Eat This and Drink This Now! The Ranch’s Tomato Splendor

Edwards Ranch Estates heirloom tomato salad. Photo by Greg Nagel

I often refer to my daughter as my little Pygmalion—sometimes for the classic George Bernard Shaw play reference, but as her escargot shot from her tongs and hit my cocktail during dinner, the term took on a totally new meaning. You see, the movie Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere is a modernized version of the hundred-year-old play, and the scene in which Julia Roberts’ character shoots an escargot shell across the restaurant was incredibly serendipitous.

“Slippery little suckers,” I said, quoting the film in an attempt to ease her embarrassment. I took a sip of my yellow watermelon margarita and continued my litany of dad jokes. “Shooting shells and a peach drink—what is this, Super Mario Kart?” I didn’t get a laugh, but her shade of red seemed to fade from beet-red to blond, nearly matching her heirloom beet salad, which happens to be an incredible mix of greens, red flame grapes, Dr. Seuss-like Chioggias and little hunks of Spanish manchego ($16). “I didn’t even know I like beets,” she said after her first bite.

Look at that S-car go! Photo by Greg Nagel

Sure, the Ranch is best known for its hunka-chunka $118 bone-in Cowboy Ribeye, which flys out of the kitchen like bulls at a rodeo, but I’m here because it’s officially tomato season, and from what I understand, the Edwards Ranch Estates farm that grows most of the veggies in the restaurant is engulfed with 26 heirloom varietals of the colorful summer fruit.

I went with the Edwards Ranch Estates heirloom tomato salad, a dish that breaks my self-imposed rule of “never photograph a salad.” But here I am, light in one hand, camera in the other, snapping photos of this tomato carnival as if I were some sort of Goop.com food correspondent. Nuggets of Point Reyes blue cheese, smoky house-made barbecue bacon, and farm-grown basil make this a meal on its own.

Peace, love and the Rosy Peach. Photo by Greg Nagel

My first time at the Ranch I was a little confused about the vibe, as it’s located in a corporate electronics building. Although the interior feels as though it could be at a resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the wine glasses and cases of select bottles decorating the dining room are a constant reminder of what the real agenda is: pair your meat with whatever the sommelier suggests. What if you’re having neither?

Sten Green, the restaurant manager, also happens to be the force behind the Ranch’s bar program and often uses and infuses items from the farm. The Rosy Peach cocktail is as bright, balanced and fruity as they come. Although George Bernard Shaw once said, “Whiskey is liquid sunshine,” the Rosy Peach is probably the next best thing.

The Ranch, 1025 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 817-4200; www.theranch.com.

Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing Battlefield V under the name “OCBeer.”

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