Outstanding In The Field

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Continuing the adventure of my "funnest summer EVER"", I had the chance to attend an Outstanding In The Field dinner Saturday night in Boulder. I have known about this very cool organization since my brother attended one of their dinners in Paonia (the other side of the mountains from me) a couple of years ago. I've just been waiting for them to come to Boulder. The brainchild of the very talented land artist, surfer and self-taught chef, Jim Denevan*, the group hosts dinners around the country out in farmers fields, between the soil and the sky, bringing people directly to the food source. This year they will host over 40 culinary installations across the United States and several in Italy. Check out the schedule here to see if they will be in your area. 

Driveway

Boulder's Outstanding dinner was held at the Munson Farm. Committed to the kind of agriculture that brings their produce straight to the people, Bob Munson and his family have been farming in the Boulder valley since 1970.

Cocktails

Jim partnered with the very talented chef/sommelier team from Frasca Food and Wine – one of the best (and nationally recognized) restaurants in Boulder, to cook our beautiful farm dinner. Bobby Stuckey, Frasca's sommelier, pouring a lovely Anselmi Prosecco as we gathered under the cottonwoods for our aperatif before dinner. 

Jim-and-bob

Jim (in the cowboy hat) talked to the group a little bit about his vision, and how Outstanding In The Field began, and welcomed us to this amazing farm. Bob Munson is on his right and Mike Munson, Bob's son, is on his left. 

Bob

We meandered for a bit on a tour of the Munson farm from the man who runs the ditches and oversees every minute detail of this 35 acre farm. A former Ball Aerospace engineer, Bob turned his considerable talents to farming almost 40 years ago. He's very passionate about his land, his produce and farming. Engaging and inspiring, he made me want to pull on my wellies and walk the ditches with him at 2 in the morning. The water rights for this piece of land date back to 1861 and the water comes undisturbed from high in the mountains – one of the reasons his vegetables are so good.

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They grow a lot of heirloom varieties – these little pumkins look out over their cousins in one of their fields.

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Fire up the oven – these acron squash need a good roasting. Great colors!Photo 

Bob grows the best corn EVER! We've been buying from their farm stand, just a mile from the farm, for years. My favorite is called Peaches and Cream – smooth and sweet, with big kernals bursting with flavor. He picked some straight off the stalk,Photo 
 
and let us eat them right there. They didn't need to be cooked or buttered – it was just pure corn goodness. I was surprised to find out that the culinary version of the corn he grows only yields one ear of eating corn per stalk. That's a lot of plant for one ear of corn. I have a new found reverence for the golden cob on my dinner plate.

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Another heirloom squash varietal waiting to be hoisted over to the farm stand.Photo

The sunflowers vie for our attention.

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After our farm tour, we approached a tented cooking area. Up to this point we had no idea where we were going to eat. We couldn't see the tell tale long table that Outstanding in The Field is famous for. Rumor had it we were going to be eating in the barn due to threatening weather.

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Well…we turned the corner, and what we couldn't see while we were downing our proseco under the cottonwoods, was this amazing site of a white linen draped looonnnggg table smack dab in the middle of Bob's wonderous 8ft tall corn field. What a sight to behold! Culinary installation at it's finest.

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The wonderful chefs from Frasca were busy chopping the sorrel for our pasta dish.

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The menu was carefully planned to take advantage of the season's bounty from the Munson farm.

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The fabulous (really no exaggeration) food was served family style and a platter is carried down the corn lane by Jim.

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The opening act of this incredible dinner was a tomato salad with a wonderful creamy Italian mozzarella called burrata that the chef from Frasca had been hording all week for our dinner. Drizzled simply with olive oil and balslamic vinegar and topped with fresh chopped basil. Perfect.
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The wonderful tomatoes for the above mentioned dish came from Cure Farms, just a mile down the road from the Munson's. Here Jim and Ann Cure talk about her farm and their love of all things tomato.

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The tomato dish was followed by this heavenly plate of goodness – hand-cut "pasta alla chitarra" with pancetta, summer squash and oregano. YUM! This was truly the taste of summer. Topped with chopped sorrel, it's buttery goodness cut only a bit by the lemonyness of the sorrel. Oh my god!

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I could have stopped right there with the tomato dish and the pasta. But wait, there's more. Vegetarians avert your eyes! These lamb racks are patiently waiting their fate on the grill.

 
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The grilling begins….

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and this lovely dish of grilled lamb with rosemary over Munson farm corn and green bean salad appears.

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The peopled dining table.

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Jim regales us with a story. 

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The Outstanding braintrust had the very clever idea of setting up a ladder at the far end of the table so us shutterbugs could climb up and get a good view of our table extraordinaire.

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As the evening settled and we were dreamily satiated with the smell of the earth and grilling lamb and numerous glasses of exquisite wine, a tiny moon appeared over the corn's feathery tops. Jim had us all take a moment of silence and we just quietly listened to the soundscape of the cornfield. Trascendent.

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But wait, there's more. Dessert was a delightful Munson farm peach and almond frangipane tart with vanilla crema.

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As twilight descended, the tea lights came out and we counted ourselves well blessed for this amazing evening in a Colorado cornfield. 

* I could do an entire (long) blog post on the very amazing artist, Jim Denevan. I found these two videos informative and inspiring. Have a look. 

4 Responses to Outstanding In The Field

  1. stephanie says:

    Fran….this is just magical, I am drooling over the most amazing food AND your photos sharing this experience. The surprise of that table setting in the corn field! Your beautiful photo of candle lit wine glasses.

    Brava!!!

    x…x
    steph

  2. What a wonderful day you had. I love the beautiful long table in the cornfield.
    Although the food looks wonderful, I think they could have served hot dogs and it would have been fun!

  3. Lisa Hoffman says:

    I think that I’ll just use my super-shrink ray and slip into your purse so that I don’t miss a moment of your experiences.
    Thanks for the Heads Up on this amazing event. Maybe I can catch them somewhere else now that he’s done Colorado.
    EXTREME coolness. You’re a very good reporter too.

  4. Wow, you lucky one!!! What an exciting food experience! And right where it’s all grown.

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