Recipes For Life
A surprising Cindy Walter session, tomato talk and a bunch of bites.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
A beautiful thing blossomed on the industrial streets of Sand City last weekend with the 10th annual West End Celebration. This page lacks the acreage to acknowledge all the collaborators who made the swirl of art, energy, music, food and drink happen, from Patrick Orosco to Rebecca Riddell to Brian Conway to Steve Vagnini, but it was gratifying to see each event packed, Shepard Fairey prints flying, Post No Bills booming, food vendors like Baballoo and Wild Plum humming…and stunning to see how many people actually took the Peanuts-tribute “Psychiatric Advice 5¢” booth the Weekly hosted as an opportunity to get advice for real. (Can’t recall the last time I spent a weekend talking so much about, say, angry adolescent offspring or how to fight stage fright. At least only five people asked for their nickel back.)
Another surprise: Cindy Walter’s green lecture wasn’t about the vanguard sustainable stewardship she and her husband Ted have galvanized at Pacific Grove's beloved Passionfish (655-3311), but how to cultivate bees (you gotta check out www.bluemoonbees.com), how to transform a lawn into a fun home farm and—my favorite—how to take much of your household cleaning to a more healthy and holistic place so smoothly. That advice was worth a lot more than 5¢, really, because the DIY counsel she laid down not only eliminates chemicals from the home front, it eliminates all sorts of expenses. Besides, how cool is it to say you make your own shampoo, toothpaste and detergent, especially when it’s so damn easy?
“Our grandparents knew these things,” says Walter, who also makes her own body oils, lotions, scrubs and baby powder. “But now I don’t think it is common knowledge. We’ve been brainwashed to think we need anti-bacterial soaps, like we aren’t going to get our hands clean if we don’t have them.”
Among the easy-and-helpful nuggets:
• White distilled vinegar (5 percent) is a super tool that works as a natural stain remover and fabric softener (hallelujah news for gray water washers), a great grease cutter on dishes and disinfectant in showers and sinks—and it’s crazy cheap.
• Baking soda doesn’t just combine with said vinegar to clean drains with volcanic drama, it works as a hardcore pan scrubber, toothpaste base (just add a little cinnamon or peppermint essential oil) and shampoo (mineral water and essential oils). Walter’s daughter-in-law Brenda uses only baking soda and vinegar to clean her whole house, where a 6-week-old Lily just moved in.
• Borax doubles as a dynamite detergent, works on carpet stains with water and also scrubs the you-know-what out of a bathroom.
For Walter’s lavender laundry detergent and furniture polish recipes, hit the Food Blog at www.mcweekly.com/edible…and prepare to clean up.
A triple sip of ambitious beer events await this Indian summer.
The Salinas Valley BeerFest splashes down Saturday, Sept. 10, on East San Luis Street between Monterey and Main streets in downtown Salinas with 25 participants like Sierra Nevada and Speakeasy, New Belgium and Ninkasi, Uncommon Brewers and Irondale.
The high beer-IQ Dunwoody Restaurant Group behind Penny Farthing Tavern is helping out, as are Sierra’s Quinn Gardner and the enthusiastic chaps at Salinas Jaycees. One A-Chord, Blues Power and Roadhouse will handle the Hawaiian island reggae, blues rock and classic rock, respectively, and XL Grindhouse and SmoQe Barbecue will do the food (not included in ticket). $40 in advance; $40 at the door; $75 VIP playland, www.salinasvalleybeerfest.com.
Then there’s two more debut events behind that.
The Barnyard’s going German Sept. 17-18, when the Freak of Fondue, the Loco of Lugano, the Incomparable Andre Lengacher pours out a new project at the Barnyard’s new outdoor event space: Monterey Bay Oktoberfest. His team’s promising “a rousing beer garden party, with all the foamy fun and frivolity that millions of beer lovers across the world have come to enjoy.” Think St. Pauli girls circulating, the musical mojo of the Flying Dutchman and The Internationals, those lovely little lederhosen short shorts with suspenders (!), bratwurst, Bavarian chicken, pretzels, giant steins, German wines and plenty of Spaten Premium Lager, Stiegl Lager and more beer (emphasis on “more” and “beer”). Tickets are available on the website www.oktoberfestmontereybay.com or at Lugano Swiss Bistro.
Over in Monterey, on the heels of an ambitious retooling of their beer operation I described in January, the sudsy ones at Peter B’s are seeing a couple of accolades head their way—in sync, appropriately enough, with a big tasting on the carbonated horizon.
Beermaker Kevin Clark saw his Inclusion Amber Ale earn a silver medal ranking with an 88-point rating from Chicago’s The Beverage Tasting Institute’s World Beer Championships, a score that equaled more storied breweries like Goose Island, Full Sail and Rogue Ales. They also received recent recognition from www.craftbeer.com with an appearance on the respected website’s “Bed and Brews of America” lineup of “lodging options that are sure to provide some good hand-crafted beers and some good times on your next vacation.” Come noon-4pm on Oct. 9, Peter B’s parent Portola Hotel hosts an inaugural “Monterey Beer Garden” event ($55) in their storybook Memory Garden. A barbecue and live music will accompany a lineup of beers including Boulder Creek Brewing, Firehouse, Faultline Brewing, Tied House and Drakes Brewing. 647-4805 for tickets.
The heirloom boom is here. The other day local organic farmer Jamie Collins of Serendipity Farms dropped off the first installment of the season’s heirloom tomato harvest at the Weekly as part of the company’s community supported agriculture subscription.
Not so coincidentally, earlier that day Collins, who’s also a contributor to our food section, had pitched an ever-so-timely story exploring some of the neglected but fascinating tomato history, her favorite heirloom varieties and a couple tasty but simple recipes.
Check out the story on the previous page. Her recipe for savory tomato pies appears on the blog, as do menus for two upcoming, high-end heirloom feasts from two of the very top teams in the county.
First up is Bernardus’ annual Heirloom Tomato Lunch ($95 inclusive) 11am-2pm this Saturday, Sept. 3. Their love-apple celebration is taking the shape of a “southern-inspired” buffet lunch designed to maximize Swank Farms’ finest and other local farm-fresh ingredients elevated by Bernardus wines. Think herb buttermilk biscuits, fried green tomatoes, cornmeal-crusted catfish and Cal Stamenov’s picnic fried chicken. Hit 658-3550 for reservations.
On Monday, Sept. 12, Cantinetta Luca hosts a five-course Three Chefs’ Heirloom Tomato Dinner ($85++) featuring the martial-culinary art of Cantinetta Exec Chef Jason Balestrieri, Aubergine top dog Justin Cogley and Aubergine Pastry Master Ron Mendoza. Thomas Perez, meanwhile, scopes out the wine pairings.
The first course alone leverages Purple Cherokee tomatoes, New Zealand cockles, brioche, jamon Iberico and a 2010 Fattoria Alois from Italy. Ring 625-6500 for reservations. Because tomatoes make life juicy good.