Outstanding in the Field is one of my most favorite dinner experiences I’ve ever had. I first discovered it in 2014, and have now been back this year, and plan on going again next year, and for years to come. Let me explain what it is.
In 1999, founder Jim Denevan came up with the idea of setting up a table in a farm, and inviting people to the farm, in order to celebrate the farm, the farmers, and the “gifts of the land”. Jim’s intentions were to have a large table with family-style food, and to inspire people to start up a conversation, to come together as strangers, and form a community around food. The company travels around the country (and recently added a location in Japan!) visiting various farms (and sometimes secret sea-coves), and working with the farmers and local restaurants to set up a delicious four-course feast.
My first time going, in 2014, we selected a location in Rhode Island. Since it was a bit of a drive, the three other girls I went with and I decided to turn it into a girls weekend trip, and we booked a B&B for two nights.
Once we walked onto the farm, Arcadian Fields, in Hope Valley, RI, I was immediately taken aback by how beautiful the table was. I had been eagerly looking at photos of the event in the six months prior to the event (tickets go on sale in March), but when you’re actually there, experiencing the event, it’s magical.
While they’re waiting for all the guests to come and check-in, you can explore the farm, drink a glass of wine, and sample some of the hors-d’oeuvres that are being passed around.
Once everyone has checked in, you are taken on a tour of the farm by the farm owner. The tour this year, was great. The owner showed us how she used a flame thrower to tend to her crops (and when we went back in 2015, people were still talking about it).
Once the tour is done, you are brought to the table, where you either borrow a plate from OTIF, or you use the one that you brought. You find your seat, and then the feast begins.
For our first course, we were served an Arcadian Fields tomato salad, with torn bread, sherry vinegar, holy basil, and Arcadian Fields mustard greens. This course was paired with a Red Hook Winery Dry Rose 2013.
I have truly never tasted tomatoes that fresh before in my life. I would have been content with just this as my entire meal, but I knew more was to come, so I tried my best not to fill up.
Course two was American Mussel Harvesters mussels & clams, Zephyr Farms Japanese turnips & radishes, sweet corn, Xiong Farms mint, and Arcadian Fields cilantro, paired with a Red Hook Sauvignon Blanc, 2010. Before this point in time, I had never had mussels or clams before. While they did accommodate for one of my non-fish eating friends (they’re great about dietary restrictions), I figured it was now or never, and I went right in. From what I remember, the corn was actually the show-stopper of the dish, but it was all delicious.
Next up, Kingston Trawlers grilled squid & Brown Family seafood bluefish, dry spiced eggplant, with City Farm oregano, dill, and 4 Town Farm pickled beans, paired with a Red Hook Winery ‘Vipolze’, 2010. The squid… was… phenomenal. It was grilled to perfection. Again, they were incredibly accommodating to my friends who didn’t eat fish, and had prepared roasted potatoes just for them.
Finally, for dessert we had North Bakery ice cream sandwiches, with Barden Orchard Satum peaches.
The entire experience was incredible. Every single person was friendly, including the strangers we were sat next to. Jim’s idea of strangers coming together and bonding over a food experience really shown through, and you could tell that everyone loved being there.
Things to Know: Tickets go on Sale in March for events starting in May up until November (although they do have a winter tour). Tickets sell out FAST, so if you are interested in going, make sure to be prepared. Also, yes, it is pretty pricey. BUT I promise you, it is worth every single penny.