Stemple Creek Ranch is a cattle ranch run by the sweetest, most gracious family, Loren & Lisa Poncia. The Poncia family has owned and operated the ranch for the last 100 years. Stemple Creek Ranch raises meat and lamb that is grass-fed and all natural. They are located in the beautiful coastal community of Tomales in Marin County, just a few miles away from the Pacific Ocean.
Last weekend, my husband and I attended their first Pasture to Plate Dinner where 100 guests dined in a beautiful historic barn together, amidst twinkling lights and stunning views.
We took our time driving up to the ranch from Berkeley, stopping along the way to take pictures of the verdant landscape. After months of rain, the sun broke through, casting golden hues of light everywhere. We felt as if Julie Andrews, from the movie “The Sound of Music”, was singing to us as we drove past the lush, green rolling hills. As I rolled down my window, I could smell the ocean breeze. The salty air mixed with nature’s quiet hum immediately made me feel at ease.
The Poncia family began the evening by welcoming guests with a variety of delicious appetizers. Each small bite highlighted different cuts of meat from the ranch. My favorite was the eye of round tartare with herbs and pickled chanterelle on a seeded cracker, pictured above. A tasting of various cheeses were provided by Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery and Tomales Farmstead Creamery.
There were also oysters from the local Hog Island Oyster Company accompanied with Tomales sea bean mignonette. Hog Island oysters are the freshest I’ve ever tasted.
Mignonette is a fancy word for a classic condiment made up of shallots, vinegar and pepper that traditionally accompanies raw oysters. It provided the perfect kick of flavor. I was not shy about dabbing hot sauce from Golden State Pickle Works on top either. The combination resulted in a salty, spicy and fresh tasting appetizer.
Chef Matt Elias of The Bodega, seen grilling above, thoughtfully created the menu for the entire evening. He used seasonal greens to accompany the meats in each course. Lamb Merguez sausage with delta asparagus were grilled to perfection on the barbecue.
Guitarist, Sam Hect performed beautiful melodies throughout the evening, creating a warm, mellow vibe.
Libations Unlimited served hand-crafted cocktails. They not only have a clever name; their drinks are pretty and innovative. The cucumber collins, shown below, is a cucumber infused vodka with fresh lemon and yuzu juice in a light mint syrup, topped with fizzy club soda.
As the sun was slowly setting, we paused to take in our gorgeous view. There was also an opportunity to say hello to our dear friends, the Stemple Creek Ranch cows, who were enjoying a sunset feast of their own.
Dinner started with a beef bone consommé and local porcini dumplings. It was followed by a shaved spring vegetable salad with preserved lemon and whipped lardo crouton, shown below. Our main course was Stemple Creek Ranch beef, cooked three different ways, served with sides of potatoes and spring peas. The wine was provided by Barber Cellars.
We ended the evening with a Double8 Dairy water buffalo gelato infused with candy cap mushrooms and a pecan pancetta sandie. The gelato was creamy, bursting with hints of maple flavor. Double 8’s buffalo milk provides a unique richness to this summertime treat.
Thank you to Stemple Creek Ranch for hosting such a special event. Many thanks to Chef Matt Elias for inspiring us with his creative menu. It was a magical evening, one that we will remember for a very long time.
If you would like information on events or where to purchase their meat, visit Stemple Creek Ranch.