Like everyone else I’m beginning 2014 resolved to eat healthier. I got a boost in this endeavor when I was invited to participate in Santa Monica’s Eat Well Week. As part of California Restaurant Month, 15 Santa Monica restaurants offered special prix fixe menus that featured healthy fare and, as the promotion had promised, "will satisfy both the wallet and waistline." I chose one of my all-time favorite restaurants, The Lobster, which sits at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, offering gorgeous views of the beach and Ferris wheel, as well as of the big striped tent that houses the current Cirque de Soleil's Totem show. The dinner was delicious; including Thai-inspired grilled California albacore, steamed lobster with fennel salad (ingredients fresh from the Santa Monica farmer’s market), a pan-roasted steelhead trout and, for dessert, a pink-lady apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream. Chef Collin Crannell came by our table to say hello-and accept our compliments-and tell us how much he enjoyed taking part in Eat Well Week. "Santa Monica is all about healthy living," he says, "and I love coming up with dishes that seem unhealthy but aren’t." Case in point: Collin prepared the trout with a sauce that tasted sinfully indulgent, but the richness came from pureed sun chokes, not butter. Google, which has offices nearby, often books The Lobster’s patio for staff lunches or dinners; the entire restaurant is available for buyouts of 150 sit-down diners or 220 for a standing cocktail reception.
A few days later, I enjoyed the second part of my Eat Well experience, a cooking class at Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories, which is located in The Market at Santa Monica Place. The hands-on class on "Cooking with Healthy Grains" was led by Lauren Cartmel, whose impressive resume includes stints at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and the famed Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Lauren was extraordinarily patient in offering tips and correcting our clumsy knife skills, and at the end of the three-hour lesson the six students, along with Lauren, sat down for a scrumptious meal of quinoa salad with peas and mint; wheat berry and tomato soup; barley risotto with wild mushrooms and buckwheat shortbread. These are all dishes I’ll make again. In its professional kitchen Gourmandise can host private groups of up to 24 for hands-on classes and 40 for demonstrations.
What eat-healthy discoveries have you made so far this year?
California Meetings + Events