Nine Fine Dishes From Wine & Dine 3.0 Plus a Wonderful Cab Franc We Left Out (Oopsies)
October 25, 2012
The stories are, in a word, glorious.
They are tales of by-the-bootstraps winemakers and hustle-down-to-the-bone-marrow tastemakers.
They are plotlines of progressive bread programs and flat-out inspiring water ideas (free filtered sparkling water that requires no shipping?!).
And they are all thoroughly local.
They are the backbone of the food-and-wine community here, and the lifeblood of the third annual Wine & Dine glossy magazine that hit streets today, with the expressed mission of celebrating our region's signature flavors.
There are so many, in fact, that it's hard to make sure they're all in. But such is life when you look to list all the area's best glasses of wine (as dictated by winemakers themselves), a range of signature dishes (spotlighted by the chef directly), and another dozen lists of stuff like bold brunches, sweet local deals and killer fresh-produce cocktails.
But still, it's hard to leave out a spot as remarkable as Boete Winery. But we bonked. So here's the description of one great wine we left out, plus this link to the back story that makes the killer Cab Francs that much tastier—how an veteran boxer, a bull-riding son and a dog named after wine make great grape juice.
To whet local omnivore appetites, I also include no fewer than nine favorite signature dishes from some of my favorite places. Find scores more and all those lists in the magazine, which is inserted in nearly 40,000 Weekly semi-annual Wine and Food issues across 900 distribution locations in Monterey County, and available at your best concierge desks too.
Boete Winery 2008 Cabernet Franc Estate grown in Carmel Valley on a small-plot, 6 1/2-acre, family-tended vineyard, this is not only a rare local Cab Franc, but a beautiful wine with enticing aromas, pleasantly surprising intensity, bright berry notes and hints of minerality and hint of black-pepper spice. A classy Franc with as much character as the local legend who made it. 67 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, (831) 659-7563, www.boetewinery.com.>
Then the quick buffet of some of my favorite signature dishes. If you can't make it out to try all the seductively delectable dealios out there describe in the magazine, these would be a good starter list. Unless, of course, worldly Thai, otherworldly abalone and crab-and-eggs-by-the-bay ain't your thing:
Baan Thai Lemon Fish The smell of the garlic-lemon sauce, awash with the authentic Thai flavors, hits first. At Baan Thai, which means “The House of Thai,” that arresting aroma is just the preamble to what our customers describe as “a magnificent melding of flavors”: fresh tilapia steamed over cabbage, celery and red bell peppers and topped with the sauce. Vegetarian dishes and brown rice are popular options. 1760 Fremont Blvd., #F1, University Plaza, Seaside, (831) 394-2996.
C Restaurant and Bar Carmelized Day Boat Scallops Chef Jerry Regester flash sizzles day-boat sea scallops in grape seed oil then adds in Miyazaki and trumpet royale mushrooms before topping it with dijon micro greens and a variety of complementary sauces including a Chardonnay-porcini-sweet garlic treatment, a red wine demi-glaze and truffle oil. 750 Cannery Row, Monterey, (831) 375-4800.
Katie Wang runs this Northern China-centric restaurant in the American Tin Cannery (her daughter runs the downtown Monterey China Garden). For this dish the chef takes fillet of sole and teams it with fresh lettuce, celery, cilantro and crushed red Chinese chili pepper, all cooked in a spicy red bean broth, which infuses the fish with flavor. Asian customers and DLI students love this big bowl of tender fish cooked to order at variable levels of heat that "opens the appetite" and pairs perfectly with Ting Tao beer. The leftover broth can also be taken home and reconstituted into another soup with some bok choy, tofu and cabbage.
125 Ocean View Blvd., American Tin Cannery Outlet, Pacific Grove. 646-9400.
Fandango Restaurant Rack of Lamb Provençale For 25 years Fandango has been famous for its European-inspired cuisine—and especially the rack of lamb Provençale. The rack of four, 1-1/2 pound ribs are seared to perfection by longtime Executive Chef Pedro de la Cruz, but not before he seasons them with herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary and lets them sit with the spices in the refrigerator overnight. After the flash-sear and a slow-cook on low heat it ultimately luxuriates in a sauce of butter, white and red wine, thyme, bay leaf, sweet basil, cognac, lamb stock, shallot and garlic. 223 17th St., Pacific Grove, (831) 372-3456.
il vecchio Gnocchi al Gorgonzola The devoutly Italian restaurant enjoys pastas and soups as sexy as its clever interior designs. The Gnocchi al Gorgonzola cone Pere e Mele has garnered significant buzz in the restaurant’s opening month, thanks to its rich gorgonzola cream sauce, super-soft dumplings and fresh, crisp pears and apples. The pollo alla catritora is delicious too. 110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 324-4282.
Pacific’s Edge at Highlands Inn Seared Monterey Bay Abalone Chef Matt Bolton takes fresh red abalone from Monterey Abalone Company, carefully tenderizes it, gives it a delicate pan sear, adds a touch of garlic, then plates it with braised baby artichoke, oven-dried heirloom tomato and a fava bean. The supporting cast of sides and sauces shifts with the seasons, as does the menu, but the star abalone remains steady, as does the beauty of the massive view of the Pacific Ocean views, Yankee Point and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, (831) 622-5445.
Rio Grill Crispy Pork Shank Chef Cy Yontz has taken this Carmel favorite to spicy new heights with his tex-mex style, but the swine shank reigns supreme. It’s seared and then slow-cooked for four hours in duck fat, confit-style with Mexican cinnamon, serrano chiles and garlic. The tender pig shank is then crisped to order in the fryer and covered in an apple-jicama slaw with a tomatillo-based salsa verde, cilantro and fresh herbs. 101 The Crossroads, Carmel, (831) 625-5436.
Stone Creek Kitchen Paella It’s a wildly popular Friday tradition at Stone Creek: the "Party in a Pan," hundreds of pounds of paella, made from stock the kitchen starts prepping at 5am, loaded with traditional Spanish chorizo, colorful hot and sweet peppers, the Spanish short-grain rice called “bomba” and sustainably harvested shrimp and all-natural Mary’s Free Range chicken thighs. The little special ooh touch comes from the kitchen’s own smoky-sweet spice blend called “sex in a pan.” Available every Friday starting at 10:30am, you can buy the paella by the spoonful or buy it by the pan, says co-owner Kristina Scrivani—and for a deposit, they’ll even throw in the pan. Add a bottle of one of the store’s good Spanish reds, throw in some crusty bread and a salad, and the party really is ready to go. 465 Canyon del Rey Boulevard, Monterey, (831) 393-1042.
Trailside Café Dungeness Crab Benedict Hollandaise from scratch—with lemon, lime and a little secret spicy kick—melts over crab and poached eggs, pairs with fresh fruit or Trailside breakfast potatoes. The ocean view only elevates the appetite, as does a guava mimosa. 550 Wave St., Monterey, 649-8600.