Little Things You Should Know
September 21, 2010
Rancho Cellars is about to be racked. Tuesday Jacques Melac gave me a few reasons it’s not all bad that Rancho Cellars (625-5646) next to the Barnyard is closing its doors at the end of the month, at least for him (we’re screwed). For one, it wasn’t for lack of traffic or the acidic economy, but because the building’s owners sold. Two, he says he and chef-wife Janet (above), who ran the Cepages Deli within the store, “don’t know how the wine business is going to make it through the next two years,” so a little break ain’t horrible at the moment. Three: “We’re sticking around here,” he says. “It’s our home. And we’ll pop up somewhere.” Finally, there’s still some furniture for the buying, though he admits the inventory’s pretty picked over.
The redwoods are a little lonely. When I spotted a grinning David Dildine, he was basking in the bombastic Jazz Mafia hip-hop/symphony hybrid at the Monterey Jazz Festival—great taste, BTW, mister chef—when he told me he was no longer doing his Redwood Grill at Fernwood in Big Sur, where’s he has been an enthusiastic (and important) element with everything from the Chanterelle Cook-off to Big Sur Food & Wine. Tells me he’s after world travel for the moment.
Big Sur is Bon Appetit foodie land. Speaking of the Sur, Bon Appetit named it one of the foodiest towns in the country, though they left off some big reasons why with this: “In the midst of a 90-mile stretch of protected wilderness along California's Central Coast, this town is home to jaw-dropping scenery, award-winning hotels, and three of the quirkiest restaurants in the West,” it reads. “Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Deetjen's Big Sur Inn and Restaurant, and Nepenthe. And be sure to order seconds when you visit Big Sur—surfing, hiking, and cycling are nearby to help burn calories.” Um, guys…Sierra Mar, Ventana and TreeBones! bear mention. (As one commenter wrote, “Most foodiest and only three restaurants?...what the hell does ‘foodiest’ mean anyway?) Fortunately all will all figure prominently into the upcoming Big Sur Food & Wine Festival Nov. 4-7 (www.bigsurfoodandwine.org).>
The Kitchen is cooking. Great little get together coming Friday in Sand City in crazy-ass chef Todd Fisher’s The Kitchen (970-5073) 5-9pm Friday, Sept. 24. He’s throwing out tasty snacks and a little wine gratis to help turn the community onto his catering superpowers and two artisan allies/experts in epicuria, sausage deity PigWizard Jonathan Roveto and muffin maven Katie Martin of KT’s (who also aces cakes—and healthy lunches delivered direct to the office place, starring locally sourced salads, soups and sandwiches)…
The hell-of-a-time Heller Estate Grape Stomp cometh. Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon-4pm at the Heller Estate Vineyard in sunny Cachagua—winery tour with Winemaker Rich Tanguay, barrel tasting, good food from Bahama Billy’s, special wine deals, cool organic grape juice up to the knees, yeehaw. $25 per club member; $30 for non club members. RSVP by Oct. 7, 659-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernardus is worth the money. The Eighth Annual Bernardus Winemaker Dinner happens Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. Chef Cal Stamenov fires up 5-course autumn-inspired dinner paired with the new release Bernardus wines, Winemaker Dean DeKorth and Vineyard Director-compost master Matt Shea talk grapes—this is a party of the highest order. $165, inclusive.
France won at least one. I saw David Fink sipping something sophisticated at Lalla Lounge (above), and he told me Aubergine Exec Chef Christophe Grosjean is sailing for his native France. “He doesn’t want to raise his kids in this country,” Fink says. “Can you blame him?” Looks like Randall Hane, Aubergine’s sous chef, takes over from here. And Fink’s Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group, also behind Cantinetta Luca and a new restaurant-hotel in Napa, keeps cooking.