TRAVEL: RANCHO PANCHO ORGANIC PECAN FARM

While in Austin, we took a trip out to the Hill Country to visit our friend's organic pecan farm. It should be noted that "organic" is actually an understatement because they use ZERO pesticides. Instead, they control pests through the use of naturally occurring bacterium and by releasing beneficial insects (to eat the harmful ones!).  Not to mention, they do all of their harvesting and husking by hand.

The orchard itself spans 55 acres and is absolutely stunning (picnic anyone??):

 Rancho Pancho Pecan Farm

Rancho Pancho Pecan Farm

Another view so beautiful it makes you question living in a city:

 Rancho Pancho Pecan Farm

Rancho Pancho Pecan Farm

For the record, we didn't just drink Dos Equis and take in the gorgeous scenery--we also learned about the pecan harvesting process! In order to get to the buttery pecan, you have to get through not one, but two, layers. The outer husk starts green, then turns brown as it matures:

 Unripe Pecans in the Husk

Unripe Pecans in the Husk

Some pecans may fall off the tree naturally, while others will be shaken off by a process called hand thrashing. Once harvested, the pecans should remain in the husk for 7-10 days before removing the husk and revealing the beautiful nut inside:

 Assorted Gathered Pecans

Assorted Gathered Pecans

After the waiting period has passed, cracking the shell and eating them is fair game. Stay tuned for recipes and other ideas which feature November's Ingredient of the Month (Pecan).

Thank you Rancho Pancho for opening your orchard to us for the day!

Cheers,
Five Seasons

Travel: New York

Café Gitane (Mott Street). Our go-to spot every time we're in the City. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but we love the Moroccan couscous and the organic chicken satay.

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Roberta's. It was our first time here, and definitely will not be the last. The pizza is seriously out of this world (we tried the Paparizza and the Famous Original), and the ice cream sandwich we had for dessert was so good that we ordered seconds. Side note: we scooped up their cookbook while there and don't regret it (www.robertaspizza.com/book).

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Marlow & Sons. While the menu changes daily, one thing is constant: a quality raw oyster selection. As if we needed another reason to deem this our favorite oyster bar north of the Mason-Dixon line, they are also committed to the whole-animal movement (check out www.marlowgoods.com for more information).

 Lobster rolls, oysters, and an amazing biscuit with apricot jam at Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn, NY.

Lobster rolls, oysters, and an amazing biscuit with apricot jam at Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn, NY.

Cheers,
Five Seasons