June 21, 2015 – Holman Ranch’s farm-to-table picnic held on July 15 easily lived up to expectations that it would prove to be one of the most exciting and unique local food and wine events of the summer.
The grand finale of the winery’s 2015 In Your Backyard event series, the evening combined the intimacy, community spirit and farm-fresh ingredients of a sit-down farm-to-table dinner with the freedom and conviviality of a strolling wine and food event.
Sponsored by Edible Monterey Bay, the In Your Backyard finale was set outdoors among Holman’s ravishing historic stone building and hilltop organic vineyards in Carmel Valley.
Holman owners and superlative hosts Hunter Lowder and Nick Elliott set the stage, offering guests the chance to gather on picnic blankets, at tables, or to simply wander between the bars from which Holman poured its award-winning estate wines, the stations from which eight chefs served stellar dishes, and the displays where the six food-related nonprofits that benefited from the evening—Ag Against Hunger, Everyone’s Harvest, Foodbank for Monterey County, MEarth, Nancy’s Project and Seafood Watch—were on hand to describe the exciting work they are doing.
The guest list was limited to 150, ensuring no lines and lots of opportunity for chefs and guests to get to know one another—but also allowing the total raised by the In Your backyard series to reach nearly $5000 since it began in January.
Participating chefs pulled out all the stops.
Chef Jerome Viel, who hails from France and has of late been incorporating more twists on French classics at Will’s Fargo Steakhouse and Bar in Carmel Valley, used black mission figs and a reduction of Holman’s new Big Daddy Late Harvest Pinot Noir to serve foie gras in two delectable ways.
Nearby, a stunning display of cheeses set up by Paradise Catering’s Jon Kasky and Nancy Rohan beckoned, and just across the courtyard, Porter’s in the Forest’s Johnny De Vivo served an inventive sous vide Peeking duck breast with grilled peach, fennel and duck chicarrones.
Monterey Abalone Co. and Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn’s John Cox teamed up in the same courtyard to grill tender strips of abalone with a traditional Japanese charcoal grill and serve it with pickled summer garden vegetables—artfully arranged with edible flowers on abalone shells.
Also taking inspiration from the sea was the Beachhouse’s Evan Lite, who around the corner was constructing rosettes with house-cured local king salmon and filled them with salmon salad, crispy salmon skin, rye dust, shaved cucumber, red onion and daikon Sprouts.
Nearby, Kenneth MacDonald of Quail Lodge’s Edgar’s let his love of our area’s produce and his repertoire of exciting spices rip with an eggplant and cauliflower dish.
Under a cooling trellis of grapevines, meanwhile, Brad Briske of La Balena and Il Grillo and Mark Shelley of Tassajara Natural Meats combined forces to make individual servings of delicate stuffed agnolotti to order and serve it in a rich beef bone broth.
Such amazing savory dishes of course needed worthy sweets to follow, and a short stroll away, the pastry chefs did not disappoint: Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel’s Ron Mendoza delivered striking and delicious strawberry tarts with rose geranium cream and Monterey Meringues’ Leigh Zimmerman and Domenick Allen-Capaldi offered up the latest in their imaginative and colorful line of meringues. Enjoy our gallery of photos: