12 Feb Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Outstanding in the Field Dinner at Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm
The sky was a bright blue and the sun was shining as we drove up the coast last weekend from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. We were headed to the Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm in Goleta for an Outstanding in the Field Dinner. A roving restaurant without walls, Outstanding in the Field is an adventure, a destination, an experience, and the Please The Palate pick of the week.
We drove up the 101 freeway and a few miles past the UCSB sign we exited the freeway and drove down a dirt road. We were met along the way with welcoming faces guiding us where to park. Once parked, we walked up to where guests were gathering. We were at Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm for what was going to be a magical evening in the open air.
“Dos Pueblos”, which means “two Villages,” was named by Juan Cabrillo, who landed along this stretch of coastline in 1542, where the Mikiw and Kutamu tribes had settled on both sides of the canyon. Once the largest orchid farm in the world, today Dos Pueblos is a 50-acre property with a magnificent view of the Pacific.
As we arrived, we enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres and wines from Railsback Frères. Railsback Frères is a project between brothers Lyle and Eric Railsback focused on Southern French grape varieties sourced from the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley and made with native yeasts and minimal intervention. We started with the 2019 Railsback Frères Vermentino, Santa Ynez Valley with beautiful acidity and then had the 2019 Railsback Frères Carignan, Santa Ynez Valley, a carbonic Carignan with bright fruit and earth notes.
We then made our way down to towards the water where a long table was set for 200 people. It was one of the most magnificent views I have ever seen. The sky was a clear blue, the sun was shining bright and reflecting on the shimmering blue ocean. The blue colors of the ocean and sky contrasted with the green grass field. And then there was the long winding table with a white linen that looked like it ran into the ocean.
With Outstanding in the Field dinners, it is recommended to bring your own plate, although they do provide plates as well. (And if you bring your own, they wash it for you at the end of the night.) With our plates in hand, we selected our seats at the long table.
Across from where we were sitting, tents were set up. This is where the chef and his team were preparing the entire meal. The featured chef for our dinner was Chef Jason Neroni of The Rose in Venice Beach. At The Rose, he is known for globally inspired Southern California cuisine sourced from an abundance of area farms, and his menu for the night was similar. But instead of working in his kitchen, here he was working in an open-air field kitchen.
The theme with Outstanding in the Field Dinners is to connect the diner to the land. We were dining in the heart of where the ingredients for our dinner were sourced. For this particular dinner, all of the ingredients came from local farms including Elder Flat Farm in Los Alamos, Coleman Family Farms in Carpinteria, Munak Ranch in Paso Robles, Tamai Family Farms in Oxnard, McDaniel Fruit Co in Fallbrook, Prime Roots in Berkeley, Bellwether Farms in Petaluma, and Rancho Gordo in Napa.
We started with hummus with green tahini….
and whipped Bellwether Farms ricotta with saffron apricots…
and grilled naan.
The Railsback Frères 2020 Sous Marine Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley was poured to enjoy with our first course, which included more dishes.
Fresh wild-caught Santa Barbara yellowtail crudo was topped with pickled Tamai Family Farms green strawberries and poppy seeds and sat atop a buttermilk-horseradish dressing.
Grilled McDaniel Fruit Co. avocados were served with lettuces and nasturtium from Elder Flat Farm & Cole Family Farms and topped with green goddess dressing.
We were then poured the Railsback Frères 2020 Cuvee Speciale Grenache Noir, Santa Ynez Valley.
The Grenache was a great pairing with the Cacio e Pepe Macaroni with pancetta, pecorino Romano, black pepper, and butter because the black pepper brought out the white pepper notes in the wine. The acidity of the wine cut through the butter and the earthiness of the wine was a match to the pancetta.
As we enjoyed our meal, sipped wine, and chatted with the people around us, the sun began to set.
The final wine of the night was the Railsback Frères 2020 Cuvee Chloe Nolan Ranch Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley.
The Syrah was paired with Pastrami Short Rib, bbq Munak Romanesco with Elder Flat Farm lemon Yogurt, preserved lemon, Urfa and Aleppo peppers, and potato salad…
As well as grilled wild-caught Baja California branzino, marinated Rancho Gordo gigante beans, Elder Flat Farm orange bell peppers and lemons, sun dried tomatoes and mint.
We watched the sky light up to a bright orange as the sun set.
As the sun finally set, Tres Leches Cake was served for dessert.
The meal ended in the dark. Our dinner plates had already been cleared and as we walked away from the table, there was a long table with all of our washed plates. I found my plate, picked it up, and we made our way back to the car for the drive home.
My first Outstanding in the Field dinner was a delicious and magical outdoor event and I would splurge on another one of these dinners in the future….perhaps at an international location!