Want to eat dinner in a field? What if the meal included crisp white linens, bucolic landscapes, rock star chefs, and incredibly local ingredients?
The farm dinner concept, which promotes field-to-table dining while seriously eliminating the distance between them, has become increasingly popular across the Northwest. Here’s a roundup of 2012 farm dinner offerings; just don’t forget to watch where you step on the way to the table.
• Outstanding in the Field is like a traveling circus, but their version of a big-top tent is a 160-foot long table. Their signature bus starts the season in California but first hits the Northwest on July 8 in Carlton, Oregon. Meals follow on Vashon Island, at Carnation’s Full Circle Farm, and in Dayton in Eastern Washington. Canadian stops include Vancouver, Oliver, and Pemberton. At the Washington meals, chefs include John Sundstrom of Lark, and Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce and The Corson Building. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, March 20—otherwise known as the first day of spring—and are $180 to $200 per plate.
• Plate and Pitchfork not only satiates diners on Portland-area farms, it also feeds the community through donations to Food Works and Oregon Tilth Organic Education Center. Each meal pairs a local chef with a local winery or brewery, and there are 17 gatherings from June 30 through August 26. Tickets are already on sale for $100 to $150 each.
• Farm to Fork is also an Oregonian joint, hosting dinners from Bend to Ashland. Nonprofit partners like the Central Oregon Food Policy Council and 1000 Friends of Oregon benefit from the $80 tickets (on sale soon). There’s also a four-day raft trip down the Rogue River with fancy meals and Troon Winery pairings.
• Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation hosts its own farm dinners on Saturdays in the summer. Notable chefs pair with beer or wine, and this year’s cooks include Josh Henderson of Skillet Street Food and Diner, Michael Easton of Il Corvo, and Ethan Stowell of a bunch of places. Kids ($50–$90) and nondrinkers ($65–$90) are welcome; beer dinners are $75 per plate and wine ones are $100. There are as many as 72 diners each night, but only a few can stay at the on-property platform tent and campsites.