(top) Writer friend Bill Butler working hard (or hardly working) at Singh's farm (bottom) Heirloom Restaurant chef's offer free sampling.
For the unenlightened – Singh’s Farm is the best kept secret of Scottsdale. Just east of Thomas Road and the 101, located on the Indian reservation, it is a working farm open to the public only on Saturdays between 8 and 2 pm.
Amazing, amazing place. Deeply restful, green and shaded, the ground is soft and mulchy, the air smells rich and organic. The tall flowering trees are bursting with pods and there are fresh veggies and herbs growing everywhere. I watch with disbelief as a peacock high-steps between rows of tomatoes, bobbing its tufted head, only to disappear behind a barn. Remember this is the arid desert southwest, folks-no tropical sangrila! It's completely surreal.
The farm store is bustling. There are organic veggies, fresh out of the ground-squiggly carrots, midget radishes, bunches of leafy green- and homemade goodies like artisan breads, herbal butter, green bean hummus, pickled beets and candied ginger. Folks walk around with a reverend look on their faces ('organic' is a holy word and good-for-you-foods always bring out the piety in people). Even the Scottsdale botox ladies who typically feed on Ritz crackers and martinis are thunderstruck by all the copious goodness.
Chef Taylor Domet of the Heirloom Restaurant is offering a free sampling of his honey-glazed Korobuta pork belly: incredibly succulent and wickedly fatty pieces .“Think of it as thick bacon,” he urges the early morning fat-balkers. I on the other hand, need no soft sell. Delicious is as delicious does. The pickled beets and carrots are a nice accompaniment.
I go looking for Ken Singh, the farm's owner.
Singh is a cool Sikh dude. Curious guy. A hatted, bearded, pigtailed, son of the soil, originally from Punjab, India. I instantly like him. He is an introverted fellow. Looking at him as he makes the rounds, it’s hard to believe that he would rather bury his head the mulch than chat with customers. “My wife makes me do it,” he grumbles peevishly, when I compliment him on his schmoozing, “I am getting better though. But by eleven, I try and run off.”
Despite the growing success of the farm and its eye-popping commercial potential, Ken is publicity shy. Marketing makes him cringe. The farm does not even have a website. The buzz is all word of mouth. It happened organically-of course.
I give him a sample of my garam masala. He sticks his nose right into the Ziploc and inhales deeply.
“Careful,” I say, “It may kill your brain cells!”
“Nothing to kill up there,” Singh quips, “This is good stuff. Only an Indian lady knows how to make true garam masala.”
I savor the compliment.
He waves a tall dude over and introduces me as the ‘garam masala lady’. He is the photographer who shot the “In the raw” calendar for the farm (available inside the garden store -$10) It’s a rauncy desktop number, featuring bulky, tattooed, chefs and buxom chefees shielding their oops and ooh-lala's with tiny bunches of radish and lettuce. Hopefully nobody suffered an ant-attack or got chased by rabid peacocks during the shoot. Harrowing thought.
“Smell this,” says Singh, sticking the Ziploc under the photographer’s nose.
“Careful…” I begin, but Singh cuts me off, “Don’t worry, this guy has nothing up there either,”
“Nice,” says the photographer, looking a little cross-eyed. I can tell the garam masala has smacked him tight in the brain.
“Sasrikaal ,” I say to Singh as I take my leave. It the traditional Sikh greeting. Hello, Goodbye, God bless, all in one. “Try the garam masala and tell me what you think.”
“ I will," he says, "Sasrikaal."
I wander off into the store to pick up a calendar, some fig bread and herb butter.
PS: If anybody wants to try a free sample of the Karma Chef new Garam Masala. Please become a follower of my blog and email me.