Thursday, April 27, 2006
I’LL BE BACK… I am told that there are a few of you out there who read this slice of simplicity with any regularity (now there’s an important word—none other than the great Louis Armstrong preached regularity above all things as the key to longevity). Anyway, as I was discussing before discoursing off course—although some might argue that there is no such thing as off course—you, the regular reader (since by now even the stoutest concentrators among you have more than likely wandered off for refreshment, diversion or perhaps a visit to Mister Armstrong’s favorite room for another stab at immortality) yes you, the regular reader, may remember from a while back that I went to a weekend seminar/retreat wherein a talented psychological maven named ALEXIS JOHNSON, cofounder with JUDITH SCHMIDT of the Center for Intentional Living, did engender an awakening of sorts within me—a revisiting of the truest inner me. I write this on the threshold of another weekend with Alexis and a small group of dedicated self-explorers. Look for a gentler, kinder Raymond next week…maybe.
ONE MORE GREAT PLACE IN CARMEL… At the north end of Mission in Carmel, just a lob wedge away from Carmel Chop House on the same side of the street, is the new tavern hangout called Kinger’s Klubhouse. This sleek, lively pub-style drinking and eating establishment attached to the Dolphin Inn is the creation of owners KEVIN and NICOLE KINGER, a couple of locals livin’ the dream. The motif is golf clubhouse meets neighborhood tavern and includes a sharp collection of golf photos and murals to compliment the flat screen televisions. I was there on opening night and the place already had a great buzz. Subsequent visits have found it full of fun, upbeat and quickly positioning itself as the casual local “inn” spot, especially for golfers and their friends.
TWO MORE COOL THINGS… I’m still learning how to do it better. Even though I haven’t actually worked in restaurants in almost a decade (if you don’t count the various fill-in roles I’ve played in various spots since then) I still love learning new ways to approach the daily tasks. One annoying job is refilling salt and pepper shakers. Recently, at Bistro Giovanni in Carmel, ALBERTO BERNARDINO, the half-Mexican, half-Italian leading man in the latest action adventure…no, wait a minute, wrong Alberto. This Alberto is a waiter at both Da Giovanni and Bistro Giovanni whose presence is one of the many reasons eating at both those restaurants is always so nice. Anyway, I noticed him filling the shakers with one of those plastic squeeze bottles with the long snout, often used in kitchens for delicate distribution of oils, or sauces, etc. By snipping off a bit of the end to regulate the flow, it makes just the best salt and pepper filler…a tip from Alberto Bernardino, brought to you by yours truly.
Had a wonderful salad special at Grill at Ryan Ranch the other afternoon. I stopped in there for lunch and enjoyed a great mix of field greens with pickled cucumbers, artichoke hearts and a beautiful grilled Portabella mushroom that had bleu cheese melted on top of it, then was piled with shoestring onions. I like the vibe in there, it’s always friendly, the food is good and the service is caring, plus its location in Ryan Ranch gives visitors a feeling of being above it all.
TWO TOO GOOD TO MISS… Here’s a dinner you don’t want to miss this Friday, April 28 at 6:30pm: A six-course chef’s tasting menu plus hors d’oeuvres paired with the wines of TONY SOTER as well as Etude. Oh yeah, it’s at Bernardus Lodge, the menu is by CAL STAMENOV, the wines chosen by MARK JENSEN, Tony Soter will be there, GARY “VELVET” OBLIGACION will be on hand to be smooth, Chef de Cuisine CHRISTOPHE GROSJEAN will be flying around the kitchen, not bumping into TIM WOOD who’ll probably be clipping sweets from Pastry Chef BEN SPUNGIN—you know, just another great wild night at Bernardus. Grab the phone immediately and call 648-9463 or 658-3550…go on, hurry.
Also remember to book for another amazing wine dinner, at CASA PALMERA in Pebble Beach on May 21 at 6pm. Club XIX’s great new chef Lisa Nakamura will be preparing a spectacular seven-course menu to combine with the individual single vineyard first- and second-growth classic wines of the Royal Tokaji Wine Company. One of the co-owners of Royal Tokaji, BEN HOWKINS, from the UK, will attend and guide diners through the history of these unique late-harvest wines unlike any other.
This will be the first dinner of this type in the United States and will also include a taste of the once-per-decade Royal Tokaji True Essencia, an extremely rare wine. There will be a champagne reception in the grandly comfortable Casa Palmera setting, then the unprecedented dinner. Call STEFANIE BRAND at 622-8761 by May 7 for this exclusive and limited-seating engagement.
THE NEAR FUTURE… May 7 is the American Institute of Wine & Food BBQ Rib Cook-off at Whispering Pines Park in Monterey. JASON GILES of Portola Plaza, JEROME VEIL of Wills Fargo, BEN EDWARDS of Rancho Cellars (go Ben—also a wine guy), BBQ Chef NOLAN BOURGEOIS and the Tap Room Ribs, from a recipe created by Chef CLINT WILSON. Bocce and horseshoes, all the trimmings—eeeaaaghhhh, that’s the way to spend an afternoon baby. Call SAL GARGONE at 722-6580 or MARY CHAMBERLIN at 624-0830…the otherworldly Paraiso Air Show at Paraiso Vineyards is May 13 at 10am. Fresh air, great views, food, fun, music, wines and planes buzzing the place like you’re the flowers and they’re the bees. Call JENNIFER MURPHY-SMITH at 678-0300 or paraisovineyards.com…Monterey Beer Festival is Sept. 9 at the Fairgrounds—we’ll have the Web site updated soon…Cheers.