I took my husband to the Outstanding in the Fields dinner at Ayrshire Farms on Saturday. I'm not exactly sure it was worth the $180 price - although it was a fun experience to do once.
The dinner happy hour started around 3 p.m. The crowd, mostly from DC, consisted of well-heeled foodies with well-developed palates and many stamps in their passports. Dress was casual – sundresses, capris and light pants for the men (if you go, be sure to wear walking shoes – a farm is no place for heels!)
After 90 minutes, Jim Denevan introduced himself and the program. Then we split into two groups and toured the farm’s barns and gardens. One of Ayrshire’s trademarks is their devotion to humanely raising calves for veal. They are also interested in raising rare breeds, such as the Ancient White Park Cattle. Our guides were fairly earnest, as you might suspect, but also down to earth.
As far as the food goes, here’s what we had, along with the wine pairings. Most of the courses were served family style, with a fair amount of time between courses (and no bread to snack on). My notes about each course are in parenthesis afterward.
Gloucester pork rilette, Everona truffle cheese, vegetable salsa on Red Truck Bakery crostini. Firefly Farms goat cheese basil souffle with Red Truck Bakery potato bread. Wine- Glen Manor 2008 New World Sauvignon Blanc,
(These were passed out as we were waiting for the program to begin. Honestly, these appetizers were fairly average – and not as plentiful as you might expect for a group that big. As soon as the servers came out of the house, they were surrounded by people looking for food. We also thought this wine, from a Virginia winery, was a little dull.)
Chilled butternut squash soup with mead creme fraiche. Wine- Glen Manor 2007 Old World Sauvignon Blanc.
(This cold soup was thick and creamy, really just lovely on an afternoon with termperatures in the low 80s. We also liked this wine better than the first.)
Confit of Ayrshire guina hen crostada, served with Boxwood Vineyards Topiary.
(For this course, we received individual pieces of what seemed like a chicken tart. We thought it was a little dry. This wine was one of my favorites for the evening, however.)
Market Garden salad with pickled Ayrshire Farm eggs, lardon of bacon and Asian pear, Srved with Boxwood Vineyards Rose.
(This salad, with a vinaigrette style dressing, truly was outstanding. Still not a fan of roses though!)
Braised rose veal shoulder with Market Garden applewood smoked onions, grilled beets and carrots. Served with Boxwood Vineyards Boxwood.
(We both liked this veal, which is the specialty of the farm. It was served almost stew style The vegetables were also quite good.)
Market Garden ground cherry & Hess Orchard apple crumble with local honey, served with Glen Manor 2001 Late Harvest Chardonnay.
(Loved this dessert, very tasty and the dessert wine was also worthwhile. By this point, the sun had set, candles were lit and the atmosphere was a little dreamy)
So overall, was it worth it? For us, it was, considering it was a special occasion. I did think that the portions were a little skimpy, although the wine pours were plentiful. It wouldn’t hurt to have some bread or olives or something for people to nibble between courses, especially as they are downing all that wine.
Was it the best meal I ever had? Not by a long shot. Really, it was the the spectacular location that made the dinner - there’s something charming about dining in the open air, especially when you have great weather and nice views. The conversation we had with our dinner mates contributed to our enjoyment. If I did it again, I would probably sneak a few rolls into my purse!)
There are photos of the dinner on my website. Hope this was helpful.