Santa Maria Sun / Eats
Dinner with the Chefs: A deliciously different experience debuts at Lido restaurant in Pismo Beach
WENDY THIES SELL
From a culinary point of view, the rest of 2014 has the nearly impossible task of living up to the dinner I enjoyed on the first day of the year—an incredible three-and-a-half hour, 13-course feast.
The fine folks at the dazzling Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach invited me and my husband, and several other local food writers and their spouses to attend the inaugural “Dinner with the Chefs” at Lido. It was a fabulous evening filled with the finest cuisine, wines, and lots of laughter!
Lido’s masterful and affable executive chefs Jacob Moss and Maegen Loring debuted their new seasonal, farm-to-table menu, while Food and Beverage Director Todd Brown personally poured the wines, which were skillfully selected for the dishes.
We were seated in a private room next to Lido’s oceanfront main dining room, where Brown started us out by pouring a lovely rosé, Belle Glos pinot noir blanc.
“I have 650 different wines on the wine list,” Brown told us when the group complimented him on his wine choices for the evening.
The first course soon arrived: a bowl of luscious apple and sweet potato soup, toasted walnuts, and smoked paprika crème fraiche.
Moss and Loring sat at opposite ends of the table, allowing guests to talk with and ask questions of both chefs.
“Maegen and I have a lot of fun writing the menus,” Moss said. “Every time I do it I think, ‘OK, this is my favorite menu.’”
Moss’ starters menu included grilled sweetbreads, wild mushrooms, and chili flakes with balsamic gastrique; and seared day-boat scallops on a crispy pork belly topped with caviar beurre blanc.
“Scallops and pork belly are a match made in heaven!” Loring exclaimed after tasting the scrumptious scallop starter.
The next offerings were two delicious pizzas baked in Lido’s pizza oven.
Moss shared a pizza-dough-making secret that he learned while working in Italy.
“[Add] just a little bit of red wine vinegar because any sort of acid actually kind of cuts the gluten strands. So rather than the dough becoming elastic and stretchy once you bake it, it keeps it a little flakier and crunchier,” he said.
Two seasonal salads followed: broccoli and raisin, and roasted beet and burrata.
Loring was asked how burrata is made.
“They take the mozzarella curds and stretch them around clotted cream, so it’s this meniscus of mozzarella around a soft cream,” she said.
Next up: five different entrees, starting with lemon-and-black-pepper tagliatelle with pistachio cream sauce, fresh herbs, and shaved grana padano cheese.
“This is one of my favorite dishes on the menu,” Moss said. “This, of course, is house-made pasta.”
Complimenting her colleague’s handiwork, Loring said, “I just love the meatiness of the pasta.”
Brown paired this dish and the next few dishes with the complex 2007 Rancho Arroyo Grande mourvedre.
Moss talked about the good, hearty dishes that come with wintertime, like the next dish, kabocha gnocchi with sage butter, Italian sausage, and shaved Manchego cheese. This was one of my favorites of the night—creamy and comforting.
Loring agreed, “This is lovely. I love Italian sausage! That’s just such a nice blend. It just takes the gnocchi to a totally different place.”
Another hit at our table was the cast-iron cassoulet made with duck confit, house-made pancetta, and Italian sausage, and served with an herb salad.
The final entrée was a melt-in-your-mouth steak: cocoa-crusted filet with smashed plantains, fried chilies in a butter sauce, and roasted peppers.
By now, we were all drinking a delightful petite syrah from the Paso Robles region made by Shell Creek Vineyards.
I asked Loring about the genesis of Lido’s new “Dinner with the Chefs” series, inviting the public to join the chefs as they debut their newest culinary creations.
“It’s always the night before the new menu rolls out, so it’s an opportunity for people to come in and check out the menu before it happens. So there’s that exclusivity that comes along with it,” Loring explained.
“We were looking for something different and unique. Build a nice night, build some memories, sit, and ask us whatever questions you have. It’s fun for us to do!” she added.
Then the finale of our feast appeared in front of us: a classic-rock- themed dessert platter that Loring dubbed Purple Haze and Brown Sugar.
The “Purple Haze” was a Pavlova: a crunchy meringue, with blueberries, lemon cream underneath, and topped with candied lemon.
The “Brown Sugar” was ginger ice cream, macadamia-nut tuile, sesame pound cake, grilled pineapple, and rum-caramel sauce poured on top.
But that’s not all—a decadent shot of European hot chocolate followed the playful desserts.
It was an extraordinary dining experience that will be repeated at Lido a few more times this year.
Sun wine and food writer Wendy Thies Sell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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