The following is an excerpt from a piece I wrote for Harbor Living Magazine to promote the
Palos Verdes Pastoral – A Garden-to-Table Dining Event on October 6, 2013.
Imagine a field of candle-lit tables elegantly dressed in white linen with sparkling glassware arranged under a harvest moon on a hill overlooking the blue Pacific. Imagine a vibrant autumn menu created using farm-fresh, seasonal foods from our local vendors and growers expertly paired with hand-picked regional wines. This is the Palos Verdes Pastoral, the premiere al fresco garden-to-table dining experience of the peninsula, which will take place on Oct. 6 at Terranea Resort.
After a fabulous wine and appetizer reception on the patio, 200 guests will take their seats at sunset to enjoy the artisanal creations by Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Merhej of Terranea’s acclaimed Mar’Sel restaurant. Her sophisticated presentations and strict attention to detail bring innovative imaginative cuisine to the peninsula.
Palos Verdes Pastoral is a fundraising event to support the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy’s mission to preserve and restore habitat for the enjoyment and education of all. Since its founding in 1988, the Land Conservancy has preserved 1600 acres of open space with nearly 42 miles of public trails.
Designed to bring people together amidst nature for an exclusive dining experience– an experience that features the best of California handcrafted, organic, and sustainable foods– this event is made possible with major underwriting from Terranea Resort and Whole Foods Market. Business sponsors and individual donors make it possible for all the ticket proceeds to support the Land Conservancy’s mission.
The Chef’s vision for this garden-to-table event is “California driven.” She will wait a week or two before the event to finalize the menu. She will then review the foods that have been donated and choose the fruits and vegetables that are at their peak of their freshness to deliver the most dynamic meal for attendees. Devising a menu from donated items is an exciting challenge for Chef Merhej. Once her team is humming along in the kitchen, she will visit the tables and speak with guests about the menu and garden-to-table concept.
The evening will not only raise critical funds, but increase awareness of the important work of the Conservancy in protecting and stewarding open space and nature. Individual dinner tickets for the Palos Verdes Pastoral are $250. For additional details and tickets visit the PVPLC website here.
Chef Rebecca Merhej was happy to share the recipe for a salad that she absolutely adores, her Melon Salad from the Mar’Sel menu. She accents the classic combination of fresh melon and prosciutto with sweet, fat, luxurious Marcona almonds. She also includes the cow’s milk, soft-ripened, triple-cream cheese from the Normandy region of France called Saint André. Imagine the satiny paste of a perfect Brie mixed with equal parts of whipped sweet cream and heavy sour cream…it is heavenly. Plus peppery arugula, a light kiss of olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper…the result is a gorgeous composed salad that screams summer. Enjoy it al fresco with a glass of chilled dry rosé!
Melon Salad–serves 2
- 1 small melon- peeled and cut in large cubes
- ¼ cup marcona almonds- rough chopped
- 6 slices prosciutto
- 6 slices Saint André cheese
- Arugula for garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
Put the melon in a medium mixing bowl, drizzle a little olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper. Toss in a small handful of arugula and place the melon in a line on a plate. Delicately place the prosciutto and the Saint André cheese on the salad, scatter the chopped almonds on top. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.
At Mar’Sel, Chef Merhej cleverly serves this salad on a bamboo cutting board.