Showing how a table beer tap and bull ride are relevant.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
In 2011, I will not go to the gym everyday, eat healthier or scale the seven highest summits in the world. I will, however, solemnly resolve to share with you things you should know.
There’s a lot to get to, so I figure I better get a head start:
You can get some mechanical bull with your Mexican.
The coolest thing on Cannery Row isn’t the Forrest Gump haircut on the look-alike guy or the pygmy seahorses. It’s the mechanical bull El Mariachi Restaurant (324-4953) has in its dining room. I went in the other night for some Monday Night Football and the place was dead empty, but that was OK with this cowboy because it meant as many rides as we wanted, instant service from a cool bartender and quick delivery of some sturdy super nachos.
Turns out three turns on the jumpy bovine is just fine (and the operator/barkeep said he was taking it easy on us). The happy hour (half-price apps, $3.50 margaritas, beers that start at $2, 4-7pm weekdays) is pretty good too.
The Duck is looking to hook you up.
The Mucky Duck (655-3031), where the food is underrated and Jean the bartender is my hero (try “Jean’s Genie”), has the best deal in town Wednesdays for half-price night. They celebrated the holidays by extending the deal all week. The last night is tonight (Thursday).
Firok Shield is your friend.
Was reminded how lucky we are to have Shield in our culinary orbit by way of a winter visit to his Bistro Beaujolais (624-5600) in Carmel Plaza. His patio was packed for live acoustic music. We packed our bellies with immaculate lox and latkes, Da Giovanni Pinot and a heaven-sent boeuf bourguignon. Get masterful Italian-Mediterranean at Bistro Giovanni (626-6003) and Da Giovanni (626-5800) too.
The stew’s also a reminder that if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution, trying as many of the signature dishes recommended directly by chefs – the same recipes that make up the Weekly’s Wine & Dine guide – would be worthy.
The table Tender is actually pretty cool.
Though the Niners stink like a Porta Potty in the sun, there are some good things going on this football season. Like the redone Knuckles’ (372-1234) menu – Kobe beef mini dogs! California cheese steaks with sun-dried tomatoes and avocado! – and their tableside tap service. I was thinking it was a gimmick/dangerous to have a beer spout right there, but on a busy game day, it is totally clutch to be able to tap yourself some Longboard or Coors Light rather than tackling a waiter. It’s $40 to reserve, but if no one has, you can swoop in there as we did and let the good times flow. Standing record, I’m told by 20-year vet Cindy the Superserver, is 1,300-plus ounces, which are tracked by a little digital monitor in the wall. Go in on a Tuesday and have a 50/50 chance of having your food paid for – they flip a coin as part of what they’re calling “Toss It Up Tuesday.”
Jeff Moses is the man.
Beermaster Moses keeps developing delicious beers. The Monterey-based brewdog’s latest: a smooth and satisfying double chocolate stout he’s dubbed Irondale. Grab it at BevMo! (442-2411).
Linda Cantrell is the woman.
The Monterey Cookhouse’s (642-9400) supremely welcoming owner-operator received a much-deserved honor the other day with the inaugural John Spadaro Hospitality Award, named after the late, revered man behind the former Spado’s in Salinas. The place was at capacity to salute her warmth and dedication.
Angels live among us.
Evidence – extensive evidence – lingers no further than the ever-inspiring Monterey County Gives! website, which profiles the scores of nonprofits participating in the Weekly Community Fund’s annual fund-raising push.
Surprisingly few food/hunger-centered groups are involved – the Health, Wellness & Food category includes just two – but they are about as vital to our area’s well-being as any organizations out there.
Without the Spreckels-based Ag Against Hunger, 11 million pounds of produce would have ended up in compost heaps or in landfills this year alone, instead of at local food banks which in turn distribute the food to groups that need it (see story, p. 7). Much of their goods go to Food Bank for Monterey County, which leverages every dollar donated into seven dollars worth of food for the neediest bellies in town.
Donating to these do-gooders is easy. I picked a few of my favorites on the website and completed the donation in about two minutes. And I just heard we surpassed last year’s $429K raised, and have until Dec. 31 to up the ante further.
Even if it’s just a couple bucks you can donate, that still helps a given group compete for bonus funds for drawing the greatest number of donors (or donors under 35). Like Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed 100 people, then just feed one.”