It was a sunny, winter morning the first time I drove up the winding path to Spring Hollow Farm. Nestled in the rolling hills of rural Franklin, I found myself in what could only be described as utopian. There were plenty of wide open spaces on which these majestic Wagyu creatures roamed about. Their brownish, black fur was almost woolen around their chest and back. Their front end hunched over kind of like a buffalo on skinny, long legs.
Some of the mama’s bellies were swollen tight with soon-to-be born calves. Just around the bend, a flock of wild turkey foraged for their morning meal. There stood Doug the guard donkey just as I came up on the homestead. Running to greet me were a pack of the most beautiful, black german shepherds I believe I have ever seen. They escorted me to the front door of Tom and Vicki Moon’s log cabin home. After lighting a fire to knock off the chill, the Moons and I got ourselves acquainted…
The first in his family to go to college, Tom Moon spent many hours inside the courtroom as a trial attorney. Yet, he never managed to shake the farming “blood” that pulsed through his veins. Moon says he “went back to his raising” in 1986 when he bought Spring Hollow Farm. With numerous wet weather springs in that old holler, Moon saw its potential. He reconstructed the farm house where he would build a home together with his bride, Vicki. In 2008 the couple began converting their Angus cattle operation to fullblood, pureblood and F-1 Wagyu cattle.
Tom says he was hooked at first bite of 100% Wagyu. Yet, it was the challenge of uncovering the origins of such a rare breed which had him coming back for more. “My family has always raised cattle. Since I didn’t have the land to make row crops a profitable venture, cattle seemed a natural and logical choice,” says Moon.
These days, the 300 acres of pristine farmland is a way of life for Tom and Vicki. “We begin and end our day the same – feeding the cows,” Moon explains. Vicki refers to the cows as her babies. Knowing the animals’ role in our food chain, the Moons feel the responsibility to honor their herd with respect and integrity. When asked what a typical day in their life looks like, they kind of snicker a bit. No two days are the same on a farm. Their schedule depends on the seasons. If it is calving time, they collect and vaccinate the calves. Once a month they weigh all of the cattle on feed. If it is hay season, you can bet that they will be in the hay fields cutting, tedding, raking, bailing and hauling the hay to the hay barns. There is never a lack of things to do, but the Moon family can’t image a more fulfilling life.
I am so grateful to work with farmers like Tom and Vicki at Tennessee Wagyu. After all, Corbin In The Dell was founded upon sustainable principles with people who give a damn where their food comes from. But, it is in the relationships with folks like the Moons that I find the sweet spot. For more information about Tennessee Wagyu and a little WAGYU 101, please visit tnwagyu.com. You can continue the conversation with them on twitter/instagram @tnwagyu or on Facebook.
Wagyu is known for its intense marbling. Indeed, this is where the luscious flavor is found. Tom and Vicki recommend cooking Wagyu on a high heat for a very quick sear. It is best to serve Wagyu rare. Anything above medium-rare and you might as well not indulge in Wagyu, as the fat will melt away. This recipe skips the heat all together. Grab a fresh,crusty piece of bread and indulge in the unforgettable flavor of Tennessee Wagyu.
Tennessee Wagyu Tartare
4oz. Wagyu tenderloin finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 free range egg yolk
1 tbsp minced red onion
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tsp chopped capers
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
dried espelette pepper for finishing
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with dijon mustard,1 tsp olive oil and cognac. Stir in onions and set aside. In a larger bowl, salt and pepper the beef before drizzling olive oil into the chopped Wagyu to add a sheen. Fold in chives and capers. Stir enough of the egg yolk mixture into the Wagyu to create a spread. Serve immediately.
Note: It is important to keep tartare cold until serving. If served for a party, place the tartare in a small bowl that can be placed in a larger bowl full of ice.