How a Midwestern McDonalds turned into a harvest of local info.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I saw a vaguely terrifying sign last month during a trip to the Midwest: 50 McNuggets for $4.99.
I swore to transform terror into inspiration. Hence, a different collection of nuggets follows: a dozen-plus of the healthy, wholesome, informative variety. Plus, this list is free. You get to keep your cash (or – bonus nugget – give it to the Food Bank for Monterey County, 758-1523, which leverages $7 of food for every dollar donated).
• Cozy, brand-new Toast Carmel Valley (659-8500) is heating up next to Plaza Linda. The neighborhood bistro-breakfast spot is keying in on fresh, French-influenced California fare at modest prices. Some treats from Chef Philippe Breneman’s menu: brioche and Nutella fondue with torched banana ($8.50), a pressed sandwich of proscuitto, coppa and manchengo ($11.50) and fresh fettuccine with locally foraged mushrooms, Humboldt cheese and truffle oil ($10).
• Nepenthe (667-2345) has quietly hired stud chef Greg Lizza, who’s coming over from a very long, distinguished run at Fresh Cream. “We’re looking forward to progressing the restaurant without trying to reinvent something that’s obviously working,” he told me down at a Nepenthe-Pisoni barbecue last month. “I was dumbfounded to find out the numbers they did.” This bodes very good things for Nepenthe long term, and for its role in Nov. 4-7’s Big Sur Wine and Food (667-0800).
• Talk about a powerhouse epicurean pair. Lizza’s charming bride is Jannae, GM/wine visionary at Passionfish (655-3311). I called Jannae, and she recommended a sparkling Furmint from Hungary – or an Egly-Ouriet “Les Vignes de Vrigny” 1er Cru NV Brut (both available at Passionfish for $40 and $60, respectively) as a nice wine find to toast new beginnings.
• Tim Wood could use a glass of that. The increasingly reinvented Carmel Valley Ranch (625-9500) nabbed the Bernardus vet to run its food ops a little while back, and recently announced the wise folks at Joie de Vivre, who also run Ventana and a slew of other five-thousand-star boutique properties, are now managing CVR. More on Wood’s plans for a superb golf-course eatery and an awesome primary restaurant soon.
• Wine month is over, but Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association’s new www.montereywines.org website is forever. Here’s what to do: 1) Bone up on the eight local primary soil types; 2) Study star Chardonnays and Pinots; 3) Learn what the area’s “thermal rainbow” means for varietal diversity (and scan the 42 that result); 4) Buy better wines and impress your peeps.
• The Dog is open in the former Miriam’s next to The Bulldog British Pub (658-0686), and run by the Bulldog team. They’ve got coffee, soft drinks and hot dogs 7am-3am Monday-Saturday. For a cappuccino early or a chili dog late, this is your joint.
• The Shake Family Salvation Army Benefit rollicks on at Portola Hotel Saturday, Oct. 9. This year the big-hearted annual – which nods to the restaurant family’s legendary pioneer with its theme, “Sabu’s Safari” – heads toward the Caribbean on the strength of the Shake restaurants’ many talented chefs, wine, beer, steel-drum-driven island tunes, exotic birds (!) and, yes, “jungle rum.” $175/person, 372-2406 for more.
• Jean and Mary Hubert – and the sunny bit of Southern France on Dolores in Carmel that is Le St. Tropez (624-8977) – are celebrating a promising first anniversary the entire month of October. That means fun new plates (like duck confit raspberry framboises) and a new full bar (try the Cosmo Montecarlo with Grey Goose and Grand Marnier). Tell them I sent you and sip on a glass of house red or white on the house.
• Speaking of the magical first birthday, Karen Anne Murray of Eddison & Melrose (601-4851) is celebrating a year of her food boutique, tearoom and catering venture in Monterey with a special social 1-3pm Friday, Oct. 15 – new baked goods, including the Victoria sandwich cake, scones and bakewell tarts. The Weekly ladies went for a lunchtime getaway the other day and dug the adorable little spot. “Very pleasant,” said one, with no trace of an English accent.
• Maybe the best deal on the bay: onion rings at Sand Bar & Grill (373-2818) during 4-6pm happy hour, a football game or a Giants playoff. Beautifully battered and fried to order, $1.95. (Then there are the other good deals, delicious sand dabs, super staff and unbeatable dockside ambiance.)
• A Napa legend lands on Cannery Row for the Far Niente Wine Dinner at C Restaurant Thursday, Oct. 14, 375-4800, $95. (OK, just a teaser of Jerry Regester’s menu: house-made pancetta wrapped sturgeon with rabbit confit, polenta & matsutaki broth.)
• World Raw Food Day is 10/10/10 (that’s Sunday). Locals are celebrating with a 1pm potluck at Garland Ranch. Call Kay Star (647-8925) for more.
• CSU Monterey Bay and food supplier Sodexo have a great thing going with Meatless Monday menus appearing at all four campus eateries and some 500 students already committing to participate on the admirable effort.
• “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth,” Albert Einstein said, “as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”