The other day I was out standing in a field.
Well, we did a lot more than stand in a field, actually. We toured a farm, met new friends, had an outstanding meal from one of Seattle’s top chefs and enjoyed wine. Lots of lovely wine.
The dinner was hosted by Full Circle Farms in Carnation, Washington.
From Full Circle Farms:
“Our mission is to change the food system. Full Circle values organic and sustainable farming, transparency, and access to healthy food for everyone…”
And they’re doing just that – one box at a time, delivered to your town just for you.
Leah Scafe greeted us with her sweet smile. She plans all of the Outstanding in the Field events, matches up farmers, winemakers and chefs, organizes the entire staff, answers countless emails, picks up produce from a farm in Soquel and drives it two hours to a chef in San Francisco, makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. And she can still take a moment to appreciate a really beautiful piece of salmon or a stalk of celtuce.
We were also greeted with wine.
Chilled Gilbert Cellars Rose of Mourverde to be exact.
Almost as beautiful as wine in bottles… dahlias in bottles.
And enjoyed hors d’oeuvres.
I took the opportunity to find some more beautiful sites on the farm.
Oh, look. Here’s one – smoked mackerel crostini with radish and butter. Perfection.
And more wine.
Jone’s Farm pork rillettes with red wine cherries. Oh my.
The plates began to stack in a lovely way. Everyone is asked to bring their own – a tradition held since the first dinner in 1998. Unless, of course, you forget to bring yours. Then you can borrow from their beautiful mismatched collection as not to feel left out. That, and, you know, so you have something to enjoy your dinner on. Not that I would know.
And, finally, Dinah’s Cheese, tomato lavender chutney & marcona almonds.
Jim Denevan – That really tall guy who founded Outstanding in the Field. Chef, artist, ex-pro-surfer, photographer, placer of the table at the perfect curve or line or semi-circle, in the perfect location at the perfect time. Obsessive weather-checker. Captivating public speaker.
Andrew Stout , Full Circle founder and chief farmer, shared with us the mission of Full Circle Farm and then gave us a tour of this lovely place.
His wife, Wendy Stout, just as passionate and driven as her husband Andrew. Lovely people.
Andrew showing all the dinner guests the farm.
I cannot deny that this picture made it into this post simply because of it’s artistic value. You’re welcome.
Visiting a farm again reminded me of how hard this work is. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of responsibility and appreciation for the food that comes from an organic farm.
Shorty baby lettuce of various kinds in the greenhouses. Stunning.
I wanted to go for a ride.
The boxes that your organic fruits & veggies are delivered in.
More artistic value. Love.
After our tour, we made our way through the fields to our dinner table. And was it a table.
Rustic bread – perfectly baked. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Chilled water in bottles for refills and more wine. With this course, we were served Gilbert Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay.
The butter. Oh, the butter. With salts. Oh, the salts.
I wish I could portray how perfectly perfect this half circle table set in the middle of the Full Circle Farms was but for that I would need a new camera lense. Not that this would be a terrible thing.
125 people enjoying a lovely meal together at one very long table dressed with perfect white linens. There’s nothing like it.
I visited Chef Jonathon Sundstrom the owner and chef at Lark in Seattle. Honestly, he did more talking than I did because I know what it’s like to chat and cook at the same time and I am simply not good at it. But chatting didn’t shake him up a bit. Everything was perfect.
Again, because you can never get enough artsy pictures.
The platters lined up ready to be filled with a perfect dinner.
More wine? Yes, please.
Farm lettuces with baby beets, burrata & olive oil croutons
Baby beets, meet baby lettuces.
Refreshment on a plate.
The next course. Which, of course, means more wine – 2009 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges. Um, wow. Others described this as oaky. I befittingly, called out “Buttery!” Okay, maybe not so befittingly.
The view was as peaceful as it was astounding. Maybe even buttery.
With an alcohol content of 14.7%, this one had seriously sexy legs.
Yukon River Keta salmon with sugar snap peas, baby carrots. asparagus & lemon mint butter. I declare that a complete sentence. The smoked flavor of this barbecued salmon was knock-your-socks-off-and-then-do-back-flips good. Of course, I held off on the back flips cuz it would have made a scene. That, and I have never done one in my entire life.
I must admit, I never saw this flavor coming from my chat with Chef. For this is how things looked while the salmon was cooking. I tried to make every bit last as long as I could because it was so very flavorsome.
And then. Out of nowhere. More wine. This time we were served Gilbert Cellars Left Bank. I love you, Gilbert Cellars. I love you.
And then the sun decided to rest. And the evening just got better.
For there was Jones Farm pork loin with smoked pommess de terre Robuchon garlic scapes, escarole & porcini mushroom sauce.
Mushrooms were made for sauce and sauce was made for mushrooms. Amen.
More wine? Gilbert Cellars Riesling, perhaps. Well, okay. If I must.
Candied ginger shortcake with Billy’s strawberries, raspberries & lemon verbena whipped cream. Sweet baby Jesus this was loverly.
As the sun continued to slide down, we talked and laughed and decided that our table would have to be forever friends.
Our table’s pact which we had made at the beginning of dinner was that our table would not leave any leftover food on our platters. And with that, one of the guys scooped up this last piece of dessert. So kind of him to help us keep our word.
Our new friends.
And more new friends.
We have a date planned around The Old Hen’s fire pit soon. I cannot wait.
And with that, we slowly walked to our cars, never wanting the night with our new friends or the perfect dinner or the lovely wine to end.
Everyone walked slowly and meaningfully. For we had been reminded of how precious everything grown on a local farm is and how our food should be treated with respect and sincere in it’s preparation. And delighted in when it is served.
Outstanding in the Field is held all around the United States. Be sure to find one in your area.
Dusty shoes and full of joy – not unlike the team at Full Circle Farms.
Thank you, Outstanding in the Field and Full Circle Farms for an unbelievable evening.
From Outstanding in the Field:
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.
Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.
Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table.