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Outstanding in the Field, Kentucky Style

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011

Did you miss Outstanding in the Field this year?  Unfortunately,  I did. 

Let me give you a little background about this event, best explained on their website:
“Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls.”  “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.” 

On October 4, Outstanding in the Field was held at Woodland Farm in Goshen, Kentucky.  The owners of Woodland Farm are Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, local philanthropists, and owners of 21C Hotel and Proof on Main.  Michael Paley, the chef at Proof on Main, made the outstanding meal. 

Instead of swimming in a sea of regret, I enlisted the help of some friends who attended, so that I could live vicariously through them.  Here are the musings of guest bloggers Cindy Downard and Becky Becherer and their accompanying pictures.  Photos are courtesy of Becky Becherer and Kay Ohta (Cindy’s husband.) 

This from Cindy and Becky:

Based on reviews I read on Chowhound and Yelp, I expected the title of this article to be “Standing in the Field” as multiple reviewers had nothing but bad things to say about the night under the stars.  Maybe it was the unbelievable weather (72 degrees and comfortably sunny), the venue (Woodland Farm, local source for 21C  and Proof on Main), the hosts (Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, local philanthropists and owners of the hotel and restaurant, who could NOT have been more gracious and still part of the crowd) but this truly was an outstanding night.

Woodland Farm or Wonderland?

Our group is a compulsively early one (we could not have all made it through medical school without a healthy dose of OCD) so we arrived MAYBE about 30 minutes before the appointed time.  Drinks were served on the bank of the river in front of the house.  Suffice it to say, we were the first to the cocktail table.  There was a choice of a “Kentucky Cousin” – bourbon and tea, or Riesling “Pimpin’ Penguin” or Cabernet Franc wine from Horseshoe Bend Winery in Willisburg, KY.  We appreciated the passed hors d’oeuvres of bison tartare, fried okra, smoked mozzarella, and Zephyr squash & country ham skewers.  We definitely enjoyed the welcome hour (and a half).

Cocktail hour on the Ohio River for our guest bloggers, who were a little early on their assignment.

View from the porch.

Friends Becky Becherer, Darla Hartlage, Allison Imber and Emily Mayer enjoy cocktails and the amazing view. Love Darla's Sevier Skirt.

Farm owner Steve Wilson addressed the guests and gave a brief history of his farm and their efforts to preserve the land and make it sustainable.  This was followed by a walking tour of the gardens and farm.  We moved through the garden area, led by horticulturist Stephanie Tittle (my friend from boot camp!), and the barn area with a lovely donkey and foal in residence.

Crowd gathers to listen to Steve Wilson.

Our host, Steve Wilson.

Garden tour

Woodland Farm's famous bison.

The dinner was a first-class affair.  I neglected to mention previously the “bring your own plate” tradition which began at the first dinner, where each participant brings their own dinner plate for the event.  We dropped them off at the house prior to the cocktail hour, then picked them up on our way to the grand table.

Bring your own plate.

The table is set as one long table, and at this setting we heard there were about 160 or so people present.  We set our plates in the middle and had a wonderful experience meeting new people from several different walks of life, many from Louisville, but some from Cincinnati and Lexington, and others from far away locales who happened to be in Louisville for the event.  One tip I would give to future attendees might be to sit in the “middle” of each table of eight (table loosely defined by a table break) as the food is delivered there, but that is based more on the poor reviews I saw online of there not being enough food to go around.  At our dinner there was more than enough to go around, so perhaps lack of food is a thing of the past.

Table set up. Spectacular view.

Let the games begin...

All of the food was very good, even outstanding.  I definitely ate foods I would not have tried otherwise, particularly rabbit which was from Duncan farms, available at the Beargrass Christian Church and Bardstown Road Farmers’ Markets each weekend.  The wines were nicely paired with the courses.  My favorite wine, purely based on the name, was the “Pterodactyl’s Grannie’s Panties” — a smoky red paired with the grilled beef short ribs.

Last summer bean salad with roasted and pickled beets, Pt. Reyes Blue and mission figs.

Milk-braised Duncan Farms rabbit with roman gnocchi, celery, nutmeg and lemon.

Grilled beef short ribs with sweet potato ravioli, sage, mushrooms and brown butter.

All gone.

Kay melted over the apple toffee bread pudding with bourbon caramel whipped cream– one of his personal favorites.   There is not one picture from the night of this dessert, so it must have been great.

Dessert was followed an ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR sunset which only served to highlight the wonderful setting.

The sunset was the most beautiful I have ever seen.  Woodland Farm is an amazingly beautiful piece of land, and the fact that the current owners prevented it from being developed into a subdivision makes them heroes.

I certainly hope Outstanding in the Field comes through Kentucky again soon, or at least somewhere near Kentucky.



For more information on Outstanding in the Field, see Nashville’s StyleBlueprint post from this past spring which explains it all, beautifully: click here.