Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2014

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photos- top: Carmel Valley Ranch; bottom: Philen Pharms and Four Seasons eties, which is accomplished by planting branches in order to propagate the ancient trees. Most of the trees require colder cli- mates, but Philen's prime perch at 1,200-. elevation in the Santa Monica Mountains makes it possible for him to do what other regional farmers can't. "We're barely on the cusp of being able to pull this off," says Philen. "Typically these trees can't survive in Southern California, which is why the chefs at the Four Seasons very much appreciate these fruits." us began the "Heirloom Farming Extraordinary Experience," a two-night hotel package highlighted by a Philen Pharms tour and private picnic lunch prepared by Four Seasons chef Alex La Motte. (A menu favorite: Tarte tatin made with Calville Blanc d'Hiver white apples, a staple in French gourmet cooking.) Once back on the Four Seasons property, a private garden tour and dietician-led cooking lesson conclude the delicious day. "[At Philen Pharms] we roam the orchards and have a little eat- ing tour," says Philen. "Since everything is organic, you can eat it right off the tree—from great old English apples to French pears that haven't been seen in decades." $2600 for two-night package and accommodations. Four Sea- sons Westlake Village, 2 Dole Drive, Westlake Village 91362; 818.575.3000 www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage LUXURIOUS LEARNING: CARMEL VALLEY RANCH Imagine summer camp for culinaires (but far more luxurious). At any given time, the jam-packed activity calendar at Carmel Valley Ranch includes everything from beekeep- ing lessons to winemaker dinners to "Ask the Farmer" Q&A sessions. Even a sim- ple walk around the grounds is designed to provide edible inspiration, thanks to a two-acre organic garden, salt house, laven- der fields, hen house and vineyards on site. It's all part of the big-picture holistic ex- perience for which the picturesque Carmel Valley Ranch has become known. "[e property] attracts people who are looking to enjoy life and engage their senses," ex- plains executive chef Tim Wood. "We want people to come and engage, then walk away with the concept and philosophy." at philosophy is centered on eating "seasonally, locally and sustain- ably," according to Wood. For the ranch cuisine, Wood works closely with lo- cal farmers and culls ingredients from around the property (such as homemade sea salt and organic produce). Fresh seafood is delivered daily from nearby Monterey, and Wood also serves on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Blue Ribbon Task Force (which helps consumers make sustainable seafood choices). "We're all about [harnessing the] wonderful fruits and bounty of the region," adds Wood. One of the most popular activities at the Ranch is the "Bee Ex- perience," which allows visitors to play beekeeper for a day and get an inside glimpse at the workings of an apiary—where more than 60,000 Italian honeybees reside. Four days a week, beekeeper John Russo leads groups through the experience, which kicks off with a glass of lavender-honey lemonade and culminates in the opportu- nity to closely observe the pollination and honey-making process- es. Available by special request and for groups, the "Garden Walk & Cooking Demo" is another must-try. e 2.5-hour experience starts with a stroll through the organic garden led by Wood and farmer Mark Merino, followed by a lively one-on-one cooking les- son and lunch in the "Adventure Kitchen." "We might pick thyme on the tour and use it to make butternut squash soup, or visit the lavender fields and learn how to make a simple lavender cookie," says Wood. "e idea is for people to get comfortable with the ingredi- ents and techniques; we keep the demo lighthearted so that people feel as if they're in our home." $60 per adult and $40/child for the Bee Experience; $175/ person for the Garden Walk/ Cooking Demo/Lunch. Carmel Valley Ranch, One Old Ranch Road, Carm- el 93923; 866.405.5037 w w w. c a r m e l v a l l e y - ranch.com october/november 2014 29

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