By Raymond Napolitano (email@example.com)
Thursday, September 13, 2001
The traditionalists won out. The powers that be, combined with the power of public opinion, have derailed my career as a restaurant reviewer. Good riddance.
But the editors like my style (or so they tell me), so they moved me into writing this Food Chain column in which I have a bit freer reign to roam around the whole restaurant/food scene in my own alternative fashion. If there are any questions, or suggestions or directions you'd like to see this column move, let me know. I'm an interactive kinda guy.
About a month ago I got an email from a guy named Michael Gilson. He's the owner of the recently opened (May) Big Sur Bakery in, oddly enough, Big Sur. I was intrigued about it right off. He got a baker and a chef from La Brea Bakery/ Campanile in Los Angeles to move up to Big Sur, and the bakery/restaurant, which is located between the post office and Post Ranch, is open everyday. Fresh Danish pastries, handmade wood-fired bialys, wood-fired hearth breads, wood-fired pizzas, and hamburgers made from Niman Ranch free-range beef (if I were a beef I'd want to be free-range) are just some of the goodies offered.
I stopped down there with Sweet Thing and The Ryczinskis a few weeks ago and we took over a good portion of the patio. The food is terrific. Wonderful sandwiches anchored by great homemade breads (the key to a sandwich), outstanding pizzas and big, gamy burgers filled our bellies with nourishment and love. I have had beef from cows raised on farmers' property and butchered by the farmer. It has a distinctly fresh, gamy flavor that is different from commercial beef. The burgers here remind me of that.
Business has been growing steadily and the staff, all of whom emanate a palpable enthusiasm, really round out what is fast becoming one of the coolest spots in Monterey County. In addition to the great meals... they serve dinners also... they are expanding the baking aspect to service wholesale accounts. Ventana already buys from them, plus other restaurants, including some from the mainland (?), are lined up. Check this place out.
Attention all Francophiles: Fifi's, that one-of-a-kind romantic French bistro on Forest in Pacific Grove, is lining up a series of wine dinners featuring wines from different regions of France. The first one will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22. Bordeaux will be the kick-off region, with the star food/wine pairing a Portabella-stuffed Filet Mignon matched with the 1997 Pichon Lalande. I recently drank the '97 Lalande (about five different times) and it is showing beautifully.
In addition, there will be two other wines and three other courses to complement them... in a perfect world, one matches the food to the wine, not vice versa. The inimitable Calvin Wilkes, proprietor, affectionately referred to as Calvin re-Klein (he's the only person I've ever met who seems to be lounging, even when he's vertical), will be selecting the wines. He's got a great palate and will be pouring something wonderful. The food will be prepared by Fifi's chef, German Perez, who promises to deliver his usual excellent quality.
Naturally, the price will be reasonable (Fifi's is one of the best values around). Fifty dollars per person (plus tax and tip) which is considerably less than most wine/food pairing dinners run. Plus, Calvin and Michele have set this up to run throughout the evening, allowing anyone who dines at Fifi's on those nights to order from the special wine dinner menu or the regular menu.
The dinners will then run every other Saturday until... until who knows when. For info call: 372-5325
Remember, send me stuff you'd like me to write about as well as news and views about anything that you think would fit in this column. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a phone message at 394-5656 or mail something to Coast Weekly, 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, 93955 (put my name on it). See ya.