After an amazing tour with Amelia Saltsman and a brief interlude of “where did we leave the car” we caught up with the crew at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar for a beautiful, relaxed luncheon featuring the best of what is local and seasonal. I had not experienced anything like this since my trip to wine country in Italy and France last year.
Earlier that day, we got to meet Josh Loeb (Owner/Proprietor), Evan Funke (Executive Chef), and Zoe Nathan (Pastry Chef) at the market while they shopped for the ingredients of what was to be our lunch extravaganza. They were very excited about the menu, and this excitement was quite contagious. Our mouths were watering in anticipation. Amelia joined us for lunch and we all enjoyed this fabulous menu:
Baby Butter Lettuces with Shaved Red Onion, Toasted Walnuts, Cherry Tomatoes, and Avocado
Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Ricotta and Spicy Cress
2007 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rose
Sweet Corn Agnolotti with Carmelized Corn
Goat Cheese Tortellone with Fresh Mint
2006 Domaine Du Salvard, Cheverny
Wild King Salmon with Eggplant Caponata
Pan Roasted Jidori Chicken with Articholes, Fingerling Potatoes, and Pan Jus
2004 Freja Pinot Noir “Winemakers Reserve” Willamette Valley
Crispy Peach Galette with Toasted Almonds and cinnamon creme fraiche ice cream
Deep Dish Black and Blue Pie with Homemade vanilla ice cream
Farmer’s Market Fresh Fruit Tart
And many tiny pastries too numerous to describe
Everything came out family style, and most dishes shared a certain rustic Italian feeling about them. The whole experience for me was quite reminiscent of meals we had on the countryside of both Italy and France. To be clear, it was not the menu that was Italian/French but the emotion the meal evoked. Simple ingredients prepared with sophisticated skill and talent to elicit their best. The metaphor that comes to mind is the gem cutter who takes a “diamond in the rough” and carefully analyzes it before choosing the perfect cut and shape to bring out the best features of that diamond. That is what Josh, Evan, and Zoe do with their ingredients. They make them shine.
There wasn’t one dish which I would say was my favorite. It was the entire experience that blew me away. It was consistently delicious. Even though there was a lot of cheese and other butter/oils used, it all tasted quite light and was very fulfilling both to the body and to the spirit.
I can’t wait to go back for dinner.
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
1119 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401