Ten Great Ingredients for Summer Munching and Such, Including Goonies-Inspired Grub
June 28, 2011
Eighteenth-century American poet Celia Thaxter is my kinda peeps.
She was maybe the first of her kind, a domestic force of good who was an ecofeminist before the concepts of ecology and feminism as we know them had even found much form.
But the reason I really love the lady is because she once wrote, "There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”
Here's a few local elements I'm grateful to be able to heart around here come summer, as their qualities lend themselves to better weather and the good old outdoors:
• Stone Creek Kitchen Picnic Supplies
Though it's only a couple of weeks, I've been by new Stone Creek Kitchen (393-1042) in the former Clementine's in Del Rey Oaks several occasions already to arm myself for beach picnics and birthdays—and I've come away with some knockout barbecue beef empanadas, artisan salts (truffle!), local wines, cooking apparatus and lavish lasagna, among other jewels. I must concede I've also come away with a significantly lighter wallet, as it does hit the bottom line like a boutiquey Whole Foods (where super-chef/co-founder Kristina Scrivani worked for a long time), but still, it's a spot I'll continue to visit chronically. Fridays are increasingly popular paella nights, where parties can pick up a full on pan to roast over fire on the beach.
• New Small Production Tasting Room Expedition
Little Aiena Wines (917-1989) rarely does runs that number more than 300 cases. That means attention to detail which, combined with Santa Lucia fruit, equals really good grape juice. And, if you mention the Weekly a taste of their small-batch wonders runs just $5 and works wonders as a pre- or post-beach jaunt. Their new place just opened a tasting room in Carmel's Anton & Michel and is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1pm-5pm.
• An Wowser Wine Dinner-by-the-Sea
Along those same lines, Tudor Wines opened its own new tasting room recently inside Andree's Bouchee. Now the two are teaming for an impressive wine dinner that might cap a summer humpday evening at Carmel Beach better than anything else going on July 6. Anticipate things like cured wild salmon salads, jumbo diver sea scallops in sundried tomato butter sauce, veal tenderloin in morel-porcini-chanterelle sauce and duck breast in orange reduction, all paired with Tudor's top stuff. $98, 626-7800.
• Ice Cream Plus Rock 'n' Roll
Nothing says summer like ice cream (and National Ice Cream day does land the third Sunday in July every year, depending on who you ask). Fittingly, then, freezer-cool local rock myth Mike Beck’s doing a CD signing and solo acoustic performance Friday, July 1, at the Ice Cream Shoppe-Beatles & Classic Rock Museum (642-9789) for $10.
• Hip Outdoor Spaces at a Hip New Restaurant
Just-opened Restaurant 1833’s fire-pitted garden patio is already jumping—and I was there on a Monday. The squid salad ($5), bacon-cheddar biscuits ($3.50), boneless chicken wings confit ($6.50), crispy hen egg ($12) and tomato salad ($10), meanwhile, all scored and would be just about awesome as affordable-al fresco snacks, as would be some clever concoctions like the Basil Pimms ($10) and the Penicillin No. 2 ($10). More details on those snacks and the biggest restaurant to hit the scene coming here soon.
• Lost Boys-Inspired Escargot
Meanwhile, if you are wondering how hot weather, vampires and P.G. paella play together, you're not watching The Lost Boys frequently enough. To help prime my mind for the summer, I popped the Santa Cruz-filmed '80s vampire classic and happily basked in all its fanged-Keifer Sutherland, ghetto special-effects glory. But it was the cameo of Fandango (372-3456) server Tony Cain as a child lost on the Boardwalk, though, that got me thirsty—not for blood, but for Fandango escargot ($10.75), osso bucco ($19.95) and powerhouse seafood paella ($21.95). I'll be asking for a seat in Cain's section.
• Goonies-Grade Grub
While we’re in Classic '80s Movieland, a viewing of Goonies also primed my palate for local grub. Joey Pantoliano, who got big with the Sopranos, plays one of the criminal brothers after Mikey, Gizmo and the gang. He’s pards with childhood pal Rich Pepe in various charities and in Pepe & Pants pasta sauce. Pepe's new Vesuvio Bistro (626-7373) rooftop is primed for some summertime under the sky complemented by firepits, lounge seating, crafty cocktails and spot-on pizza.
• A Sunny Spot to Eat Beautiful Brussels Sprouts Salads
Moss Landing's Haute Enchilada (633-5843) lunch specials, like the Brussels sprouts arugula bacon Parmesan salad ($10.95) that had Weekly Assistant Editor Kera Abraham scrambling to iPhone me a mouthwatering pic, beckon on a beautiful day. The whole specials menu earns a whoah, she adds, and a look at it tells me she's right (not uncommon). I love the idea of diving into the “Bahama” wild-salmon tacos ($14.95), shrimp-ceviche-stuffed artichoke ($12.95) and cumin-lamb burgers ($12.95) on the sunny and character-rich patio.
• Happy Hours and Live Music Outdoors in Carmel
Firok Shield’s Bistro Beaujolais in Carmel Plaza (624-5600) has got happy hour going from 4-6 daily—none of that weekends stinginess here—and live music every day too from 7:30pm on the peaceful patio sanctuary. Paired with some of Shield's own Da Giovanni wines and, say, a melt-in-the gullet galette de saumon fume and some clam and mussel bouillabaisse, that's some beautiful stuff.
• Fresh New Flavor at an Old Monterey Favorite
The Britannia Arms (656-9543) was always a worthy spot to parlay with a summer farmers market Tuesday in downtown Monterey. But now that they are bringing aboard buddy-of-the-Brit Chef Douglas Yeomans of Chicago's Tarragon Catering to consult on the menu it's getting significantly better. “We’ve tried to take the older classic pub fare and bring more vibrant, healthy flavors,” he says. “We want to keep the fish ‘n’ chips but still showcase local produce more.” To that end he's already added a farmers market Cobb salad, a Brit chopped salad, grilled strip loin in a Murphy’s stout sauce, Jamaica jerk-rubbed pork tenderloin, pan-seared-and-coriander-crusted salmon and even some Mediterranean-style lamb kebabs, some new salads Monterey cobb salad. (A menu launch party is 5-7:30pm Friday, July 1, with free tastes of new menu items, raffles and a chance to win a dinner a week for an entire year.)
And then there were 10. Happy summer sunshine, señores and señoritas.