LUCIA RESTAURANT & BAR CELEBRATES SUMMER WITH A PLANT-BASED BASH
NEW COLORS OF THE SEASON MENU FOCUSED ON GREEN, GORGEOUS & GASTRONOMIC
America’s love affair with the garden has exploded with 9.7 million people now fully immersed in a plant-based diet. In fact, 2021 is projected to be THE year this diet finally goes mainstream. From plant-based beverages to meatless burgers, this trend has no signs of slowing given the benefits to both one’s body and the environment. Riding this wave, chef Cal Stamenov is culling beets, chard, asparagus and fresh fava from the Lodge’s two-acre organic garden to debut the new Colors of the Season menu. Served in addition to the la carte and five-course tasting menu, Colors of the Season is available June 1 through July 31, 2021; prices range from $16 to $36.
Crafting vegetable-driven dishes requires equal parts timing and finesse. Picked at their peak, kale, sweet peas, chard and fresh fava share short lifespans. Coaxing their distinct flavors while marrying ingredients into a leafy risotto, humble ratatouille or goat cheese terrine is an art. Take the elevated Red Striped Beet Spring Roll, a visual stunner with pops of cilantro, olives and creamy avocado, balancing texture and flavor for a full palate immersion. Purple Cauliflower Soup, blending purple basil and purple radish with fresh black beets puts a colorful spin on comfort food.
Other starters include lip-smacking Local Asparagus, steamed with saffron couscous, curly purple mustard and a passionfruit emulsion. The Backdoor Avocado Salad, spotlighting fruit culled from nearby Salinas Valley, delivers a mélange of quinoa, heirloom tomatoes, fennel and fresh basil lightly dressed in Meyer lemon-olive oil with a dusting of Big Sur Sea salt. There is also a spin on crudité, with the Colorful Pickled Veggies Around and an ethereal Beautiful Strawberries, pairing arugula, lemon confit and aged balsamic with a dollop of fluffy Italian burrata.
Green Gazpacho makes a showing on the new menu, with a deft blend of celery, cilantro, avocado and piquant Padron peppers. The Leafy Green Risotto, focused on kale, Swiss chard, spinach, chervil and fresh fava is a flavor explosion, as is the Portobello Wellington, stuffed with zucchini, kale, goat cheese and pine nuts with a rich butternut squash sauce. Corn hounds will love the Agnolotti Pasta, prepared with fresh yellow corn, just-picked sweet peas and shave or two of Australian black winter truffles. Rounding out the menu is a Stuffed Rainbow Chard, easy on both the eyes and palate, pairing green lentils du puy, zucchini, brown rice and goat cheese.
The switch to a plant-based diet is not a fad. According to Gallup, 77 percent of Americans have reduced their meat consumption in the past 12 months, with almost six in 10 Americans reporting transitioning to a more flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet. This bodes well for chefs who have long refined their craft in this category.
There is no shortage of benefits for those who aligned with a vegetable-forward diet. According to Everyday Health, the nine scientific benefits from following this menu regimen include lower blood pressure, reduction in cardiovascular disease, weight loss, reduction in Type 2 diabetes, stroke and risk of cancer, and issues surrounding cholesterol. Living longer is another key benefit. The Journal of the American Heart Association study found that a plant-based diet lowers the risk of all causes of mortality by 25 percent. Finally, the noted benefits to the brain, largely due to polyphenols which are known to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Simply stated, the world is your (mushroom) oyster!
LUCIA RESTAURANT & BAR
Set in secluded Carmel Valley on 28 acres of sweeping lavender, grapevines and olive orchards, Lucia Restaurant & Bar has long set the standard for luxury dining along the California coast. Named after the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains which provide the dramatic backdrop to the 2,300 sq., ft., alfresco terrace, the contemporary 90-seat dining room is set in rich white Italian leather paired with rustic treatments crafted in marble, oxidized copper, teak and reclaimed wood. French wooden floors, chandeliers and stunning exterior fireplaces grace the mixed-use table layout with a focal point fireplace styled from Bagattini Oregon stone marking the main entrance. Paired with Stamenov’s light touch and artisanal integrity, the restaurant underscores the authentic relationship between food and terroir.
Classically trained with an eye to sustainability, Stamenov’s light touch and artisanal integrity are evident in every offering. Wielding an impressive resume working under the ardent eye of such culinary greats as Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Richard, Alain Ducasse, Eric Ripert and the legendary Masa Kobayashi, his California country cuisine plays off locally sourced product with the essence of the dish taking center stage. Subtle reductions and thoughtful flavor marriages are his mantra, paired with a back pocket of local farmers and foragers keeping Lucia’s kitchen at a steady simmer.
Culling from the Lodge’s two-acre backdoor organic garden and a private cache of 150+ fruit trees, heirloom vegetables, 180,000 Italian honeybees and resident Plymouth, Barred Rock, Rhode Island, Speckled Sussex and Ameraucana chickens, Stamenov’s seasonal spotlight menu is certain to please.
Colors of the Season:
Red Striped Beet Spring Rolls | cilantro, avocado, olives, spicy hummus | $16
Herb Goat Cheese Terrine | beets, carrots, celery root remoulade | $16
Beautiful Strawberries | italian burrata, arugula, lemon confit, aged balsamic | $18
Colorful Pickled Veggies Around | leeks vinaigrette, parmesan toast, garden herbs | $17
Local Asparagus | steamed, passionfruit emulsion, saffron couscous, curly purple mustard | $18
Swank Farm Purple Cauliflower Soup | purple basil, purple radish | $12
Backdoor Avocado Salad | quinoa, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, fresh-picked basil, olive oil, big sur sea salt, meyer lemon| $18
Australian Winter Black Truffle Risotto | carnaroli rice, glazed spring vegetables, chervil| $36
Baked Ratatouille | marble potatoes, rosemary, fresh spaghetti, olives | $32
Agnolotti Pasta | yellow corn, australian black winter truffles, sweet peas | $36
Stuffed Rainbow Chard | green lentils du puy, brown rice, zucchini, goat cheese | $34
Green Gazpacho | avocado, celery, cilantro, peppers, leafy greens, lime | $14
Leafy Green Risotto | kale, asparagus, chard, spinach, parmesan, fresh fava, parsley, chervil| $27
Portobello Wellington | kale, swiss chard, zucchini, goat cheese, pine nuts, butternut squash sauce | $36
Wild Mushroom | brown rice with roasted garlic, black truffle potatoes, parmesan, arugula | $32
Fresh Raspberry Vacherin | raspberry sorbet, baked lavender meringue | $14
Blenheim Apricot Tart | almonds, lavender-honey ice cream | $14
Christine’s Organic Strawberries | lemon verbena ice cream, sauternes granite| $14
A variety of coveted private dining venues from the casual Cooper’s Den to the 12-seat private Wine Cellar, exclusive five-seat Chef’s Table and 16-seat Magnum Room offer extensive tasting menus backed by an impressive 25,000-bottle wine cellar. Light dining is also available in Lucia Bar and patio.