The Fun Continues
Thursday, August 31, 2006
TOO MUCH FUN…I’m sitting here with a mildly annoying hangover after a week’s worth of parties, events, after-parties and after-events connected to or inspired by CAR WEEK. Unlike the majestic, cooling fog that rolls over our world here, the pea soup smog that has planted itself inside my head heats my brain (no wisecracks please) to an uncomfortable level, prohibiting me from sleep and forcing me into a sour-bellied zombie-state.
The final insult has to be the incessant playing of “Midnight Train to Georgia,” a Gladys Night and the Pips classic, on the record player in my mind (an enjoyable tune to hear once every 15 or 20 years, not continuously for three straight days now).
I’ll tell you who else hears music in his head…KEITH BRUECKER, aka ERHMAN HALL. He’s one of the most talented musicians I’ve run across in a long time. He’s played the Monterey Beer Festival each year since its inception. You can catch him there this year, but also regularly at Monterey Live, where he works as a singer and a sound man. His infectious energy, combined with intellectually-stimulating lyrics, multi-faceted musical style and amazing showmanship distinguish him as a true original.
BACK ON HIS FEET…SWEET THING ran into WAYNE JOHNSON the other day. For those of you in the know, Wayne is the tireless former head of MCAP (Monterey County AIDS Project), a great local organization devoted to helping folks battle the myriad obstacles they and their families face. Well, he got some surgery to repair a badly-damaged leg he had suffered in a fall years ago and now he’s strolling around like a new man, pain free, hobble free and ready to dance. Right on Wayne.
IT’S MY PARTY…Big weekend coming up on Sept. 9 and 10. On the ninth, there’s the Fifth Annual Monterey Beer Festival at the Fairgrounds. We’ve got an amazing lineup of beer from across the world, with three of the most prestigious importers just signing on. This will be our best selection yet. Also, this year, local superstar celebrity/personality Chef TODD FISHER of Hullaballoo and Chicken Scratch Flats will be our host, sort of the face of the festival. Who better to add color and character than everyone’s favorite big guy?
(BTW: Last year the move to the Fairgrounds from the Boatyard, and the volume of people compared to previous years, caught us off guard in one respect—anyway, we’ve contracted for 30 extra portalets this year.)
So get your tickets at any of the various outlets (see ad in this issue) or on montereybeerfestival.com and we’ll see you there.
FOOD, WINE, TOMATOES…On the Sept. 10, GARY IBSEN rolls out his TomatoFest at Quail Lodge. This is the 15th TomatoFest for him, so you know he’s got it going on. There are all types of related events leading up to the TomatoFest, including a great Heirloom Tomato Luncheon and demo out at Bernardus Lodge on Sept. 2. You’ve got to log onto tomatofest.com to find out all the many things there are to do, including a dinner/dance, a golf tournament…it’s a veritable heirloom tomato festival of fun.
For a nice capper on the 10th, after the TomatoFest, how about dinner at L’Auberge Carmel with MARCHESE LEONARDO FRESCOBALDI, who will select and present rare wines from the family’s diverse portfolio, paired with a multi-course dinner created especially for the evening by Executive Chef WALTER MANZKE.
The Frescobaldi family has been involved in the wine business for about 700 years and Chef Manzke cooks like he’s been doing it for 700 years, so everything will be spectacular. Of course, the always warm-spirited THOMAS PEREZ, wine director, will be overseeing the sommelier duties. $150 per, plus tax and gratuity. Reception at 6:30pm, dinner at 7:30pm. Seating is limited, so get moving, 624-8578.
CALIFORNIA, USA…I got a real treat the other day. TONY TOLLNER, along with DANA NIEKIRK, showed me around the construction site that will soon be Willy’s Smokehouse, right there in Cannery Row on Hoffman, where O’Kane’s used to be. Tony (of Downtown Dining, owner of Rio Grill, Montrio and Tarpy’s), with GM/partner Dana, is creating a barbecue joint with an American-grill leaning where folks can get smokehouse style ribs, chicken, and California-style food.
It’s a massive space across three levels, with seating for about 250, a large bar and lounge area, an outdoor patio, a downstairs banquet room, take-out service that brings the food to your car…and on and on. Tony’s got a gleam in his eye talking about this venture, and having done a few restaurant openings myself I can feel the excitement. Stay tuned here in the coming weeks.
KEEP IT MOVING…Thursday, Sept. 7, is a combo meeting of Central Coast YOUNG FARMERS & RANCHERS, SALINAS JAYCEES and the MONTEREY COUNTY YOUNG PROFESSIONALS at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch. Apps and fine wine plus networking, nice. Contact LISA THOMAS, 372-2259 or firstname.lastname@example.org…don’t forget about Industry Mondays at Rio Grill and Last Fridays of the Month at A Taste of Monterey…some fun bartenders to go see: JASON BOUCHARD at Montrio, DRAGO (no last name, just Drago) and MARY GRIFFIN at Cypress Inn, of course MARIO at Stokes, I’ll keep listing them when I can…meanwhile send me some of your favorite bartenders’ names to email@example.com, maybe we can make this a regular part of the Chain…see ya ‘round the circuit.