Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jun 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Home Field Advantage

din farmdinJim Denevan opens his nationwide Outstanding in the Field tour in Davenport

Reconnecting inquiring diners with the land and its harvests, Jim Denevan is on the verge of launching the 15th season of al fresco grazing known as Outstanding in the Field.

The 2014 tour begins here at home on May 18 at Swanton Berry Farm (chef Denevan himself at the helm), and ends up in December at Pie Ranch near Pescadero.

In between, Denevan, his crew and the nomadic al fresco kitchens will explore fields up and down California, into Oregon and Washington, then east across Wyoming and the Dakotas to the East Coast, and back.

Many of these events are sold out, but some still have places at the table, including the tour’s season opener on May 18.

During a recent Q&A, OITF founder Jim Denevan, former Gabriella chef and a renowned environmental artist, told me how he views the upcoming farm-to-table/table-to-farm dining experiences that have amazed roving gourmets all over the U.S. and beyond.

GT: On the eve of your fifteenth season, are there still big challenges?

JIM DENEVAN: The team is so experienced now, they’ve stood out in a lot of fields. We’ve done 650 dinners, in nine countries and 45 states.  It’s taken off where we can go to North Dakota and have a full table.

Given your success, others have imitated your template. What do you think of that?

I expected more of this kind of thing to pop up, yes. To popularize a category of cultural experience, like these field dinners, others really have to be doing it, too.  It’s nice when they do their own version of it. I’m a student of culture and of enjoying good food and the outdoors. It seemed like the “food as culture” idea was in the air.

Who are your diners?

We have a lot of regulars now, folks who join us for seven or eight events a year. We call them “field heads,” because they want to try the unpredictable places—not just the two coasts. Our tables are from all over, not just locals. It’s a mix of people who want to see what’s happening in the area. The “food as culture” movement is as strong everywhere else in the country as it is in California.

Do you have your own favorite locations?

The eccentric ones. There’s place in Pennsylvania, Culton, where the farmer grows these exotic vegetables. He’ll get up on the table to talk about the dishes. I always love the places with the quirky backstory.

Does it feel like homecoming to be here?

I’m very connected here. It’s fun to have my brother here at the table. And at the very end of the season, we’re at Pie Ranch, which is really steeped in Santa Cruz warmth. If it’s not windy, we’ll be at the Coastways site on the cliff, overlooking the beach. If there’s wind, we’ll be under the Monterey cypresses. I’ll go out there in advance, walk around the fields, and look around. That’s really a fun process, just being out in the land and looking around, seeing what’s coming and what we can harvest for the dinner.


Tickets for Outstanding in the Field events start at $180 per person (plus a service fee) which includes a reception with wine and passed appetizers, four courses with wine pairings, all gratuities, talks with grower, winemaker and chef, and a tour of the farm.

Kudos to Discretion

Discretion Brewing just won a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup, in the category of English-style Mild Ale. The award-winning brew is called Song in Your Heart, a sentiment perhaps induced by the thirst-quenching liquid itself. Congratulations to Brewmaster Michael Demers. Hoist something award-winning over at Discretion, located at 2703 41st Avenue in Soquel.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

I Was a Teenage Deadhead

Memories of life on tour, plus the truth about that legendary Santa Cruz Acid Test

 

I Build a Lighted House and Therein Dwell

Wednesday, June 24, Chiron turns stationary retrograde (we turn inward) at 21.33 degrees Pisces. We usually speak of “retrograde” when referring to Mercury. But all planets retrograde. Next month in July, Venus retrogrades. What is Chiron retrograde? Chiron represents the wound within all of us. Wounds have purpose. They sensitize us; make us aware of pain and suffering. Through our wounds we develop compassion. Through compassion we become whole (holy) again. Chiron helps develop these states of consciousness. Everyone carries a wound. Everyone carries family wounds (family astrology tracks the astrological “DNA” through generations). Chiron wounds are deep within. We’re often not aware of them until Chiron retrogrades. Then the wounds (through pain, hurt, sadness, suffering) become apparent. They seem to break us open emotionally, psychologically. Painful events from the past are remembered. They are brought to the present for healing. Through experiencing, talking about and deeply feeling what is hurting us, healing takes place. We begin to understand and bring healing to others. All week, Jupiter and Venus move closer together in the sky. They meet in Leo at the full moon, Cancer solar festival, on Wednesday, July 1. The Cancer keynote is, “I build a lighted house and therein dwell.” The soul’s light has finally penetrated the “womb” of matter. The New Group of World Servers is to radiate this light. At the end of each sign are keywords to use and remember during the Chiron retrograde.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of June 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Kickin' Chicken

Local kitchen alchemist Justin Williams is fast becoming a cult flavor master. His late-night wizardry, which began last fall delivering mainly to starving UCSC students, is catching on with taste buds beyond campus. Kickin’ Chicken delivers its spicy-sweet fried chicken and waffles to Westside residents between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. nightly. Or you can catch him and his brother and sister, Candice and Danny Mendoza, serving it up at their “Sunday Mass” at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Using sous vide, a French method of cooking chicken in a water bath at a tightly controlled temperature, they then flash fry it for an amazingly crispy coat. Candice Mendoza spoke to GT about Kickin’ Chicken’s rise.

 

What’s a creative new approach to addressing summer beach litter?

Robotic dogs, with duct tape on their paws, that walk around picking up litter wherever they go. Joaquin Heinz, Santa Cruz, Barista

 

Pelican Ranch Winery

The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.

 

Open Wide

Soif’s soft reboot leads to expanded menu, plus the ‘thinking woman’s ketchup’