Monterey Wine Festival adds juice, plus beer brainstorms and a $20 deal.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
When five dozen wineries like Silvestri and Summerland each flow upwards of four wines to complement dozens of restaurant treats, that qualifies as a worthy wine party. When it happens at the Aquarium, and includes a California hall-of-fame hit list that could go like this: Sweeny Canyon Chardonnay, De Tierra Pinot, Silver Oak Cab, Parsonage Syrah and Peachy Canyon Zin, that’s a full-on festival.
The oldest continuous wine toast in the country made dramatic improvements a year ago under new festival managers E2C, reclaiming the Aquarium for its gala, remastering its food ranks and adding an enhanced new releases act.
Now the Monterey Wine Festival’s pouring more where that came from – like rivers of chowder.
Having restaurants that pride themselves on soup vie for the chowder crown feels like a natural for one of the region’s chowder capitals. Flaherty’s, Domenico’s, Abalonetti and Forge in the Forest, among others, are sending chefs for a Saturday showdown stacked with more than two dozen wineries like Chappellet and Opolo.
Fest Executive Director Chris Cannard’s excited about the chowder, but giddy about grapes from Paso Robles.
“We’ve got awesome new Paso people,” he says, “really good stuff from Peachy Canyon, Pretty Smith, Adelaida, Derby, Pear Valley, Pianetta.”
The gala ($99), which takes place 7:30-10:30pm Thursday, June 10, caps at 1,500, which means limited wine lines. Friday’s “New Releases and More” ($99) gets the Conference Center swirling June 11. The chowder challenge ($45) goes down noon-3pm Saturday June 12. www.montereywine.com.
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The apocalypse is here. Movie houses are charging $20 for a ticket.
Four different NYC theaters are asking an Andrew Jackson to see Shrek Forever After IMAX 3D. Not one measley Milk Dud thrown in. Fortunately the Weekly’s got an antidote: The Good Old Days prix fixe at the Whaling Station (373-3778). Four courses, lots of entree choices, same price as Shrek.
First course: a Castroville artichoke with a tomato remoulade-aoili assist. Next up: The coconut curry soup they call “famous.” You can call it yummy.
The depth of entree options impresses – a dozen or so choices include king salmon, filet mignon tips, flat iron steak and prawns scampi. One of our group went for the beef Wellington, another the salmon. I went toward the pan fried sand dabs dore with a nice caper lemon sauce. All of us went home happy.
A tableside-tossed Caesar furnishes a fresh and happy ending for a fairy tale I’ll take over ogres any day of the week.
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Seems peeps have pilsners and ports on their minds. Might be because the Monterey Beer Festival (see story, p. 41) is upon us, preceded by a free admission benefit June 4 at the Culinary Center of Monterey, where Mary Pagan’s army is readying everything from sausage calzones to chipotle chicharones, or because Cannery Row Brewing Company is scheduled to open nearby two weeks after that.
Nicole Gustas of Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau found a way to tap the current tide of beer enthusiasm with a fun rundown of 10 Places to Get a Beer on MCCVB’s blog: Peter B’s, The Tap Room, Fernwood Tavern, The Mucky Duck, Britannia Arms, Jack London’s Grill, London Bridge Pub, Kula Ranch, The Crown and Anchor and Haute Enchilada Cafe.
It would be impossible to prep a perfect list, but the most egregious absence I see on theirs would be The Bulldog (658-0686) given its cheeky bartenders, classic pub energy and very solid draft lineup. My favorite two semi-secret spots, meanwhile, are the Aquarium’s marble oceanview bar in Portola Restaurant (648-4870) and scruffy, old-school and awesome Duffy’s Tavern (372-2565) by the Presidio.
Local craft draft lovers Merideth Canham Nelson and Chris Nelson of Carmel Valley, also known as the Beer Geeks, enjoy a beer enthusiasm that’s everpresent. They have figured out a way to run all over the world sucking down noteworthy suds at the source, from Washington to Wales.
“We are not trying to tell you where to visit or what beers to drink,” they write, “rather we hope to inspire you to look for your own beer adventures.” Yes, they are my heroes. I mean, their wiener dogs (beer braut dogs?) are named Porter and Stout. Check www.thebeergeek.com.
Nelson says Maiden Publick House in Big Sur (667-2395) and Crown and Anchor (649-6496) make his short list.
“Maiden has a really good beer list,” he says. “Crown’s just a fun place to go and meet friends for a beer or two.”
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Taste of TusCA Wine Dinners – four courses, four wines – roll on at the Hyatt (372-1234 x6675). Hahn Estates accompanies a menu designed by the creative kitchen June 24. Every Thursday from May through September, meanwhile, Paws for a Cause invites everyone to swing by with their dogs and dine on the patio 4-7pm; 15 percent of sales go to the SPCA… “Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.”