Terranea Resort Chef’s Table Dinner: Peninsula Harvest

terranea dinner party
Chef’s Table Dinner Series at the Terranea Resort.

The Terranea Resort’s bi-monthly series of chef’s table dinners continued in June with Peninsula Harvest, a bounty of food and wine offerings from the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

By Christina Xenos

When is a dinner more than just a dinner?

There’s a multitude of answers, depending on how adventurous of a diner you are.  In the case of the most recent Terranea Resort’s Chef’s Table Dinner Series, it involved sabering champagne, sipping wines from a local vineyard, sampling ingredients from an on-site garden, and feasting on fresh fish, sourced from the ocean in view of your al fresco dinner table.

But let’s begin at the beginning. When you endeavor to attend one of the Terranea Resort’s bi-monthly Chef’s Table dinners, you won’t want to drive home after your night of culinary decadence wraps up. Luckily, you don’t have to. The resort offers a special package that includes ocean-view accomodations with the purchase of two tickets.

The pampering begins at check in, when you’re greeted with a glass of bubbly and an escort to your room. Mine was on the fifth floor overlooking the Spanish-tiled roof of the spa which cascades out onto the Pacific Ocean. The sun peaked through some of the June gloom as I pulled up a seat on the balcony, breathed in the fresh ocean air and nursed my champagne flute to satisfied emptiness.

terranea dinner
Pre-dinner appetizers at the Terranea Resort’s Chef’s Table Dinner.

Chef’s Dinners are staged in one of the resort’s plush private villas. The Terranea offers its visitors myriad options from a guest room or suite, a casita, bungalow—or a villa, which encompasses all the luxuries of the resort in the setting of a private home with a courtyard and a garage. Attendants greeted me with champagne and wine selected by the evening’s presenting vintner upon entering the villa.  I sipped on freshly sabered Jaques Pelvas Brut Cremant, in addition to 2011 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and 2012 Santa Maria Chardonnay from Catalina View Wines, that sourced varietals from the Central Coast, and is currently cultivating next years vintages on the hills just above the Terranea’s sprawling campus.

Like any successful dinner party, the soirée starts in the kitchen, as guests arrive and get acquainted. Chef Jin Lee was and his team were busy assembling a mouth watering if not eclectic array of appetizers: bruschetta of lamb mortadella, Santa Barbara spot prawns served in a spicy coctel shooter, topped with chicharones, dolmas of house made goat cheese rolled into Catalina View gardens grape leaves with pine nuts and currants, tatami of Day Boat scallops served on top of local heirloom tomatoes, garnished with a crunchy, edible ice plant, warm squash caviar on crostini, and finally, local young leeks “Calcots” served in romesco sauce. Guests mingled and grazed while meandering throughout the airy open space and onto a patio that overlooks the Links at Terranea, a nine-hole par-tree oceanfront golf course.

The intimate dinner was presented on that patio in perfect view of the Pacific. Chef Alessandro Serni created the first course of local tuna served two ways, accentuated by sous vide artichokes, pickled cherries and hen of the woods mushrooms.  Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra introduced the main course: serrano ham-seasoned duck steak with glazed potato terrine, grilled young corn, spicy pistachio dust and heirloom tomato sofrito. The evening ended on a sweet note with Executive Pastry Chef Perry Jermonti’s Meyer lemon cheesecake with baci pepper crust, lemon glaze and a beautiful compote of strawberries and cherry tomatoes; a glass of Warre’s finest White Port further sweetened the deal.

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And this is where the night ends, but doesn’t have to. You could stroll back to valet and pick up your car and head home, or on the way back to your room, you could meander the quiet sidewalk from the villa back to the Terranea’s lively lobby lounge and seal your evening with a nightcap on the patio. It’s all up to you.

The Terranea Resort’s Chef’s Table Dinner Series is a bi-monthly event that has a different theme and wine partner each night. Future dinners include Aug. 3: Honey Bees with Summerland Winery (Summerland), Oct. 29: Wine Harvest with Villa Oneiro (Rolling Hills) and Dec. 3 Winter Harvest Traditions with Margerum Wines (Santa Barbara). $295 advance purchase required, (a package of four dinners is available for advance purchase at a special rate of $995), and if you book two tickets receive a complimentary ocean view room for the night of the event. 21+. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner benefits a non-profit partner organization, and you will receive a special gift to remember the evening. 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, 310.265.2800. terranea.com

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