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Field Notes in Fall

September 24, 2018

Last week when I popped my head into Rivers Casino and saw how busy it was on a Thursday night, I was astounded. Mostly, I was having trouble wrapping my head around the ways people decide to spend their money.

For me, casinos will always be a tax for people who are bad at math.

However, that’s probably not fair, because people should be able to pursue whatever kind of fun they like with their disposable income. Surely, there will be some who question how much money I spend on food.

This past Saturday, I went to Field Notes at Lansing Farm for one the sit down dinners orchestrated by chefs Kyle and Joan. I’m putting this down in the “Fussy about Food” category instead of “Fussy about Restaurants” because Field Notes really isn’t a restaurant. It’s a kitchen on a farm. The chefs want these Saturday night events to feel like coming to someone’s home for a dinner party. A place where you can hang out with a bottle of wine (or two), sit at a communal table, and enjoy an evening interspersed with several courses of finely crafted food.

So what does that look like? Well, I took a few pictures.

The evening starts off with a welcome from chefs Joan and Kyle. Not only are they cooking the meal, but they are also serving it, and introducing each course. The amount of work that goes into pulling off these dinners is really kind of staggering.

The evening’s menus are printed, and at each table. My recommendation would be to make a reservation for one of these meals well before the menu is released. In theory, they are published on the Monday before the dinner. But these Saturday night events sell out, and waiting for the last minute can mean no Field Notes for you.

This is the food I want to eat. It’s local. It’s seasonal. And all of the dishes are built upon time intensive preparations that create layers of flavor. Everything is house made, from the bread to the smoked maple caramel. And most of the ingredients come from Lansing Farm.

There was a tray of nibbles before the amuse bouche was served, but my picture didn’t quite do it justice.

This is kohlrabi. Yeah, I know. It looks like a seared scallop. So that means this route was carved into a cylindrical shape. It was also cooked sous vide in a pouch of herbal tea, to give it a bit more aromatic intensity. And look at the knife work on those candied carrots. And the color on the kohlrabi. And the sheen on that garlic cream sauce. None of this is easy. All of this is impressive.

Then it’s fall in a bowl. The pickled apple is really the thing that sets this butternut squash soup apart from the rest. Maple cream is an obvious choice, but the contrasting snap of brightness from something that’s typically sweet, was a great little twist.

The best part of fall is enjoying some heartier preparations, like this incredibly smokey dish of meat and potatoes in the form of short rib ragu and ricotta gnocchi. Those short ribs were smoked over cherry wood for hours, and then braised in the oven. The roasted tomatoes helped to cut the richness, as did a few garlic spiked bites of the gremolata.

The cheese course is a ton of fun, because it lets everyone play with their food, and pair the farm cheese with a variety of toppings. Coming off the beef course, I went from savory to sweet, leaning heavily on the pesto to start. Actually, I just spread the pesto right on the focaccia, and I was a happy man. But my favorite of the sweets was the currant jelly made with Rare Form’s Moxie IPA. Especially when combined with the fresh and creamy farm cheese.

Sure, we’re seeing pumpkin everything right around now. But it’s different when you’re on the farm and a dessert is made from actual farm fresh pumpkins. These pumpkin shortcakes were really just an excuse to drag something other than a finger through the smoked maple caramel.

There was some talk of Joan and Kyle helping Mountain View Maple up in Berne process maple cream into small batches of this stuff so it can be made available to consumers. I really hope that happens, because even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, this was fantastic.

Or maybe, Superior Merchandise, Stacks Espresso, or 3Fish coffee can get a hold of some and mix it into a seasonal latte.

At the end of the meal, there was coffee in large french press pots. But I think tea may have been the winner. One of our tablemates just wanted some fresh mint leaves and boiling water. Joan had several kinds of fresh mint readily available. That sounded lovely too.

The meal was definitely a full evening affair, running close to three hours. But at the end, not only was I delighted by culinary creativity, I was thrilled to not be overstuffed. Far too often multi-course meals seem to be a test for the capacity of food consumption.

Seriously, at most places one single appetizer can fill me up to the point where the rest of the meal ceases to be pleasurable. For some, the pace of this meal could seem slow. But I delighted in getting to spend an evening on the farm, and enjoyed every single bite of each course.

Amazingly, Joan and Kyle were up the next morning banging out brunch service. Part of me wanted to pop back in for a plate of eggs and scrapple at 10am on Sunday. But I still wan’t quite hungry. One of the things I’m trying to learn is to stop eating when I’m not hungry.

It’s a life long struggle, and it’s one that I’m very fortunate to have.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ewan permalink
    September 24, 2018 11:13 am

    that looks utterly delicious. Even more sad to miss now :(.

  2. September 24, 2018 12:02 pm

    The evening was fun, the food delicious and your description helped to relive it. We actually did go back for lunch/brunch on Sunday. So worth the trip and experience for both meals.

  3. albanylandlord permalink
    September 25, 2018 11:52 pm

    Wow.

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