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The Med is the lead restaurant at the luxurious La Valencia hotel in La Jolla. Courtesy photo
The Med is the lead restaurant at the luxurious La Valencia hotel in La Jolla. Courtesy photo
Columns Food & Wine Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: California coastal cuisine at La Valencia’s The Med

As Rico and I dined at one of the balcony view tables at The Med, the lead restaurant at the luxurious La Valencia in beautiful La Jolla, it brought back memories of cliffside dining with stunning views of Amalfi in Italy.

The beauty of this comparison, and why I would suggest you choose La Valencia over Amalfi, is the short drive from anywhere in San Diego County for a memorable experience with this “Pink Lady” landmark hotel.

La Valencia opened its doors in 1926.

It served guests who had a preference for an unforgettable luxurious experience that they could return to, time and time again, to soak in the pool or the Pacific Ocean coastline or the iconic tower with its captivating penthouse. All 114 rooms have recently had a beauty upgrade to a Hollywood “glam” style. Classic rooms range from 400 to 850 square feet.

La Jolla Cove and its shoreline, with rich views of the beaches that dot the Southern California coast, is just steps away from La Valencia.

When it’s time to dine, La Valencia has made certain that the Med and its Executive Chef Timothy Ralphs brought all things majestic to the table including its California Coastal Cuisine and uncompromising service.  Our good fortune was that the seasonal menu changes that warm the heart had just been created for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

Timothy Ralphs is the Executive Chef of The Med, at La Valencia in La Jolla, presiding over the hotel’s famed California coastal cuisine. Courtesy photo
Timothy Ralphs is the Executive Chef of The Med, at La Valencia in La Jolla, presiding over the hotel’s famed California coastal cuisine. Courtesy photo

Ralphs joined The Med signature team in 2019, plus the hotel’s La Sala Bar. A graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Ralphs has spent more than two decades in the world’s most notable kitchens, from Paris to Hong Kong.

I chose two of Ralphs’ newest fall dining creations. They were the “starter” dish of cantaloupe and prosciutto salad garnished with Point Reyes blue cheese, candied walnuts and coated with luscious honey vinaigrette.

My “main” was a Verlasso Salmon cooked to perfection with a celery root puree for a truly majestic mix. Chef had also added beluga lentils, hazelnut and winter citrus touches to sparkle this special dinner just in time for the holidays.

To add to and wash down the precious flavors of our dinners, we chose a Saxon Brown red wine, the 2011 Owl Box Vineyard Syrah from Sonoma. ($80)

Rico and I complimented each other on our good fortune to have found this artisan label with critically acclaimed wine by winemaker-owner Jeff Gaffner.

Congratulations to the Director of Food and Beverage for The Med, Rachel Young. A wonderful idea would be to celebrate the holidays at The Med. The hotel holds a yearly tree lighting, a holiday tea and a special Christmas meal. For details, visit lavalencia.com.

Wine Bytes

— A night of royal treatment is planned at Flora bar & kitchen, in the Carmel Valley district of San Diego at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16. The world-renowned Schramsberg sparkling wines and Davies Vineyards from California’s best appellations, bring new opportunities to craft delicious wines and pair them with uniquely crafted Flora dishes that compliment the wine flavors. Please call 858-461-0622 to reserve your seat at this great wine/food event. The cost is $95 per person plus tax and gratuity.

— The Village in Pacific Highlands Ranch in Carmel Valley has its Annual Tree Lighting event from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. Come take your complimentary photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy cookies and hot chocolate. Entertainment includes live music and Holiday Train Rides from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Reach him at [email protected]

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