Here It Is—All of It
Thursday, February 9, 2006
<>>IT’S THE BIG WEEKEND…AT&T baby. Put on your best golf attire and stroll around Pebble Beach like you’re a star. Although, there are those newbies who swarm Poppy, Spy and Pebble in all manner of civilian garb, here solely to rub up against those larger-than-life humans we put onto imaginary thrones in the kingdom of celebrity.
I sure would love to be one of the adored, striding along
the green carpet, interacting with a grateful throng as happy
talking heads broadcast critiques and jokes about my golf
swing while quietly envying my cadre of starry-eyed groupies
(Martha, Martha…come here. What’s this guy talking about
now? I open to this buffoon so I can read stuff about
restaurants and here he is again daydreaming and carrying on.
Can’t this lousy paper find somebody who knows what the hell
they’re talking about?) Perhaps someday, when I’m too old
to care, too feeble for freely flailing fairway forays, too
simpleminded (no wisecracks) to be interesting—yet not too
graceful to refuse—I’ll be asked to play along in the last
group, with the kid nobody’s ever heard of who got in as an
alternate, the local pro being used to fill the spot of a
last-minute scratch and a corporate CEO nobody likes who
bought his way in. I’ll keep waiting.
ANOTHER COOL COASTAL VILLAGE…So Sweet Thing and myself made the trek up to SF to attend George “I’ll Press” Kassal’s 50th. Needless to say, it was a long night of anthropological research into the social habits of certain members of our species. The project was a raging…er, resounding success. The next day, craving a good Bloody in nice surroundings, we set sail for home, planning to hit the newly revamped Cliff House, then amble down 1 to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay for lunch, then take it to the house.
Cliff House was overrun with Sunday loonies, didn’t stop. Ritz Carlton, after valet parking and a stroll around the facilities, wasn’t calling to us, so in we drove to downtown Half Moon Bay. By now, it was nigh (what?) two-plus hours past when we thought we’d be lunching, so we were ravenous for the right place to plop. Being the long-time professionals we are, it had to be special.
As so often happens, by hanging in there a bit longer, we came upon Cetrella, a nice-looking restaurant (Tom McGowan, who was a sommelier at Casanova a few years back, used to work there). The place had, unfortunately, just finished serving lunch.
A few inquiries led us to the newly completed Half Moon Bay Inn, a lovely burnt orange stucco two-story—12 rooms on top, restaurant (Kitchen & Cocktails) on the bottom—beauty.
In we go, check the menu, order our Bloodies, start settling in and lo and J-lo behold, the magic of this fabulous establishment begins to unfold…great menu with a strong number of vegetarian and vegan items to go along with ribs, burgers, fish, etc…gorgeous ambiance punctuated by classy-looking copper and wood…warm, friendly people with genuine hospitality in their hearts…a real find.
Turns out our bartender (and bar manager), Christian Gericke, happens to be the owners’ son. He conveyed the story of Half Moon Bay Inn’s evolution and guided us skillfully through an assortment of dishes and drinks. Naturally, we decided to spend the night in the spanking new inn, which proved the equal of any boutique hotel around.
We paused our dining adventure, having refueled sufficiently to peruse the various boutiques and shops along Main Street, checked into the room, made dinner reservations back at the restaurant for later that evening, and skeedaddled back to Cetrella for a pre-game cocktail.
At Cetrella’s elegant bar, while in the expert care of bartender extraordinaire Tony, a familiar face pops into view. Timothy Little, who I recently met because he is the fiancé—yes, the fiancé—of our own Catherine Fallis, the one and only Grape Goddess (grapegoddess.com) and über wine chick. Turns out Timothy is the beverage director at Cetrella. The day had taken one magical turn after the next since walking out of the Ritz.
ALL RIGHT LET’S GET TO IT…The Crystal Ball 2006: Hearts of Hope is happening at Portola Plaza Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 11 beginning at 7pm. Please get tickets and go support John XXIII AIDS Ministry in their important fundraiser to help their great ministry. Call 655-1737 today…also on Feb. 11, catch local author Barbara Ghazarian on PBS as she appears on an episode of Real Simple to discuss her book, Simply Armenian: Naturally Healthy Ethnic Cooking Made Easy. Check out pbs.org/realsimple for more…Julio Ramirez, one of the great ones, appears on the cover of February’s Saveur magazine. He’s The Man behind Fishwife/Turtle Bay Restaurants which is choosing high school seniors for the New Millenium Scholarship. Stop into any of the restaurants and ask the manager or get with your guidance counselor…ARGHHH, The Masters of Food and Wine, mfandw.com. Come on, don’t be a dweeb, make this your year…International Flavors of Marina. Local restaurants, wines, beer, entertainment, Butch Lindley auctioneering (me too), call Andre at 883-1207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org…MCVGA Passport Weekend Feb. 17-19. All Monterey’s wineries open the doors to you, plus other events, montereywines.org or 375-9400…quote from Clarice Dunbar, local celebrity mother, wife and all around wacky Brazilian dance queen: “I don’t go out because of the food, I go because the people make me feel happy. I like Merlot Bistro and Portabella with Csaba (Ajan), Chianti Ristorante with Domenico [Vastarella], Fifi’s with Michele and Calvin [Wilkes], Matteo’s with Matteo Enea”…there’s a lesson in there…Fore!