Thank you Instagram, for introducing me to Outstanding in the Field! On July 8th, they posted this picture – and it was viewed by their 33 million + viewers, myself included. As of right now the picture has been liked by 502,000 people. After I saw the picture, I knew I had to be part of it. (Follow out_inthefield on Instagram) I reached out to the company and BEGGED to be a part of it, and I about fainted when they invited me to join their Sandy, OR, event held at Stargazer Farms. More on that in a minute.
Outstanding in the Field was founded in the late 1990’s by Jim Denevan. He held a few “farmer dinners” in Santa Cruz, CA, where the company is based. After hosting a series of these events, Jim realized that there was a need for more education about where people’s food was coming from. Here we are more than ten years later, and Outstanding in the Field hosts hundreds of farm-to-table dinners all across the country.
Jim and his crew of about nine people (that’s it!) hit the road every year in his vintage red and white bus, and host dinners at local farms, beaches, orchards, vineyards and more – all over the country. Outstanding in the Field connects the farmers – with the hottest chefs from YOUR area to bring you a meal using ingredients just feet from where you sit.
The goal of this amazing organization 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.”
Now on to MY night with Outstanding in the Field. Continue to see my pictures after the jump!
I bought a cute dress to wear, but as soon as I put it on – I had one of those FREAKOUTS – probably after seeing how cute Robyn was dressed…. I threw on my trusty all-black ensemble (say it fancy), and voila!
We arrived right on time, at 4:00PM. We pulled up to the GORGEOUS Stargazer Farms in Sandy, OR, and were welcomed by a girl who showed us where the “reception” was. We walked up a gravel road, on this gorgeous 100-year-old farm, and were shown to the beer and wine table. Wine for the evening was provided by Big Table Wine, and the beer was by HUB Brewery.
As part of the experience, we were each asked to bring our own plates. I went to Goodwill and bought a couple beautiful cobalt blue plates (you can kind of see it in the picture above), and we set them around a “Farm Dinner” display.
The wine was delicious…. absolutely DELICIOUS. Thank you to Big Table Farms for the incredible evening. I’m not a beer person, so I can’t really comment on the beer, but those who drank it said it was insane! I would comment on how much wine I drank, but I’m not going to. I’ll just keep you guessing!
After we had some drinks, servers came around with three gorgeous appetizers. So beautiful, you need to pause and take a picture of them (which I did…of course). I think Robyn actually died and went to heaven with the mushroom crostini. She came back down to enjoy the other two. Here were the appetizers:
- Homemade Buttermilk Ricotta & Wild Mushroom on Crostini
- Country Pork Pate with Pickled Onions & Mustard Seed
- Smoked Trout & Creme Frache on Crostini
We were able to walk around a bit at this time, really take in the whole farm, and the beauty that surrounded it. The farm overlooked the Sandy River, which was a gorgeous sight.
Here’s a picture of the super cute hotshot chef Chris DiMinno in action at the appetizer table. He’s the chef of Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, and he is a wizard with food. Let me tell you. Spectacular. The elements he put together for our experience was amazing. Genius. I’ve never been to Clyde Common, and after this event, I’ll be there in a hot minute.
After everyone had their fill of the delicious appetizers, the owner of Outstanding in the Field, Jim Denevan, came forward and talked with everyone about the organization. He was wearing jeans, flip-flops, a comfy plaid shirt and a cowboy hat. He just made you feel at ease, like you were about to experience something pretty amazing, and he was right.
After we learned more about the company, and Jim’s passion behind what he’s doing, we took a tour of the farm. Host farmers Billy Tosheff & John Steffes explained more about the farm, it’s amazing history, and how things operate. We learned that the farm is nearly 100 years old, and Billy and his then-wife Isabelle bought the farm 5 years ago, with the desire to bring amazing produce to Portland area restaurants. The farm provides excellent produce to local restaurants, such as Clyde Common.
Farm owners Billy and Isabelle talked about how they are working to transform the once run-down property into a thriving farm again. To see all the old structures really was beautiful.
We then walked through the farm, saw fields of quinoa, kale, potatoes, beans and much, much more. It was pretty amazing being among all this beautiful produce, knowing we’d be eating it ourselves, soon. In the distance (below) you can see our table, and a beautiful 1950’s airplane as our backdrop.
We each grabbed the plates we brought, and were allowed to pick where we wanted to sit. I placed the menu on my plate – and thought – are you KIDDING ME!? Look at this menu!
We were seated at the beautiful, long, table, covered in white linen, with about 75-100 other diners. Sound intimidating? The hair on my husband’s neck stood up at the THOUGHT of eating with this many people. But in all reality, it was absolutely magnificent. Sure, we were eating with all these people, but it was more intimate than I could have ever expected! To our left we had a lovely new mom, and her beautiful baby girl. To our right we sat with a group of Nike lawyers who had flown up from California. (We had a fun discussion about Lance Armstrong!) Everyone was beyond lovely and friendly.
Directly across from us, we hit the jackpot by sitting with Isabel Cruz. THE Isabel Cruz! Not only is she part-owner of Stargazer Farms, but she’s also the owner of SEVERAL restaurants in Portland, Ashland and San Diego. What a beautiful person, inside and out. She was amazing. Following our dining experience, she took us on a personal tour of the farm, including showing us the inside of some of the older building’s. Thank you Isabel!
First Course: Our first course (which was paired with another wine by Big Table Farms), was a beautiful fresh Kale Salad. The Kale Salad was tossed in a sunflower seed pesto, and had pickled zucchini, apricots, pistachio’s and golden raisins. It was topped with a beautiful toasted cheese. I am not a huge kale person (unless it’s in a smoothie) but this salad was to DIE FOR. We had three servings each! Couldn’t get enough!
Each course was served family-style, which is part of the whole experience. If you’re worried you wouldn’t get enough to eat – think again. More food than you could ever eat.
Second Course: Pork Belly! This beautiful pork belly was served over a frisee salad, tomato-stewed white beans, tossed with a chive & tarragon dressing and topped with sea salt. Everyone ate this up – very, very quickly. The pork belly was so tender it literally melted in your mouth.
Third Course: Grilled Strip Loin! The beef sat on top of smoked onions, scallions, fennel, and butter and cream braised red potatoes. This was the highlight of the meal for me. The beef was so tender, you didn’t even need a knife to cut it. It was unbelievable. Like…… to die for. The butter and cream potatoes were straight from the gods. I don’t know where I found the room to eat anymore, but I did.
With each course we were given a new wine to try. They were each better than the last. A beautiful Syrah was served with the beef. It was insane. Just when you think you can’t take any more – they bring out dessert! The dessert was labeled “Chocolate Salami” which throws a LOT of people off, I was a bit taken aback myself! Once the server explained it to us, I knew it would be beautiful, but Salami? Really? What it is – is a chocolate truffle/like texture rolled up with pumpkin seeds and then rolled in powdered sugar, to make it look like salami. No meat here, don’t worry. They served it alongside salt & pepper shortbread, fresh strawberry preserves and golden artisan cheese. It was magnificent. The shortbread….. out of this world….. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
After our dining experience wrapped up, the small crew that is Outstanding in the Field (plus Chef Chris) came out and thanked everyone for being a part of this. We all cheered and thanked the team for such an incredible night. If ever you are looking for an unbelievable night out – you MUST do this. To my Oregon friends, start saving now – and DO THIS when they come back next year. I know I will!
For those of you outside of Oregon – Outstanding in the Field is JUST GETTING STARTED! They are running their tour through NOVEMBER and have plenty of stops to come! Check out this timeline for their tour schedule, and buy your tickets NOW!
I was not paid for this post, this is an honest review of my most enjoyable night. Thank you so much to everyone at Outstanding in the Field for one of the most remarkable night’s I’ve had in a while. I cannot WAIT until 2014 when I can be a part of it again!
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