Orange Coast Magazine

Taste of O.C. | Priscilla Mayfield on food


Table to Farm With The Ranch Restaurant

Wine guru Michael Jordan curates tomato varietals, as well as grapes

Michael Jordan’s professional bona fides are well known—Master Sommelier and CWE (Certified Wine Educator), one of only 15 people in the world to hold both certifications. Jordan appeared in Time this week, administering the sommelier test to a bemused Joel Stein at his request. Lucky for O.C., he plies his considerable expertise as vice president of beverage at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim, the luxurious, haute cowboy hangout Extron Electronics owner Andrew Edwards installed on the ground floor of his company’s six-story Anaheim headquarters.

Since it opened, part of The Ranch’s story has been about its farm, the Edwards Ranch Estates growing grounds in Orange Park Acres that supplies fruit and vegetables for the restaurant. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be among those invited to the restaurant’s annual farm-to-table supper. Even before we sat down to the many fabulous courses from executive chef Michael Rossi and his team, I learned something surprising—Michael Jordan is as mad about tomatoes as he is about wine.

Walking the acre-plus property, Jordan familiarly introduces each tomato variety we see, from extra-tiny cherries to beefsteak size, in every color you expect and a few you might not. Later, when platters of tomatoes, dressed only with Napa Valley Olive Oil and Maldon salt, are placed on the table, Jordan waxes eloquent about the particular qualities of each. A special favorite, a large, meaty, ribbed variety that he calls his Suitcase tomato, was brought back from Italy. 

An Edwards Ranch Estates tomato salad will be offered as a special at the restaurant, but you can follow The Ranch’s approach at home by arranging slices of room-temp tomatoes in multiple colors and shapes on a platter, and dressing with great olive oil and crunchy sea salt. I’d add a generous grind of black pepper, and some might want a shower of herbs. But no more than that. For this simple salad, let the tomatoes do the talking. As summer rolls on, there’s plenty of time—and plenty of tomatoes—for more complicated preparations.

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here.

OC Guides


OC Guides
  • Best of 2014: Bird-Watching

    When the throngs of beachgoers are too much, spend a day with the birds. Here, with the wind whipping off the ocean and herons, egrets, ducks, and more soaring above, you'll get a chance to be the amateur ornithologist you never knew you wanted to be. Free
    3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-846-1114,

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: Green Cleaners

    Sold from her website and a refitted retro travel trailer, these earth-safe cleaning products are Marilyn Nowak of Coto de Caza's propriety formulas. Products for laundry, surfaces such as glass and wood - even an ecological drain cleaner - all have dispenser bottles and bulk refills $8 to $48
    Resuming in September at Great Park Farmer's Market, Sand Canyon Avenue and Marine Way, Irvine, 949-292-1648,

    Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Vanilla

    Plain vanilla extract is fine for large-batch baking, but vanilla snobs like to play with other varieties, including the skinny, leathery beans. We won’t delve into the classic Mexican-versus-Tahitian debate, except to say we like Tahitian for creamy concoctions and the bolder Mexican in concert with dark chocolate. Find plump, vacuum-sealed beans of both varieties at Surfas Culinary District. Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Kouign Amann

    Butter worship is a birthright in Brittany—the French region that invented this transcendent caramelized pastry with the funny name (say Queen a-MAHN). Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Taps' Remy Beer

    Brewmaster Victor Novak and owner Joe Manzella fill a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel with Taps’ Imperial Russian Stout. After five months, the transformation of flavors is phenomenal, eliciting notes of coconut and marshmallow that flatter the inherent dark chocolate flavors of the stout. Read More
wine blog

stuff we love

Charitable Events Calendar