Three chefs break down the seasonal components in their favorite menu items
By Joel Hersch
Santa Cruz County is home to some of California’s most innovative chefs, known for sourcing ingredients from the area’s bountiful farming culture and taking inspiration from our health-conscious community. With a wide range of fresh, seasonal ingredients finding their way from fertile local soil into the hands of local food maestros, we asked three Santa Cruz chefs to explain a locavore-style dish from their fall menu.
1) La Posta:
Wilted chicories with figs, marinated beets, mint and crescenza ($10)
Chef Katherine Stern: “The Central Coast has a cool, temperate climate, which means chicories and beets grow very well. Both ingredients are big favorites at La Posta. As for the figs, there are only a few varieties that grow well in this region. Our close friend Freddy Menge grows Desert King figs and supplies the restaurant when they are in season, and [they are] oozingly succulent. I think the flavors of this dish are very well balanced, with bitter notes from the chicories, sweetness from the figs, and a soft earthiness from the beets. And finally, the creamy Crescenza cheese from Bellwether Farms offers a subtle tang. It is a delicious salad and offers a colorful representation of the fall season. I visit a few farmers’ markets a week and design dishes based on what’s available from our local growers, so La Posta’s menu is always changing. As the seasons change, it’s so easy to be inspired by the all the beautiful produce available.”
La Posta, 538 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, lapostarestaurant.com.
Crescenza cheese from Bellwether Farms
Beets from Route 1 Farms
Chicories from Dirty Girl Produce
Figs from Freddy Menge’s Epicenter Nursery & Fruit
photo: neil simmons
2) Santa Cruz Food Lounge:
Smoked brisket hash ($12.95)
Collaborating Chef Ty Pearce: “This hearty meal is now on the Food Lounge’s Sunday brunch menu (served 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and has consistently sold out each week. The dish is comfort food with a healthy twist, taking familiar dishes and using organic, seasonal ingredients. The plate features a corned beef hash made with tender brisket, locally sourced bacon and organic eggs, and Harissa sauce made with dried California chilies, then I add apples, parsnips, kale, onions and sweet potatoes. I focus on making healthy dishes, and never cook with high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats. The amount of sugar and fat being used in the restaurant industry is causing people to become addicted and sick. People forget how good real food tastes and how great it makes you feel. We have a big problem in our food industry, and I want to be part of the solution.”
Santa Cruz Food Lounge, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, scfoodlounge.com.
Kale, apples and parsnips from Live Earth Farms
Organic eggs and bacon from Fogline Farm
Maui onions from Wilson Farms
Sweet potatoes from Pinnacle Farms
Beer-braised pork belly with sunchoke puree and root vegetables (around $25)
Chef Mo L’Esperance: “Fall is the perfect time for braises—it’s comfort food at its best. I use a porter beer for its bitter coffee flavor to braise the pork belly. Then I temper the meat, adding brown sugar and other spices. By braising it in dark beer it becomes a more hearty dish perfect for those colder fall days. We use a Hampshire breed of hog, which is all sourced from local family farms, raised without any hormones or antibiotics. Parsley root, carrots and parsnips are some of my favorite root veggies, and the cool temperatures on our Central Coast are for perfect for them to flourish. Sunchokes, which are part of the sunflower family, are a drought-friendly crop, not requiring much water and making them a great ingredient to work with during these time of water insecurity. With a flavor somewhere between an artichoke and a potato, Sunchokes are extremely versatile and pair well with almost anything.”
Süda, 3910 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, eatsuda.com.
Sunchokes and Root veggies from local farmers’ markets
Pork from Fogline Farm
Baltic Porter from Uncommon Brewers
Squash from Green Oaks Creek Farm
photo: yvonne falk
Article from Live the lifestyle Volume 2.3 — Oct / Nov 2015 “Tracing the Plate.”