A few years ago, Mahmood and I traveled 3,000 miles across the famed Karakoram Highway, the Silk Road that connects Karachi, Pakistan to central Asia. It is the road of legends, snaking along in the Indus River and up, up through the tallest mountains in the world. I must excavate my heart to even begin its description. It was magical.
Part of our strategy here at Stargrove is to grow food and create experiences that connect deeply with the people who experience them. It doesn't have to be complicated. In our minds, heritage foods are integral to crafting meaning--a strong sense of place, a definite taste profile, attention to craft and detail, something heartfelt, something true.
We didn't have much of an agenda when we travelled the Silk Road. We drove up high into the Himalayas and then we came back. One stop on the way was the small town of Dasu. The Indus is deep in this rugged mountain pass. In fact, a family friend lost his life when his Land Cruise slipped from the road and plunged over the roadside into the nearly-bottomless river below.
At Dasu, we planned to duck into one of the many PTDC guest houses for tea but, when we arrived, we discovered it had closed for the season. The goatherd, watching over a herd of mountain goats, opened the gate for us to come inside for tea in any case. He told us, "the inn is closed but you can have my hut if you want to stay."
In a life that has led me around the world, has found me dining with celebrities and chefs, in cabins and palaces, It was perhaps one of the truest expressions of hospitality I have ever experienced.
This year we are working on a number of projects that we feel will make our community better. That will employ people. That will create something beautiful. And yes, we hope these projects will also allow us to be more generous with our neighbors, more generous with ourselves.
And on that happy note, Merry Christmas.