Ever since I attended the magical Araxi Longtable event at the breathtaking North Arm Farm in Pemberton back in 2011, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of farm dinners — where people sit down at table that stretches as long as a length of an Olympic swimming pool and communally experience eating food from the land on which they dine.
After some research, I soon learned that Outstanding in the Field, a company that tours and hosts dinners at farms worldwide, was a pioneer of the concept of farm dinners.
The company has hosted over 430 events worldwide since 1999, feeding 55,000 guests at over 200 farms in North America, South America, and Europe. And more importantly, through my research, I learned that Outstanding in the Field came to BC annually to host a couple dinners, and was coming to UBC Farm.
Outstanding in the Field at UBC Farm opened with some delicious rose from LaStella Winery in Osoyoos, BC, along with a talk about the company by founded Jim Denevan, as well as a guided tour at UBC Farm. Encompassing 24 hectares of farm and forest land, UBC Farm is managed by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, which offers learning, research, and community programs (including a summer camp, introducing children to the concept of farming).
Many local restaurants get their food from UBC Farms, including La Quercia, whose chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme cooked the meal for the event, along with wine pairings from LaStella. Each course contains fruits, vegetables, and flowers from the farm, and I loved how everything was served family-style so you got to know your neighbours, asking to pass dishes along, which really enforced a sense that sustainable, local eating is the responsibility everyone at the table, and in this community.
I loved the first course: a plate of cold gravlax spring salmon & hot smoked spring salmon, with rye berries, crème fraîche, and rye crisps. The contrast between the differently-prepared salmon was superb, and I never had tried rye berries before and thought they added a perfect amount of sweetness and tartness to the dish.
The second course was with a pasta called casarecce, with an arugula pesto, almonds carrots, and zucchini. I’ve never had casarecce before and loved the long shape of the pasta it held the sauce and how the arugula embedded in it’s long grove found on the pasta beautifully.
The third course was a quail dish and since I’m not a quail fan (though it was prepare beautifully), I’m going to skip right to dessert: aerated white chocolate, with blueberries, nasturtium, olive oil & elderflower. To die for.
At the end of the meal, the Outstanding in the Field team, along with the chefs, came out for a final bow, and I know for one, I’m hoping for an encore next year.