Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trailside Café Carmel Valley is a Post-Hike Haven {Edible Monterey Bay}

October 21, 2014 – this piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Trailside Café Carmel Valley is a Post-Hike Haven
Story by Camilla M. Mann
Photos courtesy Sean Allen, Trailside Café 

October 21, 2014 – The new Trailside Café and Beer Garden in Carmel Valley Village is nearly complete and owner Sean Allen hopes to open within the next week. While scoping out possible locations for his second Trailside Café, Sean stood on the deck of the old Toast Café and he found himself staring at the fire watchtower in Garland Ranch Regional Park atop a crest in the neighboring Santa Lucia Mountains.

He realized that this new location retained the relevance of the name—Trailside Café—and he set out to secure the space and transform it into a post-hike haven. After months of renovation, Trailside Café Carmel Valley has the look of a bucolic cabin. The motif continues inside with rough-hewn beams, a redwood bar, and rustic lanterns. And a wood-burning stove divides the main restaurant space from the bar. It’s a comfortable space with a casual feel. It’ll be the ideal place to kick off your boots after a day on the trails in Garland Ranch Regional Park. Meandering through thick chaparral, maple-filled canyons, and ascending to spectacular vistas of the entire valley can work up an appetite. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a pre-hike meal to bolster your adventures, the new Trailside Café is the answer.

Trailside Café Carmel Valley plans to open from 7:30am to 9:00pm, 7 days a week. Their breakfast menu will mirror the original Trailside Café and Coffeehouse on Cannery Row with everything from their overstuffed breakfast burrito to their delectable benedicts; the lunch offerings merge seamlessly into the evening hours as well, including pasta dishes, hearty burgers, and fish-and-chips. Allen plans to add some small plates that can be devoured both in the dining room and at the bar. Sports lovers can enjoy their favorite events on a trio of screens in the bar area.

The mural behind the taps is a topographic map by a local artist.

In a village dotted with wine tasting rooms, Trailside Café Carmel Valley is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for beer-lovers. Allen will have thirteen beers on tap, comprised of rotating taps from up and down the California coast as well as a three-door cooler with chilled bottles ready to enjoy. He’ll be pouring selections from Carmel Valley Brewing, Peter B’s, Drake’s Brewing Company, and North Coast Brewing, including their Scrimshaw Pilsner and Old Rasputin on nitro. I have to admit the heart of this beer-loving gal fluttered a little at mention of Old Rasputin. While I love a good stout, Old Rasputin on nitro softens the standard high-octane edges of the beer with a waterfall of bubbles that yield a thick creamy head. It’s fantastically robust and simultaneously silky smooth.

Not to worry, if you’re not an ardent beer fan, Allen has a selection of California wines – some local, some from slightly further afield – ready for pouring as well. And, after your meal, there are sweet treats for every palate in the family.

While Trailside Café Carmel Valley will carry some of its Cannery Row history with it, it will be a stand-alone family-friendly spot poised to win the hearts of locals, beer-lovers, avid hikers, and anyone in search of a filling, home-cooked meal. I, for one, can’t wait to hit the trails in Garland and find my way to the new Trailside.

Trailside Café and Beer Garden • 3 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley • 831.659.8500

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dining Room Table as a Nexus for Change for #foodday2014

October 20, 2014 – this piece went live on the Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website. Read it there...or here.

The Dining Room Table as a Nexus for Change
Story by Camilla M. Mann
One of my 'Eat a Rainbow' students making pumpkin-potato gnocchi

“Raise kids with fearless palates.” That is scribbled into a journal from before I was a mom.

Idealistic? Sure.

Achievable? Definitely.

At first, I just focused on my family. Then I expanded my goal to our small circle of friends. I put zucchini into chocolate cakes at birthday parties. I created a menu dedicated to the enigmatic and oft-hated eggplant. I pushed my friends’ palates and they still returned to my dining room table for more.

A good friend once asserted that he did not eat – and I quote – purple dirt circles. He meant beets. I accepted the challenge and cooked an entire dinner around those purple dirt circles, inviting him, his family, and a few other friends to my table. We ate roasted beet soup; I baked beetroot dinner rolls; we slathered beet-apple chutney on roasted leg of lamb; and ended with a spiced beet mousse for dessert.

Can you guess what happened next? He grudgingly admitted that he liked beets. He finally called them beets, too. And now, several years later, I have witnessed him spooning beets willingly onto his own salad on more than one occasion.

“More people would like vegetables if they ate them at your dining room table,” my husband Jake says. I realized that I could use the dining room table as a nexus for change: if you introduce kids to real foods and you invite them to cook it with you, they will eat it. And if you make the learning fun, they will love it.

October 24th is this year’s designated Food Day. Food Day and the FoodDay.org organization is all about inspiring both healthier diets for eaters and healthier food policies for our planet. It’s the culmination of a movement that aims to help people eat foods that are healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced. It’s also a time to focus on cutting back on processed, packaged foods every day of the year. It’s about awareness. It can be a celebration of accomplishments and a reassessment of what you can do to eat better.

This year Food Day falls in the middle of a six-week Friday afternoon elective class that I teach to a dozen 5th through 7th graders at a school on the Monterey Peninsula on California’s central coast. This session’s theme is ‘Eat a Rainbow.’ We have talked about the benefits of eating foods in every color of the rainbow. We’ve covered red, orange, yellow, and green so far. And we’ve made everything from pumpkin gnocchi to saffron-vanilla bean lemonade and from green beans with gremolata to roasted beets salad.

On Food Day, my students and I will be preparing two to three dishes that involve blue and purple foods. Think eggplant, blueberries, and purple yams!

My goal is not only to cook with my students, getting them to – perhaps – try foods that they haven’t eaten before, but to inspire them take our recipes home and cook for their own families. At the end of the session, they take home a book with all of the recipes we cooked during the six weeks. When I went to one of my student’s houses for dinner, he excitedly showed me the two recipe books from the two classes he’s taken with me. They had a prominent place in his mom’s kitchen along with her other cookbooks. I was surprised. She explained, “When he wants to share something from them, I know where they are.”

I was excited to be selected as a volunteer ambassador for Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day. That extended the scope of my goal from simply raising my own kids to have fearless palates to helping push the palates of other people’s kids. While revamping the standard American diet is laudable, raising the next generation to make healthier food choices is a necessity – for their health and the health of our planet. It starts at the dining room table.

About the author: Camilla is the Food Revolution ambassador for Monterey, California. Read about her Food Revolution and culinary food on her blog Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Commonwealth Wednesdays Debut in Carmel {Edible Monterey Bay}

October 14, 2014 – this piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Commonwealth Wednesdays Debut in Carmel
story by Camilla M. Mann, photo courtesy Lauren De Vine

October 14, 2014 – A weekly showcase for local food pioneers called Commonwealth Wednesdays debuts tomorrow at Carmel Belle and the very first event features the seasonal elixirs, shrubs and mixers of beverage artisan Lauren De Vine.

‘Commonwealth’ means ‘founded for the common well-being’ and, in this case, owners Jay and Chloe Dolata, Chef Kyle Odell, and the rest of the Carmel Belle team aim to connect local food pioneers with the community, for the good of all.

The Dolatas make an effort to operate as a community-minded business, purchasing products from local purveyors and farmers. Taking local sourcing a step further, Commonwealth Wednesdays will allow them to connect those people directly to the community. Once a week, Carmel Belle will host local food pioneers to highlight their products, share samples, give a demonstration, and—most importantly—meet the locals.

First up: Lauren De Vine the creative force behind Lauren De Vine Beverages. Lauren will be sharing her spirit-bases for making mocktails, cocktails, and soda. While she has experience taking businesses from concept to fruition, it has always been with other people’s ideas including Barmel and a skin care line. This will be the first public demo of her very own recently launched brand. “My intention,” she says, “is to take the mystery out of a good cocktail.”

At 5:00pm, Lauren will explain how she plans to change the beverage industry and show how you can be the life of the party with one of her signature cocktails or sodas. Then, from 5:30pm – 6:30pm, Lauren will provide samples of her produce-driven, spirit-bases. She didn’t want to divulge too much about the three flavors ahead of the Commonwealth Wednesday, but I can reveal that they capture the essence of the late summer season and each has multiple intriguing layers of flavor.

Lauren’s spirit-bases are handcrafted using the best locally grown organic ingredients. She defines local as starting as close to her as possible and moving outward, as needed, to source her fruits and herbs. Lauren mentions that she loves working with Jamie Collins of Serendipity because the farm is close and they share a mindset about food production and sustainability.

She relishes being part of the food community in Monterey and will be starting a weekend CSA to get feedback on different flavors before she launches on a larger scale in spring 2015. Her idea is for CSA members to pick up six small-scale spirit bases along with instructions for turning those into celebratory libations by mixing in alcohol or soda water.

“We use organic, fresh ingredients in our products and they can all be delicious without adding liquor. Nearly all of them would only require a bit of soda water and ice to be fully realized and enjoyed,” she adds. Carmel Belle will be the first of the pick-up locations.

Alongside Lauren’s demonstration, Chef Kyle will be creating a couple of small plates for the evening in addition to the regular Dinner Belle menu. Looking ahead, Commonwealth Wednesday will showcase farmer Jamie Collins of Serendipity Farms on October 22. Future events will feature local food pioneers from Kai Lee Ice Creamery and Tomatero Farm, among others. Those sound like beneficial evenings for all.