Up and at ’Em
Thursday, July 31, 2008
RISING THOUGHT… This morning was one of those mornings– awake too early to truly be called morning, later than what normal people would call night. So I sit here clicking away at this keyboard and await the awakening of my little birdie friends, various early-rising neighbors and society’s morning marauders, while Bruce and The E-Boys bang out a “live” 1988 concert through my computer speakers. Maybe you are reading this over your morning coffee and, in some strange universally interconnected way, we are enjoying our cups together.
Enjoyed a few cups of sorts recently at John Eales’ new redo of a standing establishment at the mouth of Wharf Number 2. The London Bridge Pub is cleaned up, redecorated and open for business. Eales, who also owns Cannery Row’s Bullwhacker’s Pub, put a lot of thought and effort into the Bridge, including installing a pretty high-tech draft system made in Belgium that includes a great little glass-rinsing attachment to quickly remove the typical lingering chemical odors that occur during the sanitizing phase of commercial dishwashing. Bartender extraordinaire D.J. Hill gracefully orchestrated the bustling activity, bestowing her ample gifts upon the fortunate patrons and staff.
“DO” PROCESS… Congratulations to two of my favorite people. Kerre Dubinsky asked if AnnaLisa Wood would. Of course she would, now they can, so they did… get married. Hooray and best wishes to the impossibly wonderful owners of Southern Latitudes Wine Shop in Carmel. These two former attorneys, each as bright and sharp as Samurai steel, made the seemingly boneheaded play of opening a wine shop that only sells wines from the southern hemisphere– and it worked. I love those broads. Ahhhh, I’m so happy.
So is Kerry Loutas. He’s the chef/owner of L’Escargot, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The diminutive Carmel cottage, tucked behind a driveway marked by an exceedingly large wooden snail, has served French classics since the Nopert family opened it in 1958. “It’s amazing that in this day and age a restaurant can still thrive after 50 years,” Loutas told me. “We’re getting original customers’ grandchildren.”
To celebrate, Aug. 11 is the first of three planned dates when L’Escargot rolls back prices to 1958 rates on boeuf bourguignon, sand dabs and Yvan Nopert’s famous chicken with black truffle-Madeira cream sauce. In addition, Yvan’s famous canned peas will be available upon request. Call 620-1942.
PERSONALITY UNCORKED… Fun is what you’ll be part of when you listen to “Libation Generation” on KNRY Radio, 1240 AM, Tuesdays from 4:05 to 5pm. Host Philip Carruthers and sideman Patrick “McMahon” Schrady cover what’s happening in the wine world with special guests and folks calling in at 373-1234 to join the action. Check it out.
COMPLEX PARTY… On Aug. 9 at the Monterey Conference Center, there is an important event to raise money for victims of the Big Sur fire. The Big Sur Fire Relief Gala brings together talented chefs, sommeliers, musicians and others along with locals donating time to host this worthy cause. Tickets are $100 each with auctions and other fundraising efforts. If you can’t attend, you can donate directly. Go to www.BigSurFireRelief.org to get tickets, donate, etc. Please help make this event another example of how our community unites to help its neighbors.
FOR THE RECORD… As regular readers know, I’m no bulldog investigative reporter. I’m just a guy who hangs around the scene a bit, understands the restaurant and wine businesses, and knows a little something about life. There will be the occasional bit of gossip, speculation and rumor that finds its way into this bastion of taste and distinction.
Thankfully, readers are always willing to help lead me back. Take this, for example, sent by Ryan J. Hickman: How can a restaurant aficionado like yourself write about the changes in this area’s restaurants without knowing all the facts? Yes, there has been some interest in a group led by Bill Lee to acquire the former AJ Spurs in Marina. What you failed to mention, however, is that a new restaurant is already occupying that space. RJ’s Ranchhouse “Woodfire Steaks & More” opened on May 1, 2008, and has been gaining quite a nice reputation since. The fact that you did not know what was going on out here on the dunes is an amazement. I guess that I will have to help. RJ’s is the only restaurant on the Peninsula committed to serving only all-natural beef, no hormones or antibiotics, fed a 100-percent vegetarian diet, humanely raised and handled. We pride ourselves on only providing fresh seafood, organic produce, and fresh-made desserts and breads. The staff has a deep pride in making sure that all guests leave satisfied. The GM is Ryan J. Hickman. For the last two years he has made numerous contributions to local charitable and civic organizations. He was previously with Pebble Beach, Kendall-Jackson, and was a small-business owner. The chef is Darrell Rose Jr. Darrell was executive sous chef at Fresh Cream for the past 12 years and brings new ideas to a place once known for quantity over quality. The nightly specials and daily vegetarian creations are all thanks to Darrell. RJ’s Ranchhouse should be considered one of the area’s premier restaurants! Well, there you go.
Hickman brings up a great point about ingesting only the best ingredients. Dr. Paul Stricker, who was a physician for the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney, will tell you how your nutritional needs are critical regardless of your age or fitness level. He’s giving a lecture on Thursday, Aug. 14. Call Paulette at 333-1613 to reserve a spot… It’s here, the Monterey Beer Festival. This year, kick it off on Friday night, Aug. 1, at the Culinary Center with international food pairing with international beer, 333-2133… On Saturday, Aug. 2, the seventh annual festival happens at the Fairgrounds.