Tuesday, my son Tim invited us along with a few other guests to dinner at his farm. Well, Ok, more than a few – the table was set for 122. The weather was a little cloudy, cool and comfortable for an outdoor occasion.
The scene was a grassy knoll overlooking the farmhouse and pond on one side, the field with tomatoes, peppers etc. on the facing hill, and woods behind.
All right – you have the impression that this is more than an ordinary picnic, right? Yes, a special occasion indeed, arranged by Jim Denevan as part of his series Outstanding in the Field. Jim’s organization travels around the country, presenting dinners of local fare in a setting amid the fields and farms that produced the food on the menu; featuring not only local produce, but other local goods as well, from the main course to the beverages and dessert.
The event begins with a sparkling wine bar in the field, with hors d’oeuvres, a field tour and a short reading from Tim’s book. We particularly enjoyed the cardoon bread pudding, made with cardoons (an artichoke relative) that Tim grew in the field here. The sparkling chardonnay, along with the other wines on the menu, were from an award-winning local winery, Pinnacle Ridge.
I got pictures of the stuffed baby bell peppers (above) but not of the other appetizers – they went too fast! Loved the smoked trout & corn blini, too!
The food is prepared by local professional chefs; in this case not exactly local – the presiding chef was Bill Telepan of New York City’s Telepan restaurant. He brought help along, too, from another New York restaurant, the Gotham Bar & Grill. Undaunted by the relatively primitive conditions, Telepan and his staff did a great job…. the flavors were all superb, the presentation beautiful.
It was already near dusk as the assembled crowd began to make their way to the tables.
The first course looked good before it was assembled,
By the time it reached the table, it was fabulous, topped with edible nasturtium blossoms.
The succeeding courses were served in the dark, the small candles at the table hardly served to show the faces of our fellow diners; we have no idea how the food appeared, just that it tasted fantastic, interesting flavors that were at the same time subtle and savory, without exception. We sat at table across from the beekeeper whose honey was part of dessert; and met the farmers who raised the pig, the peaches, and the goats that provided the milk for the feta. Our other table companions included a couple from Coney Island, three friends from North Carolina, and even some of the farm workers who had helped provide the produce on our plates.
By the time we finished dessert, it was 10 PM, the full moon had risen, and the temperature was down in the 50’s; all conditions that we’re normally unaccustomed to at dinner; nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves, the food and the conversation immensely. These days it makes all the sense in the world to buy and eat local products; we didn’t need to be convinced – but what a way to enjoy! For another view of the event here’s the article from the Reading, PA Eagle.