Thursday, November 8, 2001
Well, QUEEN ANN of Winchester has returned home to oversee the affairs of her kingdom. Sweet Thing and I did our best to help her see the sights, shop the shops and dine in the restaurants of our wonderful little community.
The Queen fit right in to the restaurant scene, hanging in there as we closed joints night after night. Perhaps her favorite evening was the one we spent at Loutas, in Carmel. KERRY LOUTAS, easily one of the most talented chefs around, charmed Her Majesty throughout the evening, ensuring that her food and service were perfect (which they were). Then, after feeding us the most mouth-watering dinner, he came out and sat with us, sharing wine and talking until I had to throw us out I''m sensitive that way. Sweet Thing and I really appreciate the genuinely giving, caring attitude Kerry Loutas always displays. Eating at Loutas is truly one of the great dining experiences available anywhere. I understand that Queen Ann has begun the process of having Kerry Loutas knighted.
Along the lines of fun dinners, this weekend finds 19 different restaurants pairing with various Monterey County wineries for winemaker dinners. It''s all part of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association''s GREAT WINE ESCAPE. Here''s the lineup:
Billy Quon''s will be pouring Maddalena/San Simeon, as well as Paraiso Springs Vineyards. Anton & Michel is hooking up with San Saba Vineyards. The Duck Club dances with Monterra. Grasing''s and Chalone (I smell a DOUG AHLSTRAND connection) will be teammates. Montrio is pouring the wines of Jekel and Boyer RICK BOYER makes the wine for both. If JOE CINGARI is there, wish him well. He and wife LYNN are expecting numero uno real soon.
Over at the Crossroads, at Robert Kincaid''s, ROBERT TALBOTT will provide the wines. At Pacific Edge, in the Highlands Inn, DOUG MEADOR will showcase his Meador Estate line, as well as his Ventana Vineyards brand. The Whaling Station combines with Scheid Vineyards. Cloninger, one of the unheralded local wineries, will pour at the Sardine Factory.
Piatti Restaurant will host another of the underappreciated local gems, Pavona Winery. Not only do they make good, reasonably priced wines, but they have the wackiest crew, starting with the president, RICHARD KANAKARIS. Sweet Thing and I will be at that party. We may have to cruise by Stokes Adobe in Monterey later on to have a glass with the new winemaking crew from Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook Winery. Look for great things to come from this producer as ADAM and MIKE and the gang fine-tune things.
J. Lohr Winery will be hanging out at Tarpy''s Roadhouse, while Kendall-Jackson pours at Tarpy''s sister restaurant, Rio Grill. In Pebble Beach, Peppoli, at Spanish Bay, will be setting aside the wines of Piero Antinori for an evening to pour Estancia. At another golf and tennis resort, Carmel Valley Ranch, The Oaks Restaurant hosts Lockwood Vineyards. Look for JIM FOLGER, the Joe Cingari of Lockwood, probably wandering around out by the driving range muttering to himself.
As you head into the Valley, Chateau Julien is doing a winemaker dinner guess which wines are being poured there. Ditto with Bernardus Lodge and Galante Vineyards. One spot that should also be very nice is Los Laureles Lodge. The food there is excellent, and the folks who run the joint are great. Along with the wines from Heller Estate/Durney Vineyards, look for a great time.
I understand PHILLIP BAKER has switched kitchens from Pacific Edge to Club IX. That should help Club IX return to the level of quality everyone always expects from that beautiful spot. Now all Pebble Beach has to do is get TED WALTER''s Passionfish into the space at Stillwater and turn an embarrassment into an asset. Guests who pay the kind of money it costs to stay at The Lodge should have a couple of great restaurants they can count on.
Cibo''s, in downtown Monterey, will be closing from Nov. 11 until Dec. 1. They plan to redecorate the place you know, new carpets, upholstery change around the décor and the feel in order to breathe some fresh life into it. They''ll keep the live music format, as well as the emphasis on being a happening spot for cocktails and good times.
--RAYMOND NAPOLITANO (RAY@COASTWEEKLY.COM)