Alta Bakery + Cafe is now open in downtown Monterey. The long anticipated bakery inside the historic Cooper Molera Adobe comes from Culinary Director Ben Spungin—a veteran pastry chef whose resume includes local hotspots Bernardus Lodge, Restaurant 1833 and Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn—and industry pros PJ Clark and Kirk Probasco. Spungin and Head Baker Matt Somerville—formerly of the famed Big Sur Bakery—have crafted a menu of pastries, breads and savory lunch fare. In the mornings, that means a shakshouka-inspired egg bake ($12) and several toasts, including the “obligatory” avocado toast ($9.50), served until 11am. For lunch, look for salads ($10-12), soup “of the Diaz” ($4.50) and panini sandwiches ($12), plus pizzas ($15, available after 11:30am). A pastry case is stocked with sweet and savory treats throughout the day, plus house-baked breads (available after 11am). Beverages include coffee and tea, with beer and wine coming soon. 502 Munras Avenue, Monterey. 920-1018, altamonterey.com. 7am-5:30pm daily.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Las 2 Fridas. The new shop takes the place of the shuttered Mama Joyce Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza in Seaside. Frozen Mexican treats are the specialty here with an extensive list of nieves (ice creams) and paletas (popsicles). For now, these frozen sweets are sourced from San Jose, but will eventually be made in house. On the lighter side, there’s a lot of fresh fruit, available in aguas frescas (fruit waters), jugos (juices), smoothies and cocteles (fruit salads). Look for some Mexican pastries, including housemade conchas. For a more savory snack, try the tostitos—the shop’s take on the trendy tostilocos street food that piles crispy chicharrones, jicama, cucumber, peanuts, lemon and Tapatio hot sauce inside a bag of Tostitos corn chips. 2440 Fremont Street, Suite 202, Seaside. 521-0689. Open 6am-7pm daily.
Cult Taco—a new taqueria in downtown Monterey from the team behind Carmel’s Cultura Comida y Bebida—is readying for a grand opening on May 1. The fast casual concept features tacos, salads and torta sandwiches with choice of filling: local catch, chicken tinga, shredded pork carnitas, prawns, Wagyu beef barbacoa, mushrooms and mole cauliflower. Also look for a selection of crudos, including oysters on the half shell, ceviche and a prawn cocktail, plus chips, guac, salsa, queso and other snacks. And save room for sweet paletas for dessert. Cult Taco is offering sporadic peeks at the new concept while training staff. Follow @culttaco on Instagram for announcements when the shop is open for business. (Eventually, hours will be 11:30am-9pm.) 481 Alvarado Street, Monterey. culttaco.com.
Pebble Beach Food & Wine is here. The annual foodie fête brings more than 100 celebrity chefs and 250 wineries to town for four days of world-class food and wine. Festivities kick off on Thursday, April 11, with the Opening Night Reception (7-9:30pm, $375). Friday features a number of lunches with celebrity chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Jeremiah Tower and more (noon-2:30pm, $250). And you’ll find dinners on both Friday and Saturday nights (6:30pm, $250-1,750). Wine seminars are peppered throughout the weekend—sample sips of Riesling, try wines from San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year winners, learn how to pair food and wine, or celebrate the 100th anniversary of local Chalone Vineyard ($150-250). On Saturday and Sunday, join chefs Michelle Bernstein and Richard Blais and actress Tiffani Thiessen for cooking demos ($150). The weekend’s signature event—the Lexus Grand Tastings—returns on Saturday and Sunday with a lineup of 30 chefs and 300 wineries each day (noon-3pm each day, $295 apiece). For the full lineup and to purchase tickets, visit pbfw.com.
The California Green Medal recognizes California wineries’ leadership and commitment to sustainability. Scheid Family Wines has won this year’s Environment Award, an honor given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates environmental stewardship and sustainable practices. Scheid has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives: The winery installed a wind turbine that powers the winery and 125 adjacent homes, all vineyards are Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, and Scheid recycles and reuses 100 percent of grape pomace and wastewater.
Chef Klaus Georis has teamed up with Carmel cafe and restaurant Stationæry to launch The Residency at Stationæry. Georis will take over the space Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner. His extended six-month pop-up series will feature a four-course chef’s tasting menu for $55 served from 6-10pm. The menu changes based on availability of ingredients and Georis’ culinary inspirations. A recent dinner featured an oyster amuse bouche followed by Parmesan soup, fermented white asparagus with Spanish jamón ibérico, green garlic grain porridge, roasted halibut and banana ice cream. Reservations aren’t required—most of the dining room is reserved for walk-ins, but a limited number of reservations will be accepted each evening. And don’t worry, the Stationæry will continue to host monthly family-style dinners on the third Friday of the month. The next drops on Friday, April 19 and celebrates spring. Tickets are $75 (with wine pairing for an additional $45) and are available via thestationaery.com.
PS. Stationæry has also debuted a new take-out menu for a quick bite “if you’re too busy to be stationary.” Toasts, select bowls, breakfast sandwich, new ficelle sandwich and the patty melt burger are now available to go. Order by phone (250-7183) or in person.
The Wine House in Carmel Valley is remodeling its kitchen to better serve and accommodate diners at this popular wine bar. While kitchen remains closed for the month of April, you’re welcome to bring your own food. And on Saturdays, The Wine House will host local food trucks who will have food for sale. Look for Fire on Wheels Pizza on April 13 and Wedos Tacos on April 20.
Mezzaluna Pasteria and Mozzarella Bar in Pacific Grove hosts the American Culinary Federation Monterey Bay Chapter’s Green & Sustainable program on Tuesday, April 16 for a special dinner and educational program spotlighting sustainability. Chef-owner Soerke Peters will prepare a special dinner to pair with a program by Lisa Wegley—from the Blue Zones Project—who will share how healthy eating and lifestyle choices can create a healthier community. 6:30-8:30pm, $35, info at acfchefs.org.
Blue Aces Bake Shoppe in Salinas has new seasonal macarons for April. This month’s lineup includes many Easter signature sweets like carrot cake, Cadbury Egg-inspired malted chocolate, Peeps-inspired strawberry marshmallow, orange blossom, raspberry lemonade and more. The shop has also debuted online shopping for Easter treats and graduation goodies.
Curious about making croissants at home? Pastry Chef Yulanda Santos will lead a two-day cooking class on laminated dough at Aubergine on April 11 and 12 from 11am-1pm each day. Learn the basics of making laminated dough and how to make croissants, kouign amann and morning buns. $250, reservations required: 624-8578.
On the heels of a popular dumpling pop-up, The Poke Lab hosts Haute Dogs on Friday, April 12 from 7pm until sold out. Chef Todd Fisher and team are putting an international spin on the all-American classic. The dogs are all handmade by the Folktale Winery team and there will be vegetarian and gluten-free options. The menu includes: Thai Larb (fried chicken dog with peanuts, cucumbers pickled daikon radish, bean sprouts and herbs, $13), Mucho Gusto (crispy cheddar-wrapped all-beef dog, pico de gallo, avocado, jalapeño cheddar sauce and tortilla chips, $14), Big Texan (all-beef dog, smoked brisket chili, shredded cheddar, barbecue sauce, crispy onions and potato chips, $15), CRA/Crazy Rich Asian (all-beef dog, glazed pork belly, roasted shiitake mushrooms, shoyu-bordelaise sauce, furikake and truffle-sesame aioli, $18), Faux Dog (honey-roasted and nori-wrapped heirloom carrot, roasted seaweed, smoked red onion, unagi-style eggplant and umami mayo, $12), and kimchi macaroni salad ($6). Word is there will also be a speakeasy-style bubbles bar in the kitchen with wine and beer for purchase. The Ugly Dumpling pop-up at Poke Lab sold out in an hour, so plan to get here early.
PigWizard has a pair of pig roasts coming up on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14 from 11am-7pm or until sold out. Each day, Jonathan Roberts will roast a whole California Kurobuta with pulled pork plates and sandwiches available for sale in addition to the sandwich shop’s daily menu.
Take a deep dive into the wines of California at the next Wine Class at Stave Wine Cellar in Pebble Beach on Wednesday, April 17. Learn some of the history of California wines and taste some of the states signature wine selections. 6pm, $30, 644-7997 for reservations, 21+ only.
For your Passover planning: Congregation Beth Israel’s annual community Passover seder is Saturday, April 20 at 6pm. The community feast is open to the public and will feature a traditional dinner of matzo ball chicken soup, gefilte fish, savory horseradish, pan-seared chicken breast, smashed potatoes, dessert and ceremonial wine (or grape juice for children). Vegetarian and kids meals are also available upon request. Reservations (and payment) are required by April 13, call 624-2015 for info and to make reservations.