9.13.10 Outstanding Evening

The farm 790 xxx
photos by george billard
Outstanding in the Field is a very unique organization whose mission is "to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it." Every year they organize big farm-centric dinners, and then about 8 people board a bus and drive around the country making them happen. The dinners average about 150 people and take place on farms, on mountaintops and sometimes indoors in museums or barns. The one we attended was at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm in Roscoe, New York, and the guest chef for the evening was Jim Lahey of New York City's Sullivan Street Bakery (and the fantastic pizza restaurant, Co., also mentioned here.) He did an impressive job of putting fresh, delicious food on the table for 150 eager diners seated at one long table along a riverbank. It was a gorgeous setting and a lot of fun to break bread with strangers. The atmosphere was informal and highly convivial.
Strawberry shooters 790 xxx
strawberry-prosecco shooters
As we waited in line to check in, servers brought us bits of duck terrine with pickled vegetables and fresh radishes with mustard butter on Jim's incredible bread (Sullivan Street Bakery's pane pugliese is an all-time glutton favorite). Once through the line, there was wine, water and these strawberry-prosecco shooters, the taste of summer in a glass.
Jim denevan 790 xxx
Jim Denevan
Jim Denevan is the founder of Outstanding in the Field. An affable guy, it turns out he is a hardcore surfer who grew up in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California. He's also an artist who makes super-largescale ephemeral drawings on the earth's surface. He just got the Guinness Book of World Records' award for "world's largest ice art." (The project was sponsored by Anthropologie.) For more on Jim, see here, here and here .
Long table  790 xxx
It was a warm evening and blissful to sit alongside the lovely little river that runs along one edge of the farm.
Panzanella 790 xxx
Although the official first course was a salad made with greens and vegetables from nearby Windfall Farms, Jim also sent out this panzanella, a bread-&-tomato salad with microgreens and herbs.
Trout 790 xxx
Jim Lahey grilling fresh Beaverkill trout
Flatbread 790 xxx
grilled flatbreads
Duck breast 790 xxx
Besides the trout, the meal also included crispy duck breast and confit legs with lemon marmalade and turnips; a selection of cheeses from Calkins Creamery, and finally the most divine peaches with local honey, crumble topping and fresh blueberry ice cream made by our tablemate, Amy Miller of Early Bird Cookery. Did I mention the wine? There was a different one with every course, all from Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Fingerlakes winery. My favorite was  the Riesling. It was an evening to be remembered, and one whose spirit we will try to keep alive at our own table.


Ohh, I would love to have been a part of that group! we don't have anything similar here. Thank you for sharing. What's in the bread and tomato salad?
Vivian on September 13, 2010 at 6:28 am —
That looks blissful. It's funny, because Albano just sent me a link to Jim's website and I was blown away by his art and intrigued by the dinners. Lucky you! Must make sure Albano sees this.
Lisa Garriss on September 13, 2010 at 7:52 am —
So inspiring. Recently here in Montréal was held the Dîner en Blanc - a kind of flash mob dinner party where nearly 3000 people in white set up tables in the middle of the city and celebrate the summer evening. Quite beautiful, but I'd rather be sitting at this riverside table, celebrating this far more significant cause. (And eating that perfect-looking duck!)
David on September 13, 2010 at 8:56 am —
David, check their website. Outstanding in the Field may be coming to a farm near you; if not soon, then perhaps next summer!
laura on September 13, 2010 at 10:44 am —
Vivian, panzanella is a classic Tuscan dish and a great way to use up day-old bread. It's essentially croutons mixed with fresh chopped tomatoes, basil and a vinaigrette dressing. You can also throw in other vegetables, olives and even cheese, but simpler is better, I think.
laura on September 13, 2010 at 10:46 am —
what a pleasure to have shared this lovely evening and meal with good friends -- thanks for capturing it so beautifully
stephanie on September 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm —
Such a small world, one of my friends from Portland was at the same dinner. She loved it! Thanks for the beautiful photos.
Suzinn on September 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm —