Thursday, September 23, 2004
IT'S MY PARTY… First order of business…go buy your
tickets to the Monterey Beer Festival. It’s this Sunday
in the boatyard at Monterey Bay Boatworks on the Coast Guard
Pier. Noon to 5, great beers of all styles, fun, fresh air,
food, fabulous music…what more could you ask for. Get tickets
in Monterey at Bay Books and Compagno’s Deli, at Zeph’s 1-Stop
in Salinas, and English Ales Brewery in Marina. Call 373-2843
if you’re confused.
IT'S A TOUGH JOB, BUT… As I’m sitting here at 7:30 in the morning on deadline day writing this, I’m still partially recovering from last night’s festivities. Don’t think for a minute that this gig is easy. I mean, last night I had to drag myself to the Highlands Inn to endure yet another incredible wine dinner at Pacific’s Edge Restaurant. This time the culprit was Rebecca Laird of Laird Family Vineyards.
Between the beautifully crafted Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Syrah and Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (their wines are made by Paul Hobbs—that’s all you have to know), the astoundingly delicious five courses prepared by Executive Chef Mark Ayers (who is ultra talented), the jawbreaking scenery, and first-class hospitality, I was working my butt off. I’m not looking for sympathy here, but sometimes, I’ve just gotta take one for the team.
At the dinner, Food and Beverage czar Rob Weakley
announced an upcoming tribute to our beloved, recently passed
Julia Child. It will take place on Nov. 15 and feature
incredible wineries and chefs from around the country and the
world. I can’t wait to see that. Pacific’s Edge is really
doing great stuff there. In Bernabe De Luna (wine
program), Ayers (food program) and the rest of the crackerjack
staff, it’s a guarantee that whenever you hit the Edge, it’ll
SPEAKING OF SPECIAL… the TomatoFest was a blast again this year. Gary Ibsen has really found a good use for what is ordinarily a perfectly good driving range at Quail Lodge. On TomatoFest day, the whole thing is alive with glowing white tents, colorful signs, happy people, live music, and delicious smells wafting about…it’s a good party. It’s so much fun to see all the wine and restaurant folks hustling in their booths, making everyone’s day fun. It’s amazing how creative all the chefs get using the wonderful Heirloom Tomatoes—which are the true stars of the whole show. Another reason why we are so lucky to live in this beautiful wonderland we call the Monterey Peninsula.
At TomatoFest I ran into Rich Pepe of Little Napoli and Peppoli. He told me about a totally cool “Culinary Journey Through Tuscany” he’s taking eight lucky winners from his restaurant staff on. He’s doing the trip as a little incentive for the staff.
During the six-night stay in Tuscany, they’ll reside on the vineyard estate of Piero Antinori, then spend the days visiting enchanting hilltop villages, wineries, restaurants…you know, they’re gonna do Tuscany. Hello, can somebody get me a job at one of Pepe’s restaurants please? I need a trip to Tuscany.
Actually, Pepe knows quite a bit about the whole trip to
Tuscany thing and has plans to create various group trips over
there for interested food and wine folks. You should give him
a call at 595-7398 and talk to him about his ideas—he’s a
sharp one, that wily restaurateur is.
TOAST OF MARINA… So a couple of weeks ago I drag myself outta bed to attend the Marina Hospitality Association breakfast meeting at Terry Teplitzky’s great Wild Thyme Deli. Thank God there was good coffee and food there—I don’t know how anyone can get anything accomplished that early in the morning.
Anyway, it was really pretty cool (once I woke up a little) listening to the assembled restaurant, hotel and other retail business owners voicing their concerns about the direction of Marina’s growth, its current needs, strengths and weaknesses. It was enlightening listening to current mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon address the group about the need to have Marina benefit from the marketing efforts of the entire Monterey Peninsula, then capitalize on the influx of visitors by having great businesses in Marina that they wish to frequent.
Another great point someone made was how ethnically diverse and rich the culture is in Marina, pointing particularly to Ha Young Choi, who has had his Nak Won BBQ Korean restaurant there for twenty years. I was really caught up in the genuine feeling of a community on the rise and a growing group of committed people who are helping to steer it. For any of you out there with ties to Marina, give Guy (pronounced Ghee) Lucas from the Holiday Inn Express a call at 884-2500. The Marina Hospitality Association meets every month. Get out there and make something happen.