9.6.11 Outstanding Ovation
Welcome back, dear readers! How I have missed you! True to form, the month of August flew past in a frenzy of gardening, entertaining, hurricanes and, sadly, poison ivy. I never sat in the hammock, did not put even one dent into the promised coding of recipes and went on precious few hikes, but I did make some delicious frozen yogurt and popsicles, perfected my gazpacho recipe and reorganized both my freezers. One highlight was definitely the Outstanding in the Field dinner we attended in Chester, New York. You may remember we went to one in Roscoe last year. It was held at Blooming Hill Farm, where more than 200 varieties of organic produce are grown on this unbelievable black soil. This area of Orange Country is actually known as the "Black Dirt Region" because of the dark, extremely fertile soil left over from an ancient glacial lake bottom and augmented by decades of past flooding of the Wallkill River. (They found wooly mammoth remains when they were planting the farm!) It was long considered wasteland, but when Eastern European immigrants arrived in the mid-19th century, they recognized this type of land and knew how to dig trenches to drain it so it could be farmed. I've never seen anything so rich and black and loamy; it looks like devil's food cake.
OITF suggests you bring your own plates—not because they don't supply them, but to act as a sort of ice-breaker. I brought our melamine plates by John Derian for Target.
The forecast was for rain (big surprise) so tents had been set up in the farm's enormous fields. It was warm, humid and overcast when we pulled in. The ground was soggy. We stood around drinking prosecco and marveling at the sheer greenness of the place. Then came the hors d'oeuvres...
Everything was so fresh! The food was created by Chef Bill Telepan, whose restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is known for its farm-to-table approach to seasonal menus.
Guy Jones has been farming these 40 acres for 27 years and now supplies many of New York's finest restaurants, including Babbo, Prune, Union Square Café, Savoy and, of course, Telepan. Blooming Hill is a small, family-operated farm, one of only two still hanging on in what was once the breadbasket of the American Revolution.
Who knew that these knobby tubers grew at the bottom of such huge stalks? They are a native plant and supposedly pretty easy to grow in these parts, so maybe we'll plant some on our new land in Forestburgh.
It was a beautiful evening and a lovely dinner. I already look forward to next year's for what is fast becoming a summer tradition. Visit the Outstanding in the Field site to find out about next year's dates; the dinners take place all over the country, and have even started in Europe!