ONE The French aren’t rude. Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I think I like the French. (Cue the gong.) I lived in Italy for three years. Let’s just say I was Team Olive Oil, not Team Butter. Plus, everyone’s heard the stories of notorious French snobbery, especially toward uncouth Americans who don’t speak the language. I was prepared for a throwdown by Day 2, but it never happened. Taxi drivers doubled as tour guides, waiters were friendly and dutifully answered any menu translation questions, and even when we stopped into cafés for a quick coffee (obvious strategy for using their bathrooms) we were welcomed.
After attending an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner in southern California two months earlier, I was interested to see how a Plate & Pitchfork farm dinner would stack up. OITF leads events throughout the United States and the crew travels in a large bus; Plate & Pitchfork is an Oregon-only series of dinners. Both pull local chefs and wineries to cook and pour at different farms, so each evening is its own unique experience. Plate & Pitchfork had me at “hello” with their informational email: “children, no matter how small and adorable, may not attend dinner.” First of all, apologies to my many friends with (indeed) adorable children, but you gotta love the blunt. Second, this must be in the best interests of the farm and hosts; there is enough chaos at these dinners that it would probably become some version of a food-loving wedding reception if children were allowed. (And no one needs little Jimmy falling in the pig mud.)