The other night, David and I had dinner at the fabulous Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim. As you may know, the Bistro buys virtually our entire production of organic chicken and duck eggs. Right now, as our young ducks have recently started to lay, we've had a few more duck eggs than usual. This week, in time for Tapas Tuesday, Bistro chef Gabriel Schuenemann came up with a deceptively simple, outrageously delicious dish to showcase these eggs.
At first glance, you might have thought it was a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. But wait... this IS the Bistro, after all! Embedded in the smooth, creamy egg were shavings of Washington State black truffles, and the first bite confirmed our initial impression: The eggs were positively swimming in butter. Nestled alongside the eggs were thin, crispy crouton slices large enough to pile a couple bites of truffly eggs on them. The combination of super-fresh, melt-in-your-mouth tender eggs with crunchy croutons and butter trying (not very subtly) to drip down your chin... oh, boy!
Duck eggs aren't always easy to find, but if you do, it's well worth trying them. We're often asked what the difference is between duck and chicken eggs. Aside from the size (our duck eggs average 3-1/2 oz., compared to the standard 2 oz. large chicken egg), our general impression is that duck eggs have a milder taste, and are somewhat richer and creamier than chicken eggs. The whites of duck eggs also have higher viscosity than chicken eggs, making them a great choice for baking. The baker at the Bistro likes to use our duck eggs for the Chocolate Bliss, a wonderful flourless brownie.
As I noted in a previous post, this year we are increasing the size of our duck laying flock. Mainly this is to keep up with the needs of the Bistro. There is also increasing interest in duck eggs around here; we've heard from a number of people who want to buy them from us as soon as we have any extra to sell. Although duck eggs naturally cost more than chicken eggs, no one seems to mind; the quality of the eggs, along with their relative scarcity, adds up to a good value. And like all our birds, the ducks free-range on pasture during the day and are also fed organic grains.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we had recently lost several of our ducks to some kind of poisoning. They were usually heading down the hill to the bog in the morning, spending most of the day down there, then eventually coming back up the hill for a bedtime snack before being tucked into their coops for the night. About a month ago, around the time of a rash of bobcat attacks, the ducks suddenly stopped going down to the bog. We're not sure why this happened, although David's theory is that one of the ducks was killed by some predator down there, and the others are avoiding that area now. Whatever the reason, I'm just happy that they're hanging around closer to the house now; besides knowing that they are safer, it's also a lot easier to collect their eggs when they lay them in their coops!
We expect that within a couple of months, our young laying ducks will be up to full production. These Khaki Campbell ducks are quite prolific, often averaging 340 eggs per year; that's more than most chickens lay, even in their prime. And even if we end up producing more duck eggs than the Bistro can use, there are always other customers waiting in the wings, so to speak.
Chef Gabriel also does amazing things with our chicken eggs. Recently he came up with a gorgeous salad that has smoked salmon, pickled onions and a poached egg on top! Delicious. Most of our chicken and duck eggs are used in their desserts, though; my favorite, the Creme Brulee, their seasonal organic carrot cake, an incredible hazelnut torte, and various seasonal fruit tarts (among others). If you're even thinking about coming to the Sequim area, you really should check out the Alder Wood Bistro; they're open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and can be reached at (360) 683-4321.
We love our ducks, and we love the Bistro! They buy so many of our eggs that our standard joke is that we have to go eat at the Bistro to have some of our own eggs. It's worth it, though; we never know what Gabriel is going to come up with next. He's committed to sourcing ingredients locally, and is always willing to try things we suggest, such as the duck eggs. Even though we're a small farm, we're proud to have a role in the success of our hard-working friends at the Alder Wood Bistro.