Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2014

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Page 19 of 43

taste of health A s we leaned against the railing to take a selfi e between courses at Malibu Farm, we overheard another diner say- ing to her companion: "This is a typical Southern California restaurant." But she was wrong. For starters, it's located at the tip of the Malibu Pier, so diners are literally out on the ocean with exceptional views of not only the Pacifi c expanse, but also surfers catching waves at Malibu Lagoon to the north, coastal beaches to the south, and the Santa Monica mountains as backdrop. The setting is unique. Proprietor Helene Henderson, a local farmer who formerly hosted dinners on her two-acre spread, has created an intimate dining area that feels like an extension of her backyard. In- side are half a dozen wooden plank picnic tables and benches, and a very small kitchen for the number of diners that can be accommodated. Tables for two or four, including ours, run the length of the north side of the building, and upstairs are more picnic tables and a counter facing the ocean. Breakfast and lunch menus are fi xed, featuring standards like eggs and pancakes or, for the more adventurous, quinoa oat- meal and crab cakes in the morning; and lunch offers a variety of sandwiches and burg- ers—grassfed beef or mushroom—as well as several salads and main dishes, again including a vegan option. Dinner menus change weekly and Henderson keeps it simple and sea- sonal, with one option each in the fi sh, chicken, pasta, red meat and veg- an categories. We loved Black Cod with brown rice, quinoa and almonds; perfectly grilled, it melted in our mouths. Black Bean and Butternut Squash Ta- cos were a happy meld of fl avors for a satisfy- ing meal. But despite a tasty dressing, kale-arti- choke-fennel-parmesan salad was somewhat disappointing; the kale was fresh and crisp but dominated the salad, with just a sprinkling of artichoke slivers and little or no discernible fennel. Wines here are all from Malibu grapes and limited to a few whites and just two reds—some organic/ sustainable/biodynamic—and just one each by the glass. Not generally a chardonnay fan, I nevertheless enjoyed a slightly buttery, happily not-oaky glass from Carol Hoyt's vine- yard. My companion was content with his Allagash White Caps wheat beer, among the eight craft choices. Henderson laments being caught between or- ganic and local. Since organic certifi cation is such a lengthy and costly process, she says, no Malibu farms are certifi ed organic, whether or not they use pesticides. Although her logo states "fresh, organic, local," most of the produce, while it is organic, would be offi cially designated "transitional," she notes. We weren't about to let that detail be an obstacle to enjoying dessert. Cherry Cornmeal (non-GMO) Upside Down cake was lovely and not too sweet, but next time maybe we'll indulge in grilled chocolate with cream and salted caramel, if it's offered. With dessert selections also rotating, it's diffi cult to predict what will be on the menu each week. Which of course is part of the fun and gives Malibu Farm a spontaneous, pop-up feel. Still, there's nothing fl y-by-night here. Clearly much care and attention has been paid and it's easy to see it's a labor of love. Henderson might prefer a four-day sched- ule, but her lease with the state requires that she be open six days a week. Judging by a steady cus- tomer fl ow on a Sunday night and a line out the door for lunch on a June Wednesday, she won't have any problem fi lling tables. Malibu Farm, 23000 Pacifi c Coast Hwy, Malibu 90265. 310.456.1112. www.malibu-farm.com/ By Abigail Lewis Locally harvested picnic with a view MALIBU FARM photos: bottom, Helene Henderson, top, Abigail Lewis 20 wholelifetimesmagazine.com

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