Friday, September 11, 2015

The Last of Summer's Labor, The Ecology Center's Green Feast.

By Laura Medina

Los Angeles isn't only one to host epic, season-long foodie festivals.

In its shadow, The EcoCenter in romantically quaint San Juan Capistrano (right above San Diego), is throwing a last of Summer feast tomorrow.

Orange County's best, hottest, and hunkiest chefs are showcasing the best of The EcoCenter's bumper crop bounty by throwing a locavore's fundraiser feast to support The EcoCenter's goal, returning traditional farming frugality for the twenty-first century, where bath water run-offs water the juiciest peaches and old-fashion hay cuts on odor while fertilizing the soil.

During the media preview luncheon, this purely organic lunch prove being "green" doesn't mean "diet, light, vegan, or starving."  

In fact, the OC's hunkiest male chefs showed up, chugging freshly crafted beer, like they used to do hundred years ago when farmers and laborers run on home-made beer.

The Red Fife Bread (baked by BREAD Artisan Bakery with Roan Mills Grains), the sandwich bread, was so hearty with grain and nuts that it can stand alone as a breakfast toast or as an open-faced tart with a simple slathering of butter, chicken liver mousse or smoke salmon and cream cheese.

The sandwich fillings were meals unto themselves...for both vegans and carnivores.

The vegan Crispy Goat Cheese Sandwich of roasted farmers' market veggies, pickled onions, green sprouts in a creamy Green Goddess Spread makes for a healthy decant salad alone...with hearty grain bread on the side.

If you really want to split one meal into two, the Novy Ranch Braised Beef Brisket Sandwich would do...

Beef Brisket slathered in pickled carrots, onions, cucumber, cilantro, roasted garlic avocado spread and jalapeno vinaigrette is "beefy" enough to be a stand-alone meal.

The Beef Brisket Winter Wheat Sandwich Bread can be eaten alone as a side toast or by itself or have the sandwich split in half as an open-faced tart.

It ain't a real meal unless there's dessert.  See, being healthy doesn't mean being deprived or driven insane by hunger...that's not healthy.

The preview luncheon was finished off by traditional farmer hearty Sunny Cal Apple & Berry Brown Butter Galette.

It's a spent almond crust filled with apple and berries then baked in honey then topped with a dollop of freshly whipped almond milk whipped cream.  Yes, they did it!

They hunky he-man chefs of Orange County can afford to guzzle hand-crafted beer because they're local.

If you drove two hours away, like the media, they have to settle for a refreshing pitcher of strawberry shrub, a long-forgotten tart spritzer, revived for the luncheon and the Green Feast.

Turning left-over strawberries into a drink syrup is a great use of resources.

Here's the recipe...

Strawberry Shrub
Makes about 2 cups
Combine in a medium bowl:
           1 cup sliced strawberries
            1 cup granulated sugar
            1 cup red wine vinegar
            1 handful mint leaves
Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash the berries so they release their juices. Stir until the sugar has mostly dissolved and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the mixture to a saucepan and heat gently over medium-low heat. Do not bring to a simmer--you simply want to heat the mixture to coax the sugar to dissolve.
Strain the shrub through a fine mesh strainer. If desired, strain again through a coffee filter. Refrigerate.
Use to flavor water or sparkling water, make cocktails, or top ice cream or shave ice.

You can taste these meals or even better meals by purchasing the tickets at  or call (949) 443-4223 for tomorrow's Green Feast so you can feast on the food and the chefs.


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