Embracing Health and Seasonal Ingredients At Napa Rose
We attended as a guest of the venue
If you’re a Disneyland fan, and let’s face it, for the most part, who isn’t? And you enjoy challenging yourself by running marathons in your spare time… then Disneyland was the place to be September 1st through 4th as Cigna presented four days of running events culminating in a half marathon on Sunday on the grounds of the happiest place on earth. While I am no marathoner, I do love cooking demos. So when I was invited to participate in a four course cooking demo with Chef de Cuisine Chris Faulkner and Executive Pastry Chef Jorge Sotelo at Disney’s esteemed restaurant, Napa Rose, I hightailed it over there.
About 40 bloggers and runners, including lucky me, were rotated through four cooking stations where we gained some insight into one of Napa Rose’s core philosophies… meals prepared with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and market fresh dishes. Oh! And we were treated to a delicious sit down lunch of the recipes we saw demoed.
Singer, actress, and mother of four, Laura Flores launched the demo after participating in the morning’s 5K run I might add, by sharing her own personal motivation for staying healthy and how she does it. She shared that, like so many of us, particularly in my generation, she was raised with less than healthy habits and her parents whom she loved deeply, battled serious life shortening illnesses that with better habits could have been prevented.
Also, like many of us, her initial motivation for adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen was maintaining her figure and looks. At 52 she is gorgeous and has been able to maintain the weight of her youth, but she acknowledges as she has aged her motivation has shifted to maintaining her health. She is not about depriving herself though and believes if you want cake, you should have it. Just not everyday.
And the cooking demos we saw really embraced this very notion. Healthy, fresh, but not deprived. Though hardcore health advocates might argue that the use of flour, sugar, butter, and meat that were used in the recipes are not their go to foods for health, the approach we saw demonstrated was one of balance. For the average person, without specific health concerns, it seems a reasonable and practical approach. Not to mention very tasty!
So what was on the menu?
We started with a gorgeous Lola Rosa salad with macerated berries, prepared by Chef Martin and Carol with a little help from a couple of us! I got an arm work out hand whipping the dressing into a creamy emulsified vinaigrette. The salad started with Lola Rosa lettuce, so named for it’s beautiful curly red leaves. Endive was julienned on an angle for that no fingernail appearance and then tossed in ice water to preserve its crispness and blackberries were macerated to add in. This simple, but beautiful salad was tossed in an emulsified vinaigrette of vinegar, Dijon, honey, oil, microplaned garlic, chives, salt, and pepper. Rounding out the presentation were dots of vibrant green herbed oil made with blanched Italian parsley.
For the main course, Chef Chris Faulkner walked us through how to make a delicious pan roasted Frenched chicken breast with kale and basil pesto served atop a Caprese farro salad finished with smoked mozzarella. The dish was served with steamed zucchini, summer squash and carrot tossed in oil with fresh herbs.
The chicken was seasoned with kosher salt and seared skin side down in a heated stainless steel pan with olive oil, and then finished in the oven. The kale pesto was prepared with blanched and then shocked kale, basil, and a little Italian parsley to hold the vibrant green color, garlic, toasted pumpkin seeds, Parmesan Reggiano, and olive oil.
The Caprese farro salad was prepared by heating olive oil in a pan, sweating shallot and a little garlic, then adding in some pre-cooked farro and toasting it until we could smell the nuttiness. Next the peak of season heirloom cherry tomatoes were added and a little butter and cream. The dish was finished with a little smoked mozzarella. Not overly heavy, but seriously satisfying and delicious.
For dessert, Executive Pastry Chef Jorge Sotelo and Assistant Pastry Chef Nubia Renteria introduced us to a world of mouthwatering fruits including cotton candy grapes, candy striped figs, sugar kissed melon, and white chocolate covered cape gooseberries. Clearly, I need to spend more time shopping the aisles of my area’s farmers’ markets.
Their dessert featured tree ripened peaches. Peaches ripened on the tree mere days before they are eaten, rather than what you typically find at the grocer, which are picked when green and then held in trucks for months. Sweeeeet!
They shared their recipe in written form with us, so I am sharing it with you below. Thank you Chef Jorge and Chef Nubia!
Finally, for our runners… pre and post smoothies. For a pre-work out smoothie we sampled a crunchy coffee cocoa smoothie, with coffee, agave, almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, banana, and almonds. Pure caffeinated decadence. But healthy!
For the recharge post workout, a restorative cactus pear smoothie with agave nectar, ice, ground flax seed, blueberries, fat free Fage Greek yogurt, soy milk and rolled oats. I could see eating this for breakfast.
Napa Rose has long been on my list of restaurants I have wanted to try and now that I have experienced this and their beautiful open kitchen concept, I look forward to reserving a special dinner at the Chef’s Counter one night soon.
Peach Crips Recipe
½ cup all purpose flour
2 oz. sugar + 3 oz. sugar
2 oz. brown sugar + 3 oz. sugar
2 oz. butter, cut up and room temperature + 2 oz. melted butter
1 ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup pecan pieces
6 diced peaches
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ orange zested
½ orange juiced
½ oz. Grand Marnier
Handful of blackberries
Pre heat oven to 350°
In a bowl mix flour, 2 oz. sugar, 2 oz. brown sugar, 2 oz. cut up, room temperature butter until it is crumbly and butter is in small pieces
In a second bowl add 3 oz. sugar, 3 oz. brown sugar, oats, coconut, and pecan pieces.
Add ingredients from first bowl to second bowl and slowly pour in melted butter and mix together
Spread mixture on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat liner
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown
Combine all of the peach filling ingredients and toss allowing to macerate for a few minutes.
Add in a few blueberries to fruit mixture
Place fruit in ramekins and top with crumble mixture
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired