outstanding in the field, and the question of the egg

Have you ever wondered whether organic eggs taste better than conventional eggs from the supermarket? I have. I’ve read varying accounts over the past couple of years, and after reading different opinions, I’m still not sure if the taste truly differs. But one thing is certain. I feel better eating an egg from a chicken that was raised humanely and with as little human-mucking-around as possible.

I’m pretty sure that a happy chicken will lay a happy, good-tasting egg. But what I’m certain of is that I’ll feel better about eating that particular egg from that particular chicken.

Which brings us to Sunday night.

the table

Some months ago, I read about a unique event that has taken place at farms across the country, and I was intrigued. The concept is a farm dinner, and the mission of Outstanding in the Field is to bring people closer to the source of their food. Most of the events were initially in California, where the chef-owner lives, but over the last several years, OITF has brought their dinner events to farms all across the country – and even to Europe.

A dinner was held this past Sunday night at Lake Meadow Naturals farm in Orlando. Lake Meadows Naturals is a farm that produces cage-free poultry, with grassy pastures filled with chickens of different breeds, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, and turkeys. And, although they aren’t renowned for their non-poultry animals, there were even a couple of cows, a handful of goats, and several bunnies on hand, destined for someone’s dinner table in the months to come.

the laying hens

We had the pleasure of attending this dinner. Under the winter central Florida sky, my husband and I dined on local proteins and vegetables, while Lake Meadow Naturals’ chickens clucked in the background, and the native wood ducks swooped in at sunset to steal their feed.

It was glorious.

And while I’ll never answer the organic versus conventional chicken egg question, I can tell you this…eating dinner on the farm where the proteins were raised?

Nothing quite compares to that.

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[The photos below are linked to my Flickr account. Click through them for more information about each photo. ]

drinks are served.

before dinner

a predinner glass of vino


before dinner

the local distillery has a presence

sampling a cocktail



leah and jim

the dinner plates

how now brown cow

farmer dale

grits cake

a procession of ducks

the table

with jim

more teeny tiny oranges

farm dinner scene

hens and their rooster

farm tour with farmer dale

farm kitty


the kitchen crew


farm dinner-35


chef tony adams


farm dinner-39

at sunset

farm dinner

sunset, moonrise

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Outstanding in the Field was founded by California chef and artist, Jim Denevan. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an OTIF event, I highly recommend it.

Lake Meadow Naturals is in Ocoee, Florida – right outside of Orlando proper. If it were not 2 hours away, I’d drive there weekly for fresh eggs and the occasional roasting chicken. In fact, when they open their u-pick egg coops, I plan on bringing the kids down to pick their own farm-fresh eggs.

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10 Responses to “travel, a reading list, and a smoked salmon appetizer”

  1. Jason Phelps — June 3, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    I’m new to smoked salmon for at least consuming it. I’ve know of it for some time but I just couldn’t get over the fact that many selections just don’t look cooked. I tried some in Seattle last week and found it to be much more like cooked salmon in appearance and with a nice smokiness that made me sure it wasn’t raw. What should I be expecting when I go looking for this treat? What other ways might I use it?

    Enjoy your trip!


    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — June 3rd, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

      Jason – I found my smoked salmon in the grocery, near the seafood section. It’s prepackaged in little 4 ounce flat packages, ready to be sliced. You could use it as a pizza topping, pair it with eggs, pair it with goat cheese…the possibilities are endless!

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 3, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    Love Megan and Jennie’s sites too – now will add the third to my Reader too!!! Bon voyage!

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  4. Jennie — June 3, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    Merry Jennifer—thanks for keeping me in such good company, and your support constantly adds a ray of sunshine to my day. I can’t wait to finally meet you this October. Have a great time in Chicago!

  5. Liren — June 4, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    Merry Jennifer, you are the sweetest! I am so honored to be placed in wonderful company, and I am grateful that you have introduced me to wonderful reads to add to my reader! Have a safe and fun trip to Chicago – this is a beautiful time of year to visit. I have such a soft spot for that fantastic city.

    Oh, and smoked salmon + chips? Genius.

  6. Magic of Spice — June 4, 2010 @ 1:55 am

    This is a wonderful appetizer/snack 🙂 Love, love smoked salmon (actually all salmon) and this is a delightful treat:)

  7. s. stockwell — June 4, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Great post! We loved Chicago on our last visit. Great architecture and style everywhere. Thanks and best from Santa Barbara. s

  8. jen cheung — June 4, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

    hellllllllllo there! found you on foodbuzz! 🙂 your page is lovely! feel free to drop by my page when you have the time! thanks a bunch.

    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  9. This looks delicious 🙂 Chicago is such a ball– have a great time, despite the work obligations.

    So happy to have found your site!

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