Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I have been intrigued with the concept of Outstanding in the Field: a moving restaurant around the country focusing on the seasonal and local ingredients, to shed light about the farmers. The locations of the dining room is often close to the ingredients such as a farm, outdoors, museum and the like. Dinner is 5 courses with wine pairings and a brief introduction. Prices range from $180-$220. My heart fluttered when Foodbuzz announced the 1st Annual Food Blogger Festival and the big bash was the "Outstanding in the field" (OITF) dinner cooked by Namu (click here for my recent visit to Namu's restaurant) and friends.
After Day 1 of the Foodbuzz festival full of cocktails and street eats, the highlight was OITF located at GreenLeaf Produce Warehouse in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood. We arrived and parked next to the trucks, big rigs and loading docks. The warehouse was outfitted in a long linen cloth table that wrapped around the entire plant.
While mingling and meeting new faces, smalls bites of ahi tonnato on pain de mie were passed around. I examined the rooms with boxes of fresh produce and a beautiful collection of vegetables emitting a rainbow of colors.
Most of the seats were claimed, I sat near the front where I had VIP view of the kitchen in action but the lighting was terrible. Please excuse the pictures of the dishes and I resorted to using flash.
My dining companions munched on Shrimp Chips and pickled vegetables including – kim chee, white beans, broccoli, spinach and more. OITF served wine with every course and complimentary Redwood City Sister’s seltzer water served in vintage bottles.
Namu excited our appetites with a soothing, warm clear broth of Dashi with maitake, shieji, enoki mushrooms, contained all of my favorite mushrooms, smelled and tasted like a perfect base broth for ramen.
The cold Udon with grilled calamari, cucumber, frisee, yellow pear tomato, chojang and sesame vinaigrette was a nice prelude to all the BBQing and smoke whiffing from the kitchen. My dining mates thought it was spicy but I say “bring more of it!”
The fish course was an incredibly flavorful Salmon, baked with dashi kombu, fried garlic and Japanese curry crust. The fried garlic gave it a crunch and an intense garlicky-ness. I must try this crust the next time I bake fish. The salmon was served with a Mushroom Risotto topped with crispy maitake mushrooms for texture. I like how Namu used koshihikari rice, a surprise textural difference from the traditional risotto.
My entire table looked forward to the Soy braised beef cheeks and oxtails, baby carrots, fingerling potato, OB beer and denjang demiglace. I haven’t had beef cheeks in awhile and I realize I need to cultivate a better relationship with my butcher. The vegetable was the Roasted brussel sprouts, ponzu fried garlic, guanciale, topped with bonito flakes, the HIGHLIGHT of my meal. I am enamored with Brussels sprouts and like a boyfriend, it could be really bad and horrible or perfect and delicious. Namu roasted them with charred outer leaves and flavored through the center of the core.
There were 25 raffle tickets taped to the bottom of the chairs and I got one! I felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka finding the golden ticket. My reward was a bread book by La Brea, time to crack out the dusty bread maker.
The night ended with dessert of Koshihikari rice pudding with poached pears topped with cookie crumbles but I was encompassed with talking to Danny from KungFoodPanda and meeting his So Cal bloggers I forgot to take a picture but I can tell you it was delicious heighten with better conversation.
One of my blogging girls, Stephanie from LickMySpoon won both Foodbuzz award, and she just got engaged! Congrats! Other notable bloggers: KitchenM, JoanneisaFoodie, VirgoBlue, Aesis, YummySF, FeistyFoodie, TheDuoDishes (they won the Bertolli scholarship.)
Special Shout out to the crew from Foodbuzz for throwing a food packed, amazing and fun event!
Until next year…
Outstanding in the Field
439 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94118