Ready to Roll
Thursday, August 21, 2008
ON RAMPING UP… Well, I’m sitting here inspecting the dozen or so vintage, classic, extremely rare automobiles I bought at the various auctions during car week. This year I tried to buy according to color patterns. In the past, after a long week of purchasing collector cars, I would invariably end up needing something to match my outfit and find gaping holes in my selection. That’s frustrating. The last thing I want is to be seen driving around in a gorgeous fire engine red classic Ferrari with natural brown leather interior while wearing a mint green silk suit– heaven forbid.
So this year I chose something from each of the seven major rainbow color groups, plus a few in classic black. I get quite a kick from these beautiful rolling works of art. It’s good fun to hop into one of my Bentleys and tool along the boulevards and byways.
PLAYING THE GAME OF LIFE… Golf, long a staple of upper-crust extracurricular activity, was recently discovered as a way to help extend one’s life. According to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (I’m a subscriber), playing golf can extend life expectancy by about five years. It works across all socioeconomic categories too. Now, the study took place in Sweden, where most golfers walk. The regular outings of Fresh Cream’s Steve Chesney usually include copious spirit consumption, animal sacrifice and other abhorrent forms of behavior.
DONE DEAL… There is a lot of sacrifice required in the restaurant business. Showing up every day to feed, host, clean up after and maintain the business requires a special group of powerhouse people with giving hearts and strong emotional mettle. Sometimes, despite a well-planned, well-intentioned, well-executed concept, other forces prevent a place from making it. Primo, the restaurant and wine bar that opened for a short run in Pacific Grove on the site of what used to be Pasta Mia, is finito. Its owners, John and Kimm Stidham, both possess all the best qualities you hope for in people starting such a venture. Their loving hearts and true hospitality spirits were not enough to overcome the harsher realities of opening in such a small area already overcrowded with restaurants. I know how much effort, commitment and personal resource went into that whole endeavor and I know how difficult it is for all the employees, purveyors and others associated. I hope their transitions are as smooth as possible and they all find their way closer to their individual dreams.
Good luck to Kula Hawaiian Steakhouse (open now), Bistro Beaujolais (open soon) and whatever new places are here or will be here…
It never ceases to amaze me how this crazy business just keeps on recycling itself. Folks continue to get all excited about opening restaurants and keep on doing it, despite how often other owners and industry prognosticators constantly try to discourage them. I think, among the many types of people there are, one of them is just a natural restaurant dog, as I like to call them. They’re people who have to chase that restaurant bone no matter how many times it gets thrown. It’s what they do. You know the type: No matter what age, what medical condition, what events surround them, they have always been and will always be in their joints, smiling and caring, trying to please, making life better for those of us fortunate enough to exchange a few dollars for their magical offerings. To all those doggies, I salute you.
One sad note in the wake of the phenomenal Big Sur fundraising effort on Aug. 9 was the tragedy of Ventana’s Cielo Restaurant almost burning down the next day. Just when they had been back in the groove, there goes another forced layoff for all those employees. A couple of fortunate bits are that the forest didn’t catch fire and that the rebuilding is under way. I know those resolute and hearty Big Sur folks will have that place up and running in no time. I appeal to all of us, especially as the summer winds down and the tourists recede, when we are thinking of going someplace to spend money on food, lodging, gifts, whatever, let’s all keep the Big Sur businesses in mind. GETTING THERE… On Friday, Aug. 29 at 6pm, Stokes Restaurant & Bar in downtown Monterey is hosting the AIWF’s A Window on the World of Food event. Highlighted by a four-course dinner prepared by Chef Brandon Miller, it features a lecture on the recent history of international cuisine by Dr. Bertram Gordon of Mills College. This is a no-brainer, I’m not gonna try to sell it to you. Just call Mary Chamberlin (624-0830) or Rachel Mueller (625-3425).
An Heirloom Tomato Dinner will take place at Cantinetta Luca on Monday, Sept. 8, beginning with a reception at 6:30pm, followed by dinner at 7pm. Join the tomato renaissance and experience the range of unique flavors, colors and textures heirlooms exhibit. Jason Balestrieri, executive chef of Luca; Christophe Grosjean, executive chef of Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel; Jesse Kloskey, chef de cuisine of Bouchée Bistro and Ron Mendoza, executive pastry chef for Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group cook up a tomato mania menu with wine pairings selected by Thomas Perez, wine director. Call 626-7880.
TIME TO CATCH UP… That must mean the TomatoFest is near. It is. Sept. 14 will mark the final time Gary Ibsen, who started this hoedown back in 1991, sparks it up. The TomatoFest has meant an awful lot to the region and here’s your chance to join in saying goodbye to its founder and the man who has taken the heirloom tomato to heights even he never realized, www.tomatofest.com… Chef Rebecca Pieken has launched Chef on Call, personal chef services to the Monterey Peninsula, www.montereychefoncall.com. Complimentary consultation and customized dine-at-home meal preparation for every type, plus more, 238-2296…