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« Onward, Upward | Main | Recap of Simple Good and Tasty Dinner: Red Stag Supperclub »
Sunday
Aug022009

Outstanding in the Field: MN Edition

On Friday as I drove my parents and Kyle farther West into the Minnesota heartland than I had ever been, my mother and I discussed how we had heard about Outstanding in the Field. She was certain that I, being "in-tune" with food culture, had told her about it. I, on the other hand, believed that she told me about it last year when her Houston goat cheese supplier (Blue Heron Farm) had their cajeta featured at the 2008 Outstanding in the Field in Texas.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Regardless of how we had heard about the meal, the four of us we were headed to Riverbend Farm in Delano, MN to experience our 1st farm dinner. The mission of Outstanding in the Field is simple: "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- MN

If that doesn't line up with my philosophy I don't know what does. The chefs, Scott Pampuch (owner and Executive Chef at The Corner Table) and Mike Phillips (Executive Chef at Craftsman Restaurant) teamed up with Greg Reynolds and his wife, the proprietors of Riverbend Farm. Both Pampuch and Phillips are well known in the Twin Cities for their commitment to fresh, local and organic ingredients, and Riverbend Farms are one of their go-to suppliers. In addition to supplying restaurants, Riverbend products can be found at local Twin Cities co-ops and they offer a CSA to a lucky 80 participants that signed up in March of this year.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

But enough with the small talk, onto the food!

When we arrived at the farm there were two options of beverages being served: 45h Parallel Spirits and Il Follo Prosecco.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

The lemonade vodka's being served by distiller Scott Davis were refreshing and smooth, but the prosecco was the best accompaniment for the Charcuterie being served up: headcheese (which is really becoming one of my favorite parts of charcuterie) coppa salame, MN cured prosciutto, Pork Rillette with spicy mustard and rhubarb compote, and house made mortadella. I've been a sucker for mortadella since I lived in Italy, and this provided me with a good fix.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

After we socialized a bit in the field, we heard from Jim Denevan, the founder of the nationwide dinners and Katy Oursler, Events Director. They gave us a brief background of how Outstanding in the Field was formed, their mission, and their travels. You can read more about much of what we learned here.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

From there we split into two groups and toured the farm. My group toured alongside Greg Reynolds, as he explained to us the theory behind his crop rotation while we got to enjoy the gorgeous July air.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Finally it was time for dinner. Just the anticipation of walking up to the gorgeous table set for 150 people made the price tag alone worth every dime. I immediately headed to the cooking tent where dinners were encouraged to watch the makings of the upcoming feast.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Our 1st course was a Farmer's Salad, composed of carrots, beets, potatoes, sheep's milk ricotta, pheasant eggs, salad greens, and a fresh shallot vinaigrette. There was a delicious blue cheese included too, but sadly it wasn't listed on our menu. The entire dinner was paired with Miner Family Vineyards Wines, which was a great flashback to California Wine Country. With the salad we were served a perfectly balanced Napa Valley Chardonnay. We got to hear from Pat Ebnet from Wild Acres talk about his poultry production as well as from Joe and Lou Jones from Idle Hands Farms, potato growers extraordinaire.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

It was around this time that Kyle noticed darkening clouds in the distance. I was skeptical they would ever reach us (have we had ANY rain in Minnesota this year, after all?) but it definitely made us wonder where 150 people would eat if a storm came our way.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Up next was cured Star Prairie Trout with cucumber, breakfast radish and cabbage coleslaw.
The fish was incredibly tender and mild, while the slaw provided a nice refreshing and light course, well paired with the Miner Viognier: clean, bright and citrus-y.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

My wonderful parents who get to enjoy Outstanding in the Field in Houston this September
Outstanding in the Field- MN

On to true Minnesota Fare (and who in Minnesota doesn't love sausage?). Next was Fischer Farm Fennel Sausage, served with a kohlrabi puree and braised greens tied together with a Honey Gastrique. Given the opportunity, I could eat this for dinner on a daily basis. The sausage was a coarsely ground pork and the fennel was brightened by the licorice flavor from the fennel. The kohlrabi was as smooth as the best mashed potatoes with a slight sweetness brought by the gastrique to tie it all together. The Miner Merlot was oaky, dry and full bodied with blackberry undertones.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

It was around this time we realized those ominous clouds were definitely coming towards us.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Never you mind, the next course was served without any hesitation. Large portions of Mark Simon veal served with a Riverbend swiss chard and a cornmeal "tamale" served on a bed of sweet corn, black turtle bean, succotash, veal demiglaze and herb butter. The tamale was a beautiful and delicious creation, with fresh sweet and creamy Minnesota corn. The veal was beautifully smokey, though I have to admit it was pretty hard to cut with my butter knife. Being the driver of the evening I only had a drop of the sangiovese, but recall a dark, earthy and dry wine. A clear cousin of a good Tuscan sangiovese, with the twist of American terroir.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

At this point the storm was upon us. The wind picked up and it was announced that dessert would be served in the greenhouses. The whole lot of us made the trek with the lightning flashing behind us. Many of us lingered outside of the greenhouses until the 1st drops of rain started to fall. The food, wine and weather combined made some of us a little loopy.

The storm approaching

Outstanding in the Field- MN


Getting my toes dirty

Outstanding in the Field- MN

All messed up on good food and great company
Outstanding in the Field- MN

Encountering friends

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Lighting strikes in the distance

Outstanding in the Field- MN
Dessert was the most unique of all courses: Riverbend cornmeal and Start Thrower farm sheep's milk cheesecake with sour cherry sauce, raspberries, black cap berry sauce, ricotta and honey ice cream. I didn't taste the ice cream, but at that point I was too infatuated with the storm to care.

A patron silhouetted by the outside barn light with rain battering the outside of the greenhouse

Outstanding in the Field- MN

The Greenhouse, lit only by lightning

Outstanding in the Field- MN

A man lit just by the light of his cell phone
Outstanding in the Field- MN

References (4)

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    Terrific Web site, Keep up the excellent work. Many thanks.
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    Fork, Knife and Spoon - Fork Knife and Spoon - Outstanding in the Field: MN Edition
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    Fork, Knife and Spoon - Fork Knife and Spoon - Outstanding in the Field: MN Edition
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    Fork, Knife and Spoon - Fork Knife and Spoon - Outstanding in the Field: MN Edition

Reader Comments (5)

Thank you for the most beautiful reliving of July 31! Mary Reynolds, Riverbend Farm

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My favorite post of yours. . .

Melissa Mc.

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMac

Funny. I watched you take those pictures. Glad to see that they came out so well. (And that the back of my head does not look as bad as I had feared.)

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris Hase

Nice pics, Kate. Except that goofy MF-er with Kyle. He's an idiot.

Here are some of the phonecam pix Missy and I took while we were there, nowhere near as excellent as yours, but another view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brirob/sets/72157621936050524/

I was dead on with the tiger pose. You 2 look great.

-Brian Roberts

August 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBR

Thank you for these gorgeous photos and your retelling of the evening. I was there and it was a magical evening! You really captured every amazing aspect of the night,thanks and I will revisit your blog!
Mary Quinn Mccallum

August 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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