In today's world of pre-processed and packaged foods, we've become detached from what we eat with little awareness of what foods look like in their natural form. It's no surprise that many school-aged children have little to no way of connecting what they are eating to the pictures they see of the foods that bear the same name. Outstanding in the Field, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company with staff from all over the world, travels the country in a big red bus with the goal of helping to bridge the gap between food and consumer, celebrating the farm-to-table concept by literally bringing the table to the farm.
And yesterday, they brought the table to The Farm at Agritopia in Gilbert.
Outstanding in the Field's "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 does just that, and in a very personal way. Large farm tables are set up, not just on the farm, but actually in the fields where some of the ingredients in an evening's meal may have been harvested just hours prior. Many of the farmers who produced the bounty are present for the feast where they can interact with the guests.
Outstanding in the Field brings dinner events to up to 90 locations each season. Agritopia leases plots of land available to people who want to exercise their green thumbs, yet have no land to grow on. Agritopia also does its own commercial farming, supplying local restaurants with locally-grown produce.
FnB in Scottsdale is one such restaurant that obtains ingredients from Agritopia. FnB's own Chef Charleen Badman, renowned for sourcing her ingredients locally (sometimes from her own personal garden), prepared a plethora of amazing dishes for the night. See Also: Outstanding in the Field comes to The Farm at Agritopia (Slideshow)
To begin the meal, hors d'oeuvres consisted of roasted butternut rumaki, tuscan kale falafel with Sina's sauce and pomegranate and shishitos with sunflower seed tahini, spiced with vadouvan. This was paired with Pillsbury WildChild White wine from 2011 and a selection of beer from Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Once this concluded, Outstanding in the Field's founder, Jim Denevan spoke a bit about his endeavor, the Outstanding bus, and some of the history behind all of it. Then it was time to be seated at the table and for dinner to begin.
The first course included bread with radishes, blue cheese butter and pistachios, hard boiled eggs topped with pepper relish and a carrot socca topped with a shaved carrot salad, paired with Pillsbury Roan Red from 2011.
Next came a fall mustard green salad with braised chicken hearts along with a variety of roasted zucchini over quark and Pillsbury Diva 2011.
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The main course consisted of grilled chicken from Two Wash Ranch, Moroccan style with preserved Meyer lemon and aleppo. Along with it came eggplant kasundi and an Arizona ancient grain salad with pima lima beans, garbanzos, and a long list of other produce, all over flatbread. Pillsbury Symphony 2011 was paired with this course.
Finally, dessert included Rainbow Valley ricotta, Noble apricot pecan bread, dates, and sliced apples topped with honey. Also included was a butter pecan sticky toffee cake push pop, a collaborative dessert between Badman and Helen Yung from Sweet Republic. Guests were also given a Nutswhat FnB chocolate bar on their way out.
Everything was served "family style" in abundance, but at $190 a ticket, you better bet those plates were well cleaned.