Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Inn of the Seventh Ray

Inn of the Seventh Ray
Calabasas, CA (near Malibu)

Dinner, 24 July 2011

A memorable, romantic, and enchanting experience 
on a warm night in Old Topanga Canyon. Upon first descent into the covered garden area, just above the Topanga Canyon creek, you find yourself in a spiritual place lit by delicate fairy lights that bedeck the many branches of lush trees overhead. It is charming, and vegan friendly!

This is perhaps one of the most romantic dining settings in the Los Angeles area. We were celebrating a special occasion tonight, so the setting was appropriate. The atmosphere was quiet with the backdrop of a light breeze through the tree leaves and the sound of trickling water along the smooth pebbles of the creek. I say you feel like you're in a spiritual place because you are surrounded by nature, and along the path to the lower dining area, just above the creek, there are stone statues of Buddha figures lining the way. We sat near a fountain in the center courtyard area; the soft sound effects of trickling water were nice.

Beet Salad Appetizer
Everything here is organic and paid careful attention to. Take the beet salad, for example; there is a minute dusting of pistachio nut around the outside. Exquisite touch of flavor and texture. We enjoyed this. The beets were sliced thin yet they were full-bodied in consistency and flavor. Rich. They were served on mache lettuce, so right, with a bit of Danish blue cheese. True, the plate was small, but it was still a good appetizer to share because it is rich.

Bread Basket: whole wheat spelt with sunflower seeds. Room temp.
This bread was dense and rich in spelt flavor (spelt is an ancient grain, mildly nutty). We dipped it in the olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar - smart. It was a good, soft bread, but not very moist. The oil and vinegar definitely helped. In other words, this was a "healthy" bread, but I liked the richness packed in.

For wine, we had the Ridge Chardonnay from Santa Cruz Valley, which was great with the poultry entree I had. I'm a wino, and I did not recognize quite a few of the wines on the list. They are from boutique wineries or they are from vines off the beaten path. The list was pretty "out there," but we managed to score with it. I don't think you can go wrong, especially with the advice of the sommelier and waiters. We enjoyed this white. Our waiter knew it would pair well. Speaking of the service, we had an excellent experience. The waitstaff was prompt, direct, and listened intently. I was impressed when our waiter said, "don't go with this - it's not tasting good tonight - go with that instead." How many waiters are that honest about the food coming out? To admit that a dish is not good, right off the bat, is important for diners to know. 

I opted for the Chicken Breast with Achiote Essence - good choice.
"Soft Polenta Crème Fraîche, Spring Pea tendrils, Turnips, Roast Beets, Ramps, Pimento Granulate and Himalayan Rock Salt"

The chicken was served in small medallions and the meat was soooo tender and juicy. Yum. It was served with this cre'me frai'che polenta, which I greatly delighted in. The meal was light, not heavy as I imagined it might be. I ate practically all of this, it was so good. Wish I had a photo; it was too dark to take one by that point. The presentation was lovely, colorful.

My partner in crime had the Crispy Vegan Duck, another good dish. He ate it all and I had a few bites. It wasn't even real duck!

Herbed Soba Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Organic Carrots 
and Ginger Apple Cider Emulsion

I think we just had coffee after dinner. We were quite full. Night fell upon us quickly, but I liked that it did because the fairy lights made it seem as thought the stars were floating right above us. I'll remember this experience. We had a wonderful night.

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