My friend and I went to one hell of a farm dinner the other night hosted by a little organization called Outstanding in the Field, a handful of people who travel the country on a bus putting on communal dinners the likes of which you’ve never experienced. The dinners are lavish and local. The tables are long and laden with food. The guests are true foodies, and while there is lively conversation, there are also lulls, even at a table of 155 people, because the food robs you of speech. Forgive me if this post is long. The food was plentiful and I must share photos of the whole experience so you will be sufficiently jealous.
The dinners, which run just shy of $200, include a tour of the farm, appetizers, five courses and wine pairings—everything hailing from just a few miles away. The farmers join the table; you might sit next to the cheesemaker or the couple who grew the greens. Good stuff happens. Organizers pride themselves on the placement of the table, sometimes in a meadow, other times in a sea cave. It’s a surprise every time. This particular dinner was held at Aquidneck Farm in Portsmouth, RI on a gorgeous piece of land. The chef, Matt Jennings of Farmstead in Providence, labored in the sun to bring us the perfect meal.
On our tour, we saw chickens and the cattle the farm is known for. Hours later, we’d be eating said cattle. Sorry, guys.
We toured the grounds on a tractor, probably one of the few tractor rides that affords an ocean view.
Clouds blanketed the sky in a perfect puffy pattern despite a pesky hurricane approaching that threatened to send us into the barn. Instead, the sun shone a warm afternoon light and even, for a few moments, offered up a rainbow.
And then there was the long table that spanned the field, reaching for the ocean.
And the food. I used to be happy with a little butter and salt on my butter. No more. These ears came drizzled with Louella’s queso fresco, aleppo pepper, and aioli. Why yes, I will have a little corn with my cheese.
Summer would not be summer without tomatoes. Unfortunately, tomatoes will never again be tomatoes without the creamy aussie feta that accompanied these heirloom varieties.
Thanks to the sacrifice of the cattle that grazed these grounds just days before, we enjoyed a grilled flank steak on a pole bean and cherry tomato “chow chow” with salsa verde.
After dessert—a cinnamon johnnycake biscuit with fire roasted peaches, whipped Narrangansett ricotta, and South County honey, the tea lights came out and with the last sip of wine (hello, six wine pairings), dinner came to a close. On the hay wagon, we were delivered back to the farm where our cars were waiting to take us back to reality. Sigh.