Monday, September 3, 2012

La Crème de la Crème

This was just posted to the Edible Monterey Bay blog.

All of Edible Monterey Bay’s pop-up events have captured the personality of the hosts—from the relaxed, laid-back feel of Carmel Valley’s Lokal to the bustling mélange of colorful dishes at Santa Cruz’s Charlie Hong Kong and from the almost celestial serenity above the clouds at Ventana Inn & Spa to the lively farm-to-table breakfast at the Westside farmers’ market in Santa Cruz. I cannot wait to see what La Crème has in store for us at their pop-up event with Edible Monterey Bay Wednesday, Sept. 26.

What we do know is the location—Casa de la Crème, the catering company’s new Pacific Grove event venue and the location of its soon-to-open espresso, wine and tapas bar, Crema. We also know the menu, and it looks divine: The meal will begin with a persimmon and arugula salad, followed by seared California white seabass, grilled duck with fig sausage and braised lamb shank. In case you have any room left, dessert will be a fig and raspberry crostata with elderflower ice cream and toasted almond crunch. We’ll keep the details of the preparation of the courses a surprise, but you can count on all of them to be imaginative.

La Crème owner Tamie Aceves is a vivacious event planner extraordinaire who has more than twelve years of experience managing both intimate and large-scale events. Weddings that she orchestrated have appeared in a bevy of bridal magazine, including Conde Nast’s Brides Northern California, The Knot, and Wedding Wire.

Pair her personality with the culinary creativity and integrity of Chef Jon Moser and the event is sure to be executed with great flair for excellence. La crème de la crème. The best of the best.

Chef Jon’s experience runs the gamut from stints as a ship’s cook to time in some of the country’s finest restaurants, including Chez Panisse, Manresa and even French Laundry. Inspired by local ingredients, his menus can include traditional favorites as well as innovative specialties. His choices always reflect his belief that food needs to be prepared the right way, using the best possible ingredients, presented beautifully and served with panache. But most importantly, it must be delicious.

I had the opportunity to preview the magic that Aceves and Chef Jon have created and, if the lunch I attended was any indication, Edible Monterey Bay pop-up diners are in for a real treat!

Chef Jon presented a roasted heirloom tomato tart topped with shavings of Bellwether Farms San Andreas cheese and some fresh mache. Mache has been cultivated in France since the 17th century, but in California the sweet but nutty leaves are relatively new. Surrounding the tart were ribbons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Next up: chicken breast from Petaluma Farms atop a risotto verde – a risotto made with fresh spinach and seasonal herbs.

When making risotto, Chef Jon opts for carnaroli, a medium-grain rice grown in the Vercelli province of northern Italy. While carnaroli is the traditional choice for making risotto, most chefs now use arborio rice. When I asked Chef Jon why he opts for carnaroli rice, he answered, simply, that it was about the quality. “Carnaroli retains its shape while still being creamy.”

Adding color and sweetness to the risotto was a rainbow of baby carrots from Faurot Ranch in Watsonville. Chef Jon orders produce consolidated by Greenleaf Produce to reduce driving trips from his vendors. He also tries to use products that are grown and produced in the local area to further reduce his carbon footprint. He explained his standing order with Greenleaf to me this way: “I want whatever is most fresh, in season, and sourced from Monterey County, whenever possible.”

La Crème’s event venue, Casa de la Crème, is housed in a two-story Victorian and is adorned with details that lend elegance without diminishing its inviting, comfortable appeal. Distressed doors serve as a partition in the cozy Peacock Room that overlooks the street. Wrought iron sconces hang on whimsically finished walls. And a garden where they grow their garnishes is guarded by a giant fork and spoon. One of my favorite surprising details: a bouquet of pickling jars turned into a modern chandelier of sorts.

By November, La Crème expects to open Crema, its on-site wine and tapas bar; Crema could begin offering espresso as early as mid-September.

La Crème’s pop-up Edible Monterey Bay on Sept. 26 will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Casa de la Crème, 481 Lighthouse Ave. in Pacific Grove. Tickets will be $75.

No comments:

Post a Comment