If you serve it, they will come. Rather than a ball game, it’s dinner in a field — a cornfield, an orchard, a beach, a vineyard, a rice paddy…
Those that attend are ravenous, consumed by hunger for something real, something authentic, something connected. So, hungry, even, they’re willing to be made uncomfortable – by dust, by heat or cold, by wind or rain. Or even by the thought of knowing exactly where the meat on the table came from as the farmer exclaims happily about finally getting to eat those wily [expletive deleted] sheep who kept jumping the fence. (Seriously, we chased those f#ckers all over hell’s half acre).
For the second year in a row, RSV hosted an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner. These remarkable dinners “re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.” And they do so by setting up the table right smack-dab in the middle of the farm.
I love the folks involved in creating these dinners — they drive around the country (and sometimes the world) for upwards of half a year, camping in some of the most amazing farmland the world has to offer. And even after months on the road, they bring an enthusiasm and joy to what they do — as if they know what they do has meaning. And it does: in one brilliant meal, the OITF staff manage to bring together consumers with the farmers (and chefs) who feed them.
Personally, it’s a treat as I get to enjoy the literal fruits of my labors, and share the enjoyment with a bunch of happy diners. There’s nothing quite like sampling our wine out in the air of the vineyard where it’s grown; it’s as if the liquid in the bottle remembers where it grew up, retaining an essence of place, a sensual, luminous quality that is enhanced when drinking it on site.
Possibly I love these dinners so much as it’s one of my favorite places to be — at the intersection of food, wine, and life.
Debby Zygielbaum is the Vineyard Manager (or, as she’s fond of saying, ‘Dirt Farmer’), at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa and a frequent contributor on Nopalize. She can be found @walkthevine on Twitter and Instagram