Thursday, July 24, 2008
FROM THE ASHES… Hit the south coast last week– bloodies at River Inn, lunch at Big Sur Bakery. It was uplifting to see business going on in Big Sur, folks picking up where Mother Nature left off, facing the future and the not-too-distant present with hope, good cheer and positive juju.
Meanwhile, out in the Valley, at the time of this writing, folks were being evacuated from Cachagua (they’ve since been cleared to return), the troops were ensconced on the airstrip and locals were trying to find circumnavigational alternatives to abandoning their property. Funny how the independent thinkers of Carmel Valley are so much like those of Big Sur.
Sweet Thing and I were out at Wills Fargo hanging out with Lynn Campbell, who has more tenure in the service biz around here than anyone I’ve run across. She was telling me stories about joints she worked in during the ’60s. Here she was in the evening serving away at Wills when just that afternoon she had to evacuate her place. As we sat there watching day fade into evening, firefighters leaving the front to reconvene at camp for the night cruised by in vehicle after unusual vehicle– at least 50 of them.
The scope of these fires, the nearness to our lives, the enormous upheaval they have caused– are still causing– is staggering. Our community is responding in a number of ways. On Aug. 9, at the Monterey Conference Center, there will be a grand wine and food event with music, auctions… the works. Keep an eye out here for the details.
Rio Grill has been offering a 50 percent discount on food during the month of July for folks who live between Palo Colorado and Lucia, as well as to firefighters and rescue workers. GM Chris Bahrami, one of the area’s great gentlemen, wants those put out by the fires to have somewhere to regenerate, relax and save some money while they’re doing it.
I think one thing we can all do to make an impact is to visit the regions affected often and spend our money down there. With a short enough season to begin with cut even shorter– these things hit everyone hardest just as they were gearing up for the July 4 week– let’s help flood the area with funds. Many people went almost a month with no income whatsoever.
OTHER HELP LINES… Another really worthwhile endeavor we can all get behind is the beautiful and ecologically important home Sunset Magazine has created at Monterra, the development in the hills across from the Monterey Peninsula Airport. The environmentally friendly home will be available for viewing beginning in September. In addition, Sunset has partnered with CASA Monterey, one of the county’s most important nonprofit organizations. During the weekends of the showings, volunteers will be needed to help out– 750 volunteers over a 10-week period. Julie Ann Lozano has agreed to coordinate the volunteer recruitment and asked me to help her get the word out. I’m signed up… get on board. Contact Julie Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of giving, Steve McIntyre, Monterey County wine grower, vineyard manager and all around wine raconteur, who his wife calls Bo Bo, has come up with a very cool line of wines called… Bo Bo. A percentage of the profits from the Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot goes to the great Blues in the Schools program started by the Monterey Blues Festival. The label is great, a guitarist painted by artist Suzanne McCourt, and the wines are delicious. Meanwhile, check out how cool the Blues in the Schools program is. Dennis Murphy is on board, like Jack Black’s character in School of Rock, teaching kids the axiom: “Blues is the root and rock and roll is the fruit.” Buy Bo Bo and know you’re helping the next generation of down-home roots music practitioners. Professor George Fuller, how you like that?
Sweet Thing and I were at the first installment of 1645 River Road. That’s the address as well as the name for the collaboration between winemaker Steve Pessagno and Chef Todd Fisher. For years Steve has lamented the lack of a quality place to eat along the River Road wine trail, so every other Friday (July 25 is the next one) you can stop into the beautiful tasting/banquet room at Pessagno Winery, sit down and order Chef Todd’s signature dishes along with Steve Pessagno’s wines. This is truly wine country the way it ought to be. www.1645riverroad.com
SERIOUS FLOW… Lots of great things happening this time of year. The Monterey Beer Festival tips off on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Live music, great food, fresh air, a European style beer garden– check out www.montereybeerfestival.com… Don’t forget this year is the inaugural International Beer and Food Fling at the Culinary Center of Monterey on Friday evening, Aug. 1 from 6 to 10pm. Stroll through eight countries’ food and beers eating, drinking and being merry. www.culinarycenterofmonterey.com or 333-2133… The fourth Saturday of each month is international night at Sweet Elena’s in Sand City. July 26 is Greek with a guest chef, traditional Greek goodies– and the best Greek costume eats free. Elena is open on Sundays from 10am to 3pm. Get down there soon and check out the deliciousness, www.sweetelenas.com, 393-2063… Happy 30th anniversary to Ventana Vineyards. Wow, Doug Meador must have been just a kid when he started that… Wednesday, July 30, join Chef Kurt Grasing, who will be doing a special wine dinner at Pessagno Winery. Kurt will be doing a special four-course dinner and Steve will be kicking off some new wines, 675-9463 or email@example.com… The great wines of Shafer Winery will team up with Chef Arturo Moscoso’s cuisine at Peppoli for a special tour de force dinner for 26 people Friday, Aug. 8, at 6:30pm. Act fast, 648-7826… pray for rain.