A Fermented Meal at the Park Hyatt Aviara

A dinner of fermented foods may not sound very appetizing. To ferment food, we let it sit out, letting bacteria grow. But, if you think about it, we eat, and drink, a lot of fermented products. Wine and beer are fermented, as is apple cider vinegar and kombucha. Sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, miso and kimchi are all fermented foods. Cabbage, when fermented, becomes sauerkraut and fermented cucumbers are pickles.

Historically, fermentation was a way of preserving food. And, there are a lot of health benefits to eating fermented food. When food is fermented, a chemical reaction takes place in which sugars are broken down into acids or alcohol. This process allows beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and digestive enzymes to prosper. These probiotic bacteria improves digestion, boosts immunity, provides minerals that build bone density, helps fight allergies and kills harmful microbes.

So, when I was invited to the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad for a Fermentation Dinner, I did not hesitate to accept. How could I say no to eating and drinking a five course meal that one could argue would be good for me.

The Fermentation Dinner at the Park Hyatt Aviara was part of the Masters of Food & Wine, a national program hosted by the Park Hyatt. Participating hotels create four enriching culinary and beverage experiences each year, giving guests one-of-a-kind experiences.

Chef Richard Powers, chef de cuisine of Vivace at the Park Hyatt Aviara, started planning the fermentation dinner one year ago, as after all, fermentation takes time. Powers is originally from West Virginia. His great grandfather had bought a mountain and grew everything. His grandfather, a moonshiner, taught him that “if you can’t grow it, you don’t need it,” Powers shared. So, they grew everything and would ferment it in order to preserve it.

The fermentation dinner began with a Fermented Strawberry Soda Cocktail made with fermented strawberry soda, Hendricks gin and lemon. The strawberry soda was made by letting the strawberries sit in soda for five days and then pressed.

The amuse was three small bites. The beef tartare was served with pickled mustard seed, pickled vegetables, panko bread and eight-month fermented house hot sauce. The crostini was topped with crispy pork belly and pickled vegetable relish. The striped bass remoulade had fermented lentils sprinkled on top.

Asparagus and Broccolini Salad was made with fermented broccoli, dungeness crab and burdock root vinaigrette. The burdock root vinegar was made in house and the broccoli was fermented like kim chee. There was a fermented black garlic crema and a creamy white asparagus puree with anchovy, capers and roasted garlic.

Crispy Sweetbreads with sourdough cavatelli, pickled onions, sweetbread Bolognese, preserved lemon and spring onion crema.

Crispy Skin Salmon with whey-braised cauliflower, pickled vegetables, fermented mustard seed, vadouvan and fermented whey broth, caper raisin puree, baby artichoke hearts, smoked trout roe and hearts of palm.

Fermented Farro Marinated Wood-Grilled Pork Chop with n’duja polenta, fermented spring garlic and fermented purple sprouting cauliflower. The farro was mixed with beer to create a mash that was used to marinate the pork chop.

Strawberry Basil Shortcake with house vinegar reduction, strawberry-port sorbet, housemade Harry’s berries soda.

Knowing the health benefits of fermented food made eating sweetbreads, pasta, salmon, pork and dessert all the more enjoyable. Chef Powers’ creativity was on display as the Fermentation Dinner showcased a variety of fermented foods. The Park Hyatt Aviara Masters of Food & Wine Fermentation Dinner was definitely a unique culinary experience and I thank the Park Hyatt Aviara for inviting me.