This has been a busy summer for me filled with some amazing travel, fun work opportunities, and prepping for the incoming addition of #babyradish. I also had the incredible opportunity to attend the cooking school at the Golden Door Spa and Resort outside Escondido, California in early August for some personal development paired with a little R and R. The few days that I spent at the Golden Door allowed me some major relaxation partnered with my favorite past time - cooking!
The Golden Door experience is completely tailored to each guest's needs, from dietary requests, spa treatments, and workouts - everyone's visit is 100% unique. The primary purpose of my stay was to improve upon my culinary skills and to learn new techniques around building flavor and texture using vegetable-forward ingredients without sacrificing the nutritional quality of the food. Although the main incentive of my visit was for the cooking school, that didn't mean that I couldn't indulge in all of the glory that the Golden Door has to offer.
Each morning I joined a lovely group of women on the daily 5:45 am sunrise hike. It was truly the most invigorating and inspiring way to start my day. When I returned to my room after the hike, my nutritious and fortifying breakfast was awaiting my arrival. When I wasn't in the cooking school, I was working out in one of the many fitness classes offered which ranged from various types of yoga, water workouts, circuit training, and dance classes. Since it is a spa after all, my day was not complete without a daily in-room massage and facial, which was totally indulgent and purely luxurious. All of the services at the Golden Door where adjusted for my prenatal status, which, for me, meant focusing on easing my anxiety and loosening tight muscles.
My incredible in-room breakfasts.
Enjoying a meal with good company is one of my favorite things, and fortunately I was able to enjoy many meals with my fellow guests. Aside from breakfast, my favorite eats were taco night (no surprise) and a beautifully composed gingery soba noodle bowl with a tamari poached egg - two dishes I can't wait to replicate. All the food is created under the watchful and creative eye of Executive Chef Greg Frey, Jr. Chef Greg was also at the helm of the cooking school.
The cooking school was spread out over the course of 6 days. Day One began with healthy kitchen basics where Chef Greg taught us knife skills, how to make stock, and how to properly debone a chicken - all essential skills in my book. On Day Two I attended an inspired lesson on the power of herbs and spices lead by the Golden Door's resident registered dietitian, Susan Piergeorge. On Day Three we had a special surprise guest, Chef Ludo Lefebvre. Chef Ludo is one of LA's top chefs and restaurateurs. His lesson focused on simple, yet incredibly flavorful ways to utilize vegetables in cooking. We made an insanely delicious charred eggplant dip, potato pizza with vegetables, and a lovely strawberry and herb salad with fresh cilantro pesto.
The few days that I spent with Chef Greg and Chef Ludo were key reminders to take a step back from complicated recipes with long lists of ingredients and really hone in on high quality local produce. Both chefs taught me ways to highlight the inherent flavors and textures of clean and simple foods without loosing creativity or value in composition. The rest of my time at the Golden Door cooking school was spent learning about the Golden Door's honey bee program, touring the Golden Door's organic gardens, visiting the resident chickens, and enjoying the gorgeous citrus groves.
Chef Greg with his chickens and honey bees.
I am extremely grateful for the incredible time I spent at the Golden Door filled with delicious inspiring food, mindfulness, indulgent self-care, and wonderful education. To bring a little bit of the Golden Door home, I recreated one of my favorite desserts that I ate during my stay - Chef Greg's Spiced Pear Cake. To adapt for the summer season, I replaced the pears with peaches. This is one of those recipes that can work year round, and peaches can easily be replaced with apples, pears, or figs.
Golden door spiced peach cake
recipe adapted from the Golden Door
makes 1 loaf
- 2 peaches, diced
- 1 pasture-raised egg, whisked
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar or maple crystals
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, rice flour, or your favorite gluten-free flour equivalent
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon clove
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil. Line pan with unbleached parchment paper, for easy removal.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until a thick batter is formed and all of the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is firm.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of yogurt, if you wish. Refrigerate.
Thank you to the Golden Door Spa for a life changing visit. I can not wait to return.