California is a-buzz with peach fever, as the summer fruit makes its way into California farmers’ marke: Which local restaurant could create the best dishes using peaches from locally grown farmers in the form of a cocktail/appetizer, entrée and dessert.
On June 23, 2010, three critically acclaimed chefs from Locanda del Lago, Fraiche, and The Lobster accepted this challenge at the Downtown Santa Monica Peach-Off, a restaurant competition hosted by Kathleen Rawson, CEO of Bayside District Corporation, at California’s largest and oldest certified farmers’ market in Santa Monica, California. As a result, the award winning dishes will now be available on the restaurants’ menus through the month of July for the public to enjoy.
On the restaurants menus will be the award winning dishes from the Downtown Santa Monica Peach-Off. Fraiche’s Chef Sal Garcia will have available their “Best Appetizer” dish, Pêche Poché, a poached Farmers’ Market peach with red and yellow endive, wild arugula, candied walnuts, blue cheese and a red wine vinaigrette. While Locanda del Lago’s Chef Roberto Maggioni made patrons mouths water with his “Best Entrée” dish, Branzino Cileno al Cartoccio, a Chilean Sea Bass with peaches, lemon verbena leaves and olive oil. The Lobster’s “Best Dessert” dish, Vanilla Scented Peaches with Brioche and Grand Marnier Sabayon, will be prominently featured as a must try dessert at the restaurant.
Fraiche’s Chef Sal Garcia’s award winning appetizer is now available for dinner for $15 at the restaurant. In addition, Fraiche will also be serving their other entry dishes – “Peach Champagne Watercress,” a chicken salad entrée, is available for lunch only for $16 and “Peach Celebration,” peach fritters with a port wine sauce, and peach ice cream and sorbet, for lunch and dinner for $10.
Judge Mar Yvette, Editor at Citysearch and TV Personality on “Good Day LA” and “KABC” says, “I appreciated Fraiche’s straightforward simplicity with the Peach Champagne Watercress salad. No poached or roasted peaches. The chef simply allowed the fruit to shine through, which is all you need to do when you’ve got fresh farmers’ market produce. Less was more in this case.”
Also according to Yvette, “Lago’s entrée winning Branzino Cileno al Cartoccio was light and subtle, yet flavorful with the delicate slices of peach on top. The en papillote presentation really was what took that dish over the top because it felt as though the food was a gift, which, really, it is!” Chef Roberto Maggioni’s “Best Entrée” Branzino dish will be available starting June 26th for dinner for $32. Offered all day will be their cocktail, “Summer in Rio,” for $14 and dessert, “Pesche Dolci,” for $12.
Judge Carole Dixon from NBC’s Feast raved over the plating of Lago’s Pesche Doli because it was “a work of art consisting of cake stuffed with a peach and served alongside cotton candy.”
Chef Collin Crannell and Dessert Chef David James of The Lobster pulled inspiration for their award-winning dessert from one of people’s favorite meals, stating that “Everyone likes breakfast for dinner, so we thought it would be fun to make breakfast for dessert.” The vanilla scented peaches with Brioche and Grand Marnier Sabayon will be available for dinner only for $9. In addition, the appetizer Kurobuta Pork Cheeks will be available for dinner for $12 and Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut with Peaches for $28 at lunch and $32 at dinner. All dishes will be available beginning July 5th.
“I found Colin’s dessert dish to be the most creative, while not losing sight of peach flavor. It looked a little like a Southern country biscuit but celebrated the peach in every way, both referencing the fruit in color, smell, and structure while pushing its sweet, honeyed qualities to a maximum,” says Judge Hadley Tomicki, Editor at Grub Street LA.
Yvette urges that everyone go to these restaurants to try the food. “I’ve been to each of these restaurants and now that I know they’ll be featuring these dishes, I’ll be visiting again soon!”
Fraiche is located at 312 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA.
Locanda del Lago is located at 231 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA. www.lagosantamonica.com
The Lobster is located at 1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA. www.thelobster.com