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Lokal Supper Club

Tonight my adventure was not something that I cooked. I just got to be the culinary paparazi, well-fed culinary paparazi. Jake and I went to a pop-up supper club, Edible Monterey Bay magazine's inaugural, for a slightly belated anniversary dinner; Brian and Pia joined us for the fun and food.

Lokal, in the heart of Carmel Valley village, is the soon-to-be-opened brainchild of local boy Chef Brendan Jones. Click here to read the article that appeared in Edible Bay Monterey last August about the hip, elegant, but unfussy new restaurant. Did I mention "soon-to-be-opened"?!? We are the first people to eat in this restaurant that, for sure, will be a hit.

This prix-fixe menu consisted of six surprising courses. By "surprising" I mean innovative and delightful. Surprising.

The first course: Hot and Cold Gin Fizz - lemon, gin, and warmed egg whites. Herby and zesty topped with a frothy mouthful of soft meringue. Wow. I have never had anything like this. The two things that stopped me from downing this apertif in two gulps - I wanted to savor every sip and I was drinking on an empty stomach.

The second course was a nod to Brendan and Matthew Zolan's other business, a bar in Praque. They served a Zelinacka Czech Cabbage Soup next. Cabbage soup topped with a mustard ice cream continued the hot-cold thing. Delicious and surprising. I need a new word. But, truly, cabbage cooked in a savory broth topped with a mustard seed-flecked scoop of ice cream is surprising, isn't it?!? They paired this with a pinot noir from the Chock Rock Vineyards.

From soup to salad...the third course was a Pear Salad, local artisan greens topped with fresh pears, crisped parsnips, dressed with a sweet Yuzu dressing, and accompanied by a bleu cheese foam. I had to look up yuzu; it's a Japanese citrus fruit. I love learning new things...and discovering new flavors. So fun. This was served with a chardonnay by Chock Rock.

The fourth course was a Snapper Ceviche served with fresh avocados, kumquats, cilantro and crisp mole chips. Tangy and light, this was matched with a vermentino by Chesebro Wines. Though everything was over-the-top amazing, this was my personal favorite.

The fifth course, and Pia's favorite, was a melt-in-your mouth short rib with turnips, asparagus, carrots, and fennel served over a pepper fettucine.

And the final course, dessert, was an Ice Cream Sandwich - two crisp, buttery chocolate chip cookies hugging a scoop of bay leaf ice cream.

We laughed, we feasted, and we toasted - "to a 'shawl-free' 2012" (that was Brian); "to giggles" (Pia); "to adventure and passion" (me); I can't remember what Jake added before the group clink. Whoops. My brain was addled by too many glasses of wine.

*Morning update: I remember, now. Jake toasted "to change." Here, here.*

You know it's a great dinner when your friends take your camera while you're in the bathroom and take silly out-of-focus photos. We definitely were heavy on the giggles!


What an amazing culinary adventure! Congratulations to Brendan and Michael. Lokal is a winner!


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