A couple of weekends ago, I headed to St. Regis Monarch Beach to check out a Farm-to-Feast event highlighting some of Southern California’s finest culinary artisans. And it was a feast indeed.
Exotic stone fruits like Mirabelle plums from Andy’s Orchard, black truffle salami from Angel’s Charcuterie, a biodynamic radish salad topped with pea shoots from Happy Heirloom Farm, and Hawaiian-style, slow-cooked pork from Cook Pig Ranch were just a few of the epicurean delights. Of course, lots of California sips to pair with, like Nolet Gin, Palumbi Family Vineyards and Ancient Peaks Winery.
Hungry for more of these farm fresh creations, I inquired if any of the St. Regis Monarch Beach restaurants were using these farms’ produce. Come to find out, each purveyor at the festival is utilized throughout the property, including Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern restaurant, with Executive Chef Raj Dixit at the helm.
“Most of the ingredients we utilize on property are sourced locally, within a 10-mile radius. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, we take pride in supporting our community, and Farm-to-Feast brought together some of our favorite vendors to acquaint our guests with the culinary backbone of our food and beverage offerings,” said Dixit.
Dixit has coined this commitment to local produce as the “Backyard Program”, with San Clemente’s VR Green Farms as his main supplier of vegetables grown by farmer Nic Romano (in photo below with Chef Raj).
Be forewarned, even if you’re a diehard meat lover, you may convert to a plant-based diet after checking out these examples of the Backyard Program on the Stonehill Tavern menu:
- Salad of biodynamic easter egg radishes and blooms, Soledad goat cheese, crispy red quinoa
- Little finger carrots and tops, with pickled red onions, and chamomile vinaigrette
- Blistered fresh garbanzo beans with creeping thyme, sumac and house made kefir cheese
- Nic Romano’s “Full Moon Fava Beans” a la plancha with summer savory
- Salad of compressed kyuri cucumbers and aloe with Borage blossoms
- Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes smoked with wild mint and fennel branches
Farmers’ market fruits star in the cocktail and dessert program at Stonehill Tavern. Try the Rabbit Hole cocktail of tequila, fresh blueberries, pineapple and tarragon or the housemade ice cream made with in-season fruit like peaches or strawberries.
But not too worry, the indulgent style of Chef Michael Mina’s cooking is ever present at Stonehill. With Chef Dixit’s personal wellness mantra of eating nutritious and delicious meals, the menu has been infused with a healthy dose of farm fresh, in-season goodness.
The Ecology Center
The Ecology Center, which the proceeds of the Farm-to-Feast ticket sales were donated to, is an Orange County non-profit educating the community in all things eco – from gardening to garbage reduction. They regularly host foodie events, such as dinners or brunches by Chef Raj Dixit, that feature local producers.
Stonehill Tavern, St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point
Photos of Backyard Program menu items and Chef photo provided by St. Regis Monarch Beach.
Lanee Lee is a Los Angeles based writer inflicted with irreversible wanderlust and an unquenchable thirst for craft cocktails, cuisine, culture and high-octane thrills. She also co-founder of the award-winning VoyageVixens.com travel blog. You can follow her next adventure on Twitter @laneelee1 and Instagram @laneelee.