Thursday, October 30, 2003
"Hey, Ray...Ray...Ray...wake up." Oh, hi Sweetie, was I asleep? Oh yeah, the festival hasn''t happened yet. Well, actually, for you reading this it has. I''m writing my column on the Tuesday before so I still can only dream about the success of it. This time-release writing deadline stuff is weird.
WINE ESCAPE... This coming weekend, however, it''s time for the Great Wine Escape. Hop online to montereywines.org to find out what''s happening on November (man, it''s almost Christmas already) 6, 7, 8 and 9. From the opening reception gala--a big party at the Monterey Plaza Hotel--through the closing Grand Finale party at The Inn at Spanish Bay, wine lovers will be crisscrossing the Peninsula for four days chasing down wine dreams.
Naturally, for me, the highlights are the wine dinners. The Web site has a cool little drop-down menu that has all the match-ups; it''s like checking out the upcoming week''s football games. Some hot pairings: Paraiso Vineyards at Stokes; Doug Meador and the Ventana Gang at Passionfish (I''d like to see a filibuster between Doug Meador and Cindy Walter); a back-to-back Friday/Saturday doubleheader at Lugano''s Swiss Bistro with Chateau Julien followed by Hahn Estates... Andre will be dancing those nights.
I like the looks of Pessagno at the Duck Club...two high-quality operations that aren''t quite in the public''s eye as much as they should be. Grasings will also be doing a Fri/Sat doubleheader with Estancia, then Chateau Christina... another good couple of match-ups. Make sure you check this whole thing out, there are tours, tastings, auctions, dinners, lunches...the whole shebang. Call the Monterey County Vintners and Growers, 375-9400.
DOWN THE COAST... If you can''t wait until the weekend, there''ll be another cool winemaker''s dinner on Thursday night, Nov. 6 at Big Sur River Inn, featuring the wines of Brutocao (a Hungarian word meaning "handsome calf") Cellars. Starting at 6pm, this fun and delicious pairing will surely have attendees jumping for joy with lip-smacking delight (by the way, I was only kidding about the word brutocao, so please don''t start getting on my case). Brutacao, a family-owned winery in Mendocino, should fit in beautifully with the River Inn''s setting--it''s kind of like North, remote beautiful part of the Bay Area (maybe a bit of a stretch but work with me here) meets South, remote beautiful part of the Bay Area. Get down there about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, check in, relax a little, unwind with a few cocktails as you chill out on the grounds, back to the room to change, sashay down to the dinner at 6, embrace the wonderful meal with all your senses, then moonlight stroll with a nice brandy or digestivo, hold hands...let the Big Sur night do what the Big Sur night does...Call now, (800) 548-3610 or 667-2700, or go to bigsurriverinn.com.
HERE''S A SHOCKER... Post Ranch Inn, another Big Sur favorite, was chosen by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine''s readers as the #1 hotel in North America and tied for #1 for "Best in the World." So tell us something we don''t know. Right on, PRI.
ESPRESSO TO GO... A couple of interesting caffeine-related tidbits off the wire(d) service: Starbucks expects to continue its pace of opening three to four new stores daily (did that say daily) for at least the next three to five years, according to chairman Howard Schultz (isn''t he the guy who used to draw Snoopy?). According to Schultz, total outlets may eventually grow from 7,000 to about 25,000 stores worldwide.
And in a related story, caffeinated soap--that''s right, soap--is now available. The soap bars contain powdered caffeine that supposedly is absorbed by the skin, giving the bather a stimulating jolt of caffeine. One brand, Shower Shock, says a scrubbing has the kick of two cups of coffee. Apparently there is no evidence that the claims are true, but some are indeed happy about it. Says Jennifer Tingom, of XML caffeine soap, "I used to drink five Diet Cokes before noon...now I only have two or three."
Humm...maybe I can come up with a soap that douses the bather with beer. You can shower in the morning with caffeine to get going, then again at night with the beer to simmer down...simmer down now.