Edible Monterey Bay

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Monterey Meringues are Psychedelicious

8350401_origNovember 24, 2014 – Just in time for the holidays, the newest artisan food product in the Monterey Bay area will have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, along with rock and roll tunes.

Monterey Meringues is the latest creation of internationally acclaimed entertainers Leigh Zimmerman, Dominick Allen and their 14-year-old daughter Cayleigh. With bright colors and 40 different flavors, the only thing prettier than their confections are the people who make them.

The family moved to our area earlier this year, drawn by its natural beauty, the enduring memory of the Monterey Pop festival, and because it made such a nice alliteration for “Monterey Meringues.”

They didn’t necessarily need another project, nor were they lacking in inspiration or creativity. Scottish-born Allen plays 11 instruments and toured with the multiplatinum rock group Foreigner. He also wrote, orchestrated and performed in Vinyl ~ The Classic Rock Experience on the London stage. Zimmerman has made many film appearances, and both have performed on Broadway, London’s West End, in Las Vegas and on television. But such artists always seem to be the very people who find the time and energy in their demanding day to come up with one more creative idea before nightfall.

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014This one was a sweet deal that would enable them to focus on charitable giving via music education and rehabilitation. But this time, it wasn’t singing or dancing or acting or brandishing an electric guitar. This time it was adding something sweet to an already delicious life. Meringues. That fluffy confection that has inspired plenty of metaphors about la dolce vita; that cherry-on-the-top indulgence that says, “I deserve this, and I’m worth it.”

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014But wait; there’s more. The fact that the family introduced psychedelic colors and “ingested” a Rock ‘n’ Roll format into their brand, with sexy, sassy, silly names like Monterey Pop-Corn, Purple Haze-lnut, Oreo Speedwagon, Razz-berry Beret, Beach Boys-enberry and The Almond Brothers, among others, is just fun. That their meringues are also what they call “psychedelicious” is groovy. But that the confections are custom crafted and made from fruit and vegetables—along with sugar and eggs—is what caught the attention of Edible Monterey Bay magazine.

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014Allen and Zimmerman are self-proclaimed foodies, who have tasted and trained their way around the world. Allen studied at the Waitrose Cooking School in London, and also worked with renowned French Chef Nicolas Houchet. It was like hiring Eric Clapton for guitar lessons, says Zimmerman.

Cayleigh trained at the Westminster Kingsway Culinary College and in master chef classes at The American School in London. In the meantime, the family followed Edible Monterey Bay online, charting their course toward Monterey Meringues.

“Our company is brand new, only a few months old in the states,” says Zimmerman, who studied the art of baking meringues and French macarons at Le Cordon Bleu and also in private master classes with Chef Houchet. “We had been watching the food trends, and wanted to do a product that was light, fun, sweet, gluten-free, dairy-free, and in that relatively new concept of bite size. The meringues in Europe are all larger than your hand, and many of them crumble or dry out on the shelf. So we came up with our own, smaller version with the lightness we wanted, which is crunchy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.”

Dominick Allen and Leigh Zimmerman with daughter Cayleigh make Monterey Meringues

In October, the family premiered Monterey Meringues at the Carmel International Film Festival with what they considered great success. They became a new corporate sponsor of the Sunset Center, supporting outreach programs of the performing arts venue, such as Classroom Connections.

“Customers can also find us at the Carmel Farmers’ Market,” says Zimmerman, “where they can get our polka dot meringues we call Carmel Clouds. And we provide meringues for private events, fundraisers, weddings, showers, and other activities. We accept email orders online and then follow up with a phone call to customize the order. That we have such fabulous colors and 40 different flavors makes it a lot of fun and visually very exciting. And next year, we plan to roll out a flavored sugar product people can use in making their own meringues. We’re having a lot of fun.”

Perhaps most fun are the mini meringues the family makes for catered events, which are easier to enjoy while standing and socializing. While their standard meringues disappear in two bites, people can pop a mini in their mouth like popcorn.

Although the unique flavors of Monterey Meringues make them a taste treat on their own, they also go well with ice cream, whipped cream or mixed berries, and pair exceptionally well with liqueurs and other dessert wines.

“Our fruit meringues are particularly good with champagne or Proseco for a fun, festive event,” says Zimmerman. “If you find a meringue too sweet, go for fresh cream and berries, which creates a nice balance, and is always a very colorful dish. We have some salty and sweet meringues—our salted caramel, and our chocolate with bacon and chili peppers. And we are constantly evolving our passionate food product.”

For more information and to view all the psychedelicious flavors, visit www.montereymeringues.com.

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A fifth-generation Northern Californian, Lisa Crawford Watson has enjoyed a diverse career in business, education and writing. She lives with her family on the Monterey Peninsula, where her grandmother once lived and wrote. An adjunct writing instructor for CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College, Lisa is also a free-lance writer, who specializes in the genres of art & architecture, health & lifestyle, food & wine. She has published various books and thousands of feature articles and columns in local and national newspapers and magazines.