It’s finally here!  This week’s beautiful weather arrived just in time for tonight’s Blogger Happy Hour – will you be there?  The cooler temperatures have got us looking ahead to everything that autumn has to offer: apple picking, pumpkin patches, corn mazes…and of course a sustained break from the fetid humidity we’ve all come to know and love as DC in the summer. 

But before we say goodbye to summer completely, we wanted to call your attention to two upcoming events that celebrate the best of the season in the best possible way: right there on the farm, among the fruits and vegetables that are just now at their peak.  Whether you’d prefer a farm-fresh dinner with RAMW’s Rising Culinary Star of the Year or a current Top Chef contestant, you’ve got your chance within the next two weeks.

Details on Outstanding in the Field and VOLT’s Late Summer Farm Dinner after the jump.

oitf bookNow in its tenth year, Outstanding in the Field is the brainchild of Jim Denevan.  Denevan is a chef and artist who was moved to start hosting outdoor dinners at organic farms around Santa Cruz, CA, in 1999.  This year, OITF will be hosting more than 50 events across the country, giving diners a chance to reconnect with their food right there where it’s grown.

In the Washington area, Outstanding in the Field will hold three dinners over Labor Day weekend – this coming Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Held at historic Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, Virginia, each meal begins with a farm tour followed by a five-course dinner set at a long, communal table right out in the fields (or in some other equally scenic spot).  Each course is paired with a wine, and attendees get to mingle with the farmers, growers, winemakers and other artisans whose work produced the ingredients of the feast.

Sounds like a locavore’s dream, right?  Luckily for us, it gets even better.  Two of the three local dinners are being prepared by top local chefs.  On Sunday (September 6th), 2009 RAMW Rising Culinary Star of the Year Anthony Chittum of Vermilion will be doing the cooking.  The next day (Labor Day), the honors go to Bryan Moscatello of Zola and Potenza.

The event is a bit on the pricey side, coming in at $189 per person.  Factor in the farm tour and the cameraderie of the event, though, and it feels like a justifiable splurge.  Tickets are still available for Monday’s dinner with Moscatello;  you can order them through the website.  Saturday and Sunday’s dinners are officially sold out, but there may be some tickets floating around if you’ve got your heart set on dining with Chittum.

If you’ve already made your plans for Labor Day weekend, you may want to turn your attention to Bryan Voltaggio’s Late Summer Farm Dinner on Tuesday, September 15th.  For one night only, Frederick’s local celebrity chef will take his act on the road, preparing a six-course dinner in the lantern-lit barn at Whitmore Farm in Emmitsberg, Maryland. 

The set-up is somewhat similar to that of Outstanding in the Field – a chef-led celebration of all that is best and most ripe from nearby producers, in a dramatic rural setting, with local beverage pairings to tie it all together.  In this case, however, the chef is also a current competitor on Top Chef, and the setting has been billed as “very limited space,” so you can count on a VIP experience.

Photo by Bravo

Photo by Bravo

As enticing as this event is, it seems geared to appeal primarily to folks who live in the nearby area.  A cocktail reception at 6 PM heads into the six-course dinner at 7 on a Tuesday night, and the accompanying beverage pairings (which we were excited to see include local Flying Dog ales) could make a longer drive home inadvisable. 

Even so, there’s a lot about this event to tempt us into considering an overnight.  In addition to goat and sheep from host Whitmore Farm, Voltaggio will be using produce from Summer Creek Farm and Scenic View Orchard (among others).  Wines will come from Black Ankle and Elk Run, a pair of local wineries.  The lack of local avocados means guests are unlikely to see Voltaggio’s winning dish from last week’s Top Chef, but they can likely expect similarly creative dishes side-by-side with classic presentations.

Seats for VOLT’s event are $285 per person, and they ask that you contact the restaurant at (301) 696-VOLT (8658) to make reservations.

What will you be doing to celebrate the end of summer?