|Welcome to the farm dinner|
Guests arrived at the rural Afton farm location and parked their cars beneath apple trees. Spotted pigs grunted their greetings as they ambled around the fields, which smelled of fresh grass. The setting rolled out in dazzling shades of green, dotted by hay bales and lolling oak trees. A table was set for 125 people, dotted with mismatched plates and jars of jewel-colored pickles. Another event from Outstanding in the Field, the national touring collective that throws farm dinners to unite diners and the farmers who raise the food, was about to begin.
|Little Foot Farm|
The summer sun stretched long shadows across Little Foot Farm
. Owners Karen Weiss and Sally Doherty walked their guests through their picturesque farm. They introduced their heritage breed pigs, Berkshire and Gloucestershire spotted pigs, a collection that began with two pigs on a cross-country road trip in the back of a Prius.
|A myriad of ways to preserve the pork|
Their operation is still considered quite small. Their pork won't be found in local stores, instead going directly to chefs like Mike Phillips. Phillips's exquisite charcuterie was prominently featured in the first two courses. Guests arrived to a glass of beer from Dave's BrewFarm, or a bubbly rose, and a selection of headcheese and grilled vegetables.
|Kielbasa with kimchee, new potatoes and pickled chanterelles|
Each course prominently featured pork, a specialty of Scott Pampuch, returning from his new job at the Iron Horse hotel in Milwaukee to cook for the event. Last summer Pampuch held a series of Tour de Farm dinners inspired by Outstanding in the Field.
|Heritage breed spotted pigs|Outstanding in the Field
describes itself as a roving culinary adventure, reconnecting people with their food. What began in 1999 as a quaint dinner on an organic farm has become a destination meal, drawing fans from around the country to picturesque locals. A couple sitting near us had traveled from St. Louis to participate.
|Elegance in the field|
What draws guests are the meals made from ingredients that have been cultivated a few feet from the dinner table. On this occasion the pickles made by Pampuch and Stephanie Meyer of Fresh Tart
, who teach a "Provisions
" class on pickling, were set on the table like centerpieces.
|Porchetta (pork belly wrapped around the loin and roasted) with sauerkraut|
The menu included smoked kielbasa with DragSmoth farms kimchee: pickled, spicy perfection. It was followed by jiggly, fat-redolent Little Foot Farms porchetta, a salad with impossibly perfect fat tomatoes from Laughing Loon farm. Dessert was a simple little jar filled with peaches, plums, cherries, and tiny grapes that burst like bubbles on the tongue from Minnesota Peach farm.
|Cool breezes herald the evening, as the sun began to set|
After the sun went down, people made their way back to their cars, bellies blissfully full. A couple of girls sang out strains of an old Garth Brooks song. A spontaneous dance party took place in the driveway courtesy of car lights. The evening seemed to end with a collective sigh, as the stars lit our way back to the cities.