Death and New Life
What the new Mucky Duck has to do with the end of your existence.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Maybe you’ve asked yourself: What would be my last meal?
I’ve asked plenty of people. Answers are rarely boring.
When I conducted a survey around the office, certain answers stood out beyond the brief and immediate (“foie gras,” “SUSHI,” “matzah ball soup”).
“Super fresh farmers market salad, French cheeses, salumi (not salami), sourdough and dark chocolate,” emailed one.
“Fresh caught wild uni” and “Mom’s cold kimchee noodles – a mixing bowl full, a pair of chopsticks, with just a few drops of her tears in it” were others.
Then: “The smartass in me answers sausage of a 25-year-old cabana boy.” (Um, whoah. The “real” response involved mom’s rouladen.)
One less creative (albeit less crass) smart-ass response that didn’t come up: The all-you-can-eat buffet – so you can stretch your life a little longer.
The Mucky Duck (655-4225), as it finds some vibrant new life, is feeling that: Perhaps the most prominent item on the wholly revamped menu is the “hangtown fry” ($11.95), so named because back in the day the difficulty and delay in procuring its ingredients – bacon, eggs and oysters – in the isolated place that made it famous, Placerville, made it a favorite for the unfortunate folks who were about to hit the gallows.
“The sweetness of egg combines with the sourness of the [fried] oysters, and everybody loves bacon,” says Anthony Buich, new co-owner/spokesman at the Old Monterey spot. “It’s a ‘killer’ dish.”
Buich adds he’s only seen one other place offer it: Tadich Grill in San Francisco, which happens to be run by his family, as it has been since 1928.
Tadich is no less than an S.F. landmark that’s been there since 1849 thanks to mean Manhattans, champion cioppino and old-world ambiance.
“It’s where the powerbrokers go for cocktails and seafood,” Weekly editor/Bay Area vet Mary Duan says.
That experience bodes well for a spot with longtime popularity but sauced-clientele troubles. So does the fact that three Buich brothers (and two cousins) are all aboard.
“Our formula has lasted longer than state of California,” Buich says.
Due to past Duck drama, late night hours will be limited to start, but that fits with a more food-forward approach anyway. Buich says he’s leveraging his experience in doing his “due diligence” on meats and seafood, schooling himself on sources like Better Brands, Monterey Fish Company and Russo’s Produce, and adds that people can bank on superior sand dabs ($12.95) and petrale sole ($15.95) – bone-in (!) – ordered grilled or pan-seared, tableside de-boning optional.
It lifts off next week, in time for MotoGP, if things go well with city inspectors (cross every finger and toe).
Hit the blog for a look at Anthony Bourdain’s Tadich thoughts, more menu love and exclusive pics from the inside.
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The title simultaneously makes perfect sense and feels misleading. That’s because locally sown cookbook Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard is downright beautiful, and it’s about a lot more than plums.
It arrives from Romney Steele, who was raised at Nepenthe (667-2345) in the kitchen with her grandma, master baker and founding South Coast matriarch/muse Lolly Fassett. Steele rose to chef at Nepenthe’s Cafe Kevah for a spell and was last seen publishing My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family and Big Sur two summers back.
Gorgeous is dripping with no fewer than 60 fruit-driven recipes that canvas the seasons and tempt imagination and appetite – think white chocolate passionfruit truffles, honey-baked figs with lavender and grilled sardines with preserved lemon gremolata, captured in mouthwatering Sara Remington photos that almost smell of orchard and kitchen.
A book launch goes down 1-8pm Saturday, July 16, at her old stomping and cheffing grounds with a Q&A (1-3pm), a Pacific-side reception (4-6pm) and belly dancers (6-8pm), while Nepenthe Chef Greg Lizza preps specials from the book. Steele also appears 2-5pm July 24 at Carmel Bay Company (624-3868) and noon July 25 at River House Books (626-2665).
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An industry angel left Earth earlier this month as Rose Segovia passed away at… 102. Drop in on New Monterey’s best windowless bar, Segovia’s, to raise a glass of VO in her honor… Post No Bills Craft Beer House (324-4667) flows on in Sand City, with Paul Tye tapping spot-on micro tastes to try, a standing invite to bring in food (or order in a pizza), a half-dozen coolers packed with craft bottles to crack there or take home at closing time. More cause for affection: a Beer Basics tasting workshop for women July 24 ($20) led by Merideth Canham-Nelson of www.thebeergeek.com and a Colorado “Secret Stash” tasting stocked with off-the-grid breweries even snobs know little of, 6-8pm Thursday, July 28. $35 includes a t-shirt, www.postnobills.net… Family-owned MYO Yogurt is spiffing up a spot on Main in Salinas to complement the Cannery Row (375-3769) and downtown Monterey (649-3769) outposts… “What is more mortifying,” late American writer Logan Pearsall Smith said, “than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?”