Outstanding in the Field
Saturday August 8th
Seedling Farm near South Haven, Mi.
After a two hour drive in a heavy downpour, we arrived at Seedling Farm way early.
We were warmly greeted by the staff and Jim Denevan. Told that beer and/or champagne would be available shortly, we wandered the farm peeking into the original farmhouse, checking out the old(circa 1850) and still used and quite useful outbuildings.
About 30 minutes later Esporao Reserva Bruto 2006 and Goose Island Matilda were being poured.
Another half hour and appetizers were brought around. At this point I should say that 130 people attended and they arrived between 4 and 5pm.
Apps were served on bread baked by the pasty chef from Fox and Obel
1) rillette and Seedling Farm fruit
3)Col Bill Newsom ham and goat butter(from Publican)
The chef was to be the Publican chef but as we were talking to some woman(she had a dog...my wife's a vet) she introduced herself as Paul Kahan's wife Mary. We hadn't looked too closely at the outdoor kitchen personnel but as we wandered near to check out what was in the smoker when they opened it up, there was Kahan checking the temp of the meat. Seeing us he said that he hoped we weren't expecting some fancy-smantzy dinner. I told him no and that if we wanted that we would go eat at that Blackbird place. He wanted to know why we would go eat at that f***ing place.
Watching them cook was really amazing. They're turning out the apps, grilling chickens and corn and in the smoker, five or six huge chunks(lack of a better word) of pork.
After plenty of apps and about four or six refills of beer and champagne we all gathered around Deneven as he gave a short talk on the history of OITF. 144 dinners, 14000 served. He then turned it over to Peter(last name forgotten) the farmer. He talked about the farm and what they are trying to accomplish("grow really f**king amazing fruit"). They are growing 100 varieties of apples, melons, strawberries, peaches and other fruit.
As he talked we wandered through the fields and he was just really interesting. Told a great story about Whole Paycheck and how they tried to sell his produce but couldn't make it work because it was too fresh and ripe.
It's now about 6:30 or so and we head back for dinner.
I should mention that earlier during "cocktail hour", they were out in the field picking the strawberries for our dessert and that at the end of our tour Peter asked us if we wanted to pick berries also in order to contribute to the nights dinner and most did.
Due to the expected rain the dinner tables had been setup inside one of the barns but since the sky cleared, they moved them outside between rows of apple trees. An amazing sight.
Glasses of Brochelle Rose 2008 or Goose Island Sophie were poured and we ate.
1)Whipple Organic Farm beets and burrata
2)Growing Power cucumber and hazelnut salad
3)Nichols Farm corn and aioli
Everything is served family style
That was followed by farm chicken and toulouse sausage and french fries! of all things.
They were now pouring Huber Pinot Noir 2005 and Goose Island Harvest. Earlier while Sophie was being poured, the Goose Island brewmaster gave a short talk.
Then Becker Lane Organic Farm porchetta was served. This was just a huge chunk of meat and we were already getting pretty full.
Dessert was polenta cake with Seedling Farm peaches, strawberries and caramel gelato.
Porto Barros Colheita 1994 was poured.
Just an awesome event. Sitting with people you didn't know a couple hours earlier and having spirited conversation about food, drink and life. Dinner ended between 10 and 10:30.
You want ambience? How about sitting at the table, drinking a glass of Pinot as candles are lit and the sun sets beyond the farm fields.