Thursday, February 10, 2005
LET'S SHOW SOME DISCRETION… There’s a lot of pressure on me this week. Every year it’s the same song, beginning around Christmas and building, building, building right up until the first pop-up drive on hole #1 at this delightful little golf tournament we all get so excited about. It has gotten so bad that I just can’t answer the phone anymore.
First it’s the polite, very formal, professionally persistent tournament committee. Then, the local heavy hitters who, by some association or another, feel obliged to help out in such matters. Emails from personal assistants…telegrams from major golf manufacturers…special delivery express packages from the network…and to top it off, a hard sell VIP dinner for four by the big three, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood and Dick Ferris all pressuring me into playing in their tournament.
Please, enough already. You all know how much I love the game, how much I love the course, how much I love the great charitable donations—all that important stuff. But it’s just not fair to all those up-and-comers like Costner, Lopez, Romano, De La Hoya, et al for me to come in there and grab all the headlines, absorb the spotlight and distort the balance of the already swollen viewing audience. The tournament is doing well and can get along perfectly fine without me in it. Sometimes we all have to look at the bigger picture, make sacrifices and leave well enough alone.
GOOD FUN… John XXIII AIDS Ministry is one of the great local organizations. Its mission is to extend services to people living with HIV or AIDS, to foster understanding and to provide education and prevention activities and emotional and end-of-life services. That’s serious business my friends. Important work. Help them out, in turn helping yourselves. At the very least, go to the Crystal Ball this Saturday the 12th at the Hyatt Regency. It’s a fun dinner and dance party with Valentine’s Day undertones. It’s John XXIII’s most important fundraiser. Tickets are only $75 apiece so go, have fun, buy a bunch of auction items and help resist the onslaught of that gruesome disease. If you can’t go, send a nice check. Call Kate Pride now, later on or even tomorrow…but call, 655-1737.
Last week’s Valley of the World Wine and Food Festival, the Salinas Rotary’s version of Spring Break, was one rocking good week. I hit the opening night party at Tehama—a struggle to be sure, but I’ve learned how to tough it out in this business—then a very stuffy and formal Bernardus wine dinner at Hullaballoo with the exceedingly introverted Todd Fisher creating a five-course dining extravaganza. Todd “Red Shoes” Fisher is really a fine, talented chef, who, along with his partner Wil Reynolds, has created a dynamite hot spot in downtown Salinas to be sure…but he needs to try to find a way to let people see the real inner beauty in his soul. In this day of shameless self-promotion (see above) he’s never going to get anywhere unless he can learn to speak up a bit. (You picking up the ironic tone here?)
I happened to be sitting at the same table with Dave and Lisa Mills. Dave created this marvelous festival a half dozen or so years ago and when I ran into him again at the Steinbeck Center grand finale food and wine tasting, he was beaming like a teenager who just found out the homecoming queen had a crush on him. (Actually, Lisa might have been a homecoming queen). That is one nice event, spread throughout about six different areas of the Center, including a couple of tents added on.
I have to admit, I did not expect it to be anywhere as nice as it was, but the combination of all the fabulous wineries and restaurants, that truly inspirational Steinbeck Center setting and, most importantly, the tight-knit, fun-loving spirit of the Salinas community all melded together to form a beautiful gumbo of goodness for all fortunate enough to be there. Get it on next year’s calendar now.
NO WAITING… Now, this year’s calendar. The Master’s of Food and Wine is upon us. I’ll be writing a couple of pieces next issue about it, but by then it’ll be too late, everything will be sold out. If you are a techie, you want to be at the TED Conference right? If you are a college basketball freak, the Final Four. Love film, Cannes, correct? Golf, how about The Masters…get it, The Masters. They call it that for a reason, because the only ones allowed to participate are masters of food and wine, hence, The Masters of Food and Wine.
You have one week and a little left to prepare yourself. I expect you to live up to your responsibilities as foodies and winos and descend upon the Highlands, appetites whetted, senses stimulated, hearts a flutter. Mfandw.com. 1-800-401-1009.
DIM SUM… Write about your most romantic story at the Sardine Factory and possibly win dinner for two there plus a one-night stay at the newly renovated Monterey Bay Inn. Call 373-3775 for details…Saturday, Feb. 19, Cruisin’ the Sea of Cortez event at Steinbeck Center, dinner, prizes, auctions, music, Todd Fisher, the works. Find out more, 775-4721…Go to Marina’s first-ever International Flavors of Marina at the Marina Airport. It’s on Feb. 23 from 5:30 til 8:30 and will be fun, interesting and tasty. Call 883-1207…Alberto Bonatelli has a great front man to complement his one-of-a-kind cuisine. Go say hi to Casey Pearo at Alberto’s, 373-3993…Café Stravaganza in the Crossroads, just down the block from Jon Magnusson’s wonderful Bistro 211, is under the new ownership of Masheed & Harry Khani. Go check out all their new offerings, 625-3733…“You make, you take” with Eddison & Melrose chef/owner Karen Anne Murray. On Valentine’s Day, she’ll lead you through the preparation of a sensually fulfilling dinner that you take home to then enjoy with your sweetie, 393-9479…Go see my man, Danny Vitanza at Pino’s Italian Café at the base of Alvarado, just outside Custom House Plaza for the best frittata sandwich on the planet, 649-1930…This Friday, the 11th, a wine & pool party with Pavona wines at Blue Fin Billiards, 375-7000…Remind me to tell you about Sheldon Wines, our own local boy gone wild, Dylan Sheldon, 663-5432, sheldonwines.com. This is a star on the rise…Fore!