For the convergence of sustainability and delectability (we're sure that's a word) there was no better place to be Friday night than the Cooking For Solutions Gala at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. California's best wineries and top chefs from around the country converged on the Aquarium, turning it into one giant, tasty, and most importantly, sustainable, buffet.
The Coastal Living Lounge
Unfortunately, some of our favorite foods vanished before we could get a photo. (Someone must have absconded with them! We swear!) We're sorry we can't show you delicious dishes like the unexpected, refreshing and tender black eyed pea calamari and the outstanding catfish mini tacos. The braised pork in clam shell buns from Charles Phan of Slanted Door were outrageously good, the sort of thing a person could live on for the rest of their life.
We did manage to get a photo of several of the yummy entrees, however.
The mini carrot on top of the braised beef made this as much a delight for the eyes as for the mouth. Thanks to Carol, who identified this as a dish by Rod Uncangco, Executive Chef at the Inn at Spanish Bay at Pebble Beach!
Jesse Ziff Cool's wild Alaska smoked salmon croquettes were perfectly presented.
These braised beef short ribs from chef Greg Wangard of Marisol at the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach were melt-in-your-mouth delectable.
Even vegetarians had tasty foods to choose from, such as the gnocchi from Il Fornaio on the left and the crisp and palate-cleansing kale salad from Esalen on the right.
Sadly, we also missed photos of some great desserts. Crowds mobbed the chocolate-dipped strawberry table. The strawberries injected with amaretto, served with fondue, were a messy joy. The cotton candy at the exit filled guests with child-like joy. There were several other standouts, as well.
These chocolates from Palo Alto's Shokolaat were beautiful to look at. It was a shame we had to disturb the presentation in order to devour them all!
Who knew lavender creme brulée could be so good? Well, clearly, the folks from Stanford University Catering knew.
It was a fantastic evening full of absolutely delightful cuisine. If these photos tempt your tastebuds, start making plans now for Cooking For Solutions 2011! And for even more photos, see our Cooking For Solutions Flickr set.