Thursday, September 16, 2004
ENCHANTED EVENING... Last night—actually sometime last week in real (is time real?) chronology—was one of those spontaneously magical moments for Sweet Thing and me. We were heading out for a bite of dinner, struggling with exactly where to go (with so many choices, a difficult decision). We hadn’t been to Max’s Grill in quite some time so we decided to stop in there. You know when you go to Max’s that the food will be delicious and the feeling in the room will be all love—and that’s a good thing (don’t worry Martha, we haven’t forgotten you, you big girl you).
Max and family have adjusted the color scheme of the restaurant slightly, making it even warmer and more inviting. After a year and a half of business, the restaurant is taking on a beautiful vibe, like a welcoming friend that comforts you and smiles when it sees you.
So we’re enjoying a wonderful meal of homemade porcini/brie ravioli, then Max’s incredible Tempura Ahi Rolls, and we are about to get our entrees, when in walks Jon Magnusson, owner of Bistro 211 in the Barnyard. He’s got a book in his hand like he’s gonna have a quiet little dinner for one—obviously that was not happening with us there.
So we lassoed his teddy-bear ass and drug (that’s Texas drawl y’all) him over to our table. A little more Baileyana Chardonnay (way to go Doug Ahlstrand and Henry Wine) and Jon got right into the rhythm.
He and I both had Duck and Duck, a combination of confit of duck with homemade duck ravioli (I was on a ravioli binge) while Chickie Boom had a beautiful blackened Tilapia—atypically done in a more delicate, less fiery style. Jon had never been there before, nor had he ever met Max. Naturally, after the meal, I went into the kitchen and drug out ole’ Max and had him and wife Yuko sit down and join us.
It was a joy to see Jon, who originally comes from Iceland, and Max, who originally comes from Japan, who are two of the nicest and most loving restaurant entrepreneurs around, excitedly getting to know each other.
Meanwhile, Yuko, who now has a year and a half of
restaurant experience under her belt, displayed a jubilant,
fun, effervescent side of her personality that was purely
joyful. What a night.
ENCHANTED WEEKEND... Scott “Screamer” Thomasen of Epic Wines had a great barbecue at his folks’ home in the Santa Cruz Mountains a short while ago. We were lucky enough to get an invite to what is a Shangrilacle (don’t bother to look that one up) house among grape vines, trees and God’s country. Many local hospitality folks were there; Ted and Cindy of Passionfish, Ken “More Babies” and Robyn “God, Am I Pregnant Again?” from Taste of Monterey, John and Dominique (Post Ranch Inn) and their families, Kerry Loutas (L’Escargot) and Allison, Tom “remember me?” McGowan and Allison (a lot of Allisons), Rob (owner of Epic Wines), Scott’s wonderful parents Jan and Ron, his sister Analynn and of course Scott’s soon-to-be bride Kim. What a day, topped off by a magical sunset in the mountains.
Next day, off we go, Scott, Gary “Don’t Let The Suit
Fool You” from Old Bath House, and me down to Rancho Arroyo
Grande, a beautiful new winery east of Pismo Beach that Epic
is repping. Great afternoon lunch, lovely wines, tour of the
vineyards, crazy stop in Giuseppe’s, long ride home—Thomasen,
you’re certifiable. See you at the wedding.
PAST AND FUTURE PERFECT... Peter Hiers, the gifted local sculptor and wine guy, is up in Napa (was—last week, remember) as a guest sommelier for the annual Staglin Family Music Festival for Mental Health. It’s a great cause dedicated to help fund research into more of the misunderstood aspects of mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Learn more about it at the Staglin Web site, staglinfamily.com.
Don’t tell Ashley or Mindy Pereira I told you about this, but you can stop down to the best skin care place around, Beleza Skincare, on the SE corner of 5th and Junipero in Carmel on Thursday the 16th from 5:30 til 7pm for appetizers by Forge in the Forest, desserts by Creative Cakery, and wines from Southern Wine and Spirits. It celebrates the grand opening of Beleza’s new treatment center. Now don’t go down there because you’re a freeloader looking for free food, go because you want to check out the facilities and book some type of treatment.
Had a nice dinner at Dishes up in Marina. Went with Joe and Lynn “Don’t Let That Motherhood Thing Fool You” Cingari. Joe, who used to be known as “Jekel Joe,” helped Andre and Gudrun get the hang of having a full liquor license, teaching them how to set it up, and the basics of the bar business. Dishes has noticed an increase in business since offering spirits. Andre turned me on to the Marina Hospitality Association. I’ll get into that a bit later. Enjoy the weekend…come to the Monterey Beer Festival on the 26th.