Thursday, November 3, 2005
LET THERE BE LIGHT… Turning the clock back…it’s just unnatural. It’s not supposed to be dark out during happy hour. I mean, the whole point of happy hour is to get happy…obviously, the best way to get happy is to be in a good joint enjoying cocktails and appetizers while everyone else is out working or picking up the kids or doing whatever it is that normal people do and spend their lives complaining about. If it’s dark outside, it’s harder to feel like you’re getting away with something. If you’re like me and you don’t think turning the clocks back and forth each year is a good idea, I hope you decided to leave the hands set right where they are.
ME AND MINE… Here’s another installment in my ongoing series called TORTURING RESTAURANT OWNERS: If you’re going to own a restaurant and you want to take a night off and you leave your place in the hands of 12 year olds, reconsider…just close that night. Better to do five nights right than six nights with one that causes a fright. Anybody coming in on those nights will be upset and start bad-mouthing your business. This is based upon far too many disappointing experiences I’ve had at places all over when the key players were all off and the remaining staff was, shall we say, ineffective. On my note to myself about this, the language was a bit saltier.
Now, along these lines, what is exposed in the above statement is the drastic lack of a suitable labor force in this area to staff all the restaurants and food service operations that exist here. Restaurant work is as difficult and stressful as can be. Plus, it is not cut out for just anybody. Good service personnel, both in the front and back of the house, have a natural propensity for giving, selflessly and without ego. Those particular traits seem to be dwindling in a society that rewards selfishness and grandiosity.
Speaking of grandiosity, JIM VAUGHAN (he’s gonna get me good) of Bargetto Winery, along with Bargetto’s Special Events Manager, the dynamic MS. TARAH HUDELSON, are co-hosting the Bargetto Bocce Benefit on Sunday, Nov. 6 from 3 to 7pm at the winery in Soquel. It’s a fundraiser for the ongoing hurricane-relief efforts and will combine the natural ingredients of music, dance, food, wine and…bocce. Call 475-2258 and tell ‘em, “Jimmy said to call.”
GIN “MARTINI” WEATHERS (sorry Gin) is hosting the latest edition of the Y’all Ball. It’s a taste of the South—a chance for southerners turned westerners to come together and share southern food, fun and music. In addition, this year’s event is set up to be able to send money back to the South for help in the hurricane relief efforts.
It takes place on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 3 to 8pm at a beautiful home in the beautiful Monterra Estates, up the hill across the street from Monterey Airport. Attire is denim and pearls, just like any self-respecting southerner would know. Come on out and have a ball, y’all…call RIKA at 626-3342.
On Friday, Nov. 18 from 6 to 10pm, join the SMITH FAMILY at majestic Paraiso Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands for its second annual Holiday Open House (that’s right, the holidays are here). Enjoy special vintages, holiday carolers, cheese sampling, barrel tasting, special wine discounts, a 5,000 square foot tent with special items from the Paraiso Home Décor Boutique, and more. Hey, get up there, enjoy the evening and buy all your holiday gifts (don’t forget me). Call JENNIFER “SANTA CLAUS” MURPHY-SMITH, 678-0300, www.paraisovineyards.com.
Sorry I missed the dynamite fundraiser last Wednesday, hosted by DOMENICO and PATRICK VASTARELLA at Chianti Ristorante in the Carmel Crossroads. It was a benefit by friends of NEDDA JOY LENTINI to help with her financial recovery. Nedda, a breast cancer survivor, was saddled with heavy medical bills, so her friends established the My Angels Benefit Fund. Why not send along a donation, made out to My Angels Benefit Fund, c/o The Clothing Store, 510 Lighthouse Ave., PG 93950? For more info, call Fran Goodwin at 917-3961. Stop by Chianti Ristorante, have a bite to eat and find out more.
SLOW LOWDOWN… Was sitting around shooting the breeze with the vivacious JENNIFER MILLER, a manager at Tarpy’s Roadhouse, talking about turtles…that’s right, turtles. Seems Jennifer, or “Shells” as she is known down at the turtle farm, is part of a nonprofit called The Turtle Center. It’s a turtle and tortoise (it’s okay to admit that you don’t know the difference, neither do I) sanctuary that she and TIM MCLAUGHLIN run; I think it’s an offshoot of the Turtle Survival Alliance. It’s pretty cool that people work so diligently to help a relatively obscure little amphibian stay alive (cue Bee Gees song). I say right on.
While we were talking turtle, along came STACY “JIMMY” HENDRICKS to tell me about a fun promotion Tarpy’s is doing called Wine Down Wednesday. Every Wednesday from 5 to 7pm in the bar and front part of the restaurant, a featured Monterey Winery that is currently on Tarpy’s list will be on hand to pour tastings of its wines. Tarpy’s will offer a three-course price fixed menu complimenting the wines for only $19.95. The wines from the featured winery will be available for half off…can’t beat that with a barrel stave.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 will feature the wines of Pessagno Winery. Also on tap are J. Lohr as well as Bernardus (dates to be named later). Call Tarpy’s at 647-1444 for more info…ask for “Shells,” she’ll know what’s going on.
DO THIS… Had a really nice meal at Julihanh in Carmel, on Ocean Avenue, where Caffe Napoli used to be. I really like the touch of Vietnamese right there in the middle of Mediterranean Way—adds a nice zip to the neighborhood. Stop in to say hi to STEVE and JESSICA NGUYEN (pronounced “Winn”—hey, that must be why they like to go to Vegas, he’s Steve “Winn”), who named the restaurant Julihanh, which is their daughter’s middle name. It is a combination of Juliette and Hanh, two aunts of TAYLOR JULIHANH NGUYEN. All three of them were born under the sign of the Dragon…get in there, 626-0288.
Don’t forget about MICHAEL CHIARELLO of Tra Vigne and the Food Network coming to the Aquarium on Nov. 6. He’s going to be swimming nude in the giant fish tank (only kidding, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention). He’s going to be hanging out with Portola Café Chef DORY FORD, who’ll be cooking up something wonderful. Call 648-4962 and find out more, make a reservation, get in the game. It’s part of a Chef Dinner Series which has been running since mid-August.
Also on the Nov. 6, check out one of my favorite groups, the CACHAGUA PLAYBOYS (I love that name), who’ll be kickin’ it on Roy’s terrace at the Inn at Spanish Bay from 1 to 5pm. It’s gonna be awesome seeing their infectious New Orleans-style music wafting out over the dunes…I have got to get there for that one. Think I’ll do Roy’s for dinner afterwards…I was just telling someone how great the food is there, with Chef YOICHI SAITO—plus they have a sushi bar. No, wait, I’ll do Roy’s for lunch so I can do Portola Café for dinner (see above). The Playboys stepped up big time at the Community Feeds Our Nation event at the Aquarium a couple of weeks back…good folks they are, good folks indeed.
Have you stopped into Elkhorn Farm & Mercantile in Moss Landing yet? What are you waiting for? They’ve got a lot more fresh organic produce and all sorts of other goodies, including a private-label organic vegetable soup in the takeout case. Get the weekly produce subscription service, a great way to feed the clan the best. Call 633-4768 or hit the cool new url, www.bestroadsidestop.com. Adios amigos.