A stirring look at eight things bubbling up in the broth for 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
There will be Prohibition-style tastings. There will star chefs who obey and those who rebel. There will be fines, loopholes, a drop in consumption and an equal surge in confusion.
Or so says Michael Ginor when talk turns to the July illegalization of foie gras in California. As the co-founder, co-owner and president of landmark Hudson Valley Foie Gras (516-773-4400), he knows fattened duck liver better than Bernie Madoff knows bulls***. Ginor, a Pebble Beach Food & Wine vet, makes some other interesting (and surprisingly evenhanded) predictions. Check out more detailed thoughts (and an expanded version of this list) on the blog – because we need the space here for other big things going down in ’12:
Carmel Valley licks its lips.
Lokal (214-3429), the Cachagua General Store-style project of CGS co-collaborator Brendan Jones, opens as soon as Feb. 15, with authentic tapas, a 29-foot bar, creative salads and stuff like a pork loin sandwich with arugula and caramelized onions. “It’s about having a good time,” he says. “I want atmosphere, food, wine.”
We fall back in love with Lovers.
Radiant-heated floors, glass-walled patios, cathedral ceilings and new views from an upstairs bar and dining rooms will help make the former Old Bath House one of the biggest foodie stories of the year. With James Gilbert and Kevin Phillips at the controls, the design and demolition are about done, the name is a legal approval away from being minted (Lovers Point will be part of it), and the real excitement arrives when the skeleton appears. “When the framing goes up people will react strongly,” managing partner Phillips says. “It will be dramatically different on the ocean side.” Conservative opening target: June.
Foodie pillars get pimped out.
Within the month, popular Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar (372-2628) will consume all of its neighbor The Duck Club. A new entrance will brand the spot as a free-standing destination, not a hotel restaurant. Schooners’ nautical theme – hard wood, clean lines, white tile – will spread from the sizable patio to the raised booths. The re-open comes Jan. 28, followed by a grand opening Saturday, Feb. 4. Marinus at Bernardus (658-3400) also gets a minor facelift, taking a month to evolve the soothing setting with a change of colors, lighting and linens. Finally, Coastal Luxury Management will soon introduce a catering arm that deploys the tastes of its Cannery Row Brewing Company and Restaurant 1833 operations, plus a boutique customized option (PBF&W chefs in your backyard?!).
Hospitality gets a jump.
The second annual Spud Spadaro hospitality award goes to Chris Shake and the late Vince Liguori with a party that pops Monday, Jan. 9, at Old Fisherman’s Grotto (375-4604). Shake asked to defer the award to the late Liguori, a Fisherman’s Wharf fixture with Liberty Fish, and the awarders said, OK, sharing is caring (call it a tie). “These guys, great giving people, have a long history of hospitality, ” says pointman Johnny Aliotti.
Monterey beer hits the majors.
Monterey Beer Festival’s Jeff Moses now has suds backed by hulking former all-pro Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas. To give Big Hurt Beer a national intro, they’re touring the country, including a stop here with a party at Post No Bills (324-4667).
Fish get foodier.
Come the shark tail-end of the year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium culinary team will start renovating the restaurant in concert with an (even) more ambitious sustainable eating education effort. That means, to use their languaging, treating food itself as a special exhibit, syncing exhibit designers with the chefs themselves. “The whole food service area hasn’t had a major facelift for a long time,” spokesman Ken Peterson says. “We’re ready to raise the game.”
•We came to Wickets (658-3400) on a media invite for the $1 Monday-night Morro Bay oysters. We didn’t get ’em, but still left giddy. Here’s how: A recall meant six just-right (and disappearing) Kumamoto oysters ($18) instead, then a “Chalkboard Night” special, a world-class Cal’s crabcake ($10). A sweet and rich tarragon-Maine lobster bisque ($16) and spicy hummus ($10) were silly good, followed by Mangalitsa jamon ($18) and an I-can-die-now Big Sur chanterelle brick-oven pizza ($24). Add a glass of brand-new Bernardus Santa Lucia Pinot ($18), a blend of Rosella’s, Garys’ and Sleepy Hollow grapes and the Ingrid’s Vineyard Pinot ($28), made with on-property fruit, and you understand the prayers of thanksgiving. Monday “Chalkboard Nights” are from 6-10pm; Tuesdays are winter wonderlands too with pizza night – pies like a duck confit paired with Wine Director Mark Buzan’s faves for discount prices starting at $19.
•Speaking of chanterelles, Big Sur Chanterelle Cook-off ain’t dead. Stay tuned.
• And speaking of Big Sur, clear days like NYE are designed for a drive down to Nepenthe (667-2345). There folks like all-around ambassador Aengus Wagner, floor supervisor Alicia Hahn and Chef Greg Lizza demonstrated they are designed to make the “Isle of No Care” completely welcoming. While the Pacific looked on we grazed on traditionals like the superb crab Louie ($23.50) and ambrosia burger ($14.50) plus new specials like buttermilk free-range fried chicken ($22.50), beautiful roasted beets with microgreens ($14.50) and revelatory blanched Brussels sprouts ($10).
• Terry Teplitzky’s Wild Thyme Deli and Café is turning 10 in 2012 by donating 10 percent of catering gigs to local profits like CASA and SPCA, and by bundling $10 meals for two on the 10th of each month between 4-6pm (this month: next Tuesday). That’s a contender for bargain of the year.
• Remember to stop by Baja Cantina (625-2252) and show some love for Pat Phinny.
• You don’t have a soul,” C.S. Lewis said. “You are a soul. You have a body.”