Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sycamore Farm Bed and Breakfast

There are some places I love in Terre Haute that I am kinda scared to write about, fearing that I will be unable to convey why I find them so cool.  For some places, it is easy to explain what makes them so cool, E-Bash is all about people coming together to share their love of video games, and Market Bella Rosa is all about great sandwiches and a comfy atmosphere to sit and chat.  But, I just can't put my finger on why I love the Coffee Cup restaurant so much, and if I try to write honestly about it, either the restaurant will seem humdrum, or my prose will seem like I've run off the road and crashed into a stand of hyperboles.  The Sycamore Farm is a little like that, its magic is in little nuances that don't come across in short reviews, or perhaps its magic is that it's main function in my life is as a rare romantic splurge.

The Sycamore Farm is a large 1860s farmhouse, on Poplar, by Dobbs park, that has been lovingly refurbished and turned into a bed and breakfast, which has been open since, oh, don't know and their website doesn't say, I'd guess around 2006.  They have four rooms worth of bed and breakfast, and also have a big old barn that has been fixed up and turned into a climate controlled event-catering facility for 40ish.  (Oh and a master rug maker lives in an upstairs suite at the top of the barn).  The grounds are large, with beautiful gardens, lawns, and gazebo, and they occasionally run large outdoor event there too.

Now, I've only ever stayed at one bed and breakfast other than Sycamore Farms, and it was pretty cool too, so maybe I'm just a sucker for bed and breakfasts, but all three times I've stayed at Sycamore Farms have been wonderful.  A few years ago my mother started the tradition of taking our kids to her farm for the weekend as a wedding anniversary present for Robyn and I, and we have taken to leaving our home and staying over at the Sycamore Farms.  I think we've stayed in 3 of there 4 guest rooms at this point.  They are exquisitely furnished, but in a very old-timey fashion, with fluffy beds, lots of comforters and old wood everywhere.  (Their website has lots of great pics constantly cycling)  Each room has its own balcony, and they are all pretty private from each other.  You can stroll the grounds, sit and smoke, play in bed, or ... Well, we haven't had TV in 7 years, so on the rare occasions when we have a functioning TV, we have a tendency to stay up too late and watch House marathons, or Food Network. 

And the food.  Oh, man.  There used to be a full restaurant downstairs, (well a very small one, mostly only open for dinners Fridays and Saturdays) called Buttonwoods and it was exquisite, incredible.  Perfect, and creative creations entirely based on local, seasonal foods.  Nearly every ingredient was  from within a county or two.  Often Robyn and I knew which farm the potatoes had come from, who raised the eggs, the meat.  And Chef Chris Kraut, turned these ingredients into little delights.  It was the epitome of terroir culinary ideology, make the food a distillation of the locale.  The best meal of my life was at a little local inn in rural France, the second and third best meals I've ever had were both at Buttonwoods.  Certainly, we found that knowing where the food was from altered the experience of eating it quite a bit.  Alas, Buttonwoods, per se, is no more, but you can still get Buttonwoods style food from Chef Chris Kraut, as the breakfast section of the bed and breakfast.  On our most recent trip to Sycamore Farms, we checked in, and er. settled in, had dinner and a movie elsewhere, then came back had chocolate covered strawberries (provided by them) and champagne while lazing in bed and watching the House marathon.  Then for breakfast we had yogurt parfaits of fresh fruit, and potato and vegetable fritattas.  Now I've had parfaits before, even yogurt ones with the little toasted oat crunchy bits.  But it's still a great way to show off fresh local fruits at the peak of ripeness, and set off with a few sprigs of herbs for contrast.  Likewise, the fritattas were a jumble of flavors and textures, held together with the eggs and light (mayonnaisey) sauce, and again highlighting the locale produce.  One of the other couples staying there that night were newlyweds with a just decorated car, but they ate breakfast before we did to get off to the airport in time.

Maybe that's what I love about Sycamore Farms, it makes me feel like a newlywed again.  The whole place is clearly a labor of love.  The innkeeps are personable and passionate. We've been to a few of the bigger events there, and they had the feel of a wedding reception even though they weren't.  It's earnest and caring, romantic and a little bit kooky, a little out of its proper time.  At Sycamore Farms, I almost feel like Venus herself is hiding behind a mist and smiling.  They are certainly     

Just one more reason I am proud of Terre Haute.

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