Photo: Chef Pablo Aguilar
If you’ve noticed, The Bloom has talked a lot over the past few months about The Blue Zones project in Lake County. And here’s why: The Blue Zones isn’t a diet. There is no do only this or never do that. It’s about adding choices and resources to our community that contribute to a better state of mind, body and spirit.
How many times have you wanted to eat healthier options at a restaurant only to see the same garden salad and veggie burger over and over on a menu? How often have you tried to find meaningful connections to people but not known how? How many of us would like to go for walks but cannot access nearby walking trails?
Through the Blue Zones Project Lake County and its partner Adventist Health, Lake County is gaining more meaningful, healthy choices that can affect your whole being, not just the numbers on your scale. With that in mind, The Bloom will continue to support The Blue Zone Lake County effort as much as possible. It’s only good news for Lake County; that is what we are all about around here. And when you support Blue Zones-approved businesses, you help make this possible!
There are a million and one reasons to dine at the Blue Wing in Upper Lake. One of my fondest memories was the first review my husband and I wrote on it a few years ago. We gave our server and chef carte blanche to serve us both food and drinks of their choosing. With a twinkle in our server’s eye and a bounce in her step, she disappeared to begin our Blue Wing culinary journey. You can read about it here.
Rarely have I had a meal so thoughtfully prepared and served. The Blue Wing serves consistently good food, so when I learned that they had just become Blue Zones approved in Lake County, I couldn’t resist attending their celebratory dinner. I have already learned that anything Chef Pablo Aguilar does will be nothing short of breathtaking.
The late August evening brings its predictable slow, leisurely pace when the days are still long, and dining under the late sun’s rays is almost a requirement for any dinner in Lake County. Welcome to the Blue Wing’s courtyard. A pond bubbles its happy song, a canopy of trees hovers over the tables, and chattering guests sip on Langtry’s Sparkling Rosé. Softly, the piano plays between the layers of conversation.
At last, we welcome the first course–roasted cauliflower, served cold and drizzled with sweet, savory Asian sauce and topped with flavorful nuts. This light bite serves to whet the appetite for what follows.
Next, seasonal greens arrive at the table, arrayed with grape tomatoes, apples, raisins, mozzarella, and fresh sourdough croutons. Every bite perfectly balances itself with a herbed light olive oil dressing, enhancing the flavors. This pairs perfectly with a glass of 2021 Boatique Sauvignon Blanc–cool, refreshing, and crisp with a hint of pear.
Finally, what all have been waiting for–the main course: Mushroom Etouffeé. It’s a medley of veggies and a variety of mushrooms accompanied by brown rice and topped with the delicate savory sauce. Every bite fills the mouth with flavor and texture: a vegetarian celebration. Nothing is missing. And let’s not forget Sol Rouge’s Gypsy Rouge, full flavored but light enough not to overpower the delicateness of the mushrooms.
The evening ends with gentle coconut pudding resting on a caramel sauce. All this, topped with grilled pineapple and toasted coconut. It’s rightly named “Haupia.”
Meanwhile, the night sky darkens, revealing the brightness of the lit trees and bringing a warm glow to a magical evening. It’s a celebration, after all.
“We just want to give people more options,” Bernie Butcher, owner of the Blue Wing and Tallman Hotel, says. “We didn’t take anything away. We just added more healthy choices.”
Nearby, Chef Pablo stands with hands on his hips and a reflective smile on his face. “After tonight, I think I’m pretty good at putting together vegetarian options,” he says. I couldn’t agree more, Pablo. I couldn’t agree more.
For more information on the Blue Zones Project Lake County, visit their website.