California Avocado Week at Downtown Disney
1580 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
I had a real dilemma ahead of me. I could go to the Second Annual California Avocado Week at Downtown Disney or go to my usual Monday night bowling league. I guess you can tell by the picture above that I went with the first choice. I think I made the right decision.
In case you do not know it, Downtown Disney is hosting Avocado Week from July 1st til July 7th. Right smack dab in the middle of the avocado growing season, which runs from April til September. So this makes it a great time to grab some avocados for that Fourth of July barbecue, or even better head on down to Downtown Disney to enjoy some of the fun events that the California Avocado Commission and Disney have mashed up for you.
Each day from July 1st to the 7th, one of the chefs from the restaurants of Downtown Disney will be demonstrating their culinary excellence with California avocados. On the day we were here, Thomas Keavney, from ESPN Zone was showing the captivated audience how to make Mini California Avocado Shrimp Clubs. This recipe seemed real easy, and the best part was that they passed out the finished result after the demonstration. I really enjoyed the salty bacon with the smooth and creamy avocado.
Right after the cooking demonstration, members of the audience get a chance to show off their Guacamole making expertise in the "Guac Off" competition. The three contestants above were given 19 different ingredients to use in any combination, to create their perfect guacamole concoction. The winner on this day was Kristin, with her key ingredient being cilantro. For her efforts, she won $100 gift card for the ESPN Zone, and a California avocado gift pack, worth $85. Not too shabby for smashing up some avocados!
Tortilla Jo's also passed out samples of their guacamole. This guacamole is prepared table side in their restaurant at Downtown Disney. All of the premiere restaurants at Downtown Disney are having California avocado inspired menu items until July 7th. Even Sephora, the cosmetics store is getting into the avocado craze by offering avocado facials.
After the avocado demonstration, a group of bloggers were invited to Catal Restaurant to sample some avocado inspired items that Chef Nicholas Weber whipped up for us. The room we were siting in had a birds eye view of the very crowded Downtown Disney scene. It also had a great view of the recently revamped Uva Bar, which is Catal's outside patio featuring a small bites menu.
After we were seated we ordered drinks. I went with a Catal specialty drink the Mojito. This version was very refreshing, and great after sitting out in the sun watching the avocado demonstration. Kat, from Kat's 9 Lives had a Lava Flow, which is a Pina Colada with strawberries added. She was not very forthcoming in letting me try this, but it looked good from across the table.
Here is a quick shot of the bread basket that we were offered. I really enjoyed this bread. It was really good with the supplied olive oil. I could have eaten more of this, but Kat was very possessive of the bread basket, almost keeping it under lock and key all night. Thanks Kat!
Our first course was a Tartare of Japanese hamachi with green shiso, crispy wakame, agretti and a California avocado-jalapeno sorbet. Yes you read that right, avocado-jalapeno sorbet! The hamachi was very tasty, but the sorbet was velvety smooth, but I did not get much of the jalapeno. That was okay since the avocado really shined through. Not your everyday use for avocado.
The main course was a little less adventurous, but just as delicious. Confit of pork with sweet corn, zucchini blossoms, smoked pork au jus, smoked California avocados, and house made chicharrones. Besides the avocado slices, the best part of this dish for me was the crispy top of the pork. Man that was great. I also admire Chef Weber taking chances by making the chicharrones. Lighter than I have had in the past, but still had a great flavor. The avocado really helped balance the saltiness of the pork. Really well balanced plate.
Of course when I heard that California avocados would be featured in our dessert, I was very intrigued. We were given a double chocolate tart with California avocado mint puree, lace tuille, and blackberries. This was great. The avocado was hanging in the background of this dessert, but you could sense its presence. The tart was very decadent, and the tuille was very addictive. I could have eaten a whole bunch more of these.
I got one last shot from the window of our dining room before I left. California Avocado Week is a must for anyone that loves avocados, which pretty much includes everyone. The most interesting fact I learned while being here is that, the very first Hass avocado tree is from right across the border of OC, in La Habra Heights. So, it would be sacrilege not to enjoy our native fruit. Glad I made the right choice by skipping out on bowling this Monday.
I would like to thank our hosts for this wonderful evening, the California Avocado Commission. Especially Jan DeLyser, actual avocado grower, Doug O'Hara, and my table mate for the evening, the wonderful Angela Fraser. Thanks for the laughs. I would also like to express my gratitude to everyone at Catal Restaurant, including General Manager Albert Leung, Chef Nicholas Weber, and the wonderful waitstaff on this evening. One last thank you goes out to Elizabeth Santos with GolinHarris, for the invite to this great event. Thanks for everything Elizabeth!
For more information about California avocados, click here: http://www.avocado.org/ If you would like information about Catal Restaurant, you can find that here: http://www.patinagroup.com/restaurant.php?restaurants_id=52