Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2014

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Page 27 of 43

T he term "farm-to-table" may be reach- ing its saturation point in most culinary circles, but West Inn and Suites is set on restoring its meaning with its distinctly different "A Night with Chef " offering. Just 10 minutes away from the Carlsbad-based hotel sits the three-acre West Farm, where chefs and visitors can harvest organic vegetables, fruits, grains and herbs—and marvel at giant sun- flower patches. "ere aren't too many chefs in the world with their own farms," says farm manager Luke Girling. "is is the defi- nition of local [cuisine]—if I were a chef, I'd be stoked." As are the hotel guests, who, for the last year, have been able to take advantage of a "Night with Chef " package. Participants are treat- ed to an educational farm tour during the day, followed by a six-course "surprise" meal specially prepared using the daily harvest. (e farm accounts for at least 50 percent of the fresh ingredients used at the restaurant.) Girling leads the farm tour, which encourages noshing on such de- lights as fresh-picked figs, cranberry beans, chocolate mint and/or heirloom tomatoes. e property is sandwiched by an equestrian farm and the 60-acre Valdivia tomato farm, which makes the out- ing all the more scenic. Later that evening, it all ties together with the surprise prix fixe dinner. e presence of the West Farm is heavily felt, from fresh sunflowers on the tables to edible flower garnishes. Each night the tasting menu differs based on chef 's whim and what's ripe, but one might expect such dishes as Carrot Melange, Lobster & Fennel or Wagyu strip steak with potato confit. For those who opt for wine pairing, sommelier Tom Bertrand is also on hand to explain each specially chosen selection. (Be prepared to spend a full evening, as the fine dining experience can take three to four hours.) It's all about furthering the connections among consumer, chef and farmer—and making it feel decadent and delightful. Says Girling, "Every day is a new adventure." $110/person for the "Night with Chef " farm tour/six-course dinner (add $50/person for wine pairing). 4970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad 92008; 760.448.4500 www.westinnandsuites.com and www.weststeakandseafood.com FRUIT OF THE (HEIR)LOOM: FOUR SEASONS WESTLAKE VILLAGE Craving a feast fit for a king? Let Four Seasons Westlake Village whisk you away to ousand Oaks-based Philen Pharms, which houses rare organic heirloom produce—from petite Mirabelle plums originally planted by King René d'Anjou to hard-to-find Ni- unai persimmons that once graced the tables of the Ming Dynasty. "We culture everything organically, but what makes us really special are the varieties dating back centuries—our trees are up to 400 years old," says proprietor Tim Philen, who refers to himself as an "heirloom fruit evangelist." "We preserve great tastes that were in danger of disappearing from the earth altogether." A noble endeavor, but how does he do it? Philen is part of a farming movement centered on perpetuating heirloom fruit vari- photo- West Inn Suites Epicurean Escapes Staycation or further afield, you'll be in good taste with California farm adventures BY JEN JONES DONATELLI 28 wholelifetimesmagazine.com

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