At al fresco feasts, Manitoba's top chefs combine forces with farmers to celebrate regional cuisine. Besides amazing eats, these ‘farm to table' banquets tap into the "agricultural fabric" of the province and demystify rural life for urbanites.
Luxury isn't always found in between marble floors and crystal chandeliers. Sometimes it's found between the barn and the pasture.
Across Manitoba, a growing number of farmers and producers are joining forces with with top chefs, creating deliciously memorable evenings that intimately connect foodies to the land. Hosted in fields, farms and produce markets, the afternoon and evening outdoor feasts celebrate Manitoba regional cuisine and introduce city folk to rural living. Using made-in-Manitoba products and indigenous ingredients, the parties are punctuated with fantastic food, spot-on wine pairings and great conversation with other passionate food lovers. Guests mix and mingle with producers and the chefs who transform local ingredients into delectable dishes.
Grazing in the Field is one of those special feasts found in the province.
Every September, more than 100 food lovers gather for a seven-course made-in-Manitoba dinner at the source-on a southern Manitoba farm.
"People love the idea of connecting with farm families and getting back to the land," says Jason Brandes, with the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, which hosts Grazing in the Field.
"This taps into the agricultural fabric of the province," Brandes says."It's a once in a lifetime experience and it's as local as it gets."
"You're going to have an experience that not many people get. It is not the regular tourist experience. It's unique, it's special," Brandes says.
The 2012 inaugural Grazing in the Field saw two busloads descend on the Hueging Family Dairy Farm in Woodlands, northwest of Winnipeg for a expansive dinner spotlighting Manitoba regional cuisine. A lawn-side cocktail party greeted guests. Servers circulated with smoked turkey with aioli on toasted baguette chips.
The evening was also a lesson in "interactive eating." Guests clipped their own micro-greens from plate-sized piles of sprouting soil on the table. They uncapped still smoking pickerel from Mason jars and reconstructed Winnipeg cream cheese cake with crab-apple jelly, strawberry, caramel and sprinkles of chocolate "soil."
This year on September 7, eaters will also get hands-on.
Winnipeg chef Ben Kramer, of Winnipeg's Elements restaurant, promise to serve a remarkable meal at this year's edition of Grazing in the Field.
"We're trying to blow it out of the water this year," Kramer says. "It's very interactive. We will have elements of surprise."
For more information go to grazinginthefield.ca.
Celebrate Manitoba's bounty at one of these signature fresh-air feasts around the province:
Supper in the Field
August 21, 2013, Kellwood, three hours northwest of Winnipeg
Bring a big appetite to this annual party in Manitoba's Parkland. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the feast which piggybacks the Harvest Sun Music Festival. About 200 diners descend for an eight-course meal featuring food by talented chefs living in rural Manitoba. For more information click here.
September 12, 2013, St. Norbert, just south of Winnipeg
Every year, Manitoba's top chefs come together in a friendly cook-off using bounty of the fall harvest. Guests wander the market with wine and napkins in hand, sampling nibbles from gourmet food stations dotting the outdoor market. Producers, growers, farmers and chefs unite in this festival of food. Click here for all the details.