Peach and Plum Festival

When eating fruit, the process seems straightforward enough: take the fruit, maybe cut it up for presentation, and then dig in. Of course, when serious, high-end restaurants get a hold of these fruits, the act of incorporating them into dishes where fruit would seemingly have no purpose being present is mandatory, and the end result rarely fails to disappoint. During the past month, restaurants of the Patina Group have been taking advantage of the in-season fruits with their Peach and Plum Festival, offering three to five-course meals showcasing the different methods of serving peaches and plums in their dishes.

The three-course meal of Pentimento at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offers courses that exhibit both the peach and plum's stylistic differences in taste, showing their abilities to compliment and to add extra flavor to dishes that, while delicious, become monuments of flavor that take further analysis for the taster to even realize what has just occurred. Each restaurant of the Patina Group offers a different number and style of courses, presenting the abilities of the peach and plum to mix well with many dishes.

The style of placing fruit in salad can be a dangerous enterprise, not wanting to upset the balance between salad and fruit, but still wanting to make an impression with taste. Often acting as the first course, a salad can set the tone for the rest of the meal, and the elephant heart plum salad not only acts as a great introduction to the peach and plum-themed experience, but also a gentle one that helps one segue easily into the experience. A delicate arugula salad with pickled shallot, the plums placed underneath the baby arugula, balancing the bitter with the sweet as the first course is topped with subtle champagne vinaigrette. The goat cheese lying atop the salad offers a diverse texture when compared to the rest of the salad, but in some instances may be too much of a good thing, so use sparingly. Overall, the salad surprises with the inclusion of the plum, offering the taster a blend of flavors to satisfy the pallet.

As the last bits of the elephant heart plum salad are being corralled by the fork to create a final bite, a roasted pork loin takes its seat at the table. Sitting in a smoked bacon sauce, the pork loin is surrounded by peach ravioli. Yes, peach ravioli.

While this peach-related incorporation may seem illogical and merely an obligation during the aforementioned festival, what is more surprising is the fact that the peach ravioli actually works to complement the taste of the pork loin. Compared to the smoky taste of the pork loin with the lightly salty bacon sauce, the slight sweet taste of the peach when placed with ravioli creates a perfect blend of salty and sweet that balances a meal that would lean on one side or another.

Lastly, after thoroughly experiencing the strengths of both the peach and plum in their own respected dishes, a white peach mousse delicately ends the meal. The dessert showcases the gentle flavoring of the peach as well as refreshes one's pallet from the barrage of tastes that have occurred over the course of the meal. Topped with one lone raspberry and Riesling-poached peaches, the mousse, while rich never overwhelms, leaving the restaurant patron satisfied.

Though the Peach and Plum Festival ended this Sunday, Sept. 14, the tasting of courses incorporating both fruits showed that seemingly any savory meal is best complimented or strengthened by the addition of a sweet counterpart. Adding fruits to one's meal and diet not only adds flavor but keeps one healthy as well.