Buckle Up, Baby
Chewing through Car Week and a salumeria to swear by.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
There was a Dos Equis ex-racer deathtrap that dubbed itself The Most Interesting Car in the World and a truck wrapped entirely in tin foil called The Baked Potato. At Quail Motorsports Gathering, Chef Julio Ramirez took guests through the most interesting food in the world by way of a five-station tour of Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and Italy plus California Caviar and Hog Island oysters (great with Cima Collina’s brand new Pinot Blanc).
At Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Coastal Luxury Management/1833’s David Bernahl, Rob Weakley and crew almost ringed a huge pine with half bottles of Krug while Rio Grill’s Cy Yontz shared chilled caviar on baby belinis as his picnicking family delighted onlookers more than the Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts and Bugatti Type 23s.
It just goes to show you, no matter how low or lofty you go – even if it’s as sky high as the McCall Motorsports Revival at the Jet Center, where Tarpy’s chef Michael Kimmel took the grub to an altitude unenjoyed there before – food and drink, not God or dog, are your co-pilots.
Not that Car Week’s inedibles weren’t entertaining. The auctioneer at RM in downtown Monterey had zingers coming at a rigorous RPM, saying “It’s only money – there’s plenty of it around. Maybe not in my pocket, but surely in yours” and, “Don’t despair, sir. If it was easy to buy cars like this, we would all be doing it.” I saw a crazy-chic Lamborghini stuck in a sandtrap at Concorso Italiano; nearby, a grown woman wore knee-high Ferrari moon-boots and pink tutu racing outfit. And later that night, at a private party in Jacks Peak hosted by Peterson Conway to celebrate Mille Miglia North America, stilt-walkers mingled with live cigar rollers before Conway’s blue parrot and high-flying aerial dancers took over our attention spans. Honk if you hear me.
~ ~ ~
And then there was salumi.
This Tuesday, Aug. 29, the L’Auberge-Aubergine-Cantinetta Luca dynasty adds a seriously savory – and unprecedented – local taste portal with its new Salumeria Luca (625-6500).
It comes after Chef Jason Balestrieri was pummeled with requests for his housemade cured meats. His salumi selection, with five different types of house-cured salumi (Genovese, cotto, spicy soppressata, nostrano and pistachio) plus proscuitto San Daniele, mortadella di bologna and speck, is their signature dish (and one of my favorites to share in all of Carmel) for a reason.
“Since we are already making our salumi, breads, cheeses, pastas and sauces,” chef says, “it was logical to offer them for sale. Locals can pick up a picnic or just the ingredients to make a simple but delicious dinner at home.”
But there’s more than tempting tube meat in this mix. Cantinetta-Aubergine wine mastermind Thomas Perez has hand-plucked top Italian wines at approachable prices with an eye toward lesser-known varietals. And Aubergine Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza has assembled things like housemade tiramisu, ricotta-lemon cake and seasonally-changing Italian gelato with, say, Watsonville strawberries, Gianduja, and Valrhona chocolate. Normally you’d have to drop two bills at Aubergine for just a sip or nibble of their skills as part of a nine-course culinary kaleidescope. Now it’s just part of the trip to the neighborhood salumi store. www.salumerialuca.com.
~ ~ ~!
No small amount of action thumping at the no-cover West End Celebration Friday-Sunday, Aug. 26-28. Foodie fuel arrives en force too: Sweet Elena’s, Gil’s Gourmet, Maha’s Lebanese, Babaloo Cuban, Wild Plum Café, Casa Sorrento, Patti Jayne Raw Cuisine all represent (among others). Saturday Paraiso, Ventana, Galante and Tre Gatti do wine; Sunday, in come Otter Cove, San Bernabe and Tre Gatti again. Post No Bills and English Ales, meanwhile, manage the craft beer. Go West.
Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse is turning 40. Eating for Education (www.eatingforeducation.org) aims to celebrate with a grassroots partnership push between school gardens and restaurants. Locally, Marinus, Happy Girl Kitchen, Sweet Elena’s Bakery, Carmel Belle, Big Sur Bakery, Restaurant 1833, Wild Goose and Earthbound Farm will donate a percentage of receipts from Saturday, Aug. 27, to help local kids understand and eat healthy goods. Is it a coincidence that I love all those spots?
The latest in a surge of local tasting rooms has landed in Hyatt Regency Monterey with McIntyre Vineyard’s “tasting studio” (372-1234), which pairs artisan products like Lula’s chocolate, Nunes Nuts, Olio Nuevo olive oils, photography by Debbie Delatour, handmade jewelry by Barbara Orr, and arty scarves by Sherard Russell with a tasting bar starring McI's Santa Lucia Highlands wines (five wines for $10). Tasting goes noon-8pm. “A standard tasting room was not our goal,” Steve McIntyre says.
Il Vecchio is nibbling closer to its intended Labor Day opening across from Happy Girl on Central where P.G. meets Monterey. At a tasting this weekend, the grub was significantly better than the last go round – holy gorgonzola gnocchi – and the setting’s reclaimed materials and crafty patterns were as eyecatchingly hip as advertised. “Good is OK,” owner Carl Alasko said, "but that’s not what we’re striving for.” Find photos and more thoughts on the blog soon.
Coffee, says relentless Fran Spector-Atkins of Marina’s SpectorDance outfit, is the ultimate dance fuel. She elaborates from there: “Peet’s. 4:30am. Brewing is an important ritual. Involves chanting.” The fuel SpectorDance needs – to win a national vote sponsored by Tom’s of Maine that could earn the nonprofit $50k for its inspired programs – is just seconds of your time. (For real. I never would’ve voted 10 days if it required more.) Google “Tom’s of Maine Vote for Good” and look for SpectorDance.
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique,” Martha Graham said. “They are great because of their passion.”