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Gardens, Gourmet, and Giggles: A Jaunt Through Sherman Library & Gardens

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As I meander through the quaint pathways of Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar, I can't help but think that if plants had personalities, this is where the cool, quirky ones would hang out. It's like the botanical equivalent of a speakeasy - a hidden gem where the flowers probably whisper secrets about photosynthesis when no one's looking.

A Bit of History - Where Plants Get a Library Card
Sherman Library & Gardens isn't just your average patch of green with a few benches thrown in for good measure. No, this is a place where plants are so revered they practically have their own library cards. The gardens were born out of the vision of Arnold D. Haskell, who in the 1950s, decided that plants deserved their own scholarly haven. And so, he founded the Sherman Library – a treasure trove of the Pacific Southwest's history, sitting pretty amidst the foliage.

Southern California Foliage - Not Your Average Greenery
The flora here isn't just a backdrop for your next Instagram post (although, let's face it, it's perfect for that). The gardens are a cornucopia of Southern California's best - from cacti that look like they've been on a diet of nothing but sunshine, to flowers so vivid they make rainbows jealous. It's a botanical Broadway show, and every plant is vying for the lead role.

The Main Event - "608 Dahlia"
Now, let's talk about the real reason my taste buds dragged me here: "608 Dahlia." This isn't just a restaurant; it's an edible sonnet. Executive Chef Jessica Roy is like a culinary composer, creating symphonies with ingredients plucked right from the gardens. The menu is a rotating gallery of masterpieces, featuring edible blooms that are so pretty, you almost feel bad eating them. Almost.

  • The Menu - A Seasonal Sonnet Imagine a menu that changes as often as Southern California weather (which is to say, not very often, but always pleasantly). Each dish at "608 Dahlia" is a love letter to the season. We're talking about plates that are so artfully arranged, you'll wonder if you've stumbled into a gallery instead of a restaurant.

  • Appetizers - The Tease of Taste The starters are like the opening act of a Broadway show – they set the stage. Think vibrant salads adorned with edible flowers plucked straight from the garden, or a delicate bruschetta topped with heirloom tomatoes that taste like sunshine. It's not just food; it's a botanical journey on a plate.

  • Main Courses - A Symphony of Flavors For the main course, expect to find dishes that are as fresh as they are inventive. Imagine a pan-seared fish, caught that morning, resting on a bed of garden greens, or a succulent piece of farm-to-table chicken that’s been perfectly roasted and seasoned with herbs picked just a few steps away from your table. Vegetarians, fear not – the garden provides ample treasures for your plate, too.

  • Desserts - A Sweet Epilogue And then, there are the desserts – oh, the desserts! They're like the encore you didn’t know you needed. Picture a lemon tart, its citrusy tang dancing with sweet meringue, or a chocolate mousse so rich, it should be taxed. Each dessert is a sweet homage to the garden’s bounty.

  • The Atmosphere - Dining in Nature's Embrace  Dining at "608 Dahlia" isn't just about the food; it's about the ambiance. The restaurant is a seamless extension of the garden. You're dining al fresco, but with style. The tables are set amongst lush greenery, with the gentle sound of the nearby fountain providing a serene soundtrack to your meal. And the view - oh, the view! It’s like nature decided to show off just for you.

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Not-to-Miss Activities - Because Plants Deserve Parties Too


Talk and Tour: The Moonlit Garden
Ever wanted to see what plants do when they think we're not watching? This tour is like a VIP backstage pass to the nocturnal life of gardens. With strategic lighting and fragrance, it's a sensory wonderland. It's the botanical version of a night at the opera, minus the long-winded solos.

Talk and Demonstration: Camellia Flower Arranging for the Home
Here, camellias aren't just flowers; they're the stars of the show. This demonstration turns you into a floral artist, teaching you how to create winter wonders with camellias. It's like Bob Ross met a bunch of flowers, and they decided to throw a party.

Little Seedlings Story Time
Aimed at preschoolers but secretly enjoyed by adults (come on, we all know it), this story time is where books and nature have a delightful rendezvous. It's a free-of-charge, drop-in event, perfect for those who believe in the magic of stories and the charm of nature.

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Sherman Library & Gardens is more than just a collection of plants and a fancy eatery. It's a place where nature gets the respect of a library, the applause of a theatre, and the love of a home. Whether you're here to feast your eyes on the greenery, your taste buds at "608 Dahlia," or your soul on the peaceful ambiance, this place has a little something for everyone. It's a reminder that sometimes, the best way to connect with the world is to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, to dine amongst them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a daisy at "608 Dahlia".

~Michele Jaillet

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