In these locavore-loving times, we can now find farm-fresh food at most of our favorite restaurants. But come summer, it's a lot more fun to eat at the source, especially when that source is in the bucolic countryside--or in the very field where your dinner was grown.
These four experiences give new meaning to "dining under the stars":
Connecticut In 2007, area chefs Jonathan Rapp and Drew McLachlan created Dinners at the Farm, an annual 12-dinner series that supports local farmers. From the bed of their vintage fire truck (pictured), they welcome guests with a seasonal fruit cocktail and cook up memorable, multicourse meals ($150) well past dark.
Colorado In Boulder, the crew behind Meadow Lark Farm Dinners parks a bus-turned-mobile-kitchen in local pastures, where they prepare five-course dinners with ingredients grown on the featured farm. Held every few nights from June through September, the meals ($75 to $95) begin with a farm tour and end with dessert served at dusk.
Oregon Portland's Plate & Pitchfork founders Erika Polmar and Emily Crowley stage summer dinners ($90 to $150) at area farms to connect city folk with their producers. Fine china, wine pairings and guest chefs from top Portland restaurants come together in these elegant affairs, where the proceeds benefit nonprofit food and environmental organizations.
Everywhere The culinary vagabonds who travel the country with Outstanding in the Field will host alfresco farm dinners in more than 25 states this year. Founder Jim Denevan views the dinners ($180 to $220) as both educational opportunities and art installations; the tables are as beautiful as the family-style dishes they serve.