Walter Mencken 9:15 a.m., March 28
Del: Watch Your Dinner Grow
Not that I’ll ever eat there, prices being what they are, but the Hotel Del’s 1500 Ocean and its other restaurants are sure taking a good direction when it comes to getting green.
This all started when I heard they had hired a falconer to come scare off seagulls and starlings from their oceanfront eateries.
So I took a lookee-see the other day.
It’s not just pest boids. There’s something else the hawk’s protecting: a locovore garden.
And more than the token herb gardens you find on top of hotel restaurant roofs.
Here it’s the full monty: artichokes, strawberries, rosemary, garlic, red cabbage, collard greens, golden sage, oregano, celery, mint leaves, Italian parsley, fennel, chives, lettuce, peppers, chamomile, on and on, all growing around the house where the Duchess of Windsor had her wicked way with the future king of England. Or so the legend goes.
It’s a nice big garden going from the spa down to the oceanfront.
Looking through the lavender
But how could these veggies and herbs grow quickly enough to feed all the folk who come hungry to their flagship 1500 Ocean eatery?
“Our head chef at 1500, Aaron Martínez, goes out every day to pick herbs and vegetables that are ready,” says Gina Petrone, marketing communications coordinator for the Del. “He’s always careful, and the gardeners make sure he doesn’t over-pick. He’s usually out there around three in the afternoon. The veggies and herbs he picks are in 1500’s dishes a couple of hours later.”
Gina says they’re even thinking of having chef-led tours of the gardens, so Chef Martínez can explain exactly what he’ll put that golden sage or Italian parsley into.
Oh. Dang. Forgot to ask Gina the Big O question. Is it all organically grown? Get right back to you on that.
Whatever, they must be doing something right. Last year they received “bronze level” certification by Green Seal (Del’s the oldest hotel in the US to get this). Meaning? Significant progress on tackling “climate change, waste, natural resources and health and wellbeing.”
Heck, they’re even asking guests to keep the same towels and sheets during their stay to help conserve laundry water. That saves nearly 700,000 gallons every year.
But you have to wonder: Are they saving money by growing their own veggies? Or does the water, gardeners and prepping mean it’d still be cheaper for Chef Martínez to get his veggies delivered washed and ready from the usual 1500 miles away?
Jury’s out on that, but eating from a garden 20 feet from your table is definitely in.
Even at The Del! Who knew?
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- The Movie Star Mural at Edwards Mira Mesa, Part 2 — Feb. 9, 2012
- The Title or Trailer Game III: The List is Life — Feb. 2, 2012
- Getting Cheeky at Table 926 — Feb. 2, 2012