A taste of California

When it comes to food and beverage, California is a haven for exquisite wines, plump and juicy raisins and excellent cheeses. There is more to California than just these timeless favorites. These days, what we used to get in cans, such as blueberries and peaches, are now available in all their fresh and glorious splendor. So with products that are hard to come by, including nectarines and dates. So, now, we’ve got one vibrant cooking and baking environment overflowing with new ingredients to try or to savor on their own.

To introduce the best of California food products now available in supermarkets nationwide, the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) teamed up with the Buy California Marketing Agreement (CAGROWN) to host the Taste of California luncheon event held at Grand Hyatt Manila recently. With the support of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Trade Mission to the Philippines (USDA ATM), the event saw local importers, distributors and media sampling a tasting menu curated by chef Mark Hagan, executive chef of Grand Hyatt Manila.

Grilled California stone fruit salad.

WUSATA helps international buyers connect with Western US suppliers of food and agriculture products by way of trade shows, trade missions and access to local representatives, as well as coordinates US based activities for international buyers, such as travels to the US for one-on-one meets with suppliers.

CAGROWN promotes California grown agricultural products and works to develop in consumers the preference for items grown or produced in the state.

Through the Taste of California lunch at Grand Hyatt Manila, WUSATA and CAGROWN introduced new, top quality food products from California, allowing guests to enjoy not just the products themselves but also as important ingredients in delightful dishes whipped up by chef Mark and his team.

PhotoGRAPHS courtesy of Grand Hyatt Manila
Stuffed roasted pork, California raisins, onion, lemon, coriander stuffing.

Presented course by course, the dishes highlighted exquisite California produce, and paired each course with California wines.

The first course, grilled California stone fruit salad, introduced stone fruits, such as peaches, plums and nectarines, to guests. California is known as “the stone fruit state” because about 80 percent of US stone fruits are grown there, particularly peaches, plums and nectarines. In the dish, wedges of these stone fruits were grilled and served with garden salad and mint leaves, seasoned with Maldon salt and extra virgin olive oil, and paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fume Blanc 2018.

The fish course, pan-seared sea bass, California black olive tapenade served with cauliflower puree, showed how the subtle flavors of Californian black olives matched up to a premium ingredient, sea bass. It was paired with a white wine, Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2019. Perfect match.

Seascape Cheese.

The meat course was stuffed roasted pork, California raisins, onion, lemon, coriander stuffing, fondant potato and asparagus, a thick slice of the stuffed pork was plated over a slice of potato and topped with asparagus spears. A lovely red, La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2019, was paired with it.

For the cheese course, Seascape Cheese, its salty natural flavor was tamed by the sweet stone fruit chutney that came with it. The Lavosh cracker provided both the crunch and the neutral taste to balance the sweet and the salty. The Prisoner Wine Napa Valley Red Blend 2019 made the perfect match.

Pan-seared sea bass, California black olive tapenade served with cauliflower puree.

Finally, the dessert, sticky toffee California Medjool date pudding with toffee sauce and whipped cream, came paired with Barefoot Moscato Non-Vintage, a delightfully sweet dessert wine.

“Filipinos are innovative and adventurous when it comes to all things food. This creates a great demand for top-notch ingredients, such as those from the Golden State. California is home to a remarkable range of fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, dairy products, wines and more, and we want to support this growing demand by providing Filipino businesses and consumers access to top-notch California produce that would further elevate their dining experience,” says Undersecretary Christine Birdsong of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


Sticky toffee California Medjool date pudding with toffee sauce.

US Trade cooperative representatives were in attendance, such as Caroline Stringer from California Fresh Fruit Association, Elizabeth Carranza from California Blueberry Commission and California Olive Committee, Thomas Wee from California Agricultural Export Council and Raisin Administrative Committee and Reji Retugal-Onal from California Milk Advisory Board Philippines.

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