We've partnered with California Avocados to share recipes that embrace the California approach to cooking fresh and local. For Heather Sperling, one half of Botanica restaurant in Los Angeles, that means celebrating Southern California produce in dishes that draw inspiration from global flavors. The following is an interview with Sperling, as told to Food52.
At Botanica, we're all about making abundant, vibrant, colorful, exciting food. We prioritize nourishment and wholesomeness in a way that is not always found in chef-driven restaurants. Our whole philosophy is about putting beautiful, farm-fresh vegetables and grains at the center of the plate, as well as cooking with great Pacific seafood and thoughtfully sourced meat.
We are intensely and reverentially local with the sourcing of our products. The restaurant is 100% a celebration of the agriculture of Southern California. But while we're all about using local produce, we're also drawing from a global pantry—we use spices, chiles, oils, and beautiful vinegars from all over the world. We're drawing from this incredible bounty of ingredients, but pulling from an entire world’s repertoire in terms of how we’re actually preparing them.
What we call our "Perfect Avocado"—half a California-grown avocado that's sliced, fanned out, drizzled liberally with olive oil and lemon juice, then sprinkled with sea salt, Aleppo and Urfa chile, lemon zest, and garnished with cilantro flowers and micro-arugula—is a great example of that. We’re taking an exquisite bit of California farmer's market produce and we’re seasoning it in a really specific and generous way. Some of what we use in the dish (like the citrus) is sourced from very nearby, while other elements (like the Urfa pepper, a Turkish pepper which brings an unexpected spice) is sourced globally.
An avocado is a really lovely venue for lots of flavors—you can pretty much put anything on it. Of course, we totally love eating local California Avocados with just salt and a little lemon, too. I love serving avocados plain on the side of a dish. But I think it’s so much more fun to dress them up. This is our way of making it the most beautiful and the most vibrant version of itself, while still being very simple.
- 2 ripe California Avocados
- Ample fruity olive oil, for drizzling
- Zest of 1 small lemon, and a few drops of juice
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Urfa pepper
- A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Cilantro flowers and micro-arugula, for garnish
More Creative California Avocado Recipes
To bring you fresh, feel-good summer recipes, we've partnered with the California Avocado Commission in celebration of this versatile and oh-so delicious green fruit (yes, it's a fruit!). California Avocados spend over a year growing in the state's ideal climate (plenty of sunshine and cool ocean breezes). You'll know a California Avocado is ready to eat (or cook with!) when it yields to gentle pressure in the palm of your hand. Just make sure not to poke it with your fingertips—nobody wants a bruised avocado on their plate!