We shake our heads in collective disbelief as we are ushered into the main lodge where a four-course, southern-style dinner awaits us. Bryan Slattery, the chef, has kindly allowed me to sneak back to the kitchen to snap a few photos of the mouth-watering dishes that await us. As the meal unfolds, the pride and care he lavishes on each plate shines through in each increasingly delicious course.
First there is a quail and shrimp gumbo, made with Broadfield quail. The tender chunks of quail meat swim in a rich, slightly spicy broth, providing a delightful contrast to the firmer texture of the shrimp. Next comes a simple kale salad, drizzled lightly with a tangy vinaigrette, adorned with quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and nuggets of cauliflower. It is not often one uses the phrase, “melts in your mouth” when referring to salad, but there can be no other description for this one. No doubt the tender kale, freshly picked from the Broadfield garden, contributed immensely to the effect.
Continuing the locally-sourced theme, the main course is a succulent set of Broadfield-harvested venison medallions, artfully presented and complemented by a fruity, slightly peppery red wine. The wine proves so delightful we feel compelled to ask Bryan if perhaps he accidentally grabbed the wrong bottle. He smiles knowingly and responds by bringing out dessert—picture-perfect wedges of pecan pie piled high with fresh mixed berries, atop a swirl of sorghum-sweetened whipped cream. At the end of the meal, I find myself fighting the urge to jump up and hug the man. When one is the recipient of a gift borne of the love of craft and given in a spirit of humility, one should take note and appreciate it properly. We opt to shower a profusion of thank yous on Bryan before retiring, utterly satisfied, to our guest house.
We rise before dawn, eager for the hunt. Wes, our guide for the day, greets us as we load our guns and gear into the bird buggy. Word around Broadfield is that he’s something of a dog whisperer, and we are all excited to see his dogs in action. As we make our way to the quail fields, the Georgia sun begins to rise, flooding the pines with orange light. The crisp morning air stings our cheeks and sets our eyes to watering as we pass beneath ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss that tangles with the sunshine, a shimmering carpet of silvery greens in the golden light. Occasionally we spot quail darting into the brush ahead of our truck, which only serves to heighten our anticipation.