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Veg Out: Sutra Farm

July 4, 2012

We drove up Highway 2, and down a winding road, and then another. Jules set the windshield wipers to “exuberant puppy tail” mode. When we arrived at Sutra Farm, the rain softened. Not in quantity, but in sound. From ping to squish. A velvet stillness. For a moment, I felt the earth holding me.

Then a team of ducks saw us, and panicked. They raced around the grounds, arranged in a line, quacking in unison at a decibel level usually reserved for teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

Amber and Colin, who own Sutra vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio in Wallingford, recently set up this lovely farm. It’s about an hour drive northeast of Seattle. Jules and I visited for a farm-to-table dinner.

I must say that when I first saw the menu for the evening, which included various sprouted, fermented, and raw items, my momentary sense of bucolic calm scampered away with the ducks. High on the list of my life’s micro-anxieties are (1) fear of raw food, and (2) fear of food left to sit and soak for any extended length of time. But I ended up eating everything from sprouted sunflower seeds to raw-cacao fudge, and I enjoyed all of it. I attribute this primarily to the chef’s generous spirit, creativity, and in-depth knowledge of a dizzying array of ingredients.

In addition, I was under the influence of a mind-altering farm animal.

I give you …

THE HYPNOLLAMA.

Important Facts About The Hypnollama:

(1) He will mesmerize you with his almost-all-pupil eyes.
(2) He will get you to eat all manner of sprouted, fermented, and raw foods.
(3) And you will like it.

After spending half an hour meandering around the farm under the influence of that calming gaze … that enigmatic smile … those gracefully curved ears … Jules and I gathered with the other diners in a cozy room inside of a barn. We sat on yoga blocks and did a short guided meditation.

Then we gathered for dinner. Here is how that went down:

Me: Pickled fiddlehead ferns,  sprouted-buckwheat-sesame-Rainier-cherry-nettle crackers, spiced sprouted sunflower seeds?
Hypnollama: YEEEEES.

Me: Hempseed-pate-stuffed tomato?
Hypnollama: INDEED. INHALE the salty, spindly parsnip-crisp topping.

Me: Smoked morel-snap-pea-cauliflower-sumac momo with rapini-pine nut “couscous” and rhubarb-tamarind-curry leaf sauce?
Hypnollama: For crying out loud. Now you are just being ridiculous. There is nothing raw or soaked about this. And the smoked morels will melt in your mouth. EAT THEM NOW.

Jules had wine with his courses, but I opted for the non-alcoholic pairings, which were as creative as the food. I had fresh ginger-mint limeade and orange blossom-honey crisp apple cider. My bilberry-lavender-grapefruit juice came with a stalk of fresh lavender frozen into a tall, slender shard of ice. But there was one drink I feared. Kombucha.

Me (Googling “kombucha” covertly on smartphone under table): The Internet says that this drink involves, “a colony of bacteria and yeast.” That is just a bridge too far. Have you consulted the FDA on this, llama? I …
Hypnollama:

Me: Holy moly! Kombucha tastes tart and bubbly and strangely like champagne! And I am drinking it, and I am still alive! How is this possible?

Hypnollama (to his friend, Skinny Llama): This woman is wearing me out. Would you be a pet and run to the pharmacy for some Excedrin and a bottle of Pinot Grigio?

***

Notes:
* We got notice of the farm-to-table dinner via the Sutra mailing list. You can sign up here.
* Have you met The Hypnollama’s very distant cousin, The Penguin of Death?
* Did the scampering farm animals remind you of Charlotte’s Web? Were you wishing that I could describe a barn the way E.B. White did? Me too.

The barn was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell–as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world. It smelled of grain and of harness dressing and of axle grease and of rubber boots and of new rope. And whenever the cat was given a fish-head to eat, the barn would smell of fish. But mostly it smelled of hay, for there was always hay in the great loft up overhead. And there was always hay being pitched down to the cows and the horses and the sheep.

Ahh.

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