Tuesday, June 29, 2010

guess who's coming to dinner?

Well your guess is as good as mine... but doesn't it look spectacular?

I love long tables...

this long you ask?

 as long as Im not waiting on the table I guess it could be that long!

This food just has to be fresh.... look at that field of vegetables.

Arugula's Star Farm, Columbia, TN

Shady trees ... looks idyllic

I found all these pics at the outstanding outstanding in the field's picture gallery.

What they do at Outstanding in the Field:

Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.
Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.
Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table.

OK...I showed this image already

Secret Sea Cove

...but read this:

Sunday June 6, 2010

Secret Sea Cove, Bay Area Coast, CA

PRICE: $240.00

GUEST CHEF: Mourad Lahlou, Aziza, San Francisco

TIME: 3:00PM

Mourad is back. Past Iron Chef winner and returning Sea Cove chef Mourad Lahlou took to the sand in 2009 providing a fantastic meal right on the beach. The scenic California coastal surroundings will compete for attention as waitstaff bring out courses composed of the best ingredients of sea and shore. Fisherman, farmer and winemaker join us on the sand. Our long curving table will be positioned to take advantage of the afternoon sun and incoming tide. Those seated closest to the water might experience a wave or two!

Whilst viewing this sandy dining location the sand drawings of Jim Denevan came to mind. Last year I posted on both his large scale sand drawings and his foodworks - Jim Denevan is both sand artist and the man behind Outstanding in the Field.

The world's largest single artwork, Black Rock Desert in Nevada made by Jim Denevan

The world's largest single artwork, Black Rock Desert in Nevada made by Jim Denevan

Big enough to contain over 176 Wembley Stadiums, the giant drawing by Jim Denevan is visible from 40,000 feet up in the sky.
Taking 15 days to complete, Mr Denevan and a team of three colleagues worked day and night on the stunning piece in May of this year, which has a diameter of just over three miles.

Containing more than 1000 individual circles, Mr Denevan, 48, built up the giant circle using a roll of chain fencing six feet across pulled by a truck round repeatedly to dig into the desert sand.
Based on a mathematical theorem called an Apollonian Gasket, the design is set around triples of circles at tangents to others.
"I set out to build the largest artwork in the world and I am extremely proud that I have managed to do this," said Jim from his Santa Cruz home.
"This individual piece is larger than the famous lines of Nazca in Peru and that is something that excites me.
"Me and my long time collaborator Caleb Cole have been planning this for over two years and it was a pleasure to complete it."
The largest lines etched into the sand of the drawing are 28 feet wide and almost three feet deep in places.
Using high tech GPS technology to organise their co-ordinates to create a perfect circle, the team braved the intense desert heat and night-time cold to construct their masterpiece.
"We began at what we termed our centre point and worked out diametrically from there," Mr Denevan said.
"We had to dig out each line four or five times to mould it into the sand. It was tough, tiring, but of course it was ultimately fun."
He has been creating beautiful sand art for the past 17 years and sees this piece as the next step in his ultimate plan to work with NASA to draw on the plains of Mars.
Mr Denevan discovered his talent for sand art when he idly picked up a stick and drew a 12ft long fish.
"In the future I would love to see if NASA would let me use their Mars rovers, so that I could attempt the first interplanetary artwork," explained Jim.
"That would be fun."       Daily Telegraph 16 dec 2009

 where did those things come from??

loved these images of life on the road... travelling around from place to place to hold these amazing dinners. Images form 2008 blog.... oustandingontour.blogspot.com


Altoon Sultan said...

Outstanding in the Field is a wonderful project and the photos of the long tables enticing. But then my eye was caught by the price of one of these dinners: $240. This then becomes a rather elitist activity which for me, defeats the purpose of it. In contrast, I think of a dinner I went to on Sunday night to support our local representative to the Vermont state legislature: for a donation of whatever we wanted to give, we had a dinner consisting of locally raised turkey, lamb and emu (in sausage), homemade breads with local cheeses, local salad, and locally raised strawberries. All foods were donated. It was delicious, and a fun time was had by all at this quintessential community event.

La Dolce Vita said...

oh my mouth is watering with all this delicious artyness and the possibility of fine dining alfresco! the beach shot with the curving table is so lovely what a great shot, the line is magnificent!
just wonderful Sophie! xx's

Altoon Sultan said...

Okay, here's a second comment because I've been thinking that my first was too harsh on Outstanding in the Field. If I look at it as an art project, with a meal provided by a top chef, whose work is culinary art, perhaps the cost is not unreasonable. After all, one of a kind art works by artists such as myself are elitist also, in terms of acquiring them.

Sophie Munns said...

well I must say I had not noticed the price tag.
It would be interesting to have an idea of what the cost break down was.
I understand your point as it relates to community, locality and the nature of participatory engagement with food. In Australian country life the "bring a plate" or "potluck" borrowed from further shores has been a staple of communal life and in my family of origin.

I can also see the point of these on-off dinners though for a lot of reasons.... maybe the costing leaves me
curious as to what is being factored in... but the vineyards listed look rather special... nothing is standard - the farms are organic or biodynamic... all artisan products are used... and I well understand the
process of costing when real food is being purchased as opposed to the industrialised junk of supermarket land!

I saw FOOD INc last week and I was very sad to see the family that lived on $1 burgers and could not afford broccoli and healthy food. They also were spending a fortune on medication for diabetes.... and they worked 2 or 3 jobs and were still poor. THAT was the worst thing about this film for me... the impoverishment in the so-called land of "plenty". Its not disimilar here... it becomes cheap to eat food thats really bad for you....and quality costs more unless you have the circumstances to provide for yourself somehow. Not everyone has good food knowledge or is resourceful.

In a way I kind of like that audacity of Denevan's to pull the table experience out of the gutter of big Macs and away from the TV, to say ...come and sit in the field... next to the carrots or vines... or tomatoes ... drink something glorious and taste each morsel, watch the moon rise and smell the air.
Its operatic in a way ...it has become an epic experience...not in terms of the grandeur of the 5 star hotels ... but in terms of what is being left out ...what is being generated... what it symbolises and is a poster for.

Maybe the farmers get paid well. His brother was a pioneering organic farmer. The mobile kitchen ...their bus seemed to be breaking down a lot in the older blog...
I guess they were funding a lifestyle for the team...and as it had evolved they seem to pick up with renown chefs in places they go to and maybe that involves extra fees.

I had the sense that it started out low key and over time raised its profile,popularity and the complexity of what was being delivered. They take it OS now...
it seems more like a production... and the costs are all factored into the plate cost.
So it has ended up being an event that everyone knows could be put on in the community where one lives for half the price... maybe a tenth of the price if one brought a plate.

Its good to ponder what it all means.....i think he started out when this was extremely
unheard of really...and now... everyone is getting on the bandwagon... he pioneered something to make people sit up and think.

Sophie Munns said...

I read you second comment Altoon whilst writing the first. I know you always weigh things up and consider more than one viewpoint so I am not surprised you have added other thoughts.
He is an artist first and foremost to me.. . your 2nd comment picks up this idea after you pondered it some more. His bio is fascinating yet with sobering aspects to it... I read it a few years ago. This idea seems so simple and so obvious..so everyday... in Europe maybe.
But I think it is the sheer audacity once again of going for such a long table in such a dramatic yet simple format that make it work as an almost sculptural and visual piece... akin to earth art .. yet alive and with people. To do it in a country, where as Barbara Kingsolver suggests, the farmer had over decades become very disregarded - I think it probably has worked on peoples mind's and imagination's in a profound way whether or not they have attended one of these dinners.
It may seem odd but when i look at these long tables in the fields the image I get is nothing like the one I get from seeing people in all their finery crowding into to an opening night of somewhere exclusive.
The price tag attached to this is for me a vote in support of a way of life that has been endangered and is fighting back!
Each time we shop at the super market we are voting - that was stated clearly in Food Inc and I have seen this and thought this myself for a very long time.
When we shop at farmers markets we are voting for that lifestyle and way of living, showing support for those who are trying to go further in their efforts with sustainabililty.
Denevan seems to have a need to express this huge sense of scale ...the epic bus trips.... the sand art... the map of destinations... he's is creating story, weaving a tale that has magic to it and wonder. Its like this bus driving across country is restoring some thing that had been virtually discarded... re-story-ing it. Thats the art in it for me!

Sophie Munns said...

Lovely to hear from you Cat,
the tables themselves do weave a certain magic... build an air of anticipation.
Imagine on one of those rolling hills you took us walking through the other day... coming across a rise and seeing the long table all set for us to arrive and sit and be waited upon....
S x

Altoon Sultan said...

Another aspect of the price tag, Sophie, and the price tag for a lot of local food, is that it is too often much too expensive for working class people to afford (I certainly couldn't come close to affording one of these dinners and I'm fairly comfortable). This is an unfortunate problem in the organic food movement: how to make good food affordable for middle and low income people, and how to educate them in foodways and cooking so that they can prepare healthy meals. Some schools are beginning the job by having vegetable gardens on site, but much work needs to be done, including having more government support of small farmers.

Janis said...

The secret sea cove must be in my neck of the woods somewhere! Lovely post as always Sophie...

I am still hoping to make a postcard - it might be late. Trying...

Mlle Paradis said...

hi sophie!!!!! scrambling, scrambling....but lovely post as always!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Janis,

I know you are moving house...so please....dont worry!
It is no doubt impossible timing for you! I was delighted you would consider taking part!
It can be late though...because...it goes for a week and we may show these again this year as well...in fact very likely...have thoughts in mind of that

Sophie Munns said...

MP... you also are under time pressure...
dont worry and thank you!!

its because I taught for 6 years of the past decade children in a school where many were not even 'working class'...a percentage of families were up to 3 generations unemployed... that I wondered when the curriculum and (some) teachers and community would stop their judgements and start offering a vision that would include the whole...
Over time I raised this often. I talked and people thought I was odd!
Its people like Denevan that fly the flag...that excite people enough to ask what's happening here where I live!
Quite simply... his project is engaging enough to start conversations where none are happening.
Ask me why I do homage to the seed.... and this postcard call out..... to generate conversation...
for all the children coming to school from homes where parents don't even live with them... for the ones who watch their parents disappear... for the boy who had to learn how to cook when his dad killed his Mum in front of he and his sister in the lounge room one night.
We need the flag raisers and the everyday... we need every layer of this world to become more active and sharing.
quite simply,