Thursday, July 8, 2004
Respect a Tomato…I don’t know about you, but there are few objects worthy of as much desire as vine-ripened, organically grown, lovingly cared-for tomatoes—locally grown Heirloom Tomatoes. I walked into Whole Foods the other day and there they were, the first of the season. I gladly plunked down the $4.99 a pound for them—for those of you who complain that the price on this type of item is too high, that’s the cost of a beer and a tip; a video rental; two gallons of gas—think about the amazing depth of nourishment and sensory pleasure a pound of those tomatoes will bring you.
Now they’ll be appearing everywhere, in the farmers’ markets (another gift to us all), in restaurants, the Tomato Festival—Gary Ibsen, creator of the Tomato Festival, is responsible for growing more of those beauties than anyone, and is really responsible for clueing the public in on the joys of them.
His tomatoes will be featured in the upcoming Heirloom Tomato Dinner on July 22 at Pebble Beach. Jerry Regester, Chef de Cuisine, will be creating a spectacular five-course dinner focusing on Gary’s perfect tomatoes (a guy can get in trouble with that line).
I got the word from Executive Chef Jeffrey Jake when I hacked into his e-mail box and stole the information (that’s a joke, now don’t send me hate mail). Actually, he was kind enough to let me know about it. There’s a reception at 6:30, then the dinner is at 7:30. The cost is $95 per person and the menu is as follows: Oysters on the Half Shell w/Purple Cherokee Tomato Tartare; Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio w/Grilled Tuna, Radish Salad and Black Olive Vinaigrette; Wine Braised Monterey Bay Salmon w/Charred Yellow Brandywine Tomato Sauce and Citrus Gremolata; Tomato Roasted Filet Mignon w/Heirloom Tomato-Lobster Risotto and Saint George Cheese; Candied Plum Tomato-Fig Tart w/Five Spice Ice Cream and Gingered Fig Reduction…wipe me down, I’m getting all perspirational (don’t bother looking that one up).
The seating at this hoedown is limited to 32 people—that ain’t many, so you better give ole Jeff Jake a call and bug him for a couple of reservations. Try the main number at PB, 647-7500, and ask for Chef Jeffrey Jake, then tell him I told you to call and reserve seats.
Heaven’s Gate…Another must is the next installment of the ongoing series of unbelievable wine dinners at Pacific’s Edge, that dream restaurant perched on the Highlands’ cliff. July 14 is the date—call immediately for this intimate dinner in the wine room…five courses prepared by Mark Ayers that include Roast Duck Breast, Grilled Tenderloin and Rack of Lamb. Pastry Chef Alex Espiritu (that’s a cool name) will be preparing Cherry Vacerin for dessert. By the way, both those chefs will be featured at the James Beard House in NYC this fall.
There is a winery involved in this one too…that one with the tree…Silver Oak…uhhmm, sounds like an interesting wine…ever hear of it—Hello?…Silver Oak. I bought and sold fine wines professionally for years and no wine in America causes more stir than Silver Oak. They’ll be showcasing Rombauer Chardonnay, Towmey Merlot, Silver Oak Alexander Valley and Silver Oak Napa Valley…and if I know my man Bernabe DeLuna, Cellarmaster, along with restaurant GM Rob Weakley, they’ll probably sneak a little surprise something in there as well. Don’t be a fool, get to the Highlands and drool. Call 620-1234 or highlandsinn.hyatt.com right now.
Rhone Rangers…Vino, Vittles and Verse—A Cowboy Poetry Wine Supper. That’s how my man Ken Rauh is billing Taste of Monterey—Salinas branch’s cool hoedown with “posse” Todd Fisher of Hullaballoo, Jack Galante of Galante Vineyards, Frank Pinney of the California Rodeo Salinas and the inimitable Ken Rauh himself. It’s a kick-off poetry wine supper for the 94th annual California Rodeo in Salinas.
It starts at 6pm, costs $75 per person (inclusive) and is guaranteed to be a blast. There’ll be a few different poets, who’ll have their hands full getting the jump on both Jack Galante and Todd “Tie Me Down” Fisher—two gentlemen (gulp) that are never at a loss for words. Call 751-1980 ext. 10.Viva La France…that’s right I said it. Say what you want about the French—they don’t give a damn anyway—but they know their stuff, and the folks down at Stokes Restaurant & Bar in Monterey have been celebrating French Independence Day—Bastille Day for six years now. July 14 they’re doing a wonderful 5-course dinner featuring food by Chef Brandon Miller, desserts by Anne & Yann of Parker-Lusseau and wines by Stephen Ledbetter of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants—It’s $89 per person (exclusive). Call 373-1110 and book it. Au revoir.