Motor Running: Get Buff: The blue cheese buffalo burger is one of the favorites at Fernwood Grill.

THE ART OF THE AUTO...Car week is here again. Time to polish up that little two-seater in the garage and cruise the main drags and soak up adoration. Each year I am progressively amazed at the sheer numbers of beautiful automobiles that roll into this peninsula, the levels of excitement, the sums of money changing hands and the overall spectacle car week has become. I’m not really that much of an enthusiast—unless you can call occasionally washing my car and trying to remember to change the oil once in a while an enthusiast—but I sure do get excited this week.

Removing any sociological, philosophical or logical reasoning for a moment, appreciating the artistry, engineering, performance and style is a large part of the enjoyment this week. Regardless of whether you know the difference between a tachometer and a thermometer, sure as shootin’ you’ll need a pulse monitor at some point when a few of these heart-wreckers roars by.

This week makes driving that beat-up Toyota a little tougher than usual—sure it starts every time, but maybe just this once it’d be nice to be riding a shiny McLaren or a sleek, growling Bugatti. Oh to dream. There is no question that car week has turned into the biggest boom for local businesses. We could use a few dozen more events throughout the year that bring in this kind of wow-wow.

THE ART OF ART...Thursday evening at the Monterey Museum is Third Thursday. You know what that means—apps (by A Moveable Feast), refreshments (by Blackstone Winery), live jazz (by STU REYNOLDS), free admission and a chance to view Henri Matisse: Jazz in the galleries. In celebration of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 50th Anniversary, Henri Matisse: Jazz is complemented by the exhibition JAZZ IN PRINT: Fifty Years of Monterey Jazz Festival Posters. Both exhibitions are on view through Oct. 22.

THE ART OF COMPASSION...Regular readers of this column remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about JUSTIN LINN, a local wine salesman who committed suicide. I received a letter from JULIE ANN LOZANO, who has been Rio Grill’s Resolution Run race coordinator for the past 16 years. She is helping organize the first annual Central Coast Trail Walk, to be held Sept. 15 at Windows on the Bay in Monterey. There will be a continental breakfast before the walk along the Rec Trail to Lovers Point and back starting at 9am. Walkers will have two hours to be back for the prizes and random raffle drawing that benefits Suicide Prevention Service—a program of Family Service Agency of the Central Coast. They are looking for volunteers, walkers and sponsors and would greatly appreciate any help the community can provide. For more get on or call Julie Ann at 383-0477 or 877-311-WALK (9255).

THE ART OF LETTUCE WRAPS...Aug. 20 will see the opening of PF Chang’s in the Del Monte Center, just across from California Pizza Kitchen. Our old friend BORIS ILABACA, formerly of Old Bath House fame, is the executive chef for the new project. DAN WITTING is the GM, although Chang’s calls them culinary partner and operating partner, respectively. I guess the deal involves a measure of vestment, which is always nice when you’re putting in the kind of hours and commitment those guys do.

I’ve never been to a PF Chang’s but have heard they’re pretty lively, with decent food and a fun atmosphere. I walked through the site about a month before completion and it looked like a pretty cool spot—brought back the days when I used to do new restaurant openings. You regular readers know I have mixed feelings about corporate joints but they’ve been a huge fact of restaurant life for decades now and show no sign of stopping. I just hope the impact on local independents isn’t too severe.

THE ART OF INDEPENDENCE...One local independent impervious to corporatization is Stokes. I’ve been going there lately to get the annual Heirloom Tomato Tower. Sometimes it’s deconstructed, sometimes it’s not, but regardless, BRANDON MILLER’s homemade mozzarella, the delicious heirlooms, fresh basil and infused basil-olive oil, then a dash of sea salt and swishes with that unbelievable homemade bread—life is good. Next thing you know, it’s the homemade sausages and cured meats…and on and on.

THE ART OF WINE...On Wednesday, Sept. 19, join DAN DUCKHORN, famed vintner, for a delicious dinner at Spanish Bay featuring the wines of Duckhorn, Goldeneye and Paraduxx. Chef ARTURO MOSCOSO will prepare multiple courses for just 24 people following a Schramsberg sparkling reception at 6:30pm. This baby will sell out quickly so get on the Duck-horn, 647-7490.

THE ART OF BIG SUR...Here’s a Mark “MoMo” Anderson moment…In Big Sur, with all the great spots to chow, hike and reflect, it can be easy to overlook a great trail—or snack shack. Last week got me back to Sur’s greatness. First I found that the South Coast Margarita is up to the legend STUART THORNTON has been yodeling. Fernwood, meanwhile, just keeps getting better. I’ve long known of the kick-back mentality of its staff and its stunning ability to reel in top touring acts, but its grub is superb too. Ever since DAVE DILDINE in the Redwood Grill stole the breath of the Chanterelle Cook-Off crowd with his Scottish Egg wrapped in bits of shroom, I knew I had to try out his spot. With MARK MALOOF pouring English Ale drafts and TIM SCHRADER recommending the gazpacho and the best buffalo burger I’ve had—and some gourmet veggie pizza—a beautiful hike to Ventana found an equally glorious ending. Fernwood (667-2422), I love you something fierce.…and I love you something Ferrari…go out and enjoy this weekend, maybe buy yourself a car or two and hang around your favorite watering hole, like Brophy’s Tavern in Carmel, where locals feel at home and visitors feel like locals…vroom vroom baby.


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