We kicked off the trip with a welcome dinner at Table 28, located at The Burgundy Hotel, where Executive Chef Scott Rains prepared dishes using different varieties of rice in each course. We started with an amuse-bouche of Rice Crackers with Ham, Pimento Cheese, Pickles and House-Made Cornbread with Sorghum Butter for the table.
The first course featured Purple Rice cakes with Seared Bacon and Collard Green Kimchi + House-Made Sriracha. The balance of flavors and textures made me want to eat a second helping, but I HAD to save room for the deliciousness yet to come! The second course was Crispy Catfish with Zucchini, Sweet Peppers, Peanuts, and Wye Mountain Mushrooms in a Green Curry Broth featuring Ralston Family Farms Golden Rice. This was a real crowd favorite and we truly could not get enough! To finish the meal, we enjoyed Mochi Donuts with Golden Rice Mousse and Bourbon Soaked Plums. Everyone could not stop raving about what a thoughtful and well-executed menu it was. We were so excited about the farm tour happening the next day!
After a light breakfast, we boarded a bus for a scenic drive to Ralston Family Farms. The tour started with Tim Ralston showing us the beautiful rice fields and talking about all the different varieties of rice such a purple, red, golden, jasmine and basmati in brown and white, grown on their farm. They are proud, tenth generation farmers and focus greatly on sustainable farming practices. Tim shed light on how and why U.S.-grown rice is the highest in quality compared to imported rice and because the quality is so high, you do not need to wash U.S.-grown rice before cooking. He was also very proud to share that Arkansas is the #1 rice-growing state in America. It was very cool to see the large metal grain storage bins that hold huge quantities of rice directly after harvest.