With a gorgeous marble counter sitting on wine barrels and strands of corks from high-quality bottles working as curtains, Surf N Sand’s new wine tasting room is a comely thing. It hasn’t seen much action yet, but that’s about to change.
The Bruno’s Market-adjacent general store-fine spirits outlet in Carmel will use the space to host local wine tasting sessions now that the ABC recently granted them a license after months of paperwork. Proprietor-point guard Ryan Sanchez says he’s aiming to really break in the small-but-beautiful venue-within-a-venue next month, after a Backyard Wine Tasting he’s organizing Feb. 5 at Carmel Valley Athletic Club gives him a chance to start collaborating with local winemakers even more than he already does.
The event will take place at Carmel Valley Athletic Club, where Bruno’s runs a new refueling station they opened this past fall and christened The Club Bar and Grill this month. The healthy leaning grill-cafe-bar does grass-fed-beef burgers, tri-tip, wraps, fruit salads, smoothies and offers a range of wines (and has a full liquor license on the way).
The event will run 6-9pm Thursday, Feb. 5, and include live entertainment– bring on Kevin Kooyumjian, the keytarist with the grin that won’t quit– and plenty of Bruno’s-grade grub. They’re calling it the first annual and there’s little to suggest it won’t become a tradition. The Family Sanchez’s spirits tasting series is already an adored local institution (missing the bourbon or the tequila sessions is not smart).
As far as the wines: “No Napa, no Sonoma, Monterey County only,” Sanchez says. The list includes 40-plus pretty-as-can-be pourers– Bocage, Boete and Bridlewood, Pelerin, Perfecta and Pierce among them. Stop by Surf N Sand or call 624-1805 for $30 tickets.
Raise a Cup
Here the panini, the coffee and the company are all quite good. Same goes for this news: Coffee Mia Brew Bar, Marina’s 2008 Small Business of the Year, celebrates its first birthday with an open house Saturday, Jan. 31, from 3-6pm. Complimentary coffee complements a “goodie sampling” to thank community for its support. That’s as good an excuse as any to investigate this gem, tucked in the Cuesta Del Mar center at the corner of Reservation Road and Seacrest Avenue.
Owner Horace Mercurio is a kick– as Jeanne Howard wrote last year, “I already love everything I’m about to eat because Horace describes it all with such zeal. He’s convinced that every ingredient he uses and every brand he carries is the unequivocal best.”
Exhibit A: his wife Sarina’s cannoli.
Feel the Love
The amorous surge of Valentine’s events has begun. Two Carmel Valley events in particular stand out.
Citronelle by Michel Richard is doing an exclusive menu to be served against the chic chic spot’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Chef Anthony Keene’s $65 menu– anticipate treats like lobster “begula pasta,” duck in black cherry sauce and passion fruit soufflé– will be served Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13-14 from 5–10pm. 625-9500.
Up Carmel Valley Road, Bernardus uncorks a Valentine’s Day demonstration and lunch starring pastry chef Ben Spungin and his signature desserts (and providing guests a chance to craft their own chocolate truffles), while Zole Andahazy stirs his signature drinks and champagne cocktails and Chef Cal Stamenov prepares a promising wine county buffet. $95 includes the wine, cocktails, tax and gratuity. 658-3400.
Exec Chef Mark Ayers and the Pacific’s Edge team are collaborating with Monterey Abalone Company and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories to educate locals about new methods of cultivating healthier, richer, more sustainable red abalone. Your duty: to try out his “super abs” tasting series– Ayers will offer four different preparations for around $15 a plate during February– at Pacific’s Edge and Sunset Lounge. Visit http://highlandsinn.hyatt.com or call 620-1234.
Down in Big Sur, Deetjen’s is doing an $18 locals dinner on Tuesdays and Wednesdays– or lopping 20 percent the top of the regular menu and wines, through March. Tuesdays also feature Big Sur force-of-music-in-residence Nico Georis massaging atmosphere from the piano. 667-2377… The date is set for the next crab feed at Portuguese Hall in Monterey: Feb. 21. Might be best $45 night out all spring… Hearing very good things about The Pelican Tavern’s Underground Dinner series, where a rotating sequence of local stud chefs present special plates at awfully reasonable rates in a kick back atmosphere every Thursday. This Thursday the chef is a surprise I swore to keep secret, but I will tell you this: The guy will whip together the best installment of the flavorful franchise yet. 647-8200… Baja Cantina is the reigning champ Superbowl parties. Head over there for a motherlode of drink specials, local, food deals and prizes. May the Cardinals somehow keep the Steelers and their cakewalk draw from eclipsing the 49ers’ five Lombardi trophies.