As I write this post, I am still in a whirlwind of gratitude and awe after my experience with Outstanding in the Field at the Blooming Glen Farms in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Outstanding in the Field brings a whole new meaning to the ever popular Farm-to-Table dining.
My night with Outstanding in the Field was fueled by locally-source libations and wines, exquisite food from the very farm we were dining on and stimulating conversation with new like-minded friends.
How Outstanding in the Field Got its Start
The founder of Outstanding in the Field, Jim Denevan, began this business with the goal of connecting people to the farmers who grow their food. Jim set his first table at his brother’s orchard in 1999, where only family and friends attended and it has since grown exponentially. Outstanding in the Field is now on tour and has been all over the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. They even have an event in Japan coming up very soon!
Hop on my magic carpet as I tell you about my extraordinary evening…
Along with hosting their events at local farms, Outstanding in the Field finds local chefs, typically from farm-to-table restaurants, to be the head chef for the night on the farm. Our chef was Chef Lee of Bolete and his second recently opened restaurant called Mister Lee’s Noodles.
At 3pm we arrive and make the short walk to registration and check-in.
On our way to the reception/check-in, we pass what I think is our dinner cooking.
We check-in and drop off our two dinner plates. Outstanding in the Field has the tradition of guests each bringing their own unique dinner plate from home to create a one-time one of a kind table setting. They even clean your plate for you before you leave!
We head over to the cocktail and reception area to the left where many people were already gathered, drinking and chatting away.
Two mixed drinks were offered from Eight Oaks Distillery, and a red and a white wine were offered from a Blair Vineyards, both local businesses.
First we tried the Log Cabin from Eight Oaks. Their Applejack is too good! It tastes just like apple cider, which could probably be very dangerous 🙂
Next, we tried the Haymaker. Like the Log Cabin, this went down far too easily. It was sweet, but not too sweet. You couldn’t even taste the alcohol. There was a moment of serious wonder if these were even really alcoholic.
Lastly, I tried the Cabernet Franc from Blair. This cabernet was delightful. Some peppery notes, some blackberry, mmm!
Hors d’oeuvres were being served during the reception as well. Pictured above is Mr. Lee’s noodles including BBQ beef, kimchi, egg, baby bok choy and shishito peppers. This was a flavor BOMB. So good!
We also had these adorable mini fried chicken sandwiches with a house-made buttermilk biscuit, b&b pickles and mustard greens. These seemed to be everyone’s favorite.
This one was really interesting! This was a blue cheese souffle with mushrooms, onion, red wine jam and micro amaranth. Oh my, were these creamy! They get an A++ in presentation for these little hors d’oeuvres.
Although most ingredients of the meal were straight from Blooming Glen Farms where our event was hosted, a few ingredients came from other local farms called Keepsake Farm and Profeta Farm.
At 4pm, Jim Denevan and fellow longtime employee, take the box to welcome us, tell us the backstory behind Outstanding in the Field, and tell us what else the evening holds in store for us. They then introduce us to the Blooming Glen Farm owners, Tricia and Tom.
An adorable farm couple take the box and tell us about their crazy idea of going against the norms of society, and one day just starting a farm! They spoke about their farm life with such passion. They told us about this past year in farming and the struggles they experienced throughout this hot, dry Summer we had. They were beyond grateful to be hosting another Outstanding in the Field dinner at their farm, or as they called it their “office.”
Then we took a tour of the farm, wine glasses in tow. We learned how exactly they go about planting everything. We learned that they harvest either the night before or the morning of farmers markets, so their produce they are selling is super fresh!
After the tour, we arrived at the breath-taking sight of our table all set for 200. We got our plates and found seats.
There were about 200 of us seated at the table; guests, farmers, owners/employees from the vineyard and distillery, all at one giant, beautifully set table.
Table to Field Dining
First course was Pennsylvania smoked trout and potato pancakes with a beet tartare with horseradish creme fraiche and chive.
The meals are all served family style, so between about 8 of us, we passed around each course. The men were such gentleman, and always let the ladies serve themselves first!
While sitting at table with that many people, you have a hard time not creating conversation with the people seated around you. You can’t go to an event like this and expect to not talk to anyone new. Not gonna work. We learned about each other. We appreciated our differences in occupations, generations (I was the youngest one at our table), and the town we came from. But we all shared this one similar interest in farm-to-table dining and an evening of good food together.
That white stuff on top…yeah, that’s all melted, ooey, gooey freshly made mozzarella cheese.
Underneath that mass of heaven is an heirloom tomato salad with pesto, arugula, pistachios, basil and garlic, served with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.
This was absolutely to die for. Although I have to say, I had to put some elbow grease into pulling a piece off of that mozzarella! I jokingly said we needed a steak knife to cut through that thing because it was SOOO stretchy and stringy. Fifteen minutes later, after I struggled through pulling a piece off, servers came around with steak knives! You know you have good mozzarella when you need a steak knife to cut a piece off!
Different wines, again from local wineries, were served with each course.
You can see in the background under those green tents is where the set-up kitchen is. They literally set up their kitchen the middle of the field and cook everything there! This whole operation was nothing short of amazing.
Above is a closer look at their kitchen.
Next up, rabbit with charred escarole, radicchio, broccoli rabe, pickled carrots, crispy celery root, pickle mustard, carrot mustard, and a cracked black pepper cracker. This was my first time having rabbit. It was quite tasty! It kind of tasted (and even looked) like turkey meatloaf.
Fourth course included veal, stuffed sausage, and stew. The veal was the one thing in this whole meal I could have done without. I thought it was very fatty and hard to get any meat off of it. It could have just been the few pieces I got. The stuffed sausage was awesome though!
These veggies went along with the veal, sausage and stew. I don’t think I’ve ever loved veggies so much in my life. And that says a lot because I naturally really do love veggies. But this dish took my love to a whole other level. In the mix was potato, butternut squash, kale, shallots, kobocha squash and locally-foraged mushrooms. Oh my. The best part about this veggie medley is that it was fire-roasted, and man could you taste it. There was this intense smoky flavor to these veggies and I loved it! Now to figure out how to get that same taste at home…Hm.
As it gets darker, servers come around and set out candles at the tables and pour the last wine of the night. They collect our plates to clean them.
Before long, these fantastic little mason jar cakes come out. Get a load of this: The bottom is apple cider cake, topped with apples from a local orchard, granola from a local farm, whipped cream and apple cider caramel drizzle
Shout out to everyone at my table who held up candles above these mug cakes to give me decent lighting for the picture!
Words cannot describe how delicious this was. It was the perfect way to top off the night. With the sun now down, and the temperatures dropping, the warmth of the cake was just what I needed! The taste of apples was perfect for the Fall-like temps were were feeling and felt so seasonally appropriate.
At the end the night and for the first time all night, the chefs came out from their kitchen in the field with lanterns and their sleepy children in their arms, to give their thanks and express their appreciation for such a wanderlust evening.
I won’t say too much else, as this post is long enough, other than this was probably one of the most incredible, one-of-a-kind experiences I have ever had. Tickets were rather pricy, around $200 a piece, but with all of the food and alcohol you get plus the pure magic of dining out in a field at a table of 200 people, it was absolutely worth it.
Farm-to-Table dining has taken on a whole new meaning to me. I would give this experience a 10 out of 10, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Check out their site to see if they are coming to a farm near you!