Lotsa Stuff to Do
Thursday, February 2, 2006
TWO BIG HITS… Oh it’s an exciting time of the year. Just around the corner are two of my favorite things: the AT&T and the Masters of Food and Wine at Highlands Inn. That brings me immediately to an aside. As a transplant to California, there are some things I’ll never be able to know…what it’s like to have those cool black license plates…growing up surfing…and being able to call our great golf tournament The Bing. Well, it’s almost here. The weather has been great; I hope it stays that way throughout this year’s tournament. It’s tough on the staff and crews of the PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY when it’s rainy and cold, plus crowds are smaller and everybody suffers…not to mention the golfers. Speaking of which, there are only a couple of weeks to go and I still haven’t received my invitation to play…I wonder if it got hung up in the mail or something.
This year’s Masters of Food and Wine, the 20th anniversary, runs from Feb. 16-19 and promises to be one of the all-time greats. Should be a blast for new wine director MEGAN WALTER, who will be experiencing her first Masters from the inside. Think of all those glasses that need to be buffed.
You want to know pressure, ask one of the sommeliers in any of the great restaurants around here what it’s like to serve an old classic wine to a table of important people, while the entire restaurant is cranking, you know you’ve got to check table three to suggest something, pull a bottle from the locked vault, listen to a customer on 12 tell you about his cellar at home, taste a wine that the person on 23 thinks is bad but you know is perfect…and when you go to open this treasure for the important table, the cork breaks, leaving about a third of an inch of fragile, crumbling 40-year-old cork threatening to pop into the bottle and add little crumbs to the trophy wine…that’s pressure.
Wow, I got lost there for a minute…oh yeah, the Masters. Man, I’m not gonna list all the greats that will be there (DIETER MULLER, MARC MENEAU, CHARLIE TROTTER, DANIEL BOULUD, MING TSAI, SASSICAIA, PICHON-BARON, BOLLINGER, GAJA, SCREAMING EAGLE) that would be too pedestrian. Besides, you can find out all that info on the Web site, mfandw.com. Instead I’m going to tell you that if you do not attend something during this weekend (if there are any tickets still available), I guarantee that you will regret it.
I remember a couple of years ago at opening night running into CRAIG “LEFTY” GLADSTONE, a long-time Hula’s manager. He had read about the Masters in this column and decided that he was going to treat himself. He was like a kid in a candy shop, smiling from ear to ear, buzzing around the Highlands like a busy little bee, sampling every flower in that endless garden of gastronomical goodies. Listen to me: Go.
DOWN THE ROAD… International Flavors of Marina is coming, too. This wonderfully successful event that began last year showcases the diversity and style of Marina’s many restaurants and food service operations. The Marina Hospitality Association organizes the affair, which takes place on Feb. 22 at the UCMBEST Center near the airport in Marina. Participants include Dishes Bistro, AJ Spurs, Wild Thyme Deli, El Palmar, Francisco’s, Lola’s Kusina, Mecca Deli, My Thai and Tico’s. To drink: Bernardus, Château Julien, Cima Collina, Estancia, Heller Estate, Joullian, Lockwood, Paraiso, Pavona, Pessagno, San Saba, Scheid, English Ales Beers. I guarantee a good time, just ask anyone who was there last year. Call Andre at Dishes Bistro, 883-1207 or e-mail at email@example.com for more.
Speaking of Wild Thyme/Michael’s Catering, owner TERRY “GRAND MARSHALL” TEPLITSKY has hired on a new director of sales. NANCY WILLIAMS, whose extensive background in corporate, wedding and private event planning joins the Michael’s Catering team. She recently did stints at Bernardus and Quail Lodge as well as Pebble Beach. Call 884-2400 or michaels-catering.com or stop by Wild Thyme in Marina.
Saturday Feb. 11 is the all-important Crystal Ball 2006: Hearts of Hope. This gala dinner/dance at Portola Plaza in downtown Monterey is the chief fundraising effort for John XXIII AIDS Ministry, a selfless, committed organization that helps provide families and victims of HIV/AIDS throughout Monterey and San Benito counties housing and other needed services. Of course there will be the requisite multi-course dinner along with wine and all the acoutremonts (don’t ask me to spell that), plus there will be dancing to the SRO Big Band Orchestra and a silent auction (that’s where you help folks, so be generous). It’s a black-tie optional affair and promises to be grand, loving and fun. Call 655-1737 to find out more and reserve a space, or a whole table.
GOOD PEOPLE… Congrats to our business’ good friends TOM NASH and SEÁLA MORGAN…they’re getting married. If you run into them at this year’s Masters, say hi and give them a congratulatory hug…Galante 2004 Barrel Tasting out in the valley on Feb 4, call 624-3800…Fishwife & Turtle Bay New Millenium Scholarship candidates. Come on you worthy high-school seniors. Ask a manager at one of the restaurants or your counselors…Monterey Vintners and Growers Passport Weekend Feb. 17-19, montereywines.org…arrgghh, no room for rundown on the ASHLYN CINGARI Christening—more on that later…bye.