Back in February, when it was cold and bleak, I received an e-mail from my mom with this link attached. It was the website of a company called Outstanding in the Field, a group of chefs and organizers who spend the months of May through October traveling around the country in a bus, setting up large farm-to-table dinners in fields, on beaches, and barns. Immediately, I was drawn in by the pictures of beautiful, simple tables and the idea of sitting down to a dinner of locally sourced food with a group of strangers. Really, what could be better?
Upon our arrival, my mom and I were greeted with a glass of wine and encouraged to explore the gardens before dinner began. We were fortunate enough to have been blessed with beautiful weather for the night, which was a happy surprise after the extreme heat, humidity, and rain we’ve been experiencing in Iowa as of late.
After an hour of wandering the gardens, drinking wine, and eating passed appetizers we were welcomed to have a seat at the table. Each ‘table’ of eight people was considered a family for the night, sharing group-style platters of food. Oh yeah, the food. You probably want to know what we had, huh? Here it goes…
Dinner started off with a salad of tomatoes, melon, basil, and a honey-citrus vinaigrette. In keeping with the local nature of the event, the tomatoes and basil were grown right on the farm. It was a wonderful reminder of the value of eating fresh produce and I was so jealous of the rows and rows of fresh basil plants.
Up next was a bowl full of delicious roast vegetables, including fennel, red and orange tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant, all grown on the farm. And on top, plenty of locally-raised smoked lamb with spices and fresh cilantro. I can’t speak for the lamb, but the veggies were delicious. Ooo that fennel. I might consider eating fennel at every meal from now on.
A meal in Iowa during the summertime wouldn’t really be complete without sweet corn, which is where this veal dish with roasted corn, red onions, and potatoes came into play quite nicely. Although I love fresh veggies, I was still pretty hungry after the first two courses and welcomed the potatoes and corn for a bit more substance.
And to top it all off, one of my favorite ways to end dinner. Freshly-picked berries from the farm, with chantilly cream and a cake that tasted more like a large croissant than a cake. I didn’t eat my whole piece for fear of how much butter I would be consuming, but boy was it hard to stop. Reminder to self: figure out how to make this cake.
Thank you, Outstanding in the Field! It was a delicious dinner and a memory to last a lifetime!
Have a wonderful weekend.