You may or may not have heard of this “farm-to-table” trend and, perhaps depending on who you ask, it may or may not have hit the road and spread across the country thanks to Jim Denevan. He started a career in the food world as a dishwasher, progressed to second-line cook and, with credit given to the influence of Alice Waters in California, eventually led an Italian restaurant to source locally grown ingredients and be proud of it.
As fate would have it, his brother (Bill Denevan) owned and operated an organic farm in the area. Jim’s idea to source locally to his restaurant’s tables was eventually taken outdoors to an actual on-the-farm table. Years later, he tours the country with his Outstanding in the Field (OITF) team and, lucky for us, opens the farm doors to any and all who wish to dine.
The “dinner” started in the late afternoon (3pm) with appetizers, generous local beer and wine pours, a farm tour and a lot of photo-taking.
Each OITF dinner is BOYP – bring your own plate. This was an excuse to buy new plates, because there’s no reason to trust TSA with this kind of thing, and bring home a unique souvenir! The OITF team kindly cleans them for you before the evening is said and done, and they do have extras laying around just in case you miss the memo.
We sat down to dine around 5pm, with four courses ahead!
We started with freshly baked artisan breads and, of course, a fresh-from-the-farm salad. Summer tomatoes and arugula have never tasted so good…
The second course brought us locally sourced grilled Bluefin tuna, the farm’s signature kimchee and a daikon lamiaceae salad.
Each course is served family-style, with “family” being defined by the lines in the table. We were among locals (Portland, ME) and travelers (Boston, South Carolina, California, DC…) alike. It makes for great conversation, plenty to eat or a way to pace yourself for the main entrée – depending on your approach!
For the big hurrah, the table was graced with Thirty Acre Farm lamb, baked Swedish beans and roasted peppers + eggplant. My plate looked a little bit different, with a variety of grilled vegetables, herbs and rice ‘cakes’ (not the cardboard-kind, the kind made with freshly cooked rice and seasonings):
And while we were all hoping that the deliciously in-season Maine blueberries would make an appearance for dessert, we were instead greeted with a creative spread of sweet breads, homemade granola and sweet spreads:
I’ve already scouted events in 2014, as these dinners sell out quickly! It was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had while on vacation. I know no better way to get a feel for the local food scene: support a family farm, meet the traveling farm-to-table enthusiasts and hang with local servers and chefs (huge kudos & thanks to Eventide + Hugo & Chefs Andrew Taylor & Mike Wiley).
If you have the chance to join this crew for a meal, don’t turn it down!