Monday, August 25, 2008

Outstanding in the field

One of the experiences I love in Italy (one of the many experiences) is eating alfresco. There is something about the open air and food that brings a whole new dimension to flavor and good company. It’s a kind of paradoxical intimacy – the outdoor space seems to draw you closer to your fellow diners. A bread roll on a park bench does it. So do sandwiches at the beach or a barbecue in the backyard. But for a truly great alfresco experience, nothing beats a long table punctuated with bottles of wine and platters of food, good friends, perhaps some vines overhead and a light breeze. Chef and artist Jim Denevan had the brilliant idea of making this style of entertaining the basis for a food adventure with a serious philosophy. The core of his idea is simple: reconnect diners with the land through an experience he calls 'Outstanding in the Field'. The cool part? 'Outstanding' is sitting there at the table with you. Yes, this is the local gone very up-close and personal. As Jim puts it, “It's not every day you get to sit next to the person who planted the beans, raised the lamb and shaped the cheese on your plate”. The result has been a roving culinary adventure that attracts many different locals. Jim’s team has set up long tables in fields, along beaches, beside rivers and on the tops of mountains. Using local ingredients and the best of the best local chefs, 'Outstanding in the Field' presents a meal reflecting the very spot where the diners have pulled up their chairs. I haven’t had a chance to share one of these meals yet but I know it will be a classic Lovemarks experience. There are about another 25 dinners scheduled up to November this year in places as varied as Montepulciano in Italy, New Orleans and Vancouver. All but six are already totally booked but, when I last looked, you could still join one at Gabriele Marewski’s Paradise Farms outside Miami featuring chef Michael Schwartz of the much awarded Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. Check out the dinners closest to you.

1 comment:

Dumbo said...

If you're interested in knowing more about Jim Denevan, the current issue of Dumbo feather magazine (www.dumbofeather.com) has an extensive, 20+ pages, interview with him in which he talks about his life, art and passion for good food.