It walked the earth yesterday. It grew in the ground and hung from trees yesterday. Last night it was dinner. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens presented its latest “Fresh” dinner yesterday. Just how fresh? Everything served last night came from a 100 mile radius. The olive oil came from olives that were picked yesterday and then pressed by Temecula Olive Oil Company. The chickens were slaughtered yesterday. In other words, it just doesn’t get a whole lot fresher.
I met Chef Alex Carballo a few weeks back at the Fall Harvest Supper at Peltzer Farms. About a week later, I ran into him at Palumbo Family Winery and he told me about the dinner he was planning. I was more than a little intrigued and purchased tickets as soon as I got home. Stone hosts these fresh dinners four times a year, to correspond with the changing seasons.
When we arrived, we were handed a wooden token and taken into the inner workings of Stone Brewing. In keeping with the evening’s theme, we were poured beer straight from an enormous tank. 9.4% ABV, the brew had cinnamon and Hatch Chile spices and was a perfect start to the evening. We were then escorted through the dining room and up the stairs onto a patio where Thom Curry poured olive oil pressed that day from olives picked that morning. We soaked it up with freshly baked bread. Chef Alex served us a watermelon salad with Buddha’s Hand. When food is this fresh, the flavors simply explode.
70 diners sat at three long tables. A slide show of the day’s preparations played on the wall. Alex introduced each dish and talked about how the menu evolved as the day progressed. He had planned on using beets in one dish, but he couldn’t find any. He started us with an amuse-bouche: house made mozzarella with honeycomb and heirloom tomato and sweet pepper jam from Crow’s Pass and Stone Farms. For an appetizer, we enjoyed pumpkin bread pudding with pumpkin anglaise and herb salad from Suzie’s Farm. The salad course was arugula and fall fruits: tangerines, apples, pomegranate, grilled fennel and parsnip chips with a Buddha’s Hand citron vinaigrette from Chino’s, Crow’s Pass and Suzie’s Farms. For the entrée were were presented with pans of slow cooked chicken cassoulet with house made chicken sausage, tomato confit and cannellini and dragon tongue beans. Were were practically licking our plates. Produce came from Stone and Suzie’s Farms and the chicken from Wing Lee Poultry and Meats. We discovered the freshly pressed olive oil was the ideal accompaniment. Dessert was an apple and persimmon streusel with produce from Crow’s Pass Farm.
Alex made certain no one was left without being acknowledged. He introduced the sous chefs and the pastry chef and gave each one praise. He shared the philosophy of the kitchen at Stone. Keep it fresh. Even the ketchup is house made. If you don’t think fresh and local makes a difference, I ask you to think again. My wife and I and the other diners we visited with all agreed that this was an extraordinary meal. I’ll be accompanying Alex as he gathers ingredients for the winter dinner in January or February. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and sample the incredible food coming out of the kitchen at Stone.
Stone Brewing Company and Stone World Bistro & Gardens – 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029 – 760 294-STONE