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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chefs + Local Organic Start-ups = Good


Truly eating locally ain't easy, but it can be immensely satisfying and flavorful, as I learned when I did it for 15 days. (Man, I missed Tapatío.)

Thing is, on the advice of savvy sourcing chefs like Dory Ford, I gave myself an 150-mile range. The inspired benefit for big-dreams, small-means Agricultural and Land-based Training Association Sunday, Aug. 22, at the sparkling Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, is permitting a 40-mile perimeter for the meats and vegetables going into a menu assembled by MPCC's Colin Moody, Corral de Tierra Country Club's William Bennett, Aquaterra Culinary's Esteban Jimenez and the aformentioned Ford.

Do-gooders can await chilled tomato and watermelon gazpacho consommé; braised leek, walnut and bleu cheese canapé; Grey Goose- and Grand Marnier-compressed ALBA strawberries on bamboo fork; and line caught pacific tuna in ALBA avocado tartar in a black sesame cone with ALBA red radish crème fraiche.

And that's just the appetizers. This sucker's five courses, with regional wine pairings, emceeing from Alan Richmond and silent auction action.

ALBA would be best described as an inspired small farm incubator whose alums include local notables/farmers market pillars Universal Organics, Rio de Parras Organic Farm, La Milpa Organic Farm and Tastes Like Chicken Ranch.

(BTW: I lived for TLC bacon while local dieting; they are currently selling heritage whole and half pigs as part of Aug. 25 and late September harvest groups and a late September harvest group with discounts for repeat pig customers. Log deposits at the TLC website.)

"We subsidize in the beginning and that decreases over time," Deputy Director Gary Peterson, "That's the point of the incubation. To generate a viable local small farm economy. To provide economic development and skills development."

ALBA's chef friends rallied for what represents a coming-out of sorts for an inspired nonprofit that hasn't had a fundraiser like this. "While we will uphold the dress code [at MPCC]," Peterson says, "It will be a little bit different crowd for them…

"We want to introduce ALBA to the community in a way we haven't before—to increase the number of folks who are turned onto our work."

Cost is $125 per person, a portion of which is tax-deductible. If you can't swing that, seek out ALBA alumni at local farmers markets—and these other local providers. If these chefs are using them, you want to be using them too. Tickets may be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets or by calling 758-1469.

Oh yeah: the entrees (which, along with the appetizers and the ALBA trio dessert, make up the five courses).

1. Line caught fennel-dusted Pacific halibut, ALBA artichoke-chèvre custard, ALBA roma tomato-citrus confit, Opal basil oil

2. Pan-roasted Hain Ranch chicken breast, leg confit, heirloom summer squash, roasted pear tomato, natural jus

3. Potted farmstead Paicines Ranch beef with stewed ALBA pipérade and S&K Ranch liver grill bread with garden-fresh sauce verde

Small is beautiful.