There is no better benefit for a food and wine writer than being able to taste some of the worlds most amazing treasures. On Friday night, Chef Saul Romero of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa created a meal that was simply spectacular. Chef Romero of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa are very passionate about sustainable Seafood and food production in general. Together with the Monterey Bay Aquarium they act as national advocates of sustainable seafood. Chef Romero’s meal was almost entirely locally grown.

The meals was a three course with

The first dish was a Main lobster Ravioli, with Meyer lemon and Asparagus Butter Broth paired with a 2007 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay. The lobster was exquisite, but what really made this dish was the Asparagus Butter Broth that added a tart flavor to the dish that was simply to die for. The paring with the 2007 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay was spot on for my taste. The Chardonnay has a dry, bold flavor with hints of apricot, which simply means tasty and worth buying.

The second dish was a Frisee Salad with Crispy Duck Confit with Fried Goat Cheeses and Green Tomato Chutney.  The duck was paired with a 2006 Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir who’s rich strawberry jam and ripe red cherri flavor was an interesting choice to accompany this dish as it was a very over powering wine. The duck was fantastic and each bite was exciting.  Chef Romero’s Green Tomato Chutney really pulled out all the flavors in the duck making this dish simply divine.

The third course was an Oak Grilled New York Stake with Mushrooms and Cauliflower Gratin with blackberry Glaze. The stake was pared with a 2007 Clark Ranch Pinot Noir, which in all honest I did not like, however I know that Jason really did like it. I continued to drink the 2006 Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir with the stake which was very simple but cooked to perfection. Chef Romero told me later that the key to cooking the stake so perfectly was tying them individually and cooking them evenly over an open rack.

Simply thinking about more food after such a fantastic meal was almost impossible. However when Chef Romero walked in with dessert, and described it with such passion I could not just stare at it. Honestly, I had to fight myself not to eat the whole Bittersweet Raspberry chocolate Torte with Fall Berry Compote and Chantilly Cream.  I kept telling myself that it was only three days of wine and food and that on Monday night I could work it off in just one basketball game. Well its now Monday night as I am writing this and after all the great food over the weekend I am surprised that I managed to get up and down the court with any success.

I had the chance to speak with Chef Romero after the meal and found him to be a delightful person, with a great sense of humor and a real passion for food. We spoke about his background, coming through the ranks of the kitchen and the path that led him to become chef at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Chef Romero spoke very fondly of the opportunities he has to teach aspiring chefs in Northern and Southern California. I was very impressed with the Chefs commitment to the sustainable movement, and that he spoke about it with such authenticity and understanding of both its benefits and drawbacks from both a business and environmental prospective. I really look forward to meeting Chef Romero again and getting to eat his fabulous food.

Please go to for more information about the Hotel and its restaurants and to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for more information about Sustainable Seafood.