Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inaugural Commonwealth Wednesday at Carmel Belle

You can read the post I wrote for Edible Monterey Bay's blog about Carmel Belle's Commonwealth Wednesday: here. It hit their website on Tuesday and also went out in their newsletter that same day.

So, last night, while Jake juggled the boys and took R to his mandolin lesson, I ducked over to Carmel Belle for their inaugural event featuring Lauren De Vine of Lauren De Vine Beverage.

Lauren set up a table with colorful carafes and mason jars filled with vibrant fruits. I was instantly intrigued.

Lauren talked for about 30 minutes while we devoured special Small Bites plates that Chef Kyle had created for the event. Here's the roasted summer squash with smoked salmon plate I ordered. It was fresh, seasonal, and the flavors danced on your palate.

That brings me to Lauren's presentation. She talked about her journey through music and being a CEO of a start up to this venture, Lauren De Vine Beverage. 

She queried: why is beverage-development and awareness so far behind that of foods? While California foods are fresh and simple, "California cocktails are so 80s...with fifteen different ingredients. Why?!?" Why, indeed!

So, Lauren is creating a California company that respects our seasonal foods and reflects our palates. Simple. Fresh. And seasonal produce driven. She's launching a CSA-style pick-up for her spirit bases that will only run through the holidays. It'll be a way for her to get much-needed feedback from this community before her product launches internationally in the Spring.

The spirit bases will be versatile, allowing CSA members to mix their own cocktails or stick with non-alcoholic versions. For more information about the CSLDV, email Lauren at laurendevinebeverage[at]gmail[dot]com.

We sampled her watermelon spirit base. Sorry, I didn't write down what else was in there - but it was incredibly tasty! And we tried her pineapple base that had jalapeno, cilantro, and smoked salt in it. Both were De Vine-ly divine!

But, I have to say, my favorite sip of the night was made with her kumquat-lavender-rose geranium shrub. It was tart and sweet at the same time. And the rose geranium and lavender added an exotic, herbacious quality. 

I've read about shrubs, but never got much further than that. After last night's tasting, my eyes are open to an entire new world of possibilities. How can you not love preserved seasonal deliciousness!?

Lauren, I might be taking you up on those shrub-making tips! Thanks for the great tasting. And thanks, too, to Carmel Belle for launching this fantastic series that connects us all with the food pioneers in our community. Cheers!

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