Outstanding in the Field

I'm sure many of you can agree, your travels and celebrations are really an extension of yourself and your home. I see no separation between them. In that spirit, one of our favorite gift-giving ideas is to give people "experiences" that we can share with them. Milestone birthdays are an excellent opportunity for these treats, but the idea is great for any occasion, or when you just feel inspired to get family and friends together for something really special. There were many milestone/decade birthdays in our family in 2012, so we had a few opportunities to partake in this new tradition. For my in-laws' 70th birthdays, Christopher and I purchased tickets for the four of us to attend the coveted Outstanding in the Field farm-to-table dining experience. 

Outstanding in the Field was founded in 1999 in Santa Cruz, CA, and is described as a "roving culinary adventure" where they have set a long table at farms, sea caves, mountain tops, greenhouses, museums, and more around the country. Their mission is to re-connect people to the origins of their food by sourcing fresh, local ingredients prepared by guest chefs from area restaurants, all reminiscent of each event location.

I love to present these gifts to people in unique ways that offer a sense of the event and that build anticipation. For my father-in-law Peter, I created an invitation book using a 4x6 Noci book cloth "brag book" from Kolo. I removed the plastic photo sleeves from the pages and pasted in prints of pages I designed to present the concept and invitation, as well as photos that I collected from the the OITF web site. I highly recommend the albums as a way to present something intangible.

Not wanting to present the gift to my mother-in-law Cheryl in the same way, I decided to create something that seemed to be reminiscent of the farm-to-table dinner experience. I simply purchased some kitchen items from Homegoods and tied the designed cards to the small cutting board. (It's also easy to wrap cookbooks in cloth napkins or tea towels for a similar effect).

Our local dinner took place in Maine in early September at a terrific farm. The cocktail hour with passed appetizers, and the long dining tables set for hundreds of people with food served "family style", creates a terrific community party where you have the opportunity to meet some of your fellow dining companions. Enjoy our album!

I really love this idea of serving from boards. A great rustic idea to take home for serving at a nice autumn dinner.

Thanks, all, for an unforgettable experience!

Credit Goes To:

Design and photography seen here: Jodi Vautrin and Christopher Scott of ourhaus 
The crew of Outstanding in the Field
Mary Ellen & Austin Chadd of Green Spark Farm
Chef Andrew Taylor of Hugo's, and Eventide Oyster, Co. Portland, ME
John Hennessey of Winter Point Oysters, West Bath, ME
Dee Dee Germain, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME
Michael Burke & Steve Kao, Pine State Services
Caldwell Farm, Turner, ME
Maine Lobster Direct, Portland, ME
Upstream Trucking, Portland, ME
Stonecipher Farm, Bowdoinham, ME
Freedom Farm, Freedom, ME
Thirty Acre Farm, Whitefield, ME

Readers, feel free to share your gift experiences that you have given, received, or would like to, in the comments section!