Thursday, January 14, 1999
The morbid dawning of reality has come, glowering in the light of unforgiving truth. The prickly realization that has begun chafing your conscience is also rubbing the region formerly excused by the voluminous flow of your favorite palazzo pants, a region where extra girth has found a tenacious death grip. Perhaps you''ve also noticed that the elastic properties of your pantyhose are stretched to capacity some four inches south of your belt buckle--more condemning evidence that a fast is demanded forthwith. It''s a sobering sentence if there ever was one, with all the appeal of shock therapy.
Alas, the ultimate payback for last season''s sinful surfeit looms, imminent and ominous. But, before paying the woeful penance (Dickensian offerings of raw vegetable spears, shallow puddles of thin broth, salads that forsake the grandeur of Gorgonzola and roasted pecans), before all of our attention must turn to negotiating fat grams for the sake of self-respect, let me do homage to some of the soaring highlights of a season that found my fork lifted with formidable frequency. And with no apologies.
Of necessity, and only for a time, the luscious layers of Rosine''s carrot cake--not a namby-pamby sliver, but a behemoth, walnut-chunked, cream-cheese-crowned slab that requires a couple of sittings and a pot of coffee to finish, back at the office--will remain a cherished memory, recorded in mellifluent stanzas of orgasmic groans.
Also standing out in the culinary journal, a very special dinner for two, shared at Highlands Inn''s Pacific''s Edge. Romantically punctuated by a temporary loss of electricity that found the entire hotel lighted by flickering candle flame, a big round moon beamed its magical swath of light over pounding surf, straight to our table. Cal Stamenov''s sauted dayboat scallops, piqued by browned butter vinaigrette, is the taste that longingly lingers on my tongue.
Not really adding too much time in Fitness Purgatory for those of us who keep ourselves down to 3 percent body fat (just kidding), India''s Clay Oven naan breads fueled Tuesday evening forays at Old Monterey Farmer''s Market. Slightly tangy from the yogurt culture that leavens the dough, and slapped against the side of a super hot ''clay'' oven to bake, the Eastern answer to the West''s affinity for burritos is a consummate addiction. Given the circumstances, my personal predilection toward the creamy curry-sauced chicken and basmati rice wrap may soon give way to one of the other choices--like the totally vegan fresh spinach, broccoli and mustard-green variety.
Ted Walter also recognizes the keen delights of mustard greens. Laced with sweet butter and piled up with plump pillows of homemade butternut squash-stuffed raviolis, the greens are just one of Crocodile Grill''s recent specials that may possibly have found me licking the plate, mistakenly assured that all eyes were averted.
Somewhat shamefacedly comes the further confession to only recently really discovering that Cibo (great downtown location, delicious dcor, majordomo of Monterey nightspots) also serves impeccable food. The first clue came after first interviewing chef and owner Rosa Catalano back in July. Since experiencing the swordfish spiedini, a thinly sliced and grilled fillet, finely coated with bread crumbs, and containing the delicious surprise of thinly sliced lemon and red pepper perfuming an interior filling of prosciutto, pine nuts, and currants, you can call me smitten. Just don''t call me late for supper. Especially if it''s the only meal all day. cw