A few weeks ago we went, with our husbands, to a fabulous event hosted by a group known as "Outstanding in the Field." Originally founded by a chef who found inspiration in the local farmers' markets in California, OITF has morphed into an organization that travels throughout the US (and now a few international sites as well) and creates events that bring together the best local chefs and farmers and ranchers for an evening of food as art.
Our site was the Donovan family's Copper Bar Ranch on Squaw Creek in Edwards – right "down the street" from our office, but tucked away in a verdant little valley near Cordillera. We were SO lucky … Every day that week we had afternoon thunderstorms complete with lightning and rain coming down in sheets, but this day our afternoon clouds dissipated on a breeze and left us with a spectacular evening. Our single long table was set up for 150 people – yes, believe it – out in the field, in front of the stables and in clear view of the Highland cattle, horses and chickens who usually have the run of the ranch. White linens and crystal combined with the gurgling creek and setting sun were an exquisite combination of nature and nurture!
But that's not all — now for the food! While we sipped on Palisade Peach juleps, designer deviled eggs were passed — the Copper Bar hens whose nests had been raided only hours before were pecking aimlessly nearby while we devoured their eggs prepared with maple crème fraiche and bourbon trout roe. Other hors d'oeuvres included lamb carpaccio provided by the Mayne Ranch in Gypsum, served on a handmade quinoa cracker with pickled watermelon and mint – so yummy.
I could go on and on with menu details, but in the interest of brevity I'll just say that the evening abounded with unique combinations of local greens and veggies, flowers, pork and beef, rhubarb syrup and fresh cheeses. Our nearby community of Palisade provided apricots, cherries, the peaches for the juleps and, significantly, all of the wines served during the various courses, including a port with dessert. We lingered until after dark — couldn't bear to leave.
I don't know if you'll have the chance to attend another OITF event in the Vail Valley, but you can certainly enjoy the work of the inspired chefs at their local restaurants, and the products of the hard working farmers and ranchers through the local farmers' markets. Our hats are off, and our thanks and admiration extended, to those Colorado folks who made the evening possible:
Kerry Donovan, owner of the Copper Bar Ranch in Edwards; David Cruz & Mark Metzger, chefs at Larkspur Restaurant in Vail; Dustin Beckner, chef at Restaurant Avondale in Avon; the Christiansons, vintners from Canyon Wind Cellars and Colterris Wine in Palisade; the James Ranch in Durango; the Mayne Ranch in Gypsum; the Windsor Dairy in Windsor; Wynn Farms in Palisade.
Check out the OITF website, too, to see if there's an event somewhere else that tickles your fancy. They certainly have earned the right to call themselves "OUTSTANDING!"
Kim and Yvonne