Calling all locavores! You needn’t travel far to find the ultimate in gourmet vegetarian cuisine. You’ll find it right here in O.C. at Studio.
Exquisite Tastings with Garden Table
As the true cost of food transportation has become better understood both in terms of the environmental impact and taste, the trend has turned more toward focusing on locally sourced ingredients. In California, where our climate allows for year-round growing, urban gardens and community planting are on the rise. And as most professional chefs and home cooks would agree, nothing is better than the food you’ve planted and cultivated yourself. Studio at Montage Laguna Beach has done just that, and the culinary team has taken the concept to heart with the introduction of its Garden Tasting Menu.
This seasonally variable menu utilizes the on-site 1,000-square-foot organic garden as the inspiration and source for all of the dishes. And each successive course is named after the life cycle of plants: Seeds, Sprouts, Roots and Shoots, Flowers, and Fruits. The presentations prominently feature the vegetables, herbs and fruits grown on site (as do many of the other dishes served at Studio).
At the inception of this project, there was a collaboration between the gardening team and the kitchen staff in deciding what seeds to plant and how they would be cultivated. When it came time to plant, the chef and culinary team formed ideas about what cycle of each plant would be used and in which course. Although there were ideas of what type of dishes would appear on the menu, it wasn’t until the garden was ready to be harvested that the menu theme truly came together.
In looking to create something unique, Chef Benjamin Martinek designed dishes that are unexpected and uncommon. His favorite is the Escabeche of Incan Red Quinoa, which is served in the Seeds course. Utilizing The Chickpea Panisse puffed quinoa, the dish is visually appealing and delivers a pleasing crunch from the quinoa. Other courses showcase vegetables prepared in interesting ways, like the Confit of Root Vegetables With Coconut Curry. The vegetables are sous vide, a process that infuses them with the exotic spice, and olive and coconut oils, producing a perfectly cooked dish that imparts a wonderful flavor.
Through the courses, the diner is shown the many processes involved in growing the food we eat. Every step in the life cycle affords the culinary team opportunities to experiment with flavor and texture to prepare dishes that celebrate farming. With this tasting menu, guests no doubt leave with a better appreciation for what it takes to grow and produce some of the things we consume. Too often, we’re presented with food that has come from far away or has lost a degree of flavor, freshness and connection to the living plant from which it was harvested. The Garden Tasting Menu goes a long way in reintroducing us to what we eat, where it comes from and the importance of choosing quality over quantity.
Montage Laguna Beach
30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 | 866.271.6953