On Saturday, a group of 200 people gathered together at a La Jolla estate overlooking the ocean. They weren't gathered to raise money for a cause or rally in support of a bill. Instead, the crowd was there to celebrate the simplest of pleasures–food.
owner Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach and her husband, Bill Lerach, both boast a love for sustainable food and the support of local farms. Their third annual Berry Good Night event, which took place in their backyard, featured 21 of the regions "socially-conscious chefs" who prepared an 11-course meal using local produce and farm-raised chickens, pigs, rabbits and even ox.
The whole night exuded the farm-to-table concept, as farmers from the chicken ranches, farms and creameries ate among the seated guests and chatted about their food as it was placed in front of each hungry foodie. All ingredients used in each dish were sourced from ranchers, farmers and artisans within 100 miles.
Of course, arguably speaking, the best part about the whole evening was the food itself. Each of the 11 courses incorporated berries, some from the Lerachs' massive garden, which guests toured through with berry baskets before the dinner began. From first course to last, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries shared plates with poultry, pork and produce.
Local and notable chefs paired up to create each course. Some kept it simple, like the first course rosemary-mixed berry foccacia bread with salami and Spring Hill Cheese, while others creatively mixed sweet and savory, like the sixth course of tamales with carnitas, boysenberry guajillo sauce and mixed berry pico de gallo.
Each dish was also carefully paired with cocktails, like a mule or a twist on a Singapore slinger, wine, beer and even strawberry-infused milk.
The most interesting dish of the night was the second course soup, prepared by chefs Joe Magnanelli and Jonathon Gage. Oxtail was cooked and put into a tortellini and served in a savory broth with garlic, leek, sweet potato, porcini mushroom, a quail egg and strawberries.
Check out the photo gallery for the truly tantalizing dishes, all made with food from local and sustainable farms.
It was one very, "Berry Good Night."
La Jolla chefs included Jeff Jackson of A.R. Valentien at , Jason Knibb of and George Morris of .
Visit the Berry Good Night website to see a full list of the participating chefs, purveyors, artisans and farms.