Outstanding in the Field is a bay-area organization that hosts "farm dinners." Dinner was $130/pp and included farm tour, parking, and copious amounts of food, drink, and conversation. The event was a benefit for Slow Food.
My husband and I drove to Carpentaria and arrived at a magnificent horse farm. We crossed the grounds to arrive at the Coleman Family Farm, a wild paradise of good-smelling things.
The event appeared a little unorganized at first. We arrived promptly at 2:00 p.m. and no other guests arrived for at least 30 minutes. However, they were pouring white wine freely and we were able to tour the flower garden and see the (tasty-looking) pig. Eventually, other people arrived and we learned that various people were told different starting times. Once we reached criticial mass the event went smoothly.
To begin the event, Bill Coleman took on us a tour of his amazing herb garden. There was a great deal of sniffing, rubbing, and tasting of plants and herbs. My favorites were the soft, bulb-less Persian leeks (terrific to chew on, or in soups or salads) and the fragrant lemon verbena.
Dinner took place over several hours and with the arrival of each course came a discussion of the preparation of the specific item and the Tablas Creek wine accompanying it. Much of the food came from the farm itself or other purveyors who were present.
There were about 75 guests and the tables were laid with white linens, flowers from the farm, and silver. The rectangular tables were positioned end-to-end and seemed to stretch into the horizon. The tables were positioned against an equally long, densly-planted flower bed.
The menu was Italian and cooked by Chef Evan Kleinman of Angeli Café. Each table of eight was served a heaping platter of each course. Everyone drank and chatted in a very friendly fashion. All of the food was cooked outdoors and much of it was cooked on a grill.
The menu included sweet and sour butternut squash, smoky marinated eggplant, handmade pizza bread cooked on the grill and smeared with a little brandade, heirloom tomato salad with burrata, ribollita soup, ricotta gnocchi dusted with parmesan and dyed with beets, fire cooked mussels, garlic-lemon chicken, salad of wild herbs and bitter greens garnished with ricotta salata and marconda almonds, and grilled peaches with amaretto ricotta cream.
Standout dishes included the sweet and sour butternut squash, intensely smoky marinated eggplant, pizza bread, tomato salad, ricotta gnocchi, and the salad.
Many people raved about dessert but my peach was underripe and still hard even after spending time on the grill.
The event ended at 7:00 p.m. when the firey orange and purple sunset faded. For the last hour they burned torches the length of the table.
We enjoyed the deeply colored and flavored Tablas Creek Rosé 2002 and the Esprit de Beaucastel 2000.
This was much more than a meal. I highly recommend the experience.
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