Big Sur Food&Wine, Harvest highlights, and sad news.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Pfeiffer State Park. Bixby Bridge. Salmon Creek Falls. Dungeness crab-stuffed Monterey Bay squid.
If the food powers of Big Sur have their way, the above sequence won’t seem to swerve like Highway 1.
And realistically, anyone who’s been to Post Ranch’s Sierra Mar or Big Sur Bakery knows it’s well on its way to being a culinary destination already. But Big Sur Food and Wine Festival (667-0800, www.bigsurfoodandwine.org), a two-day showcase studded with top wine panels, winemaker dinners and other sumptuous sessions, doesn’t hurt, either.
Hiking with Stemware and a Nepenthe dinner with Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni (see story, pg. 24) have already sold out, but the rest of the Nov. 6-7 events have slots left, including the ambitious and benevolent Dinner with Friends with Mark Ayers of Highlands Inn, Cal Stamenov and Ben Spungin of Bernardus Lodge and Dory Ford of Ventana. Meanwhile eight different restaurants – Big Sur Roadhouse, River Inn and Esalen among them – host 14 different winemaker events for around $150, and four $40-$50 panels (think Legends of the Fall or Rhone You Be Mine?) happen at Ventana. On Saturday afternoon, a Grand Public Tasting ($40) anchors the celebration at the Big Sur Lodge with 30 wineries and prime food purveyors like PassionFish, The Cheese Shop, Mundaka and TreeBones Sushi!
Another nice element: MST is running a free shuttle from Carmel Crossroads all over Big Sur and back all weekend.
One other note: a major boost in the destination effort took place this weekend when former Aquarium ace chef Dory Ford (667-2331) opened Ventana Inn. His eagerness to deploy his new massive organic garden and the aforementioned squid are just two of many reasons his kitchen continues to be one to watch closely. And TreeBones is doing its due destination diligence down on the South Coast with its new sushi/tapas bar open (1-9pm daily) and Wild Coast Restaurant, (6-9pm, 805-927-2390.)
Tyler Florence pan-seared a wild salmon – and cooked the crowd into a soup of smiles. Rob Baker coached barbecue feet from the hay bales where he slept the night before, rising every hour to turn his meat. Tony Baker’s pork belly on spiced pancake piled up a line longer than anyone’s. Patron dispensed tastes of its new vodka as a lubricant for some icy Flaherty’s oysters. Aubergine crafted cloud-light “cucumber foam,” all while kids made smoothies with a bicycle-powered blender, DJs spun in the sun and superb wineries poured by the score.
Yes, there was a lot going on at Food&Wine Harvest at Quail Lodge. That’s a theme with its Coastal Luxury Management organizers. Just this week Rob Weakley and David Bernahl will serve their pal Ayers’ food at a private Pebble Beach home as part of a Boys and Girls Club silent auction item payout, before a nine-day sequence that includes the 27th American Wine&Food Festival on the Universal Studios backlot, a chef’s dinner with Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller at Spago, the American Wine Awards in Napa, and the Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival.
Weakley, who toured his pre-toddler daughters around in a double-decker stroller during Sunday’s event, adds a kicker: Bernahl and his wife are expecting their own baby at any time during that run.
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This past Sunday the local hospitality family lost a beloved brother in Daniel Barducci, the longtime chief at Stonepine Inn and one-time top food and beverage manager at Highlands Inn and Pebble Beach Company, after a sudden struggle with cancer.
“A great hospitality person has a level of selflessness you can’t teach,” says friend and industry vet Raymond Napolitano. “Daniel exemplified that.”
“He was such a giving person,” says co-worker and pal Jimmy Ugaz, who took over Daniel’s Garden Bistro, now Vineyard Bistro, in Carmel Valley Village. “He helped so many people.”
The funeral is Friday, Oct. 2, at 4pm at San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey.
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Monterey Wine Festival does its gala showcase 7:30-10:30pm Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Aquarium and follows with a new release celebration 5-9pm Friday, Oct. 3, at the Hyatt. Both events are $100 and include a ton of food options and tastes from 100 wineries. More at www.montereywine.com.… Monterey Cookhouse (642-9900) has its liquor license and, earlier this month, a surprisingly lively scene going on a Tuesday. Bartender Kent (“I’m Kent, like Superman”) made me what he calls his best drink, Kent’s Margarita ($10), and it was as strong as a super hero (tasty too)… YWCA Monterey County’s first Women in Food and Wine: Harvest of Care is Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Chateau Julien. Benefiting the local Lawson Safehouse, the event stars a wave of wow-women: Cindy Walter (PassionFish), Michelle Wojtowicz (Big Sur Bakery), Janet Melac (Cepage), Mary Pagan (Culinary Center) and Kristina Scrivani (Whole Foods, Lulu’s Chocolates), 419-8758… McIntyre Vineyards is again doing its oenological experience al fresco – winemaker-good guy Steve McIntyre leads tours through the vines describing his green operation while guests sip and listen. Lunch in the vineyard is one of many highlights. Saturday, Oct. 3, and Oct. 17, $45, 678-4845… Away we go.