The Outstanding in The Field farm-to-table crowd at Red White & Blue Beach last month didn’t let a little early sunset get them down. Photo by Jennifer Walker.
by Eric Johnson
When my friends Steve Principe and Jen Walker invited me to join them for an Outstanding in the Field event up on Red, White and Blue Beach in early November, I figured I was going to be in for a good time. Enjoy a meal grown by local farmers and cooked by a local chef, with 100 or so people, in a beautiful outdoor setting? Maybe that’s not everybody’s idea of heaven, but it is mine.
So yes, I had high expectations. Still, I was blown away.
For one thing, I was thinking of this as an outdoor dinner. What it is is an outdoor dinner party. I mean: party. For two hours before we sat down, we drank. We sampled cocktails made by Sean Venus of Venus Spirits on the West Side. Our friend Emily Thomas from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing was there with a fine selection of beers. There was a terrific variety of wines from Coterie Cellars. So we milled about, perched on a cliff overlooking a spectacular stretch of North Coast beach, drinking and munching apps.
Another nice surprise: It hadn’t occurred to me that most people at the party would be out-of-towners. Turns out this event, founded by Santa Cruz chef and artist Jim Denevan in 1999, is a really big deal. People plan vacations around it and travel from all over everywhere. There was a couple from Boston that had attended an Outstanding in the Field event in Wisconsin last summer and vowed to do it every year. There was a nice lady from Texas with five or six friends from other cities throughout the country, who meet at an Outstanding in the Field event every summer.
The food was also a revelation. My first taste was a tiny bite of sashimi with cured lemon, made with sustainable tuna from H&H Fish, who also supplied the surprisingly good (to my taste) main-course serving of mackerel. The first course at the table was kind of an antipasto featuring charcuterie from El Salchichero, sheep cheese from Garden Variety, and nice pickled vegetables (I’m guessing they were from Emily Thomas’ Cremer House).  Keep reading about theOutstanding in The Field dinner at Red White & Blue Beach.