Thursday, March 21, 2002
WINE WINNERS...Earlier this month, unbeknownst to just about everyone, the ninth annual MONTEREY WINE COMPETITION, sponsored by the Salinas Valley Fair, took place in King City. After two days of tasting more than 1,100 wines from nine countries, two-dozen wine experts (I love that term) picked the best of the best (there''s that term too). Taking Best of Show in the white wine category was the 2001 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc from St. Supery Vineyards in Napa. In the red wine category, Rosenblum Cellars of the Alexander Valley won with its 2000 Zinfandel from the Harris Kratka Vineyard. Among sparklers, the French Champagne house Lanson Cellars won with its 1995 Gold Label Champagne. The top dessert wine went to the 1996 Churchill''s Late Bottled Vintage Port.
Competition director Robert Whitley said, "I think we did very well this year in spite of the economy. We had wines from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and, of course, the US. It''s too bad the Monterey County Wine Competition is not a public event because it''s so awesome to see how this is run. We have close to 100 volunteers and all of them work hard to make this a success."
I think next year, I should be one of the judges.
For a complete list of the winners, go to WWW.SALINASVALLEYFAIR.COM (although they still have last year''s results for now).
Speaking of which, is keeping a Website updated virtual reality or what? Every business has to have a Website nowadays--especially restaurants. It''s tough enough and expensive enough to build one in the first place, then someone has to make the regular changes to keep the thing current. I love the Internet (not only for those reasons) but it sure can be burdensome for the ones who have to provide the content.
A PAIR OF PLUGS...You want to hear about content? BOB BUSSINGER, who together with WENDY BRODIE owns and operates LINCOLN COURT, one of the best restaurants on the Peninsula, sent me an email outlining Wendy''s various extracurricular activities. In addition to the restaurant responsibilities, she gives cooking classes, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays, usually assigning a topic that she picks. However, she will also create special classes and schedules for groups that are interested in learning about a specific topic. She will do corporate team building (Enron could have used her) as well as couples-building classes on any day.
Wendy also does private chefing at people''s homes--where she creates the centerpiece, table setting, room decor and food--for any number, or in her own home for groups of six to 20. She will accept luncheon or dinner groups at Lincoln Court for partial or full buy-outs. She has done AT&T parties at Pebble for hors d''oeuvres or full dinners and luncheons for 25 to 100. I''d say Wendy is a compulsive cooker. To think I start freaking out if I have to cook for me and SWEET THING.
Another Peninsula superwoman whose name I can''t mention (CHERYL WARNER) reminded me to remind all the restaurant duffers out there about the upcoming 13th annual MONTEREY COUNTY CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION GOLF TOURNAMENT. When I asked her when it was scheduled for--Wednesday, May 22--I thought now was kind of premature to start notifying folks. She disagreed, saying something about the need for early warning with restaurant people. She also yelled at me about something to do with Bacardi, the rum manufacturer. I don''t know.
PLEASURE AND BUSINESS...I do know that last Friday night, CHICKIE BOOM, CHUCK and HEIDI and myself hit Cannery Row. We did cocktails and apps at CLAWDADDY''S for happy hour, hit SLY''S for a couple of beers; the timing was perfect. Caught a couple of tunes, then got to chill with each other and leave before the night got loud (hey, we''re not as young as we used to be). By then we were jonesing for food so we went up to AMARIN THAI RESTAURANT, down across from the Aquarium. Well, hello. Old MEURSAULT is right, that place cooks. We ate like we were going to the electric chair and everything was de-double-licious.
Word on the street is that business around towns is starting to creep upward. A few nice hits like last week''s Clam Chowder Festival on FISHERMAN''S WHARF are sometimes all businesses need to get them over the hump. The turnout at the wharf was overwhelming as MOTHER NATURE cooperated and shone the sun down on the day''s festivities. I''m interested to see how the SEA OTTER CLASSIC, which is becoming a huge biking event at Laguna Seca, affects the local restaurants and businesses. Keep your fingers crossed everyone, summer is just around the corner.
I got a lot of interesting feedback from folks about the tit-for-tat stuff I wrote regarding some of the pet peeves of both restaurant people and customers. I will regularly keep that vein mined, since there are strong feelings, both good and bad. If you have any particular tidbits, contact me.
Just finished reading the results from the readers regarding BEST OF polling. Somehow, I feel that some of these winners are getting in out of habit--kind of like reelecting STROM THURMOND. I think readers get so used to assuming a place is the best of that they don''t really test the theory. Get out there and get some basis for comparison, then get out there and compare. Don''t let your lounge chair dictate to your legs. Also, if there are any of you stuffing ballots--get a life.
--RAY NAPOLITANO (RAY@COASTWEEKLY.COM)