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Outstanding in the Field farm dinner: a photo gallery

Farm dinners are all the rage in Minnesota and across the country this year, and with more and more people focusing on regional fresh ingredients, it's no wonder why. Sitting at a table with 149 other members of the community, along with the farmers who have devoted their blood, sweat, and tears to bringing the food on the table, surrounded by the pasture that fed the food on the table: It's the very definition of being intimate with your food.

On Saturday I attended my second Outstanding In the Field, a now international "roving culinary adventure" that has a mission statement to "reconnect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it."

Signs to Outstanding in the Field from the road
Signs to Outstanding in the Field from the road

The event starts off with a cocktail hour, allowing guest to sip on locally distilled libations paired with chef Mike Phillips's handmade charcuterie, followed by a tour of the farm to even further connect diners with their dinner.

MN-grown Parallel 45 vodka mixed with fruit and prosecco for an aperitif
MN-grown Parallel 45 vodka mixed with fruit and prosecco for an aperitif

 


Chefs Pampuch and Phillips working on a tamale salad
Chefs Pampuch and Phillips working on a tamale salad

The process of cooking for 150 in an open field brings with it a raw and real experience. Here, Chefs Scott Pampuch and Mike Phillips work on the line, dressing our tamale salad in unison. The tamales, made with corn flour from Riverbend farms, foraged black trumpet mushrooms and lamb from mere yards away, were as the event's name suggests, outstanding.

 

Ground Cherries and Yogurt served as a palate cleanser
Ground Cherries and Yogurt served as a palate cleanser

After hours of baking in both heat and humidity, the palate cleanser of ground cherries and sheep's milk yogurt was pleasantly refreshing, not to mention stunning. I love that it came out served on a 6-foot plank.

 

Lamb loin and offal on a bed of fresh veggies
Lamb loin and offal on a bed of fresh veggies

Farm dinners are not for the faint of heart. With emphasis on "nose to tail" cuisine, our last main dish consisted of lamb loin, kidney, heart and tongue. I'm a fan of offal in many, or even most, forms, but the only piece that rubbed me the wrong way was the kidney, which took the scent of barnyard and turned it into a flavor.

The sun finally gave us a break and allowed us at least 30 minutes of cool air before the mosquitoes hit. I love the way the last hint of sun lit up the wine glasses on the table.

For more information about farm dinners, visit Outstanding in the Field and Tour de Farm. Pictures from last year's Outstanding in the Field can be found on my blog here, and check back next week for a full recount of last week's dinner.


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