A Bite of Upper Crust
Harvest Carmel and Monterey Wine Festival keep the high life lifted.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The Food Network star that powered “Food 911” and “Tyler’s Ultimate” shares his skills al fresco. Fabulous farm-fresh tastes multiply like happy rabbits. The adored author of Fast Food Nation keynotes a must-see film and Slow Food buffet. Kenwood, Silver Oak and 90-plus other drool-drawing wines gather in the same place (twice). The magical courtyard at Carmel Mission fills with some of the coast’s finest flavors.
This, from an area more famous for Point Lobos than its toast points, more adored for its golf courses than its main courses. All in the space of a few days.
Coastal Luxury Management’s Food & Wine Harvest Carmel this Saturday and Sunday is overstuffed with epicurean opportunities by itself. One could spend a very pleasant and complete day in the sun sipping more than 200 wines from 100 big-winner wineries – from Alibi to Zenaida – and sampling snacks from 50 local and regional chefs – local stars Ted Walter, Wendie Brodie and Bert Cutino among them – as the cooks work with produce from local growers like Far West Fungi and Prevedelli Farms standing there on the Quail Lodge lawn next to them. But even an afternoon as ambitious as this would leave a lot of meat on the bone.
To wit: Either day enterprising people could also wash around casual sommelier seminars on Reidel stemware, harvest expert backyard gardening tips from Love Apple Farms’ Cynthia Sandberg, grill Me and the Hound’s Rob Baker on barbecue tips and soak up the insights of TV celeb and singular chef Tyler Florence (and have a book signed) – then visit the farmers market for veggies to test their newly mastered methods on. The same gauntlet of gourmet goes down on Sunday, as does DJ accompaniment. $85/day, $150/both, 622-7770, www.harvestcarmel.com.
The following Thursday and Friday (Oct. 1-2) a food-and-wine crew from the the north coast uncorks their two-day Monterey Wine Festival. E2C, the peeps behind the Northwest Food & Wine Celebration in Portland, are treating it like a vintner treats his grape juice – aiming for complexity and supreme balance.
Among the 100 wineries, that means both established superpowers (Silver Oak) and buzzed-about upstarts (19th Hole Wine), boutique beauties (Cima Collina) and big-operation all-stars (Gnarly Head), super-local flagships (Figge Cellars) and further-afield excellence (Willamette Valley Vineyards), ubiquitous favorites (Bonny Doon) and wines you can’t buy in stores (Black Stallion Winery). But they’re also adding spirits from Craft Distillers, pouring a range of beers like Hoegaarden and Stella, and inviting top-shelf food suppliers. Anticipate elements like an oyster bar from Hama Hama and Rocky the Range Chicken treats from Bassian Farms.
That’s versatility. As organizer Chris Cannard says, “It’s all about balance.”
And they’re pouring in other inventive elements – tickets purchased through nonprofits like SPCA (373-2631 x203) benefit their good works, and every four-top that orders from the MWF prix fixe menu at Abalonetti’s Seafood (373-1851), Fishwife (375-7107), Forge in the Forest (624-2233), Michael’s on Main (479-9777), The Chart House (372-3362) and The Sardine Factory (373-3775) gets a $99 ticket for free.
Other tasting notes: Thursday’s Aquarium epic (7:30-10:30pm Oct. 1) includes upscale snacks from each of the eateries listed above and a thick list of other food hubs plus a diverse selection of tastes from the tsunami wave of wineries. Friday night (5-9pm Oct. 2) at the fresh new Hyatt ballroom digs will key on new releases from each vineyard and star longtime French Embassy Chef Patrice Olivan delivering a three-course cooking demo. Both events are $99 and include each winery. More at www.montereywine.com.
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Sunday, Sept. 27, food system angels align for a benefit at Henry Miller. Food Inc. Producer Eric Schlosser and Director Robert Kenner speak and the Big Sur Bakery teams with Slow Food Monterey Bay and other local restaurants on a carefully sourced spread before a screening of the documentary. The $50 goes to help Big Sur elder Don Case rebuild his fire-flattened home… The annual Taste of Carmel throws good food and wondrous wines into a breathtaking Carmel Mission setting Thursday, Oct. 1. $75, 624-2422… In case you missed the memo, the hospitality players at Pebble Beach are complete pros. They proved it again at Spanish Bay with last week’s annual Roy’s Luau – Roy himself held court (Kobe beef wrapped “dynamite crab,” anyone?) and his top chefs from San Fran to Rancho Mirage prepped absurdities like pipikaula marinated opah belly and hamachi poke with a tangelo yuzu emulsion. Keep an eye out for such PBC excellence at the upcoming Quintessa/Flowers Wineries Dinner at Stillwater Bar & Grill Oct. 29, 625-8524. The Spanish Bay fire pits, meanwhile, remain the best Indian summer sunset spot anywhere on the bay, with or without hula dancing… A Ray “Mundo” Napolitano sighting at a nopalitos cook-off at the Culinary Center last week. The bad-ass from the Bronx and longtime Weekly columnist has a good-looking goatee and some exciting things surfacing, including a sexy spirit called OhZone that he and longtime locals Dan Tudor and Richard Oh are releasing. It goes with everything (Oh calls it a “universal spirit”) and goes down more smoothly than the usual liquor tricks. Peep www.ohzonedrinks.com and reserve Friday, Oct. 16, for the triple launch party… Check please.