Thursday, September 5, 2002
LAZING ON A SUNNY AFTERNOON...The beginnings of everything display a blueprint of the whole if you know how to see it (huh?). Driving down Carmel Valley Road last Sunday, from out of the mysterious, dreamy coastal fog into the bright smiling, unabashed sunlight, I glimpsed the beginnings of what would become a beautiful afternoon.
Sweet Thing was sitting beside me, looking good. The hillsides were rolling by and the air was fresh and clean. We were savoring the sensations stimulated by this wonderful area we live in. We were savoring our ability to drive this gorgeous road and we were savoring the thought of attending the second annual Savor Monterey Peninsula event at Chateau Julien.
Upon us suddenly, as it always seems to be, the architecturally alluring chateau pulls us into its grounds where helpful hands guide our car to rest. A short stroll brings us to friendly faces ushering us into the festivities. In Chateau Julien''s spacious and elegant courtyard is set up a wonderful bazaar of goodies; tables where food may be tasted, others with wine, and everywhere happy people leisurely enjoying the bountiful offerings while forgetting any mundane worldly cares.
Enhancing the smorgasbord is sultry sound, ceaselessly swirling throughout, aural accompaniment to the other sensory satisfiers present. The source of that sound, a sensational combination of three most interesting and diverse fellows: Mike Marotta (the younger of the two vintage Mike Marottas), who makes the accordian sexy, Dave Dally, a violinist of deft touch and spirit, and John Beron, a thoughtful and caring percussionist. Together, they weave old and new, American and European, fast and slow tunes into Carmel Valley flying carpets of splendor that fly around and through the festivities spreading joy everywhere.
Like butterflies in a field full of flowers, Miss Thing and I flit from table to table tasting, always tasting...a touch of something lobstery and lovely from Asilomar...a goblet of Jekel Riesling with Joe, Lynn and little (but growing) Oliver...Orangey salmon chunks with hints of fresh basil from Chart House...a bit more Riesling...sun pockets in a suit of clouds, we are in a special zone where great curvy walls of green vegetative masonry shelter us from outside evils.
A gentle breeze carries us across the courtyard to couscous and polenta from Grapes of Wrath Catering...cobblestone canvas underneath painted partygoers, the scene unfolds, perfect light and shadow, flawless detail...a dram of Hahn Meritage, the best fourteen-dollar bottle of wine in the United States...Hibachi-style beef and veggies from Benihana... Ventana Vineyards, there''s beautiful Barbara gracefully enlightening followers of our oldest local vino...a freshening and invigoratingly interesting salad from Michael''s Catering...hey, there''s Himanshu and Pritti Sharma at the Indian Summer table, the most beautifully decorated one, serving up a fantastic chicken and vegetable treat...a stroll over to the Chateau Julien table for a delightful sip...Casa Linda and Frank Pacheco, Sabòr Monterey...desserts everywhere...Peppoli with a creamy dream...Creative Cakery with, well, creative cakery...the entire event was desserts for the senses.
Congratulations to the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce for another in what will be a long line of great Savor Monterey County events.
NEW CAKES AND COFFEE...A couple of new joints around town: Parker-Lusseau, the well-regarded pastry and cake purveyor, has opened an outlet next to the Monterey Post Office. It''s in an historic old building and promises to be a great place to grab a couple (dozen) magnificent pastries, quiches or other items throughout the day. Also, for you folks who remember Barbara Peters, who used to work at Carmel Valley Roasting Company in the Bay Books store in downtown Monterey, she has opened her own joint called, Barb''s Place. It''s billed as a delicatessen, espresso joint and Internet café and is located on Lighthouse in New Monterey, in the spot where Bagel Bakery used to be. "Every person will receive the best quality sandwich we can make at the most affordable price in a cheery environment," she said. Sounds like a plan this hard-working woman with great integrity will carry out.
COME BACK, LITTLE TOURIST...As the summer winds down and our real season begins, I am regarding with cautious optimism the state of our local hospitality scene. With September 11th looming we need people to gather the courage to venture back out into the world and explore our area like they always did. When we can combine the quality of our area''s geographic beauty with all the diversity offered in its restaurants, wineries and other amenities with the love we have to offer, we can raise the electromagnetic energy of this region and attract more, like-spirited individuals. Take care.
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