Monterey County's Top Five Must-Do Adventure Meals: Number Four
March 20, 2013
To make the official list of top local adventure meals, there are some prerequisites, as I explained in greater detail in the last post.
In turbo form: Events can be storied (old school crab feeds) or newborn (Indy Marketplace pop-ups), frilly (fried chicken nights at 1833) or funky (Cachaugua General Store) but each must be just one meal and occur no more than once a week. Family-style eating is good but not mandatory. Eating with your hands, also good. High costs, bad. Fifty bones max, far less just fine, BYOW option much appreciated. Another most rigorous requirement: the clear sense that the event is as much experience as eating—though the food’s gotta be really good too.
Here's numero cuatro. Email email@example.com or post a comment below to get your nominations some attention.
- Happy Girl/Independent Market pop-up dinners
HGK (373-GIRL) was already a good year into doing some fun and familial installments of its freaky brand of farm-freshness with then-Manresa, now-Sierra Mar sous chef Jacob Pilarski and farms like Live Earth Farm, Pinnacle Ranch, Dirty Girl Produce, Mariquita and Serendipity plus similar sustainable types visiting for the annual EcoFarm.
Those wowed with vivaciousness around circular tables, general Todd Champagne giddiness, farmer pedigree and zero meat, but were also $55 without wine, though usually some went to local nonprofits and was tax deductible.
Now HGK-affiliated pop-up dinners have added square footage, diversity and urban-arty dimensions—and lowered prices—with the Independent Marketplace affairs Champagne and his wife Jordan helped cultivate.
A pastry revolution took place with Dessert First!, an all-sweets experimental marathon of creations from Yulanda Santos (Sierra Mar), Ben Spungin (Marinus), Ron Mendoza (Aubergine) and Stephanie Prida (Manresa) but the real coup was earlier this month, when team Independent brought in Maha’s Lebanese Cuisine (372-8999) to pile hummus, dolmas, fried kibbe, pita, hummus, saffron rice and super shish kebab, baklava rolls, rose and pistachio cupcakes and cardamom-flavored ice cream on 120-foot-tables surrounded by 125 people while belly dancers streamed by.
Meanwhile, a half-dozen vendors—like the Queen of Quince, Eco-Deli and Local Catch Monterey Bay—filled in the big, beautiful art space behind Post No Bills.
Ian Brand of Le P'tit Paysan and a range of other worthy wine endeavors provided vino by the glass and bottle (at extra cost), BYOB offered other potable plays and the buzz of conversation and culture—belly dancing! Cardamom ice cream! Independent 2.0 plans! Local farmers!—lasted three hours, easy.
The first Thursday pop-ups—which assemble a handful of organic vendors and music, too—continue with Uncie Ro's Wood Fired Pizza and a handful of featured Santa Cruz artisan vendors Thursday, April 4, for the same reasonable rate (also $25, or $10/kid, $20/Sand City residents and military).
More communal fun where that came from: Happy Girl has community Fridays semi-consistently where they invite people to come help chop and send them home with jars of stuff.