Ojai Valley Inn: Spa Food Elevated to an Art

Artfully placed lettuce leaves. Tomatoes carved into the shape of a rose. Chives propped up vertically. Let’s face it, spa food isn’t exactly known for being easy on the eyes or the palette. But 80 miles north of Los Angeles, is a spiritual oasis called the Ojai Valley Inn, where reality exists in a slightly altered, and altogether enhanced state. Settled by the Chumash people more than 10,000 years ago, the valley’s original name, “Awhai” (which translates as “moon”) is an homage to its splendid nighttime vistas. The Chumash people believed the mountain emitted a sacred, tranquil energy, and indeed, the rock formation is embedded with quartz which is said to generate positive vibrations. Each year, thousands of people flock to the Ojai Valley to witness a “Pink Moment” when the sun creates a luminescent sunset 6,000 feet above sea level on the Topatopa bluffs. But the area’s chief attraction is the Ojai Valley Inn, a splendid resort with landscaped gardens, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, and award-winning dining—even in its spa restaurants.

Opened in 1923, the Ojai Valley Inn recently went through a months-long, $5 million renovation, including the addition of a spa penthouse suite. “As part of our commitment to being a premier getaway destination in California, we took time during the resort’s temporary closure to completely renovate several areas of the property,” says General Manager Chris Kandziora. “We look forward to welcoming guests back to the resort to experience the Inn’s warm hospitality amidst these reimagined settings.” Spa Ojai has five dining concepts including the signature restaurant Olivella, the only establishment in Northern California to hold both the Forbes Four Star and AAA Four-Diamond designations. The 240-seat restaurant features several private dining rooms and
a large patio which offer a perfect view of the famed pink sunsets. Olivella’s three-course menu—developed by Chef Andres Foskey—features locally-grown produce and wines prepared with techniques borrowed from traditional Italian cuisine. The food constitutes more than a mere meal: it is a gastronomic experience. Each dish is concocted with a complex flavor spectrum in mind and plated with exquisite artistry. Highlights include Pacific yellowtail crudo with orange and fennel, black truffle risotto with wild mushrooms and estate herbs, and California squab in pickled gooseberry.

Artisan in residence, Scott Daigre, serves as The Farmhouse's Culinary Gardener. His work brought many of the ingrdients of this black truffle and wild mushroom risotto to the plate.
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