You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Outstanding in the Field.  Ok, that’s a bold statement, but in a word, OITF is Outstanding.  I’ve been hearing about it for years, so when my friend emailed me this spring announcing that tickets were going on sale, I jumped at the chance.  Apparently I jumped a bit too late, as all the NY area dates were already sold out and I was discovering that procuring tickets for an Outstanding in the Field event was about as easy as getting front row seats at a Katy Perry concert!

The Outstanding in the Field mission:

“Our mission 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.”

So, in a new interpretation of a ‘moveable feast,’ OITF, along with local farmers and guest chefs, host dinners at farms across the country and abroad.  Typically, a long table seating about 80 guests is set up on the farm in a flower patch, a sea cave, or among the crops or gardens.  Upon an afternoon arrival, guests enjoy wine from local vineyards and passed hors d’oeuvres made from local farm ingredients. Up next is a tour of the farm, its history, and many crops.  You are seated before sunset and dinner is served family style.

We were able to snag tickets to Earthtrine Farms’ dinner in Ojai, CA.  BD and Liz Dautch were our hosts and Rachel Main from Main Course California was our guest chef.  BD is a charming and passionate man who lovingly declared that his 10 acres are ‘just a big garden.’  His ‘garden’ included a row of fenugreek planted especially for our table to sit upon, fava beans, garlic, and an acre of herbs.  As he showed us around his orange groves and over 100 varieties of basil (!), he shared that he, his wife, and firstborn son are all the sign Taurus, therefore the name Earthtrine Farm, making reference to the astrological triangular relationship of these three earth signs.

Rachel Main cooked a superb meal using the farm’s ingredients, as well as some local seafood.  The Santa Barbara spot prawn salad, chilled lettuce soup with nasturtium and arugula ice cubes, and the carrot purée were all standouts (in fact everyone was so excited over them that the chef promised recipes!)  The dessert was positively sublime….pudding cake with Meyer lemon and thyme, vanilla bean whipped cream, Earthtrine Pakistani mulberries, honey and Santa Barbara pistachio nut brittle.  Are you hungry yet?

Fun fact: it has become tradition to bring your own plate to use for the dinner. It is then collected, washed, and returned to you post meal.  If you forget yours, there is a great big trunk full of plates from which to choose. . .

I so loved this experience, sharing with friends and meeting new ones, and came away with a real desire to eat more ‘farm to table’.  I have decided to start with a small herb garden at home and go from there.  I have also decided to treat myself with another OITF experience in November before the season ends….and so should you!