A dinner we had a year ago was the inspiration for a grand event tonight. Outstanding in the Field is a roving dinner party held in nature with natural foods. The dinners tend to be costly, as the price has increased dramatically over the past five years (~$200+ per person). Several years ago, we attended two of the dinners (~$80 per person). This year, it was cost prohibitive. Our local gourmet dinner club decided to hold our own event featuring great food and an amazing beer pairing. The idea was to pair many local, earth-friendly ingredients with beer.
Having done this sort of meal a year ago (see Monday, August 17, 2009 posting "Friday's Beer and Food Pairing"), the host knew it was possible.
We were greeted with four different beers to go with our bratwurst sausages, breadsticks and mustards. SCMB Olallieberry Ale, Schneider Weiss Wheat Beer, SCMB Black IPA (one of my favorites of the evening . . . learned I prefer dark beer), and North Coast Brewing Pranqster.
Literally, we stood in a field between fruit tree orchards with young goats and a chicken coop with three-dozen egg-laying chickens. During the main course we sat at a beautiful table inspired by the long Outstanding in the Field tables (usually in a farm field). Naturally richly colored salmon, line-caught in Alaska (Santa Cruz's local salmon fishing wasn't possible this year); carefully prepared vegetable packets; a homegrown salad and Gruyere au gratin potatoes with leeks were served with Westmalle Trappist Tripel Ale.
Dessert was an over-the-top three courses long. We began with the most delicious homemade apple strudel (three ladies got together to make them) featuring Dogfish Head's Midas Touch. The second dessert was Ommegang Chocolate indulgence cupcakes with cream cheese frosting paired with Maui Brewing CoCoNut Porter. Our final bit of sweet was a beer float: vanilla bean ice cream with Lindeman's Framboise Lambic. That float was divine. I've decided to serve it as an "easy" dessert when friends come over.
The night concluded with two electrical engineers telling me about the light rigging. Sixteen-gage zip cord was split in two, thirty light fixtures were screwed down and eleven-watt bulbs were placed every thirty inches. This made for great market lights (which I'm told are too bright, and placed with twelve-inch spacing) around the dining area. White Christmas lights lined the hill for our walk back to the car.
It was a magical, well-planned evening. Two dozen of us are fortunate to have been included.