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A Sweet Ride: — Jane Morba

ROLL OUT… There’s a lot going on this time of year. As I’m writing this, car nuts from around the world are transporting their dreams to our tiny Oz. In the war against Henry Ford’s original concept of cookie-cutter cars for the masses, the Monterey Peninsula is Command Central.

Ending with the completely unreal CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE Sunday finale at Pebble Beach, where obsessive/compulsive wackos shoo imaginary dust from their fantasy chariots in the hope that this particular conglomeration of metal will merit the title Best in Show, this weekend is car-lovers heaven.

Just thinking about the concentration of Italian beauties that will overrun Bayonet & Blackhorse for the Concorso Italiano on Friday gets my DNA revving toward the red line. Downtown Monterey on Friday and Saturday night has become the gallery at Oscar night as revelers stand around watching masterpieces roll in and out of the Marriott and Portola Plaza hotels. Quail Lodge becomes like Churchill Downs on Derby Day as the upper crust gather for their own brand of entertainment at The Quail. There’s all that fun fooling around at Laguna Seca…plus, all week long, the cars are just everywhere, elevating chiropractic business on Monday to heal all the neck-turning injuries.

Even for a guy like me, whose views on automobiles run a little more utilitarian, I love seeing all those rolling works of art.

Heirloom tomatoes (speaking of rolling works of art) are showing up on the produce shelves again. That can only mean one thing—well, a couple of things: We’re hap-hap-happy and TomatoFest is near. This year it’s on Sunday, Sept. 10, the day after the Monterey Beer Festival. That’s a hot 1-2 punch that weekend. Check ‘em out at tomatofest.com and montereybeerfestival.com.

FOODBALL STAR… At this writing I haven’t talked to Fermin Sanchez of Bruno’s Market yet about his trip to Canton with John Madden for the Football Hall of Fame induction. Domenic Mercurio, of Domenico’s on the Wharf, like Sanchez, a longtime friend of regular local Madden, was catering the party for 500 of Madden’s friends and family. I watched much of Madden’s acceptance speech—he was truly moved by the honor. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. Obviously, he knows how to pick his friends.

Speaking of the Sanchez clan, Ryan Sanchez, who runs Surf n Sand, behind Bruno’s Market, is doing the second in his Seminar Series at Piatti’s on the upstairs Patio. Aug. 24 is Tequila—all different kinds, all different ways. Apps, fun and hopefully sun too, 624-1805.

Wine and Spirits… Had a phone call from an anonymous reader (most readers of this remain so to avoid any guilt-by-association) clueing me in that the August Wine Dinner winery at The Duck Club at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is Pessagno Winery. You’d have thought maybe Julie “Super Wine Chick” Rosenau might have let me know…she must have been out spreading the word about Pessagno’s wines.

Scott Dick, the host of the Tasty Planet Radio Show, and Michael Mastrocola, of Millennium Travel, are hosting a Nardini distilled spirits tasting at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Carmel on Aug. 21 at 5pm. Antonio Nardini, a member of the seventh generation of Nardinis in the biz, will be there to conduct the grappa seminar and lead the tasting. The Nardini Company has been in business since 1792 and is a member of a very small organization in Europe composed of family-owned companies that have been in business for more than 200 years, and represents the best in liqueurs made from distilling the grapes left after making wine. Call 659-4013.

PICTURE THIS…Had two recent photo opps that I blew because I don’t carry a camera: The first was in the kitchen at Marinus, out at Bernardus Lodge. Mark Jensen, master of the wine domain, was standing there, as he does nightly, with a stack of dishwasher racks filled with glasses, dipping them in hot water, then buffing each one clean. Alongside him was young Ben Crane, who is working out there, as well as at Rancho, learning the wine business from two of the best anywhere, buffing along with him—it was truly beautiful to see.

The other happened at L’Escargots Restaurant in Carmel. Chef/owner Kerry Loutas was out on the side, sitting on the little ledge with his new bride Allison, just talking next to barrels of empty bottles and boxes, garbage cans, a storage shed—all the glamorous accoutrements of a restaurant owner’s world. Gotta start carrying a camera.

NOW AND THEN…You know, Bob and Fabia Massaro sure do seem at home in their corner shop, Terranova Fine Wines. It’s been about seven years now that they’ve owned it, and having survived the stewardship of both Dmitri “The Wine Czar” Ruban, and myself, “Steel Palate” Napolitano, turned it into the family-run shop that it is today. There throughout most of it has been the steady Bob “Bulldog” Russo, whose lifetime exploits would make a good book. Stop down to the corner of Del Monte and Calle Principal in downtown Monterey or log onto terranovafinewines.com to see it.

Karlen’s Deli, inside Bottles & Bins on Lighthouse and David on the Monterey/PG line, is celebrating 10 years of business. Stop in through the end of August for a free cup of homemade pasta or potato salad with every sandwich, 375-6705…Cy Yontz is the head chef at Rio Grill. Chris “Golden Boy” Bahrami, GM, told me Chef Cy is bringing the Rio Grande to Rio Grill with his Southwest style cooking…Point Joe’s, formerly Monterey Joe’s, is doing some nice things over there on Fremont in Monterey. Ran into Dan “James Brown” Warner, the hardest-working man in the wine business, doing a tasting there last Tuesday evening…time to go a’tasting myself.

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