Flavor Meets Aesthetics In Your Backyard

8f2ca882-4b43-489f-b1f8-71c1f035c389May 19, 2015 – Sharing some crazy pastry wizard techniques, executive pastry chef Ron Mendoza of Aubergine in Carmel and EMB’s Pastry Chef of the Year defined fine dining and convinced us we need to switch to metric measurements at the fifth installment of the In Your Backyard series sponsored by Edible Monterey Bay and Holman Ranch.

“Making pastries requires technique,” Mendoza said. “You manipulate ingredients to make something out of nothing.” Mendoza demonstrated a microwave sponge cake that was pioneered by Albert Adrià of El Bulli in Spain. Instead of using a whisk or a leavening agent, Mendoza used nitrous oxide—in a whipped cream charger—to aerate the cake batter. He popped the batter into the microwave for forty seconds and out came a nicely risen, airy cake. We ooooed and ahhhed, Mendoza laughed: “Oh, good! I never know if you’ll see it as a trendy parlor trick or as a brilliant dessert.” 

Discussing the science of baking, we learned that the butter and sugar were the flavor, eggs provide the rise, and the flour is what sets the eggs. An attendee commented that Mendoza’s recipes were metric. He took the opportunity to exhort us to switch to metric measurements. “Sixty grams of flour is sixty grams of flour no matter if you’re using almond flour or cake flour. Metric is more consistent,” he explained.

Microwave sponge cake

Microwave sponge cake

The conversation moved to Aubergine and the experience of fine dining. With only nine tables, Mendoza strives to make creative pastries that inspire awe. “It’s a balance of flavor and aesthetics.”

His cake was infused with green tea, making a verdant sponge that he broke into craggy pieces to resemble moss. In this dessert, he mirrored our environment, plating a speculoos cookie butter-covered ice cream rock with the mossy cake pieces. He secured the rock to the plate with a dollop of lemon curd and dusted the entire thing with a mixture of green tea and shiso powder. Nasturtium and radish blossoms added some floral flair.

Turns into "moss"

Turns into “moss”

A portion of the evening’s proceeds benefitted Everyone’s Harvest, co-founded by Iris Peppard who launched the organization as part of her capstone project from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) for her degree in Integrated Studies with an emphasis on Community Organizing. The vision: every community needs access to reasonably priced fresh, organic produce in weekly community setting.

Over the past thirteen years, Everyone’s Harvest has grown to include two year-round markets—in Pacific Grove and Marina—and two seasonal markets in Salinas. More than half of Everyone’s Harvest Certified Farmers’ Markets farmers are certified organic and come from within a 100-mile radius of Monterey County. Everyone’s Harvest is piloting partnerships between healthcare providers and farmers’ markets through its Fresh Produce

Prescription Program. In the spirit of collaboration, the markets offer free space to other nonprofits organizations, community groups, and government entities for public outreach. Additionally, the nonprofit manages five community projects in its mission to give more people access to fresh, local, affordable food.

There is only one more In Your Backyard event before the series finale, a picnic on July 15th at the historic Holman Ranch. Attendees will enjoy spectacular views, Holman Ranch wines, music, and food while supporting six worthy causes—Ag Against Hunger, Everyone’s Harvest, Food Bank of Monterey County, MEarth, Nancy’s Project, and Seafood Watch.

On June 16th, executive chef Ken MacDonald from Edgars at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley and Serendipity Farms’ Jamie Collins will guide people from garden to table, sharing how to plant your garden with your menus in mind and offering tips for cooking your bounty.

To reserve your tickets, call the Holman tasting room at 831.659.2640 or email info@holmanranch.com. Tickets are $10 for wine club members and $25 for others; seating is very limited.

The Holman tasting room is located at 19 East Carmel Valley Rd. in Carmel Valley Village.

For information on the entire In Your Backyard program, go to www.ediblemontereybay.com and click on the events tab.

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