Market Meetup at Michael's Restaurant in Santa Monica

I’ve been to the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, but I had never really experienced it before last week. I was a guest of the second Michael’s Market Meet-Ups where the theme of the day was parsnips.
The legendary Michael McCarty, chef and owner of Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica, took a group of about 16 people on a tour of the market. It was a gorgeous, clear day as we walked with Michael and watched him pick out parsnips, crab apples, and Bloomsdale spinach. He told us which vendor sold the best pears for Tart Tartin in the Fall (Briar Patch), who had the best berries (Pudwill Berry Farms), and who to buy melons from in the summer (Rocky Canyon). We ran into Mark Peel from Campanile as he bought mushrooms and listened as Michael chatted up other local chefs making the rounds for fruits and vegetables.
We had started the morning with fresh baked cinnamon rolls and cappuccino at Michael’s and ended up back there after the whirlwind market tour. The group of us sat out on the patio and listened to fascinating stories about the early years of one of California’s most well known and ground-breaking restaurants.
The theme for November’s Market Meetup was parsnips so Michael’s Executive Chef Mikey Stern made a delightful parsnip puree. It was served with seared Nantucket Bay Scallops, Bloomsdale Spinach, and the best part of the dish in my opinion, Mangalitsa Pork Belly Lardons. Oh, my. It was fantastic.
And so was the wine. We were served 3 different tastings, but my favorite was the Pinot Noir (center) from McCarty’s own “The Malibu Vineyard.” It was light and smooth and quite delightful.
Next, we had perfectly cooked Braised Short Ribs with a tasty Parsnip and Fuji Apple Mash. It was a delicious end to a fantastic morning.
The Market Meetups are $60 and include a light breakfast, tour, tasting, and a signed copy of McCarty’s book “Welcome to Michael’s: Great Food, Great People, Great Party!” Visit Michael’s Restaurant blog in the next few weeks to find out what the theme is for next month’s Meetup.

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post, however, I was a guest of Michael’s Restaurants on the tour and tasting and I did receive a cookbook.