AKA, experiencing the circle of life at Farm to Fork, a farm-to-table dinner hosted by Misty Morning Ranch in Robbins.
“Will you stop looking at me like that, Bill?”
That’s the question I was tempted to ask the giant bird that towered above me. No, his name isn’t Bill, but I have a terrible habit of making up my own names for people — and in this case, birds — when I don’t know them. I’ll note that this isn’t the best habit to have when you’re about to eat a three-course meal made from said bird.
Anyway, back to Bill the ostrich.
Maybe I was paranoid, but I could’ve sworn that Bill threw daggers at me with his eyes as I lifted up my Nikon to snap a photo.
Misty Morning Ranch in Robbins is home to about 23 ostriches — some only two weeks old. Cute, right? Yeah … didn’t help with the guilt thing.
I’ll add that I’m not a vegetarian and have never had an issue downing a four-count Chicken Mini meal from Chick-Fil-A. There’s something about staring at a bird, knowing that you’re about to eat a meal made from one of its own, that makes you feel a bit uneasy.
I made my way to the tent set up in the middle of the farm and listened as Chef Matt from Ashten’s explained that the appetizer would be a confit of chicken with early field tomato, local greens and black garlic aioli; I was immediately grateful I hadn’t met the chickens.
I loosened up a little as I chatted with Gaby and Ryan Olufs, the owners of Misty Morning Ranch. They explained how ostrich meat is sustainable because it doesn’t require as much land, feed or water. Oh, and ostrich meat is extremely low in fat. Hm. I started to feel less guilty.
Chef Matt then announced the entree — char grilled misty morning ranch steak with potatoes, vegetables farro and cheese. Bill’s face suddenly flashed in my mind. Poor Bill.
The entree arrived and I was surprised by how similar the ostrich meat looked to steak — brown on the outside and medium rare on the inside. I took a bite. Delicious. Bill’s mental picture began to fade a little with each bite. Ok, so what I looked an ostrich square in the eyes and proceeded to eat his relative? It’s sustainable, it’s good for you and it’s delicious. It’s 2019 and we love the environment and we love eating weird things and posting it on Instagram.
Deal with it, Bill.
Feeling as stuffed and almost as round as the ostrich that I just devoured was at one point in his or her life, I wasn’t really feeling dessert, but it looked too good to resist — Kawali farm peaches on top of shortcake made with Misty Morning Ranch ostrich eggs and ostrich egg ice cream.
Since Misty Morning Ranch processes their meat through the USDA, ostriches don’t experience a great deal of pain when they take their first step toward becoming someone’s dinner.
My brief encounter with Bill the ostrich was ancient history when I left Misty Morning Ranch. I may or may not have just eaten his brother or friend or even girlfriend, but he didn’t seem too lonely when I left.
I drove away from Misty Morning Ranch with a new appreciation for the bird and a potential business plan to open an Ostrich-il-a. This is a serious plan. If anyone steals it, I’ll hunt you down and take you to small claims court.
Kidding … but maybe not kidding. Happy ostrich eating!