Fighting fire with a fork, the sizzling Volcano Grill and more.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A bite of a thick brick of tasty Big Sur Bakery quiche did not make the fires stop on the smoky ridge above Big Sur Station. But for the local man taking hungry chomps from the massive wedge, it helped him cope.
The bakery had just dropped off boxes of scones and such at the regular Big Sur Station community meeting (which has since moved to Carmel), and folks were stoked. One resident eager to listen to the report couldn’t help but break away. “There are priorities,” he said. “I haven’t eaten all day.”
Like the Big Sur Bakery, locals can help sustain and soothe the South Coast via food. While road closures and smoky air have choked off business for the time being, a drop off in attendance from fearful would-be visitors during what normally functions as their high season could smother them altogether. By heading south and grubbing down in Big Sur now that it is (slowly) opening again, we can help those businesses handle the madness.
After the meeting, my co-conspirator and I puttered up Highway 1 to honor the BSB’s generosity with a pizza purchase, but it had closed for the night, so we slipped into the Redwood Grill for a blackened wild salmon salad and a Kahlua pulled pork sandwich– and listened to the roughneck tractor drivers talk shop while we munched.VALLEY HIGH
Also from the “on fire” files: The Volcano is blowing up. Really. On a recent summer Saturday I pulled into Billy Quon’s Volcano Grill & Mai Tai Bar with a motley wrecking crew of characters, and couldn’t find a stool at the bar, and felt lucky to eventually grab a table. Beneath beautiful high ceilings we blanketed the food and drink menu with decidedly mixed results. The cocktails were impeccable, both in their party-friendly presentation and their flavor (you can’t miss with the mai tais, $8.95-$9.95). The service, with spot-on attention from our server and the geisha of the grill herself, Teresa, was good. A super sugary Volcano Grill House Salad ($8.95), a middling Wowie Maui Grilled Veggie Sushi Roll ($8.95) and a disappointing Four Chocolate Truffles on Smoking Lava Rocks ($6.95) were among the dishes that looked great but left something to be desired on the tastebud front. (Tender-but-too-smoky Already Famous Kona Baby Back Ribs, $17.95/half-rack, and the Haleiwa Fish Tacos, $13.95, fared a little better). But– while the food is a work in progress– the drinks, service and setting have this place exploding. Bill and Teresa Lee simply know how to pimp out a place to eat. Folks are parking clear down to Rosie’s Cracker Barrel for a reason. It’s open from 4:30pm daily at 27 E. Carmel Valley Road, 659-1280.BEER ME
Hanging out with geeks was never so rewarding. The Beer Geeks, aka Chris and Merideth Nelson of Carmel Valley, have made a mission out of their passion for pilsners and porters, ales and ambers– beyond naming their wiener dogs Porter and Stout. They’re pouring themselves all over North American and Europe sampling pints of the best beer they can find, blogging and videoing as they go (check out www.beergeek.com).
Best of all, they share the wealth. Last month they brought back beers from Franconia– Zwickl, Hausbräu and Vierzehnheiligen among them– and shared them with locals with a tasting. They picked some winners.
They’ve got another tasting coming up 2pm Sunday, July 13, at the Ol’ Factory Café in Sand City: Irish beers. Go– the next best thing to being the Beer Geeks is trying the beer they bring back. RSVP on their website.