Taste of California in Manila!

It was awesome to have a taste of the best agricultural products from California. We are all familiar with the raisins, but did you know that California has one of the best cheeses, olives, blueberries, stone fruits (plums, peaches, nectarines), and dates in the US? Finally, the best of these California foods are now available in groceries in Manila. 

The wines during this lunch were the best from Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast. I miss wine tasting in these parts of the US.


The Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) together with the Buy California Marketing Agreement (CAGROWN), with the support of the USDA Agribusiness Trade Mission to the Philippines (USDA ATM), recently introduced new top quality food products from California through a tasting menu for local importers, distributors, and media. Named as the “Taste of California”, the product sampling gave guests the opportunity to taste curated meals by Chef Mark Hagan, Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Manila, highlighting fresh California ingredients such as cheeses, olives, blueberries, plums, peaches, nectarines, raisins, medjool dates, paired with California wine.

Christine Birdsong, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture said:

“Filipinos are known to be innovative and adventurous when it comes to all things food, which creates great demand for top-notch ingredients such as those from the Golden State. California is home to a remarkable range of fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and wines, and more and we want to support this growing demand by providing Filipino businesses and consumers access to top-notch California produce that would further elevate their dining experience.”

About California Wine Institute

Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program is a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It supports more than 185 California wineries exporting to 142 countries and highlights California as an aspirational location and environmental leader with beautiful landscapes, an iconic lifestyle and great wine and food. Representatives help develop export markets, covering 27 countries and provide support to California wineries. California is the fourthlargest wine-producing region in the world and produces more than 80% of total U.S. wine production and 95% of U.S. wine exports. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy group representing more than 1,000 California winery and affiliated business members.

For more info, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com

Taste of California Menu


Grilled California Stone Fruit Salad 
Served with Garden Salad Leaves, Mint Leaves, Maldon Salt, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The different stone fruits—plums, peaches and nectarines, which are now in season in the US—give this salad a different kind of sweetness, especially when grilled. A good appetizing course. I’m sure the chefs can make use of the stone fruits to offer a different kind of salad or dessert.

(Note: These are called stone fruits because surrounded by the flesh of the fruit is a stone-like pit that contains the seed.)

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fume Blank 2018

This wine is a good aperitif, with sweetness from the grapes harvested from the valley floor. It is made from grapes with more exposure to the sun for added ripeness, but it still has a balanced acidity for it to be enjoyed as a palate teaser (more than as a dessert wine). Paired well with the stone fruits, bringing out an elegant sweetness to the dish.

About California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA)

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) is a voluntary, non-profit agricultural trade association that represents California’s fresh fruit industry. CFFA’s membership is comprised of more than 300 members, including growers, shippers and marketers of fresh grapes, blueberries and tree fruit, and it also includes associate members who are indirectly involved with these commodities. Peaches, plums and nectarines were the particular focus of this event.

For more info, visit https://cafreshfruit.com


Pan-seared Seabass, California Black Olive Tapenade
Served with Cauliflower Puree

This seabass was cooked just right—with grilled skin and a bed of cauliflower puree on which it was served.

I thought most of the table black olives in Manila came from Spain. California produces these for the whole US. Here, the olives were used for the tapenade mix to give this seabass a Mediterranean flavor. Served on the side so that you could taste it separately.

Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2019

This Kendall-Jackson from the Sonoma Coast is the #1 Chardonnay in the US, having won a lot of awards and accolades. It has a fruity sweetness with pear, apple or peach hints and a tropical refreshing finish. Its creamy, buttery smoothness paired well with the cauliflower puree. Sarap!

About California Olive Committee

The California Olive Committee is made up of hundreds of family farms and two multi-generational canneries, who grow and process over 50,000 tons of olives every year. As a state, California produces over 95% of the olives grown in the US. Each olive is treated with the highest level of care, from planting to harvest by some of the finest stewards of the land. There are two varieties –Manzanillo and Sevillano – and they produce olives of varying sizes.

For more info, visit https://calolive.org


Stuffed Roasted Pork, California Raisins
Served with Onion, Lemon, Coriander Stuffing, Fondant Potato & Asparagus

The main meat dish was just ok. Best to eat a slice of the pork with potato and raisin for added sweetness.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2019

California Pinot Noir is sought after because of it’s different expressions, because of the terroir and the Pacific Coast. The La Crema from Kendall-Jackson family has sesame toasty notes because it sits in 98% French Oak and 2% American Oak. It has a lot of fruity notes and you can taste the California Sun from the ripeness of the grapes. It paired well with the sweetness of the raisin, adding dimension to the stuffed pork dish.

About Raisin Administrative Committee

The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) is a non-profit organization that has its headquarters in Fresno, California, and is led by 47 California Raisin growers, packers and a public member.

The RAC is directly overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was created in 1949 to collect and distribute weekly delivery and monthly shipment data, publish an annual report on industry statistics and policies, and actively and directly market into 18 foreign nations as well as collaborate with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The RAC maintains offices in Singapore, China (including Hong Kong), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Mexico. These offices conduct active marketing campaigns on behalf of the California Raisin industry to encourage sales of California Raisins. RAC’s mission is to identify new markets, encourage demand via advertising, sales promotion and public relations. The RAC also distributes the results of health and nutrition research for the benefit of all industrial users and consumers.

For more info, visit https://www.raisins.org


Seascape Cheese 
Served with Stone Fruit Chutney & Lavosh Crackers
The Prisoner Wine Napa Valley Red Blend 2019

An unlikely blend of different grape varietals—Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Charbono, Petite Sirah, and Grenache. The name is inspired by their involvement with prison reform. A modern wine with berry, vanilla notes with a smooth finish to pair with the cheese.

About The California Milk Advisory Board

An instrumentality of the CDFA, the California Milk Advisory Board exists to spread the word about extraordinary dairy products such as butter, ice cream, yogurt, buttermilk, cream and cheese made with 100% Real California Milk from Real California Dairy families. Cheeses from Point Reyes and Sierra Nevada, were in focus at the event.

For more info, visit https://www.realcaliforniamilk.com


Sticky Toffee California Mejdool Date Pudding
Served with Toffee Sauce, Whipped Cream

This dessert had an in-your-face kind of sweetness from the toffee sauce. Best to eat a bit of the whipped cream with the date pudding and savor the blend. The date was enjoyable to eat by itself. As a side note, I thought most dates are from the Middle East.

Barefoot Pink Moscato Non-Vintage

This Pink Moscato has 9% alcohol and does not have that cloying sweetness. Made from 51% moscato and other grape varietal, it was refreshing and easy to drink. We loved that we could still taste the berries and ripe juicy fruits and that it had a vibrant finish.

About California Agriculture Export Council

As dense with nutrition as they are with flavor, Medjool Dates are packed with dietary fiber, potassium, iron and antioxidants. Organically grown in California in an unique microclimate, soft, sandy but incredibly fertile desert soil, Medjool Dates are excellent snack food. The California Agricultural Export Council (CAEC) is a non-profit organization that works with California-based agricultural associations to market and promote California food products. California Medjool Dates are a featured product of the organization.

For more info, visit https://www.caec.net


Thank you to the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA), together with the Buy California Marketing Agreement (CAGROWN) and the support of the USDA Agribusiness Trade Mission to the Philippines (USDA ATM), for bringing the latest top-notch California produce to groceries nationwide.

Awesome to meet Ms. Christine Birdsong, the Undersecretary of the California Department of Agriculture and Warren Cohen, VP of International Sales of Blue Diamond Almonds. See you soon. 🙂

About Western United States Agricultural Trade Association

Drawing upon 40 years of experience, WUSATA® has developed a wide variety of resources to help international buyers connect with Western U.S. suppliers of food and agriculture products. In-country resources include trade shows, trade missions and access to local representatives. WUSATA also coordinates U.S. based activities for international buyers to travel to the U.S. to meet one-on-one with suppliers. An established online trade lead program can help buyers source specific products directly from suppliers.

For more info, visit https://www.wusata.org

Live an Awesome Life with Christ,

Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We were invited as media guests to the Taste of California event. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

P.S. Two of my favorite wines now—this Chardonnay and La Crema from Kendall-Jackson!

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