Eating It Up
Somebody buys the Guv’s jacket for serious cheese and other treats.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A plump slice of high society leaned over the Lodge’s balconies, soaked in sapphires, brimming with boas and floppy ’50s-style hats. The grass below and mostly sunny skies petitioned for more champagne picnics. And Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was booming, before thousands, “Jay, you aarh an iddjeeot!”
It was the Concours d’Elegance climax to Car Week, a fittingly entertaining Sunday ending to arguably the best (and most multifaceted) auto sequence yet, and Jay Leno had been lampooning Arnie on the mike, following the Guv’s salute of the new luxury Bentley hybrid, his reminder of upcoming emissions goals and an invitation for everyone to extend their stay for another month, “because California needs the revenue.”
Then it was Jay’s turn. “I like dee caars of dee Caaar Week and, as paaart of my plaaan for Caleefornyah,” he said, “Everybaady gets dee Bentley.”
Then they proceeded to auction off the musclebuilder’s bomber jacket (“Unwashed,” Leno assured, “and you can show the governor patch when you get pulled over to avoid a ticket”). The bidding zoomed from $5,000-$5,500-$6,000 to $20,000-$24,000-$25,000 territory. The winning pitch: $30 grand.
Yes, as the real world wrestles with health care chaos and a recession that’s not going away, Car Week trundled right along – and even seemed to gain traction.
Looking at the rear-view mirror, the two best parties of the week (McCall’s Motorworks Revival and the Quail Motorsports Gathering) only further polished their excellence, and several new events and debut venues drew well. None did so with as many style points as the Concours d’LeMons, where judges offered condolences, along with congratulations to “winners” that, as event emcee Alan Galbraith pointed out, threatened to burst into flames, or required tetanus shots to touch. Fittingly, the Disco Pinto covered in perfectly applied disco ball mirrors had to be pushed to its prize. (They’ve already reserved the date for next year’s salute to minivans and SUVs.)
For a photoblog of everything from the jets to the pets and the Pinto, visit blog.montereycountyweekly.com.
For picnic purposes, the all-organic Wild Plum (646-3109) tucked behind Denny’s in Monterey was a natural play on the way to the Pebble Beach. We both tabbed “lunch boxes”: a gourmand-grade avocado BLT for she and the grilled four-cheese veggie melt for me. With a cookie, fruit or chips, a salad or a side – I try some major league homemade macaroni with roasted asparagus, peppers and onion and several cheeses – a box is a bargain at $9.50.
Speaking of picnics, there are some beautiful al fresco foodie opportunities taking the field. PacRep’s big Oliver! is a great excuse to unfold a spread of olives and cheeses at the Outdoor Forest Theater (622-0100); Henry Miller Library (667-2574), meanwhile, has an ongoing motherlode of blanket buffet opportunities, including the Fleet Foxes’ J Tillman (Aug. 25), the Big Sur Festival (Aug. 29) and the Gala Finale of the 2009 Big Sur International Short Film Festival (Aug. 30).
The activity ain’t brakin’ much this week, with three events heavy on local identity coming around the bend.
First, some good news in Pacific Grove – you know, the hamlet once known for its Victorian cuteness/religious piousness before its executive leadership exodus became its claim to fame. Rather than someone leaving, though, something is here to stay: Woody’s Bayview Grill (649-6800) is holding its official grand opening 5-9pm Thursday, Aug. 20. Owner Jack Burnham says he’s stacking a buffet and chef stations with a carving station, baron of beef, chicken piccata, peeled shrimp, Belgian waffles, omelets and more; knocking a buck off all drinks (beers are still $2 during 4-7pm happy hour); tapping jazz standouts Laurie Hofer Romero and Roger Eddy to provide the tunes; and suggesting bubbly may make an appearance.
The first few months of its existence bode well for the sister establishment of tourist dance haven Sly McFly’s. Burham’s goal was to create a locals-leaning spot – “I can’t do it at Sly’s,” he says, “rent’s too high and there’s no parking” – and the affordable aged Black Angus steaks, worthy waffles, new deck and door layout, patio permit, seven flat-screen TVs and steady spatula of longtime Sly’s Chef Denisio Vera are helping the cause. More good news: Bands you’d rarely see at Sly’s are hitting the stage here – Jonah and the Whalewatchers play Aug. 27, Ryan Bisio’s there Aug. 28 and the Stone Foxes follow Sept. 5.
Super Dunesday is Saturday, Aug. 22, when the evermore ambitious West End Celebration (917-2695) showers Sand City with more than a score of A-grade artist booths, five different live music acts, and food vendors from noon-6pm. Keep an eye out for stilt walkers crafting art while they wobble, the sculpture of Tyler Hawthorne and the music of Alex Lee and Le Vice among the many highlights (which include free admission).
And from 2-5pm Sunday, Aug. 23, Bernardus toasts a decade in the hospitality biz with a garden party ($20 donation to Carmel Valley Improvement Committee, 658-3504). Cal Stamenov does a symphony of snacks (I anticipate truffle oil), cocktails and new release wines flow, and bocce balls knock around the manicured grass. Salud.