By George E. Humphries
Snickersville Turnpike, gliding along north to south in between Route 7 and Route 50, is well known for its beautiful scenery and horse farms. Now those enjoying this lovely country route have a place to stop along the way for an elegant lunch prepared from locally produced ingredients, at the new “Fields of Athenry Kitchen.”
The farm, named the Fields of Athenry – from an Irish ballad by the same name – sells pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free beef, pork, lamb and poultry, raw milk cheeses, local wines and more. Until recently, the farm’s owner, Elaine Boland also stocked her farm shop refrigerators with smaller quantities of freshly made stocks, stews and chilies crafted in her own farmhouse kitchen. She also dabbled with opening up her farm patio to weekend shoppers and wanderers craving a freshly grilled lamb sausage sandwich and a glass or two of wine.
At the end of July, Fields of Athenry took an even bigger step when Elaine brought on a well-known culinary locavore named Wes Rosati, making him the Fields of Athenry’s new resident chef. On July 28, the Fields of Athenry showcased its new patio service with a lunch menu celebrating locally grown, fresh and wholesome fare. Regular lunch service will start right after Labor Day.
Reviewing a kitchen on its first day of operations is quite unfair. A parallel would be putting to sea in an untested ship, the crew of which had just been assembled and never worked together before. Fraught!
But the Fields of Athenry kitchen had advantages which offset some of the limitations and hazards of a start-up operation, not the least of which was a very talented and experienced chef who among other things on his resume, was Executive Chef at the Lansdowne Resort.
Chef Rosati set up his serving operation on the terrace where he dispensed dishes from his eight item menu to a steady flow of customers, several of them families with small children enjoying the countryside and a view of nearby pastures with sheep and horses. The day was blessedly mild, the terrace setting was appealing, and the food excellent. We critically tasted four of the eight items (Grilled FOA Kielbasa with a whole wheat pasta salad; BBQ Beef Brisket with a roasted carrot and beet salad; Chicken and White Bean Chili with raw milk cheddar; and Grilled Burger of FOA Ground Beef). We then feasted on a generous sampling of four others, which included FOA Seasoned Turkey Sliders garnished with pepperjack cheese and avocado and freshly made pickles; a Wedge Salad with FOA Bacon and raw milk cheddar; a Grilled Lamb and Beef Meatloaf Sandwich; and a Ragout of Red Wine Braised lamb with whole wheat pasta and grilled zucchini. We are pleased to say that all were excellent; there were no misses among them.
Along with the food, wine and beer are available.
The Fields of Athenry farm shop is adding a substantial list of prepared foods to its already extensive offerings of meats, cheeses, and other goods. FOA will also be selling sauces and “kits” of spices and marinades to make spreading a healthy family table easy. Chef Wes also will cater groups at the farm.
Fields of Athenry is just off route 734, otherwise known as Snickersville Turnpike, not far from Philomont and 0.2 miles southeast of Hibbs Bridge, a notable landmark being both the terminus of Watermill Rd. from the north and Hibbs Bridge Rd. to the south.
For many reasons, as the Michelin Guide puts it, Fields of Athenry is worth a trip. The countryside along the Turnpike is delightful, the Fields of Athenry farm is a very pleasant setting, the products for sale are unique in their content, and the restaurant fare is delicious.
George Humphries is a retired Navy aviator who began cooking at the age of 10 and has managed several large restaurants. He has lived in Loudoun Country since 1984.