Thursday, November 9, 2006
THE STRAIGHT POOP…Sometimes when I sit down to write this thing, I end up staring at the white screen and that hypnotic blinking cursor (an apt term, although cursed might be more poetic) with a mind as blank as the screen. Metaphorically speaking, it is not unlike a baby’s struggle to release its bowels, complete with the grimacing, the crying and then ultimate relief…but those of you who have been reading this column for any length of time are fully aware of the similarities.
What a thought. I’m sorry.
GRAPE ESCAPE…It doesn’t take much thought to head for the Tenth Annual Monterey Vintners and Growers Association Great Wine Escape Weekend. With more than 50 Monterey County wineries and 35 restaurants/chefs participating, it’s a star-studded affair beginning Nov. 9 with a Vintners’ Reserve Reception at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa. This artisan wine affair will feature a celebration of art, in and out of the bottle. Famous glass sculptor JACK STORMS will unveil his GWE glass masterpiece while a limited number of guests enjoy sipping private reserve and single-vintage beauties from various wineries, all in the penthouse luxury suites on the rooftop.
From there, the weekend goes full bore with tastings, dinners, lunches, seminars, tours, even Wine Enthusiast Magazine top 100 selections with CAL STAMENOV and DAVID KINCH (Manresa) at Bernardus Lodge. There are winery open houses, winemaker dinners, the Divas of Monterey Wine seminar and tasting—all types of wonderful wine-related offerings, ending on Sunday with the Grand Finale at Spanish Bay, complete with hands-on culinary demos from star chefs, book signings, local food showcases, sundown bagpiping and of course the scrumptious Monterey County wines. Get your Monterey mojo working and get down to the weekend of wine fun, montereywine.org or 375-9400.
Thursday, Nov. 9 at La Playa, join the SANCHEZ gang—RYAN, FERMIN and the local JUNIPERO YOUNGBLOODS—for a grand champagne and scotch tasting. Surf n Sand, purveyor of fine wines and spirits and adjunct to Bruno’s Market, has moved its popular tasting series to a larger venue (La Playa Hotel) to accommodate the growing interest. Enjoy tasty appetizers, delicious champagnes and sparkling wines, along with a wide array of scotches, in one of the area’s most beautiful venues.
ALL GOOD PEOPLE…Just got a phone call from my buddy WAYNE JOHNSON, who is still heavily involved in the Monterey County AIDS Project. He was telling me about the upcoming Feast for AIDS at the Beach Club in Pebble Beach. It’s on Dec. 2 this year and will be overseen by celebrity chef CAT CORA of Food Network fame. Call the MCAP office at 394-4747 for more info.
On Nov. 12 at the Highlands Inn, my good buddies TED and CINDY WALTER will be inducted into the California Restaurant Association, Monterey County Hall of Fame. These two stalwarts of the local restaurant scene are extremely deserving for their continued excellence at Passionfish, especially for their revolutionary approach to wine pricing as well as their dedicated concern for the environment far beyond the average establishment. Congratulations to them both, it’s an award well earned.
Also at that dinner, GLENN HAMMER will be receiving a special recognition award for his longtime service to the industry. Give Passionfish a call at 655-3311 and congratulate those folks, will you?
CASA, that great organization that helps kids avoid getting stuck in the juvenile-justice merry-go-round, received a matching grant from the AT&T Pebble Beach Charities in support of its Educational Advocacy Program. When matched, the grant will enable the program to hire a new advocate case manager with a specialty in education. Please consider making a direct contribution to this program, so that the AT&T Pebble Beach Charities have something to match. Call CASA at 455-6800 or casamonterey.org for more or to make the donation…come on, dial, baby, dial.
LE SUPERSTARS…Well, Club XIX got itself a star chef. RESSUL RASSALLAT brings more than 20 years of experience at great hotels and restaurants across the globe to the famed Club XIX kitchen. From L’Orangerie and Four Seasons in LA to George V in Paris to Dux in Orlando, Rassallat has used his honors degree from the CIA (not that CIA silly) to forge a sweet cheffing career. Get down to the Club and check this guy out.
Bouchée is welcoming DAN KOSTA, the star winemaker of Kosta Browne Winery, for a wine dinner on Nov. 15. This intimate dinner will showcase the gorgeous Pinot Noirs of Kosta Browne, with the cuisine of the gorgeous WALTER MANZKE—err, that’s the gorgeous cuisine of the…well you know what I mean. Don’t be a rube, this is something special here…call 626-7882 now.
BEST OF TIMES…Congratulations to TOM NASH and SEALA MORGAN, who were married last week out at Hidden Valley. The entire population of Carmel and Carmel Valley was there to celebrate as only Carmelians can. There was much joy, much laughter, much fun.
GABRIEL GEORIS, newly decorated general manager of Casanova, sent me an e-mail telling me about a special dinner on Dec. 6 to celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of Van Gogh’s table at the restaurant. I actually had lunch at that table once and that night, I began painting wildly, then cut off my own ear, so be careful if you eat there. Call 625-6731 for more about this…shared some time with Casanova Chef DIDIER DUTERTRE and his sweetie COLLEEN MANNI the other evening. Theirs is a great love story and as soon as Colleen e-mails it to me I’ll share…I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, sorry if I am…goodnight and God bless.