After traversing a curvy road miles from town, I found myself on a mountaintop with my “Wine & Dine in the Flower Fields” invitation in hand. Before me was a large white tent, and from that tent emanated the sound of guests happily chatting. Occasionally they would clink their long-stemmed glasses. The soft yellow glow of Chardonnay was enchanting.
The evening’s festivities were not just limited to drinking, however. Guests were treated to a bus tour of the farm, flower arranging demonstrations, appetizers and a five-course gourmet meal under the expert direction of Chef Marissa Gerlach of the Vista Valley Country Club.
The mountaintop where the event was held is approximately 600 feet above the flower fields. Looking down to the valley, the flower fields resemble a colorful patchwork quilt of flowers.
Rose Conner, a member of the Kendall family who was handling the PR duties, told me to wear boots to the affair. I knew she didn’t mean the fashionable kind – she meant the kind that repels rain and mud. Rain was forecast for the day, but happily it didn’t actually materialize until the event was over.
In the fading sunlight, servers circulated with trays of appetizers. The “Bites” were just teasers. Among the appetizer temptations were, “Grilled Lamb Pops with Basil Blossoms and Lavender,” which was a savory taste with a fresh hint of lavender. The “Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Mango Salsa and Chipotle Ailoi” were so outstanding that they made the guests yearn for what was to come.
After the guests were seated, the “Chilled Asparagus Soup with Truffle Salt” was served. The soup was topped with a creamy “Meyer Lemon Zest,” which was as light as whipped cream. The soup was paired with a light Fallbrook Winery Santa Lucia (Monterey County) Chardonnay.
The salad was an innovative blend of beetroot and couscous on a bed of baby greens. Paired with a delightful “Wahine Passion Fruit Wit,” which, according to the Fallbrook Brewing Company, is an “American Wit brewed with tangelo, lemon lime zest and pineapple and passion fruit.”
The menu directed the diners to “Dig In!” to the entrée and they did! Murmurs of delight emanated from all corners of the dining tent. The “Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote” was the star of the show. “Creamy Smoked Polenta with Aged White Cheddar” was a healthful, hearty, and delicious alternative to potatoes. The ‘Charred Baby Carrots” had a wild outdoorsy flavor. The wine pairing was the full-bodied Fallbrook Winery 33° North BDX (Made in the tradition of a classic French Bordeaux.)
The elegant evening drew to a close with a dreamy dessert called “Coeur a la Crème” (French vanilla custard), which was served with fresh raspberries and topped with a crispy French cookie called an almond “tuile.”
Kendall Farms was founded by David Kendall in 1987 with 50 acres, however, the farm has grown to 500 acres of land. Many varieties of flowers from Australia and South Africa flourish in the warm climate. The farm is now managed by Jason Kendall, David’s son, and Troy Conner, David’s nephew. David passed away in 2004.
They are the largest grower of wax flowers in the United States, explained Jason.
“We harvested about six and a half million stems of wax flower this year,” he noted.
The farm is also a large supplier of sunflowers to various stores throughout the nation.
In October they launched a national online flower service selling “Best of the Farm,” flower bunches on their website. This is a business with a purpose. For every online purchase made, Kendall Farms donates 10 percent to one of three charities – Outreach Farm Project, Autism Speaks and Samaritan Aviation.
“To us, farming isn’t just a way to make something beautiful; it is a way for us to give back to the community, be it next door or across an ocean…” (as noted on their website).
The evening’s sponsors were Community Mission of Hope and the Vista Valley Country Club. Find more information at: www.kendall-farms.com.