Taking it to the Grove for Dinner en Green

Written by our friend Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE

Dining al fresco is a summer standard. But an outdoor spread in a gorgeous avocado grove? Count me in! 

June was California Avocado Month and the California Avocado Commission kicked it off right with a gorgeous Dinner en Green event held at Rancho Santo Tomas in Valley Center, California. As guests of avocado grower hosts Mike Sanders and Chris Ambuul, our group of bloggers, media influencers and avocado enthusiasts gathered for an informational as well as inspirational grove tour featuring a California avocado-inspired dinner.

It was uplifting to learn that there are nearly 4,000 California avocado growers who contribute to California’s bountiful and hand-crafted avocado crop. Having the chance to interact with the growers in their own grove and to see firsthand their incredible dedication to growing premium fruit was a unique and rewarding opportunity.

Avocados are California by nature. Although California produces 90 percent of the nation’s domestic avocado crop, many of the avocados we see in our markets are imported, meaning they spend time on trucks and boats to get here. Traipsing through the grove, our grower guides shared with us how avocados are grown, harvested and their journey from farm to table in just a few days. 

Later we learned the optimal way to select an avocado, choosing fruit that is still slightly firm, but that yields to pressure when held. In the store, California Avocados are designated with a California label that indicates you are getting a premium product picked at the peak of its freshness.

All that talk of avocados made our group hungry! Coming off the grove tour we were greeted by an array of expertly prepared avocado appetizers: avocado bruschetta, avocado tacos, even avocado and lobster falafel. As if that weren’t enough, the pre-dinner gathering was rounded out by a guacamole bar to end all guacamole bars!





With the sun setting over the avocado grove, guests were seated at a beautifully appointed outdoor table. 

Chef Trey Foshee of Georges at the Cove and Galaxy Tacos blew our minds – and our taste buds – with his over the top avocado dinner menu:

  • Chilled Shrimp, California Avocado with Spicy Carrot Dressing and Cilantro
  • Wood Grilled Niman Ranch Port Chop, Spicy California Avocado Puree and Chino Farms Stone Fruit Salad
  • Crepe cake: Vanilla Bean and California Avocado Cream, Strawberries, Hoja Santa Dust



It was fascinating to see the versatility of avocados put to work in this meal. As a dietitian, I am always inspired by the nutrient density and good fats in avocados, but their properties shine through in so many cooking applications as well. Chef Trey Foshee explained how he incorporates the different textures of avocados by pureeing, blending, mashing, cooking and even baking with avocados. Avocados can act as a fat replacer in recipes like quick breads, muffins and even brownies if you replace the fat with an equivalent amount of avocado. 

With our bellies full of every imaginable way to prepare avocados and our heads full of knowledge about this versatile fruit, we said goodnight to our new friends and gracious hosts. But thankfully for us, the party doesn’t have to end just yet, as California Avocado season will run through early fall. The California Avocado Commission anticipates this year’s crop will be approximately 390 million pounds, meaning there are plenty of premium California Avocados to keep us fueled throughout the summer!