(Above photos by Jim Donnelly)
A few weeks ago I was invited by VOSS water to have dinner at FIG Santa Monica. I remember coming across the restaurant's website and their use of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients piqued my interest. But seeing as I hardly venture anywhere past the Eastside, I just bookmarked it for future reference. Although more and more are popping up, it can still be hard to find restaurants that focus on providing seasonal meals, so I was more than happy to trek the 30+ miles from home (and boy do I dislike driving).
When I first got there I was pretty nervous about not knowing anyone. Thankfully everyone was friendly and made conversation while I snacked on hors d’œuvres. Practically every candid photo of me shows me eating in the background, which you can see in the photos above. Chef Ray Garcia prepared us a special dinner for the event using local ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and other local producers. Even before the first plate came out I could tell there would be an emphasis on letting the raw ingredients shine rather than drowning them in herbs and spices. Each dish came with a wine pairing that, try as I might, could not finish.
During the dinner we learned more about the VOSS Foundation that brings clean water sources to Sub-Saharan Africa. I don't drink much bottled water because of it's environmental impact, but it was nice to be informed that they are a carbon neutral company assisting those in need.
All in all I was very pleased with the whole night. I met a wonderful bunch of women that love food as much as I do. And funnily enough, one of my former professors was in attendance! I also got to sit next Kristin of The Great American Bakery Hunt and we chatted about bread and pastries the whole night.
Click to see what we ate:
Glaum Ranch Hen's Egg with Truffle and Asparagus: I love anything with a soft boiled/poached egg and this appetizer was no exception. I enjoyed starting our meal with the light and delicate flavors. Rabbit with McGrath Farm's English Peas: This was most definitely my favorite dish of the night: rabbit prepared four different ways. I loved the use of pea tendrils which I don't get to eat often. Sonoma Lamb with Carrots and Harissa: By now a few of us were thinking it was a bit of red meat overload but I can't deny perfectly cooked lamb. I was one of the few that polished their plate clean. The lamb was the star of the show but the carrots were a nice accompaniment. Pudwill Farm's Blackberry Pavlova with Vanilla Mousse: Even though I no longer carry citizenship, I still consider myself part Australian. So when I saw that pavlova was on the menu I was doing a little jump inside. Pavlova is everywhere in Australia (being the national dessert and all) but I hardly come across it in the states. It was probably my own high expectations, but this was the only dish that left me slightly disappointed. Instead of a soft, crisp, and slightly chewy round with a dollop of double cream and mottled fresh berries (only the best way to have pavlova!), we were greeted with little meringues on top of whipped cream. Still delicious and a great ending to such a full dinner, but not exactly what I was expecting. FIG, if you're looking for seasonal dessert ideas look no further ;) Seasonality and sweets are my specialty, after all!