Yadkin Valley Rose to start
Pimento cheese in fresh butter lettuce
House made pretzel bread, charcuterie, pickled veggies, and Lusty Monk mustard butter to start
Fried chicken, chef-foraged gravy, and Renfrow Farms collards and peas
Lingering over six courses–in a hardware store
Graham cake with house mallows and fire-roasted chestnuts
Leave it to Outstanding in the Field to create a farm tour and dinner in a hurricane that’s actually even more charming and memorable than the original plans. Local wines, beers, and small bites were served in a greenhouse, surrounded by seedlings. From there, guests in rain boots walked to Renfrow Farm for a full tour of its gardens and farm stand, before settling in at long tables on the aisles of the historic Renfrow Hardware.
I would have happily gone to this dinner knowing no one behind it, but I got lucky. Chef Clark Barlowe, who I’ve known since he first started his Charlotte restaurant, spotted me and gave me a peek inside the “kitchen” (back of the store) as his talented team cooked the incredible dinner. I’ve known the brewer since before he opened his brewery—and even happened to run into him on Friday evening as he was labeling the cans for the event. And it turned out the owners of the hardware store and farm are the siblings of old family friends.
At one point during the dinner, one of women in the (ridiculously fun) group I went with asked me, “What do you love about Charlotte?” I didn’t even really have to think about it. My answer though is entirely reflective of having a night like this—where there were so many familiar faces alongside new and friendly ones gathering around a table. I answered:
“Charlotte is home.”
Today, the famed dinner series that made it cool to eat at a long table on a farm, is finally coming to Charlotte for the first time. I first learned about Outstanding in the Field six years ago when I was editing an article by a woman who had attended one of the open-air feasts in Fairview, NC. I immediately decided that one day I was going to find a way to attend this crazy expensive, gorgeous rustic farm dinner series—that always almost immediately sells out.
The article’s author had heard about the series from “her friend Page.”And so at some point along the way, I was smart enough to also befriend said Page (life advice: always make friends with people who love food). So when tickets for today’s dinner went on sale last spring, Page was kind enough to include me in a group invite to come along and scooped them up before they sold out. And so, this afternoon, as Hurricane Matthew spins its way through the Carolinas, we’ll be pulling on our wellies, eating a rainy dinner on a farm, and checking this one off the bucket list.