Thursday, January 2, 2020

Celebrate the Kumquat in Style During Santa Monica Restaurant Week

Kat Thomas and Mary Sue Milliken

Celebrate the Kumquat in Style During Santa Monica Restaurant Week

Over 35 Restaurants Are Joining the 2020 Foodie Party
By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

Calabra's Kumquat Quail Dish
From January 6-12, 2020, Santa Monica Restaurant Week returns to Santa Monica for a
DELICIOUS week-long celebration of this beachside city’s award-wining dining scene.  So let’s celebrate California Restaurant Month in STYLE by experiencing Santa Monica’s innovative culinary scene, one KUMQUAT-themed dish at a time!

Back for its eighth go around, the Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s format is simple: every year the city of Santa Monica picks a fresh, local ingredients found at their four weekly Farmers Markets and then participating restaurants craft unique dishes based off it.  It’s similar to what Pantone’s color council does with this season’s color (and in case you were wondering, 2020 Color of the Year is ”Classic Blue,” a shade “reminiscent of the sky at dusk”).   And for SM restaurants, this year their ingredient is the Kumquat.  And this year a record 37 restaurants in Santa Monica are getting in on the action!!!

Mary Sue Milliken and Chef
The Mighty Mini Orange!  Originating from Asia and Sweet and Sour in the same punch, the Kumquat is a mighty citrus in a single bite.  This grape-sized citrus is renowned for packing two flavors into its petite size: its edible peel is sweet, while the flesh is tart.  Nutritional benefits also abound as the fruit is rich in vitamin C and fiber and also contains amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium and more, all offering a boost to your health.

Michael's Kumquat Dish
But that’s all backstory to AMAZING dishes crafted for this unique citrus!  Participating restaurants include Little Prince on Main Street serving Pumpkin Toast with Burrata, Kumquats and Pumpkin Seed Crumble, Seasonal farmers market pumpkin, and notes of citrus on Clark Street Bread sourdough from the wood oven ($17), Michael’s Santa Monica Baja Style Wild Yellowtail Crudo of diced, wild, Inada (Baby Yellowtail) set in an AguaChile Sauce made of market Chiles and Kumquats, garnished with sliced Kumquats, Radishes, and Cilantro ($13), and Calabra at Santa Monica Proper’s dish of Koji Fried California Quail Kumquat and Calabrian Chile sweet and sour, Cilantro, and Mint ($18).  This dish was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE with the quail being marinated for 3 days before being cooked.  Actually EVERYTHING that I sampled at Calabra was DIVINE from their AWESOME assortment of Signature Meza to their Orange, Olive Oil, Kumquat Cake with Winter Citrus.  Swing by and check out the only rooftop hotel with a pool in West LA!
Socalo's Corn Esquite

Along with previewing some FAB Kumquat dishes thanks to the Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, Edible Skinny was also able to take a peak in the kitchen of the newly opened Socalo, an all day California canteen and Mexican Pub (all the wines and beers are from Mexico) from Chef/Owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.  Santa Monica stalwarts are more than familiar that the recently closed Border Grill was on 4th Street in Santa Monica for 26 years.  Milliken and Feineger wanted to return to the beach (they still have locations in DTLA and Mandalay Bay in Vegas), so when the opportunity to create a space in the Gateway Hotel on the East side of SM,  they took it!

Socalo is a mashup of SoCal and a Zócalo or Plaza del Zócalo, the common name of the main square in central Mexico City.  All I have to say is that the food is AWESOME!  From their AMAZEBALLS Salsa Matcha (Ancho and Arbol Chiles fried in Olive Oil and mixed into a paste of Sesame Seeds and Almonds) to their Corn Esquite with Chipotle Aioli, Tajin, Lime, and Cotija Cheese (this one was my FAV) to Socalo’s Santa Monica Restaurant Week dish of Salmon Poke Kumquat ponzu, serrano, cucumber, rice, fennel and sesame seeds ($16).  After sampling Waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy too much food in the front of the house, we then went into the kitchen to watch them make a Vampiro Taco IRL.  These Skirt Steak and Shrimp Tacos were composed of Griddle Cheese, Blue Corn Tortillas, and the aforementioned Salsa Macha.  Can we say Yummm with 3 Ms!!!

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and diving into the world of the Kumquat for Santa Monica Restaurant Week!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at

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