Indispensable insights for local people who eat.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I get it. You’re busy. And late for your bikram. Just for you, the Weekly is going to save you time with a streamlined list of what you need to know:
1. Smarter organic shopping can be easy.
Environmental Working Group has a good handle on how to manage budget and healthy shopping: Pick your spots.
With its “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15,” EWG highlights what often needs the most chemical protection to thrive, and therefore are best bought organic.
The Organic Center’s Chuck Benbrook broke it down. “‘The Dirty Dozen’ don’t have a shell or a thick peel that’s removed before they’re eaten,” he says. “They are vulnerable to attack from a wide range of insects and plant diseases; and many are relatively short-season crops – like celery, spinach, kale – that traditionally required a lot of pesticides.”
Get the clean and dirty at Special Edible blog, www.mcweekly.com/edible.
2. Carmel at 2am is not impossible.
New Flanagan’s Irish-American Pub (625-5500) has been holding it down until the wee hours. Owner Joe Opitz estimates half of his first month has seen folks holding up the bar until tomorrow. Then there’s this: “Although the kitchen closes at 10pm,” he says, “we do have a late night menu that changes on a whim. If I can make it… I will, and the fryer’s always on.”
3. Three wizards make for one magic night.
Most don’t make flavor like this.
Chef Cal Stamenov is the creator of the Zagat-wowing fare at Marinus. Gary Franscioni of Roar Wines grows grapes so glorious he can charge more for Pinot poundage than anyone in the world. And Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards is larger than life. Together the Garys made Santa Lucia’s rep what the sipping star is in the wine world.
Five courses plus at least five wines plus these three heroes equals exponential Eden Thursday, July 29. $135, 658-3550. Bet a nickel this sucker sells out.
4. Farmers markets are mobile.
This month is MPC Farmers Market’s last as a Thursday deal. Starting in August the freshness descends on the lower parking lot on Fridays to allow a surge of recessionary junior college students desperately needed parking on busier Thursdays. Different hours too: 10am-2pm.
In Pacific Grove, the much-debated shift of the city’s certified market finally happened. Central Avenue supplants Lighthouse as the street to shop on. Starting this week, vendors began setting up between Forest and Fountain avenues. The market will still run 4-7pm.
While we’re here: 1pm Wednesday, July 28, at one of the newest in the area, the Salinas Farmers Market at Natividad (which goes 11am – 4pm). Crazy Todd Fisher is demo’ing his roasted beets in honor of National Salad Week. (C’mon. Your beets need work.)
5. More pizza is more betterness.
With Croce’s Pizza evaporating at the start of the year, downtown Monterey faced a sudden hole – one exaggerated come late night – when the place was among the only viable options. Fortunately the hole has been filled.
The Scarface posters and Godfather slices are gone, but nice brick walls and archways and friendly folks are in place at Bellagio Pizzeria (643-9500).
They had slices of cheese, pepperoni and meatlover’s when I stopped by. Their meatlover’s enjoys salami, pepperoni and two types of sausage and is admittedly similar to the Godfather, but not on par – it could use more sauce.
Staffers on hand seemed more enthusiastic about baking a fresh to-order pizza than the slices, and the specialty pies ($7.99/7-inch to $27.99/18-inch) include attractions like a “Pisa” with spinach, garlic, feta, artichokes, tomatoes on a garlic/olive oil base.
Budget lunchers are enthusiastic about the all-you-can-eat pizza-and-salad bar ($7.99). Police are stoked on late night hours that help the drunk club monkeys sober up and the taxi drivers feed their families: The joint’s open until 4am Thursday to Saturday (3am otherwise).
6. Seaside is tasty.
The inaugural Taste of Seaside hits 6-8:30pm this Friday, July 23, at the Seaside City Center. Ventana, Scheid and Baywood lubricate while ACME Coffee energizes and Turtle Bay, Angelina’s, Pho King, Del Monte Cafe, Saigon Noodle, Kahn’s Kabob House, Fishwife and Harumi fill in flavor for $25 that benefits Seaside PAL.
7. Life at Esteban ain’t bad.
The terms were simple: Quick nibble somewhere between Seaside and P.G. So was the answer: Esteban (375-0176).
We lingered on the firepit patio over the flatbread with housemade hummus and olive tapenade, tasting the Valencia (whiskey, raspberry and ginger beer, $8 in a pint), the Vega Sindora Chardonnay ($7), the seafood stew (fresh but bland, $9) and the Spanish sausage with peppers and mashed papas (dynamic and delicious, $9). And they’ve got a wine dinner coming: 6:30pm Wednesday, July 28, $55, Anglim from Paso Robles. “Look for duck confit with peaches,” Chef Thomas Snyder writes, “stuffed calamari with squid ink sauce, crab salad and leg of lamb.”
8. You are smarter now.
“A gourmet,” said Philip W. Haberman, Jr., “is just a glutton with brains.”