FOODCHAIN: The Old and the New
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I’m running around like a chicken trying to keep his head from being cut off. All of a sudden there are restaurants opening, festivals coming up, consulting gigs happening, restaurants that need watching for friends, radio shows buzzing…I’m not used to this much activity. I’m working four times more than ever and don’t seem to be getting any richer…hmmm, maybe I should have paid closer attention in school—with a little encouragement at an early age, I could have been a geek (never thought I’d see the day when that was something to regret).
OLD FRIENDS… So, my man Mad Mike just finished a few days up here with us. He lives in LA now and is my boy from the days of opening the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Mass. together back in ’92 or ‘93 or whenever, then also doing the LA HOB together. He’s a top-notch bar guy who went on to open beautiful restaurant bars for Todd English in DC and Myrtle Beach and Boston and elsewhere. We hung around together, kicked back, had a few pops and discussed the state of the restaurant world at large.
While he was here, we, along with my photographer buddy Randy Tunnell and his lovely wife Laura Dare, a bitchin’ singer in her own right with a new CD coming out soon, had a great cocktails and apps rendezvous at the hard-charging, never-say-die Sardine Factory. It was made doubly cool by the one and only Bert Cutino coming over and doing his ultra hospitality shtick on us, spreading that love dust around like parsley on a good Italian dish.
My man Mike was thrilled, having followed the industry so long and seen Chef Cutino in so many restaurant mags and heard so much about the legendary Sardine Factory. Don’t know if you realize the scope of its influence throughout the restaurant world. Thank you for being in our backyard.
Funny how we ended up there, too. We were trying one of the newer places that recently opened (I’m not saying) since we were all wearing jeans and looked like a bunch of renegades, but the environment was so anti-hospitable that we had to get up and leave. Just goes to show you, dance with the lady you brung (?).
SELF-PROMO DEPT.… All right y’all, we’ve got 70, yes 70-plus breweries already committed to the Monterey Beer Festival on June 4 at the Fairgrounds. Tickets are on sale now at Bay Books, Zeph’s, Wild Thyme Deli, Campagno’s Deli and English Ales. Go online at www.montereybeerfestival.com: We updated, got the bands all set, lined up all the food vendors and secured my man Sean Allen’s Monterey Stinging Jellies disc golf demonstration booth. We are ready. Don’t miss this shindig (see ad in this paper).
THE HITS KEEP COMING… Don’t miss this weekend’s Cooking for Solutions (see my article in Feast, on the page just in front of this one). It’s becoming the hottest ticket on the Monterey Peninsula. I ran into my good pal Jeff Jake, Executive Chef at the Pebble Beach Company and he told me all about the cool things he does for the event. I’m trying to weasel my way in on a few of them so I’ll keep you posted.
Popped into Ling Chow the other night and got a nice surprise. Cynthia Ling, the triathletic owner of this hip dinner (and soon to add lunch) establishment in the Barnyard, has finally found her chef. Phillipe Breneman, from the Paragon Restaurant Group up in San Jose, a talented 25-year-old with exactly the same Pan-Asian stylistic ideas Cynthia had envisioned, won the job over a bunch of pretenders after submitting a sample menu that immediately showed his stuff.
I sampled some of the fare, an outstanding Portabella Mushroom Shumai, with Edamame Buerre Monte and Cinnamon Taro Chips, done in a show-stopping quadrangle presentation that knocked my socks right off. I’m sitting with the menu in front of me right now and that’s all I’m telling you about. You get your fanny over there right now, after you call 622-0146 and check it out. Say hi to Tracey Grant, the dynamic (and unusually cute) bartender, and Christopher, Cynthia’s son, who is also dynamic (and unusually cute). Right on Cynthia et al.
With the addition of Bill and Theresa Lee’s (Bahama Billy’s) upcoming Bixby’s Martini Bistro next to the Thunderbird Bookstore, the Barnyard is suddenly the odds-on favorite to capture the hipsters from here and around the country who come to our area and want a city-style joint to hang in for drinks and good eats. I for one am one happy camper.
Another nice place we visited was Café Ariana, right there at the Holman building next to Favaloro’s in PG. It’s a cute little café with really nice panini (that word is already plural), gelato, good desserts and coffees. We had a couple of panini, a few cappuccini (also plural) and some dessert. Check it out, 373-1220.
THINGS KEEP HAPPENING… The 15th Annual La Playa Garden Party is coming up on June 26th from noon to 4pm. This is a great event featuring over two dozen wineries, gourmet food, desserts, music, a silent auction to benefit Carmel Youth Center, a great setting and the hospitable and qualified staff of über F&B Director Gary Bartram, who has put Carmel’s beautiful La Playa back on the dining-and-wining map the past couple of years. Call 624-6476 ext. 488 or stop down there for dinner at the Terrace Grill or drinks at the bar and get the facts in person.
Well, down the street at Galante Vineyards’ tasting room you can stop in and see our old friend (actually, he’s not that old) Kerry Winslow, who just took over as manager for owner Jack “Big Hat” Galante. It’s on Dolores between Ocean and 7th and of course is the home of Jack’s great Cabs. Kerry mentioned that Galante’s about to release a Pinot Noir that’s got everyone all atwitter so stop by and get the scoop. E-blast Kerry at email@example.com.
Roxana Robles-Gorriti, owner of the Wild Goose Café & Art Gallery in Carmel Valley Village, has taken over the old Summerhouse Restaurant, most recently Grapesteak. It is just around the corner from Talbott’s tasting room on Pilot Road and she’s beginning slowly, with breakfast and lunch items, as she gets settled in. The tentative name is either Garden Goose, Garden Bistro or Spruce Goose on Pilot Road (my favorite), depending upon when you ask her. It will feature freshly made organic and other high-quality ingredients, a casual atmosphere and interesting wines, developing along those lines until dinner is added and the restaurant gets its legs.
PARTING SHOTS… The Kissmobile will be at Del Monte Center to support Children’s Miracle Network on May 28. Get out there and bring the kids for Hershey Kisses galore and all types of activities. The money all goes to the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Check out www.delmontecenter.com…Steinbeck Country Wineries open houses on May 21. Hit all the wineries that day from 11am to 4pm and get tastings, snacks, entertainment, the works. Call Jennifer Murphy-Smith, 678-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.