Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Outstanding in the Field

This blog is devoted to California culture, but aside from a few references to farm labor, I've pretty much ignored agri-culture. Mostly I like to eat food, not talk about it, but I recently attended an event that fanatical readers of this blog will want to know about.

The event is called Outstanding in the Field. Jim Denevan, whose cookbook of the same name was recently lauded by the New York Times, convened the event at Route 1 Farms. That's an organic farm run by Jeff Larkey just off Waddell Creek, which is surrounded by state parkland and drains into the Pacific Ocean just south of Pescadero. Jim barnstorms the country in a refurbished 1953 bus to raise awareness about food, sell a few cookbooks, and serve a square meal right there in the fields.

Mission accomplished. We drank some wine and listened to Jeff talk about his land and the challenges of organic farming. One of the things we learned is that wild pigs roam the area. They got into his potatoes one year, so Jeff and his friends decided to stake them out one night. He saw the alpha male first, a 600-pounder that in the darkness he mistook for a pony.

After our little seminar, we settled into a tasty multi-course meal prepared right there: turnip soup, beet salad, sardines, roasted chicken and green beans and squash, and an orange-almond pie with creme fraiche.

It was dark and chilly when we left, the sky was clear, and the stars were out. As Woody Guthrie might say, they hung like grapes on vines that shine, and warmed a lover's glass like a friendly wine.


At 12:18 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I'm glad you had a good dinner, but our experience was different. Some of the food was excellent, but the family style serving meant that the portions were incredibly small, and we're not huge eaters. They also ran out of wine, and a four hour meal with less than two glasses of wine isn't great for dinner conversation. If I had paid $50 it would have been OK, but for $200 it should have been wonderful. I wouldn't recommend this unless you don't care about value. I'd rather support local growers at the local farmers' markets.


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