FOODCHAIN: Birth of a Legend
Thursday, June 9, 2005
MEMEMEMEME… I sit here three days before our beer festival. I have taken to awakening after about three hours, regardless of when I go to sleep—I rarely sleep more than five hours a night anyway. Jeff Moses, my partner in this stuff, and I are acting pretty calm so far—this is, after all, the fifth beer festival we will have organized (fourth in Monterey, one at Shoreline Amphitheater), so we at least know the feelings. It’s been fun to run into BOB and/or FABIA MASSARO, owners of Terranova Fine Wines in Monterey, during the final couple of weeks. They have organized and run more festivals over the years than anybody around these parts so they always have a knowing perspective.
All right, enough about ME, let’s talk about you…What do you think of me? Let’s talk about current events…What do you think of me right now? Let’s talk about movies…What do you think about me in the movies? Sorry, didn’t know if any of you hadn’t heard that one, which can be extrapolated to the outermost reaches of your imagination (let’s talk about quantum physics…What do you think the particles of matter that make up me are composed of?) You get the picture. Love that gag.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK… Hey, congratulations to SHANE and PETER TREVES. Shane’s Irish Bistro is officially opened. Stopped in there a couple of days after the opening and it had a lovely feel, very homey and warm. They’re off to a nice slow start, getting all the pieces in place, so go in and say hi and be gentle. Unless you’ve opened a brand new restaurant, you cannot imagine the enormity of the pressure you endure leading up to it. Then, astoundingly, after it gets open, when you have to get that complex machine running smoothly every day while people come in looking for things to be wrong, it gets even tougher. Hats off to Shane and Peter for sticking with it and getting underway. Shane’s is on the corner of Lighthouse and Drake (near Nevada Bob’s) in New Monterey, 646-2005. Cheers and good luck.
(In case any of you feel like maybe I’m just yapping here, I’ve been involved in 18 different openings, both restaurants and nightclubs, so I have a bit of an understanding of the workload.)
Which brings us to the inimitable dynamic duo of BILL and THERESA LEE, arguably our area’s hippest restaurant team (I’m gonna catch a ration of hurt for that statement). If you take into account creativity, longevity and overall success vs. likeability, enthusiasm and progressive thinking, these two dynamos have been leaders on the scene for quite some time, filling niche market needs with places like Billy Quon’s, Bahama Billy’s and the latest, Bixby’s Martini Bistro.
I noticed the help wanted ad was in the paper so it’s time to staff the place—always a good indicator the opening is right around the corner. I stopped by the site a couple of weeks ago and even though it was still quite raw, I could tell it is going to be a sharp, happening place to go. If definitely looks like the type of place I would have gone to work in a decade ago—nothing like being the top dog bartender at the hippest place in town. But I am reminiscing here and digressing even further…let’s talk about current events…Oh yeah, Bixby’s Martini Bistro. I can’t wait to stop in there for a libation and a bit of recreation and communication.
I sincerely hope the new owners of the Barnyard, who seem to be taking positive steps, can find a way to make that fabulous little shopping center more accessible for everyone, especially visitors to the area. I say a big Right On to Bill and Theresa. Now, you folks out there: When the place opens, go in and be cool. Don’t go getting all impatient. It can take a while to get the right crew working together to achieve the vision a person has created. Treat a new restaurant the same way you treat a new little person, with patience, understanding and love.
Speaking of little person love, I liked the beautiful quotes from children explaining what they believe love is that JILL SPILL from Sugar Reef in Carmel sent me. She and her husband JEROME are plugging along at this artsy subterranean hideaway on Dolores and 5th, around the corner from the post office. You can go there between 5:30 and 7pm to get dinner that includes soup, starter or salad, an entrée, a side and a beverage for $14.95. Apparently, Jerome’s coffee-rubbed petite filet has people raving. They are also trying to get the okay to do some live music in the coming months, now that Carmel is contemplating a change of heart about that. Give the place a try, get to know those two great people and find out if you’re all compatible. Call 624-7788 to talk to Jill. Oh yeah, here’s one of those quotes: “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs,” Chrissy—age 6. Oh yeah.
JUST ONE NIGHT… I want to tell you about the amazing dinner at Marinus that I was lucky enough to attend with ROGER “NO FRILLS” MILLS, his grandson CHRIS “BIG THRILLS” MILLS and of course MARCI “WHACKO” BRACCO (I guess I’m in a bit of a rhyming mood today). DYLAN SHELDON, of Sheldon Wines fame, oversaw the service, which added new meaning to the term “knowledgeable service.” Dylan is like a walking, talking (now there’s an understatement) encyclopedia of wine, food and cheese knowledge and communicates it in such a fashion that everyone is transfixed. In fact, there were a few moments when Marci actually stopped talking to listen to Dylan’s presentation—that’s how compelling it was.
MARK JENSEN—say what you want about Jensen (and many do)—that boy is a wine stud. He casually rolled out wine after wine that were so artfully picked, perfect for their overall greatness and wow factor (for the quality of what was in the bottle, not the star power of what was on the label), perfectly within the parameters of the dinner’s budget and gracefully presented with just enough information to enhance the experience. Along with Chef de Cuisine CHRISTOPHE GROSJEAN’s unbelievable food, we dined ourselves into a sublime stupor.
LOTSA GOOD STUFF… I wanted to write about all the CHERYL WARNER stuff I got mixed up in, plus another great JULIO and MARIE RAMIREZ travel log too, but that will have to wait. Meanwhile, here’s a shotgun start of stuff…June 14 at Embassy Suites, Beer: The Versatile Libation, a seminar by Master Brewer (whew, dangerous typo area) RAMSEY BORTHWICK (English Ales). Put on by the Monterey County Hospitality Association, covers the whole spectrum of beer from history to how it works with food, and there’s a tasting. Call 626-8636 for details…Second Saturday of the month (that’s this Saturday, June 11) at RIVER INN, on the back lawn, boutique winery tasting, special menu, live music, the river, the trees—it’s Big Sur, call 1-800-548-3610……June 11 out in Carmel Valley Village, the Chamber of Commerce is doing its 2nd annual Carmel Valley Art and Wine Celebration. It incorporates all the wineries, shops, etc., like a big block party. Call 659-4000, visit www.carmelvalleychamber.org or just get on out there between 11am and 5pm…FATHER’S DAY, June 19, the American Culinary Federation is hosting a swing ball dance and fundraiser at the Embassy Suites Ballroom. It’ll benefit multiple local charities and have swing dancing (with lessons), wine, food, music (obviously), auction stuff: get the info, call MICHAEL GAINES at 206-3309 for more…June 26 is the LA PLAYA GARDEN PARTY to benefit Carmel Youth Center. Go out to one of the most beautiful places around, eat, drink and have fun, all for a good cause. Gee, that’s a hard decision, call 624-6476 ext. 488…Cheers, y’all.