www.ediblemontereybay.com 43 that truly sustainable eating requires eating less or even no meat or fish, due to the immense burden that meat production puts on water, land and other resources, and to the fact that 90% of global fish stocks have been exploited or depleted entirely. Of course, imaginative and delectable meat and fish dishes still dominate the restaurant’s main menu, but Castellon’s plant-based tasting menu offers four courses that are just as exciting as those offered to the omnivores, and change with the seasons. And the cost is $40, very reasonable for a tasting menu. e plant-based menu includes terms such as “ceviche,” “cheese” and “steak”—but those are more conceptual than actual ingredients. e dishes are completely devoid of animal products. Not only is the menu plant based, it also is vegan and gluten free. Castellon’s first course when I tried it in October was a ceviche made with heirloom cauliflower and shaved radish curls swimming in a pool of spicy tomatillo leche de tigre, the Peruvian term for a citrusbased marinade, dotted with cilantro oil. With the exception of the toasted cancha (Andean chulpe corn) scattered over the ceviche, the dish was completely raw. e second course I tasted was comprised of heirloom beets, avocado, quinoa, grapes, and smoked cashew cheese. It was dusted with wild fennel pollen Castellon foraged himself. Pointing at the canyon, he says, “I gather the fennel and nasturtium flowers on my bike rides over there.” e third course was a maitake mushroom steak that was foraged, but not by Castellon. “I want to know where he gets the mushrooms, but foragers are so secretive.” Castellon treats the mushroom like a piece of meat, searing it, and will baste it with coconut oil if the diner is a vegan, or butter if the diner is a vegetarian. He served the mushroom steak with confit potatoes, smoked cashew cream and asparagus, carefully garnished with hand-foraged nasturtium petals and leaves. His dessert course featured a vegan chocolate almond cheesecake with coconut whipped cream, manjari chocolate (a blend of Criollo and Trinitario cacao beans from Madagascar), and a lightly sweetened wild huckleberry sorbet with huckleberries that the mushroom guy brought in. Castellon finished it with crunchy Maldon sea salt and a dusting of Espelette pepper that is popular in the Basque region. “You can get high quality abalone and seafood at nearly every restaurant here. But not many are showcasing our area’s bounty that’s just over there,” Castellon says, gesturing toward the striking landscape in which the Highlands is so deeply rooted. Camilla M. Mann is a food writer, photographer, adventurer and passionate cook. She blogs at www.culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com and lives in Seaside. RECIPE: For chef Minton’s recipe for Butternut Squash, Frangelico and Brown Butter Bisque with Spiced Maple Foam, go to www.ediblemontereybay.com/recipes.
edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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