Long Meadow Ranch Featured at SF Symphony Gala Opening
September, 2002, San Francisco, CA
Long Meadow Ranch Highland Beef was one of the star attractions at the Gala Opening of the San Francisco Symphony on September 4, 2002.
A truly "major" event on the San Francisco social calendar, the SF Symphony Gala Opening Night brings out the city's civic leaders, principal arts patrons, and countless celebrities in their finest gowns and tuxedos.
A highlight of the event is a series of dinners served in various venues at Davies Symphony Hall prior to the evening's concert. One of the most prized dinner locations is the Wattis Room where only 60 of the Symphony's patrons dine in the private dining room under the guiding hand of well-known maitre 'd Trey Petrey.
Designed by Chef Karen Passero, the evening's meal in the coveted Wattis Room featured the products of Long Meadow Ranch's diversified organic operation with the ranch's own Highland Beef as the centerpiece. Passero, a former member of the staff at the renowned restaurant, Nora's in Washington, DC (the first fully organically certified restaurant in the world), had visited Long Meadow Ranch in the spring of 2002 and was taken by the diverse organic agriculture practiced by owners Ted and Laddie Hall.
Passero was inspired to propose an entirely Long Meadow Ranch organic menu to the Wattis Room's menu committee for the year's most important evening. "I felt that the Halls' commitment to producing healthy, organic products through sustainable farming practices and their dedication to excellence was a fitting way to salute the artistic achievements of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony," said Passero. "We also wanted to have our patrons discover that their farming practices are reflected in tantalizing aromas and delicious flavors," she added.
At Long Meadow Ranch, located about 75 miles north of San Francisco in the Napa Valley, Highland cattle are finished exclusively on a diet of grass and hay and no growth hormones or antibiotics are administered. Highland cattle, still raised by the British royal family, originated in Scotland and are among the oldest cattle breeds. They are renowned for their hardiness and capacity to produce tender, flavorful beef on a diet of grass.
But, ultra premium natural beef is only one of the many products created by owners, Ted and Laddie Hall at the roughly 600-acre Ranch. In addition to the herd of Highland cattle, the Halls tend extensive grape and olive tree plantings, make wine and olive oil, and produce organic heirloom vegetables, fruits, and eggs, all of which are sold through the local farmer's markets and directly to Napa Valley restaurants
"Delivering six cases of wine, three cases of olive oil, twelve flats of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, a box of mixed greens and bundled herbs, several dozen fresh eggs, and a ice chest full of beef was an unexpectedly emotional moment for me," said Ted Hall. "The cornucopia of produce arrayed on the table was a beautiful sight. I was filled with pride but then had a sudden rush of anxiety, knowing that our work was about to be presented to the informed palates of the local culinary world's most demanding clientele."
Passero's four-course menu began with a Napoleon of Tomatoes that used slices of large heirloom tomatoes layered in a variety of colors and drizzled with Long Meadow Ranch's Prato Lungo, an ultra premium extra virgin olive oil. The course was accompanied by a chardonnay made from organic grapes by Frog's Leap Winery (part-owned by the Halls.) The second course was a goat cheese profiterole served with a coulis made from the ranch's San Marzano heirloom tomatoes.
The main course was a Highland rib eye steak grilled on a very hot fire served medium rare on a bed of ragout of peppers, squashes, and eggplants and accompanied by a "bouquet" of greens and herbs dressed with Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Select extra virgin olive oil. Wines were the estate-grown 1995 and 1999 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, made by winemaker Cathy Corison in the ranch's own winery. These wines received top ratings from publications such as The Wine Spectator (91rating ), Wine Enthusiast (92 rating ) and Decanter Magazine (Wine of the Month) and were recommended by reviewers as an excellent complement to beef.
"The meal came together beautifully. I was astounded by the tenderness and flavor in a rib eye steak that was at the same time so lean," said Chef Passero. "I knew we had a winner when the plates came back to the kitchen empty and the wait staff had smiles on their faces. The diners simply were beside themselves about the beef - even those who said they rarely ate beef anymore," she added.
An unusual olive oil cake served with blackberries and peaches and drizzled with a honey and blackberry coulis capped the evening. As a concession that not "everything" could be produced at Long Meadow Ranch, a Barsac-Sauternes wine by Chateau Nairac accompanied the desert course.
"At Long Meadow Ranch, we set out to achieve excellence through responsible farming. World-class products can be produced using simple sustainable farming methods," said Ted Hall. "The evening was immensely reinforcing and rewarding as we presented food raised and grown with our own hands and we stood the test of an audience that literally has dined in the best restaurants in the world. They suffer no fools and yet we received rave reviews. Highland beef can, and should, command a premium. In the hands of chefs like Karen Passero, it is truly beef fit for a king" concluded Hall.
Click to view the evening's Wattis Room menu.
Contact: Monty J. Sander