We helped ourselves to a glass of Poeme Cava Brut (there was also Firestone Walker beer) and took in the festive table laden with bounty from the farm: French breakfast radishes, spicey chicory salad, roasted Violina de Regosa pumpkin (Barbara calls it a funky form of butternut squash), a platter cradling halved avocados, a cast iron pot steaming with black beans spiked with Bill’s smoked chipotle and tomatoes and a yummy baked dish of roasted potatoes layered on Swiss chard. The freshly baked bread was Bill’s version of Martha Stewart’s stollen, nutty and sweet with Truman Kennedy’s dried fruit. Then there was the casserole of slow cooked shredded lamb and pork – lamb from Windrose and pork from Christine McGuire’s Rinconada Dairy farm in nearby Santa Margarita. It was that kind of a splendid meal – savoring food that is grown and raised within a few miles around.

Windrose Farm's roasted Violine de Regosa pumpkin. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Shoppers who attend the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ Market are familiar with Barbara – (fondly known as the “Tomato Lady”) and her prized heirloom tomatoes, squashes, apples, peaches and herbs – produce favored by LA’s top chefs. I met Barbara back in 2004 at the market and reconnected with her a year later when I was writing my book on Central Coast wine and food. That’s when I first got to visit the farm. Since then not only did our friendship bloom so did our vegetable garden in Los Angeles, with seedlings and herbs from Windrose Farm.

Certified organic, Windrose is now transitioning to bio-dynamic. The expansive ranch is home to animals, birds and insect life, a 40-acre orchard lush with apples and stone fruit, a large vegetable garden and a lamb pasture. At any given time there is a flock of 30 lambs, that is harvested during winter. The animals are fed vegetables and fallen apples from the farm and Bill himself butchers them. “Three a day,” he says. He doesn’t have confidence in other butchers so he takes on the duty himself.

Its a treat to visit Windrose and tours are available by appointment. However, the farm is open to public twice a year – the Earth Day Event is held on the third Sunday in April and the Tomato Tasting/Harvest Festival is staged on third Sunday in September.