On the farm, spring has truly sprung when the kids arrive. Goat kids, that is. Because once the kids arrive, Prairie Fruits Farm opens up for a Spring Open House series and the lucky residents of C-U have an opportunity to get some delicious breakfast and say hello to some adorably awkward baby animals.
Spring Open Houses are 9 a.m. to noon Saturday mornings from about mid-March through April, before Urbana’s Market at the Square begins. This spring, PFF has offered a limited breakfast menu each Saturday; this not only streamlined the ordering process for the masses eager to eat some local foods, but it also made it a bit easier on the kitchen (I hope, at least).
I managed to get my act together early enough last weekend to get to the farm just before 9 a.m. I was lucky enough to arrive just in time — the line was just beyond the threshold of the barn entrance, and not yet meandering down the driveway. Blue Moon Farm and Stewart’s Artisan Breads were vending goods (some leafy greens and amazing bread, respectively), and PFF had a table from which you procure cheese, gelato, salted caramels, and crackers.
If you haven’t been before, here’s how it works. The “barn” is where you order and if you’re lucky, sit down to enjoy your meal. There is plenty of outdoor seating, too, so no worries if you can’t find a seat inside. Once you order your food (cash AND credit card accepted), you linger inside to hear your name called when your order is ready. Then you find a nice place to sit and savor your deliciousness.
Last weekend’s sandwich/egg option was bacon, egg, and cheese on a Pekara bun ($8.75). This sammie was unbelievably simple and amazingly tasty. There were all the right combinations of flavors and all the right combinations of textures. The eggs were cooked perfectly, with the yolk viscous and just a little runny, but not too thin and runny that it made everything gross and soggy.
The lemon-scented cornmeal pancakes topped with blackberries were also amazing ($6.50). I suffer from a lingering trauma involving lemon-cornmeal/semolina cake, so I’m always a little hesitant with cornmeal baked goods. But these pancakes struck the right balance between pancake and corny grit. The edges were a little crispy, and the insides were soft and pillowy. The lemon brightened up the flavors and enhanced the slightly tart but sweet blackberries. The kicker? The 100% pure maple syrup. There is no substitution. Each serving contained three pancakes, which was probably enough food for one person, but they were so good that I took a moment to consider stealing some from a child sitting nearby. (I did not thief a child’s breakfast, for the record.)
The weather was just chilly enough for some goat’s milk hot chocolate ($3.50). Drinks (coffee, cow or goat milk, water, hot chocolate) were served at the register, so I was able to let my piping hot hot chocolate cool while I waited for my food. This hot chocolate was super rich and thick — it felt indulgent and sinful, sort of like when you have full fat milk or ice cream after a while eating fat free frozen yogurt. It’s just not the same.
In addition to the menu items, there were these lovely ricotta and ham handpies available at the register, so I had to get one of those too. The crust was buttery and flakey and fresh, and the combination of salty, smoky ham, and mild and creamy ricotta was divine. Had the line not been so long, I’d have gone back for more.
Next week’s menu is another sandwich and/or pancake combination: egg, black beans, chorizo, salsa, and pickled jalapeños on a Pekara bun, and/or buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup. I’m confident that both options will be flavorful and satisfying. Hats off to Executive Chef Alisa DeMarco and her team for consistently creating tasty, high quality food.
Breakfast was great. The atmosphere was lively, and it genuinely seemed like everyone on the farm was having a good time — even the goats.
Speaking of, check out the babies (and a few mamas) in the gallery below.
Prairie Fruits Farm’s Spring Open House series continues Saturday, April 18th and Saturday, April 25th. Check out the remaining dates’ menus. Try to get there early; the line gets long, and there’s the chance that the kitchen will sell out of food. Prairie Fruits Farm is located at 4410 N Lincoln Ave, Champaign.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.
Egg, Black Beans, Chorizo, Salsa, and Pickled Jalapeños on a Pekara Bun
Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Egg
Malted Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Bananas
Sides available each week
Side of Breakfast Sausage
Goat Milk Hot Chocolate (pasteurized)
Columbia Street Coffee
Glass of Goat Milk (pasteurized)