Don’t Forget to Eat
Thursday, April 5, 2007
JOURNEY TO THE PAST…Just got back from a quick weekend in Boston. Went to see my old pal JOHN BARMON, a guy I met back in ’84 while I was working at a busy restaurant in New York City called Gianni’s. ANTHONY BOURDAIN devoted a whole chapter to that restaurant, using an alias for it, in his bestseller, Kitchen Confidential. Oddly, he only lasted there about three months, along with six other head chefs during the first year of operation, yet it made a lasting impression on him. I did a three-year stretch, from the opening, through the first year (when seven of the 150 original staff were left) and beyond through countless employee, management and even ownership changes.
Barmon joined up about three months after Gianni’s opened. He and I ran roughshod over the South Street Seaport in the ‘80s.
Well, a few months into what would be a lifelong friendship, Barmon tells me about a movie he’d been in, something called Caddyshack. I had heard of it, but it would be about two more years before I finally watched it. He was the guy who played Spaulding Smails, the nerdy rich grandson of TED KNIGHT’s character. Caddyshack is a cult classic that lives on.
Fast forward to the present. Barmon just finished an avante garde, interactive web commercial for Master Card along with ARNOLD PALMER, DAVID FEHERTY, BEN CRENSHAW and LAURA DIAS (it’s on priceless.com, click on are you obsessed). It’s funny to see my old buddy still getting play out of that crazy one-time movie.
We were hanging out in Boston, where he lives, working on a little project we’ve got cooking (actually a little bigger than that). Anyway, Barmon is a great guy who deserves the best.
NEAR BEER KING…I’m in Logan Airport awaiting my flight back home and I here a CNN broadcast announcing Four Point Sheraton awarding the title of Chief Beer Officer to…I go running over to the TV, hoping to see our boy CHRIS NELSON (thebeergeek.com)…but unfortunately one of the other guys got the gig.
I hated that Sheraton turned the final step in choosing into an Internet popularity contest. Oh well, Chris wants me to thank everyone for their support. “I am quite disappointed but I will survive,” he says. There’s a silver lining that he and his wife had been working on a beer-related project that got stalled, and the experience gave them a new impetus to get moving again. Keep up the good beer work, Chris.
FUN PAST AND FUTURE…Got the menu from Chef DORY FORD, who is the Big Fish over at Portola Café and the Aquarium’s chief food guy. He’s doing another Chef Series Dinner, “Tour de Force,” on Thursday, April 12, at 6:45. It begins with a champagne reception, then goes into endless courses of great food prepared by himself and a host of guest chefs: CHEYENNE VANDENBROOK, JASON BALESTRIERI, RICK EDGE, THOM FOX, ESTEVAN JIMENEZ, TIM WOOD and MARK AINSWORTH. They asked me to do a course but I had to remind them that I don’t know how to cook.
Naturally, each course will be paired with an exquisite (to quote BOB MASSARO) wine from around California. It’s gonna be something special, I can guarantee that. I went to the last one and really enjoyed everything. Call 648-4966 right now to lock down a couple of spots because if you don’t, you’ll miss out.
So I’m hanging around the wine tasting that Surf n’ Sand put on at Christopher’s Restaurant the other night, just digging the scene, eating and sipping, catching folks comments like, “this is the best Surf n’ Sand tasting yet, amazing food, great wine, really comfortable and fun place…” The food, by the way, was an endless stream of great tastes—New Zealand Lamb Rack Lollipops, Foie gras and brioche, wild mushroom tarts (who you calling a tart?), ahi tuna tartare on crisp wontons, sea scallops on blue corn tortillas with avocado crème fraiche, grilled duck breast on silver dollar rools with pear chutney, gorgonzola mousse on red endive…see what I mean. I got so caught up in the memory of that food…I forgot where I was going with this…oh yeah. I ran into DEBORAH PEARCY of Bubbly Fish in Carmel. She told me about the other night when NEIL YOUNG came in and was hanging out, eating, loving everything. That night, guitarist ROGER HERNANDEZ was playing, so he casually slipped a few Neil songs into the mix, getting a knowing nod from The Man. Life in Carmel is grand, ain’t it, a Cinnamon World.
COMPASSIONATE COOK…Let’s hear it for WOLFGANG PUCK. He has decided to only serve meats from animals raised in humane conditions at all his restaurant operations. That type of thing has been done for a while by independents (we have many around here), but for a large food operation like the Puckmeister to do it, it will send a message to the rest of the industry. Right on Wolfie babe.
Mass-produced meats and poultry practices have been abominable for quite some time. The way we treat our food source is indicative of how nourishing it is and ultimately how we end up treating ourselves and the rest of living beings on and in this Earth. Time to wake up folks…Soylent Green…it’s people!
DO THIS NOW…The Monterey County Young Professionals Group Spring Mixer is on Thursday, April 12 at 6pm at Bullwacker’s Pub in Cannery Row, firstname.lastname@example.org…check out Carmel Valley Ranch’s new clubhouse. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone and is worth a visit…get on grapelive.com and enjoy local wine guy KERRY WINSLOW’s online alternative to the stuffy bureaucracy of leviathans like Wine Spectator, et al…et al, I mean Ray, is outta here.