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Is Spring Far Away?: Nice Pairing: Brewmaster Ramsay Borthwick will speak about “Cooking With Beer” at the Aquarium on Thursday.

GIMME A RAISE… I went back through the archives the other day and saw that I have now written at least one piece per week for this publication for 288 straight weeks without interruption. I’m not sure why I bring this point up, but then again, I’m never too sure why I do anything.

BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD…Springtime, I love the springtime, I feel the (everybody sing along) birds a’chirpin and the bees a bumblin’…springtime, la la la. (Martha, come here quick. He’s completely gone now…I knew it would happen sooner or later.) That’s it, I just decided. I’m giving up this life of glamour (hah) and excitement (double hah) and becoming a golf bum. I’m gonna take my savings (hah) and just drift around the country from golf course to golf course like a modern-day JOHNNY BOGEYSEED just playing golf and hanging out in the grill rooms. That’s no good, I’ll have to miss the MONTEREY WINE FESTIVAL if I do that.

The 30th one baby, the original, first wine festival in the country. March 30, 31 and April 1, beginning of course, with opening night at the Aquarium. Among the highlights of this year’s festival will be a great seminar entitled Cork vs. Screw Cap, moderated by DAN BERGER, the acclaimed wine writer. Panelists include RANDALL GRAHAM, owner of Bonny Doon Vineyards and probably the most vocal proponent of screw caps, JOHN OLNEY, winemaker at Ridge Vineyards, and others. Get online at montereywine.com or call 1-888-814-WINE for info, tickets, etc.

Hey, Thursday March 9, the night this paper comes out, catch RAMSAY BORTHWICK, Brewmaster General of English Ales, who will be doing a “Cooking With Beer” seminar and tasting along with Chef DORY FORD at Portola Café in the Aquarium. These two stalwarts will be rockin’ the house with food/beer pairings that will certainly get your attention and support Ramsay’s contention that “beer is a much better beverage to pair with food than wine.” Call 648-7963 and find out for yourself, I know I’m a believer.

I keep running into SCOTT DICK (didn’t he play safety for the undefeated Miami Dolphins team?) at all the crazy food/wine events I go to. He’s continually harassing me, telling me I’m a hack, my writing sucks, he’s the king of all media around here, etc. He’s got a radio show…well, I’ll let you see it directly from him. I invited him to send me a chunk of stuff for insertion here, kind of like a guest writer. Here it is:

GUEST PARAGRAPHS… Last Wednesday for three hours a lucky 400 feasted at tables piled high from the Marina renaissance. Restaurants, bistros and cafes lent their culinary talents while local winemakers spread out the wine. PETER BLACKWELL provided English Ales. We piled plates high with Thai, Mexican, Brazilian and German food, then closed the place.

With the advent of spring comes the fourth annual opening of Marina’s Farmers Market. It kicked off its new season Sunday, March 5, from 10am to 2pm at the Monterey-Salinas transit station, 280 Reservation Road. Call the Marina Chamber for more information.

Listen to your radio on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 3pm. KRXA 540AM carries my show, Tasty Planet. With some of the local unsavory characters I have on, it’s definitely worth a listen.

I book big names such as authors HAROLD MCGEE and MARION NESTLE (Supersize Me) plus others from our own world of food and wine like TED WALTER, MICHAEL JONES, RICH TANGUAY, DOUG MEADOR, MARY PAGAN, etc. I’m streaming past interviews at tastyplanet.org so check it out.

PG Liquors hosts a single-malt scotch tasting on March 22 at Forge in the Forest. Aficionados know the difference and are proud of it. JR MEDINA brings one of only six-in-the-world master distillers to conduct the tasting. Call JR or CHAD at 375-7474 for reservations.

After last week’s bicycle race wouldn’t you know that there’s another breakaway group right here: Pessagno, Paraiso, San Saba, Manzoni, Scheid, Marilyn Remark, Blackstone, Ventana, Boyer, Hahn/Smith and Hook have banded together. All sit along the banks of the Salinas and justifiably call themselves Monterey’s River Road Wine Trail. The 10 are having a Spring Open house on May 6. Stay tuned for more.

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WINE AND WONDER… Please check out this guy’s show so he’ll stop stalking me. I’m going on the show on March 11 to straighten him out.

Hey, my man RICHARD KANAKARIS of Pavona just released the 2004 vintage of the fine Pavona Chardonnay Blanc. This is regularly a very strong local wine, combining the juicy goodness of Monterey County Chard with a bit of Pinot Blanc to brighten it up nicely. You’ll like this wine.

March 25, from 5:30 to 7:30pm at the Talbott Tasting Room, taste the delicious wines of Talbott Vineyards along with inspired appetizers by the incomparable WENDY BRODIE. That’s already enough but there’ll also be the amazing classical guitarist RICHARD DE VINCK playing and Chef Wendy demonstrating (how to cook, silly, not against Richard’s playing). Call 659-3537 to try to get in, there’s not much room—maybe they should do this in the Convention Center or something.

It’s time again shortly for the 32nd annual Chef of the Year Dinner and President’s Ball on Sunday, March 26 at Embassy Suites. This year’s special guest will actually be the president of the United States. (Just kidding, although if anybody could get the prez here it would probably be this group.) As always, our own Chef of All Chefs BERT CUTINO will preside over the affair honoring this year’s American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year MICHAEL GAINES, assistant director of Nutrition Services at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. Call Chef DAVID TYLER at 277-5556…cheers for now.

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