California Dreamin’: Dole Summit
I had the pleasure of spending last Wednesday- Friday in Monterey, California. I’d never been to this part of the country. I was expecting beautiful and it certainly delivered beauty. I was the guest of DOLE and there to attend their Dole Summit. Did you think of bananas first? Most people do but Dole happens to be the largest produce of fruits and VEGETABLES in the world. Their mission? To get more people to eat more fruits, vegetables and yes salads (something I know I need to do more of). I learned so much about their company and even fancy myself a lettuce connoisseur now.
I left my house at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. Okay not even the crack of dawn, 4 a.m. GAH. I arrived in Monterey around 2 p.m. and then impatiently waited on my girls Susan & Brandi to arrive so we could lunch. We lunched at Cannery Row (skip the burgers and go straight for the brew and corn dogs trust us). Then headed back to our hotel to freshen up before the reception and dinner.
I was so excited to see friends (Gina, Shanna, Tim) and meet new ones (Bree, Irvin, Nancy,Josh & Maria). We had THE MOST scrumptious Arugula Mojitos (I’ll be re-creating that one to share with you – trust me you want this in your life). Then we were off to the Sardine Factory for our dinner.
This restaurant (complete with a boat jutting out from the front) is deceiving from the outside. It’s oozing with atmosphere on the inside and HUGE. We dined in the atrium. Naturally I was hoping for seafood and I wasn’t disappointed. We noshed on the freshest most amazing seafood (and yes there were sardines). I had a great time chatting with: Bob, Ricki, Irvin, Bree, Nancy, Brandi & Susan. We ate, talked, ate, talked, ate, talked and then waddled back to the room.
The next morning we headed out for Dole HQ and got our salad on. Then we headed to the fields in the Salinas Valley to see exactly how iceberg lettuce is harvested.
I was amazed to find that Dole works with more than 9,000 small growers (many of whom they’ve had relationships with for decades), employs 76,000 employees and distributes their products to an amazing 90 countries. One of my favorite parts is seeing where the food comes from and how exactly it’s harvested. We also learned that Dole doesn’t use GMO’s in their salad production. Ever.
We worked up quite an appetite romping through the lettuce fields (hairnets and all – sorry no photos ; ) We made our way over to Carmel By The Sea. One day when I’m loaded (wink wink) I’m going to buy a house in this gorgeous spot and I’m going to eat at La Bicyclette at least once a week.
La Bicyclette created the most scrumptious lunch for us incorporating Dole products. I WILL BE re-creating the carrot risotto and squash pizza that we ate for lunch. I simply must. Do you see that gorgeous crust? Swoon! It’s topped with Dole Arugula of course.
And yes, salad. Those beets and bleu cheese buttermilk dressing and crunchy onions didn’t stand a chance ; )
Later that night we met up for what else a salad party. It was on our hotel deck overlooking the gorgeous ocean (the whales even popped up to greet us). Salad was cooked every which way you could have imagined and it was incredible. I have tons of salad inspiration that I’m looking forward to sharing. May is after all National Salad Month!
What a good lookin’ group no? The next morning before heading out on our way home we took a tour of the 17 Mile Road… Just one word comes to mind. Stunning. Look at that view.
Have I mentioned that I love my job? Thanks again to Dole for having me! It was a pleasure meeting the entire team! Mwah!
Disclaimer: Dole sponsored my trip to Monterey. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.