Ode to Oak...One of my favorite restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula, White Oak Grill, is no more. The quaint and wonderful bastion of freshness, careful preparation, loving service and unyielding quality has been sold. Owners Terry Terflinger and Marilyn Beach, he the chef and she the front person, spent the past five years raining joy upon fortunate diners in Carmel Valley.
From snappingly fresh organic greens to perfectly prepared entrees and professionally selected wines, Terry and Marilyn ran a wonderful operation. Although no bigger than a large-sized linen closet, Terry''s kitchen spawned perfect meal after perfect meal. Marilyn''s down-to-Earth, honest hospitality completed the experience.
For lunch, there was no better place to enjoy interesting and creative dishes, either on the back patio or in the dining room. The open-air feel of the place really helped it shine. Sunday brunches, lubricated by Mimosas, were perfect. Come to think of it, if you ever met Terry Terflinger, perfectionist is the word that helps to describe him. Many times I would see Marilyn and him at wine-trade tastings where I got a kick watching him criticize so many wines. Getting him to say something nice about a Pinot Noir was difficult-at best.
When I asked him why they decided to sell, Terry told me, "about six months ago we had reached a point where we felt like we would have to make some changes in the place, tweak it a little, or sell it. We listed it and got an offer...With some personal problems we''re facing now the timing seemed right."
Terry and Marilyn don''t have any immediate plans about any new projects right now-they''re going to take some time to themselves, hoping to shake off five years worth of stress inherent in the life of the restaurant owner/operator.
Regardless of what moves in to replace White Oak Grill, Terry Terflinger and Marilyn Beach, along with their wonderfully creative expression, will be sorely missed. Best of luck to both of them and to the new owners.
Speaking of perfectionists...Walter Georis, owner of Georis Winery, Casanova Restaurant and Corkscrew Cafe>, and one of the great perfectionists, threw his second annual Carmel Valley Wine Festival recently. Sweet Thing and myself made it out to the Sunday tasting at Corkscrew Cafe. The festival, created to celebrate the splendor of the wines of Carmel Valley, drew enthusiastic wine lovers from far and wide. Food, provided by Corkscrew, was outstanding and the wines proved worthy of serious consideration alongside the wines from other, more famous appellations in the state.
It was great watching Georis in his element as he led wine and cheese tasting seminars and generally oversaw the proceedings. From the exquisite craftsmanship of the wines that carry his name to the class and quality of the food that is created in his restaurants, Walter Georis continues to demonstrate why he is one of the Monterey Peninsula''s most important natural resources.
Almost Evergreen...Got an Email from Peggy Miars at Earthbound Farm on Carmel Valley Road. If you haven''t been out to their farm stand at 7250 Carmel Valley, a little more than three miles east of Highway 1, you are missing a lot. Due to pressure from devoted customers to extend the hours of the farm stand, Earthbound Farm will be open this fall on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm from November 3 through December 15. In addition to the freshest organic produce anywhere, they will be offering Big Sur Bakery breads and pastries (spectacular), their famous Farm Stand organic cookies and granola, gift baskets, wreaths, holiday decorations, beautiful organically grown flowers, pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. Get out there and check this place out.