1833 and Ticking
An update on the Coastal Luxury lifestyle and soup for you.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The geoduck clams Courtside Cafe’s David Frappeia was cooking at the last week’s Clambake for a Cure in Pebble Beach were as big as a teenager’s arm. The risotto he produced with it – not unlike Charles Phan’s banana leaf-steamed dumplings, Peter Armelliano’s ricotta cheese-and-caviar gnocchi or Jamie Lauren’s hamachi crudo – were lavishly large on flavor, too. The money they gleaned to beat back brain tumors, auctioning items that included a Led Zeppelin original (and signed) guitar – was also sizeable. But the words that trickled out of Rob Weakley’s mouth, as we grazed on Todd Fisher’s razor clam and Kobe beef shabu shabu and drank Elkhorn Peak Cellars Cab with his Coastal Luxury Management partners David Bernahl and James Velarde, felt as big as any of them.
“We’re taking a breath,” Weakley said.
Wait a second. This was from the 15-projects-at-once Cannery Row Brewing Company crazies, the pull-off-Pebble-Beach-Food-&-Wine-in-a-few-months maniacs, the “if-Bernahl-has-the-dream-Weakley-can-service-the-nightmare” nuts. This new patience represents a change to make Chaz Bono blush.
But that’s what a punch in the gut can do, let alone two.
Shot one: CLM founding Director of Ops Gary Obligacion absconded, citing creative differences and, yes, an overly accelerated ambition, taking new Restaurant 1833 chef-to-be Tim Mosblech with him. Shot two: Mosblech’s replacement Jon Mathieson bailed – after CLM poured days into insuring that his family felt the area and opportunity a good fit only to see his wife melt down at Monterey Airport and say she’s staying in D.C.
Meanwhile, 1833 remains in utero well past its due date in downtown Monterey, their legion critics increasingly incubate rumors that they are overextended, their biggest fans are expressing doubts, and even they joked at the Clambake that their assets have “a minus in front of them.”
I tracked down Obligacion to get his thoughts on the new CLM spirit. He’s now in Aspen, Colo., consulting Sebastian Vail’s GM Mike Oprish, who employed G.O. when they were both at Bernardus.
“I’m proud of them,” Obligacion said. “What they’re doing with 1833 is making sure the pieces are in place, not rushing, which is something we couldn’t do a year ago. We were all moving too quickly. They’re at a place where they can assess and take stock.”
He’d might be prouder to see how far along the 1833 project actually is. After Weakley told me, “The construction’s pretty much done – the napkins are on the tables,” I had to go see for myself. Hit the blog to see some photos and the latest (and newly conservative) opening date.
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The other day a little cold sent me to one of my top joints for superior soup, The Fishwife (394-2027/Seaside; 375-7107/P.G.), where a quart of clam chowder or lobster bisque with a bunch of garlic bread is $7.95 or $9.50, respectively.
Thanks to the incredible cashew sauce, Cajun tilapia and from-the-beginning sustainable ethic, the place also doubles as one of my favorite Seaside restaurants – and yours, dear reader, as Best Of Monterey County voting (going on now at www.mcweekly.com) perennially demonstrates. I repeat: Now’s your chance to vote on such tasty categories as Best New Restaurant, Best Appetizers and Best Drink With a View.
One Fishwife tradition as cool as the annual Best Of – OK, almost – is Fishwife/Turtle Bay’s New Millennium Scholarship, delivering thousands annually to local public high schoolers who overcome adversity to succeed academically. Hit www.fishwife.com and click on scholarship or visit either restaurant for an application. They’re due March 19, which happens to be the week the Best Of winners get their run.
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Toby Rowland Jones is now helping at Mundaka (624-7400). TRJ’s Big Sur Chanterelle Cook-off – one of the biggest little flavorful festivals of the year and the only festival dedicated purely to the earthy gold in the world – is here come next Saturday, Feb. 26 (!).
At press time the main tasting event ($50/general; $40/Big Sur locals) was already at a record 18 chefs and 12 wineries. Meanwhile, the fungus hunt that preceeds the tasting is over-sold.
Send a spore over to www.bigsurchanterelle.org for more.
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I misnomered Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company the other day. Help me make it up to them – and make your own day in the process – by swinging through one of the five locations (including the East Village Coffee Lounge) for some of the new offerings from the kitchen of Dory Ford. Think handmade sandwiches, signature coffee cakes, salads, all supremely sourced… New Pacific’s Edge manager and local legend Jacques Melac only makes the Hyatt Carmel Highlands 2011 Wine Dinner Series launch with Tablas Creek Wines Thursday, Feb. 24, that much more over-the-top, with Tablas treats paired with things like white asparagus salad with poached quail egg or dayboat scallop with Carmel Bay spot prawns and fennel-celery root slaw. $95++, 622-5445… “She ate so many clams,” author Louis Kronenberger once wrote, “that her stomach rose and fell with the tides.”