Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Citrus Modernista Dinner

We wind our way into the mountains nearby to find Gene Lester, the man who supplies Kinch with his many mandarins. Lester, 71, a retired I.B.M. software-development manager, has taken his interest in rare citrus to the extreme. There is no lawn outside his ridgetop home, just 12 acres of random plantings. Some trees droop with fruit, while others are just sprouting their first leaves. ''See this?'' he says, pointing to what looks like a serrano chili. ''That's an Australian finger lime. It looks like caviar inside.'' He then shows us a sudachi and a yuzu, Japan's lemon and lime. And then a kaffir lime. ''That one was hard to get,'' he says of the plant, whose leaves can no longer be legally imported. Kinch rubs the leaves and inhales, his eyes registering future recipes. On a slope dotted with mandarin-orange trees, we collect fruit, and Lester cuts sections of each orb: acidless Palestine sweet lime, puckering pomelo, sassy kumquat. Then we enter Dr. Seuss territory, sampling a Eustis limequat, an Indio mandarinquat and, finally, a chironja orangelo, each a shocking hybrid of flavors that few people will ever taste. Lester doesn't sell to restaurants or to any of the local farmers' markets; his fruit is for his friends, who now include Kinch. If Kinch wants to play with ginger limes, he has to come pick them himself. —Christine Muhlke, The New York Times
On Friday, February 20, David Kinch presents the Citrus Modernista Dinner, a once-a-year celebration of local, California Coast citrus. Chef Kinch will cook a special six-course dinner with hard-to-find varieties of citrus grown in the sunlight and clean air of the Santa Cruz Mountains, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. Two wine pairings selected by wine director Jeff Bareilles will be available. Open seating begins at 5:30 p.m., with the last seating at 9:00 p.m. The Citrus Modernista Dinner is $140 per person, exclusive of wine, tax, and gratuity. Reservations are available by calling 408.354.4330 or click on OpenTable.