As I have explained in my previous blog post, The Ranch is currently my favorite restaurant in Orange County. One of the key reasons for their great tasting food is the fact that they grow their own produce for use in their seasonal dishes. Recently, I attended the farm to table supper at Edward Ranch Estate and had the first hand ability to see how they get their literally from Farm to the table.
The owner of The Ranch, Andrew Edwards, turned a large parcel of his ranch estate in Orange Hills into a working farm to provide fresh seasonal produce for his restaurant. The farm is the passion project of restaurant Manager and Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan who oversaw the planting and cultivation of a living museum of horticulture.
Michael took us through a tasting tour of the farm to see what seasonable ingredients make into the farm. The Farm produces hundreds of herb, fruit, vegetable varieties, from Greek basil to heirloom tomatoes. My Favorite part was tasting their very extensive collection of Heirloom tomatoes.Their flavors ranged from sweet to spicy.
I was warned ahead of time by Anita from Diary of a Mad Hungry woman not to fill up on the first couple courses, although I did not listen to her advice and faced an existential dilemma by the 3rd course. I pushed on.
The following are dishes prepared by executive Chef Michael Rossi, based on the seasonal farm produce:
Grilled Peaches – Fresh farm peaches were grilled on the wood burning grill and topped with La Quercia Speck, Di Stefano burrata , wild arugula, and lemon verbena honey. When I saw the peaches being grilled during the farm tour, I thought they would be dessert. The sweetness of the grilled peaches and the salty/savory burrata and speck served as a balanced palate cleanser. The nose of the arugula and lemon honey was the bow tie on this lovely dish.
Home Made Charcuterie – This dish was culinary art and I wanted to just look at it as much as I wanted to eat it! The artistic skill was evident both in the presentation as it was in the flavor. My favorite items were the rabbit rillette (in the jar), and the garden vegetable terrine (rainbow looking slices). The duck pastrami was a very close third. I would purchase any of these items if they sold them commercially.
Chilled Cucumber Soup –with skuna bay salmon. Cucumbers straight from the garden was transformed into a chilled cumber soup that was ripe in flavor, creamy on the palate and cool on the tongue. What made this dish pop was the Hot smoked skuna bay salmon wich offered smokey, rich and naturally oily proteins to the dish. The flavor interplay between bright fresh cumber veruss the richly smooth protein was priceless.
Heirloom Tomatoes –This dish as a study on the different variety of tomatoes grown on the farm and was lightly mixed with olive oil and sea salt. Each tomato in the dish had a very unique flavors, skin thickness and texture. As a result this simple preparation of tomatoes created a medley of flavors and texture. I found myself serving spoonful after spoonful, so that I can taste each tomato separately and in combination. This was a great problem to have.
Farm Beets Salad– This was another wonderful example of letting the natural flavor of the ingredients shine through in the dish with minimal preparation. Red and Golden beets with mixed with Lola Rosa lettuce, watercress, red flame grapes, Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese and the juiciest Farm Valencia Oranges you will ever taste. This dish popped with flavor and texture. I have never tasted something quite as fresh and vibrant.
Tempura Squash Blossom Filled with Muscovy Duck Confit – This was perhaps one of my favorite dishes of the supper. Squash blossoms from the farm were stuffed with shredded Muscovy duck confit, dipped in a tempura batter and deepfried. The result was a packet that was crispy on the toungue, crunchy on the bite and savory creamy on the tongue. They were served with a sautee of fresh garbanzo beans, zucchini, eggplant and spring onions. I loved dipping the fried blossom into the sauce.
Country Fried Petaluma Quail – Boneless sections of Petaluma Quail (best quail in the world in my opinion) is battered in a country style batter and crispy fried. The result is a crunchy exterior and juicy tender meat. I liked how the pheasant meat was mild, yet retained a nice gamy flavor that was balanced with the BBQ bacon dressing and home made agave mustard. The quail didn’t need the sauces, but they provided deep flavor layers to the dish.
Asparagus Cavatelli – This was one of those dishes that you can eat a giant bowl, if it wasn’t sandwiched in between eleven other courses. The ingredients of this dish include calabrian chili sausage, cavatelli pasta, farm fresh asparagus, and squash. The components rested in a puddle of the savory sausage sauce and topped with ricotta salata (pressed, salted and dried ricotta). The result was a wonderfully umami dish that played the flavors of ingredients together with the slight tickle of the chili.
Compressed Farm Mellons – A light and refreshing interlude between dishes. Farm grown melons of different varieties are compressed in to little cubes and floated in a bowl of juice form fresh squeezed Valencia oranges and mellons? I am still not sure the exact combination, but the effect was wonderful. The dish had a balanced sweet flavor combined with the soft crunchy texture of the mellon cubes. After this dish, I was refreshed and ready to tackle the meat.
Certified Sustainable Sea Bass – Main Lobster risotto My table mate whispered to me, “don’t eat the whole thing Tom, there is a lot more food coming your way.” Although when Chef Rossi announced that they were serving sustainable Chilean sea bass over a pile of lobster risotto, I knew that I had to eat the entire dish. The perimeter of the dish was garnished with a puddle of Valencia orange sauce and speckled with English peas. The sea bass had a pan seared crust on the exterior and a soft juicy interior. This dish was perfect in every way.
The Farm Panzanella – Panazanella is a classic Italian salad made popular in 16th century Florence, Italy. Chef Rossi’s interpretation is made with jalapeno cornbread, Picholine olives, heirloom tomatoes, yellow corn, and purple basil. Just like the classic version, the compressed bread is the star of this dish. I loved how the mildly spicy corn bread interplayed with the cool vegetables.
Peas N Carrots – This dish was another study in heirloom vegetables, this time with farm fresh peas and carrots. Snow peas, sugar snap peas, Lincoln peas, purple dragon carrots, sweet treat carrots are sautéed together to make a wonderful blend of flavors from sharp to sweet.
Cowboy Ribeye – The Ranch takes its name seriously and delivered a full rack of beef ribeye. Look at the picture below, literally they took a whole carnal cut of rib and baked it. Then they cut it up into long bones and finished it on the grill, providing a light char and a nice dosage of smoke into the meat. It was carved for convenience. This rib eye was a serious pleasure and better than most of the steakhouses that I have experiences. The meat was served with horseradish cream, bordelaise, oregano chimichuri.
Hand Crafted macaroon Ice Cream Sandwichs –I could not eat anymore food at this point and I was warned not to stand up otherwise I would not be able to eat dessert. I didn’t listen and walked around to stimulate an appetite. I came back from my walk and found macaroon Ice cream sandwiches! Three types of flavor Caramel Popcorn/ Mint N Chip / Strawberry Swirl. These were made from scratch, including the ice cream
Black Mission Fig This was a wonderful way to end the meal. Drake Family Farms goat cheese was layered with a California almond cake, topped with a macerated date and puddled with fig syrup. I loved the interplay between rich savory of the cheese against the sweet figs. Each flavor mellowed out the other to create a smoothly sweet dessert. The almond cake added a pleasant texturing to the dish and added hints of nutty flavor for character.
Most of the items that were shown in this post can actually be ordered from the tasting menu or standard menu at The Ranch restaurant in Anaheim. If you have not yet eaten at the The Ranch, I highly encourage you to do so at least once. They have a very talented team that brings a high level of passion for food, wine, and customer service. http://www.theranch.com/