Photo Gallery: Freewheelin' Farm Dinner in a Secret Cove

170 guests weathered the wind for a feast in the sand.

Since 1999, Santa Cruz-based Outstanding in the Field has been setting up its one long table in the dirt between lettuce rows and grape vines, dusty garden paths and very windy secret coves. 

This weekend's dinner site was a private beach five miles north of Santa Cruz. On Saturday, 170 guests picked their way over rocky crags to one long table in the sand.  

"Even with the waves and the wind and the threat of the water it's still an amazing experience and you'll still keep coming back," said Jeannie Lella, who sat to my left.

Guests smiled at the stray sand grains between their teeth and antagonized an ever-rising tide with their cheers, while gale force winds whipped through summer jackets and left no hair untouseled. 

Aside from being one of the sweetest women I have ever met, Lella to my left is the mother of Hans Haveman of H & H Fresh Fish, who sourced rockfish and sanddabs for the dinner. Even as a baby Haveman was drawn to the sea.

"His diaper was always filled with sand. He loved how it felt when he was teething," Lella told the table, making the two Southwest flight attendents (hailing all the way from Nashville and Oklahoma City) across from us laugh.

The honored farmer of the evening was Darryl Wong, of Freewheelin' Farm. When Amy Courtney and Kirstin Yogg started the farm over a decade ago, they pedaled their vegetables into town on bikes. Today, they supply restaurants and CSA's with fresh produce and are deeply devoted to the local educational program for youths, Food, What?! 

Freewheelin' Farm grows their vegetables on 8 acres overlooking the Pacific, where shell mounds mark the days of long lost Ohlone Indian feast grounds. 

Jeff Larkey of Route 1 Farms also helped source the dinner, bringing boxes of lemon verbena, Italian parsley and other herbs he had grown just a few more miles up the coast, for the chef du jour: Peter McNee from Poggio Trattoria in Sausalito.

Just around sunset, a more frantic kind of a cry erupted from the far end of the table as an ice cold wave splashed under it—a carefully calculated detail by Jim Denevan, founder of Outstanding in the Field, who took the opportunity to light the huge bonfire he and his crew had built earlier that day. 

Menu Highlights:

 (Ingredients harvested from Freewheelin' and Route 1 Farms)

Bread with a trio of pots: cured salmon, horseradish beets, fennel agrodolce

corn sformatino, grilled porcini mushroom, butter poached lobster, chives, arugula

shellfish roe spaghetti, clams, mussels, salt cod, rock shrimp, tomato, chile, parsley

mixed grilled fish: sanddab, rockfish calamari, sardine, octopus, salmon, head-on prawn, lemon, potato, artichoke.

RB Love June 04, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Amazing photos. I really want to stop missing these events.
June Smith June 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM
What an experience! Was any local wine served and if so, which one/s?
Maria Grusauskas June 04, 2012 at 04:50 PM
June the maker was Richard Alfaro of Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. They are from Corralitos. Sorry I left that detail out, thanks for asking!!
Norma DeMay June 08, 2012 at 12:09 AM
this is truly amazing; they served 170? Gorgeous photos!!!!


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