Melanie Wong | Jul 29, 202008:15 PM    

This summer I've had the opportunity to pick up curbside dinner and housemade gelato a couple times from the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo in Salinas. The meals are prepared by students in training using the best local ingredients including produce grown on their own farm.

The dinners are available by advance order for pick up on Fridays, and July 31 will be the final offering of the year.

The patio is available for outdoor dining for patrons who prefer to enjoy their dinner on site.

The more recent meal was top notch. Nice job on the blackened shrimp and cheese grits, $12. Good texture on the shrimp although not so blackened with a luscious well-made gravy with holy trinity. The grits were pretty well hydrated and probably stone-ground.

Plum upside down cake with creme chantilly, $7, incorporated fruit grown in the rancho's own garden. Decidedly tart with just a little sugar, this was quite nice with the dense whipped cream.

The lemon gelato, $7 per pint, demonstrated and held the perfect elasticity when I pulled off the cover.

The first meal I ordered the coffee gelato, which was rather faint in flavor, but held promise. Glad I could return to try the lemon gelato batch.

The Caesar salad, $10 for two servings, featured locally grown Romaine hearts, Gilroy garlic dressing, batons of raw milk local Schoch Farms Junipero cheese and Croutons. This was the best part of the earlier meal.

The vegetarian risotto was packed with spring vegetables from Swank Farm and decorated with a squash blossom, but sadly underseasoned and overcooked.

Potato gnocchi mac and cheese was smothered with too much bacon, plus the cubes of ham and those weird tasteless cocktail onions distracted from the core flavors.

The student cooks improved their execution in the month between these dinners and I was happy to support their education. Wine and beer are also available for sale at attractive prices.

Rancho Cielo
710 Old Stage Road
Salinas, CA 93908

Curbside Dinner Menu

Orders must be placed in advance by Friday at 2 p.m. Pick up on Friday between 4-7pm. To order, leave a voicemail at (831) 444-3521 or email reservations...

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