Thursday, December 17, 2009
Bowls of cioppino bristling with crab legs, mussels, clams, scallops and squid. Plates of expert crab enchiladas too tasty to make it around the table. Heavenly halibut fried ever-so-lightly. Steaming blackened scallops surrendering tenderly to the wimpiest flick of a fork.
This is the Moss Landing gift that unwraps itself after the Grape Whisperer speaks (at normal volume). “It’s time for a Phil’s Fish Market (633-2152) run,” Bernardus Vineyard Manager Matt Shea said. “Hopefully the power’s out, it’s raining horizontally on the tin roof, perfect for big bread bowls of cioppino, a nice Pinot Grigio… ”
This was seasonal genius – converting moisture into motivation to dig more eagerly into the comfort food, turning our table into a field of shell shrapnel, overmatched napkins and splashed sauce.
The rain even obliged with a surge of sideways that made us that much more grateful to be there. And given the nice $5.99/pound price on crab, we left with some cracked and cleaned presents to enjoy later (and made a note to return for some live bluegrass 6-8pm Mondays). The overly ambitious pole dancing over at the Moss Landing Inn, meanwhile, might not’ve been on our list for Santa.
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The wintry-holiday hits aren’t limited to seafood, though. More gifts:
• An inventive “TGIF” farmers market in Seaside is scheduled to start at the City Center on Fridays in mid-January, as Walter Ryce reports in this week’s art piece (pg. 40). The Sea-Sand Chamber is envisioning live entertainment and ethnic foods – and chamber chief Tony Price says they already have a blend of 50 local and regional vendors (including high-end barbecue from Spice It Up Catering and Del the Dogman of Brown’s Confections) and have turned away 50 more.
• As part of a PR push masterminded by Marci Bracco (who will be spending her first Christmas wedded to Brandon Miller of Mundaka), Fandango (372-3456) is throwing open its doors to invite the community to rediscover its approachable French-Mediterranean excellence – and will be open Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I stopped by earlier this week for an industry open house and found the iconic Pierre Bain holding court, the lamb kebabs nothing less than perfect, the paella and stew spot-on. Oui.
• Here comes the tequila, rum, Kahlúa and the unqualified rocking… in P.G.?! OK – maybe it’s not a classic club experience, but Mike Beck is a bad-ass on guitar, and at his 8pm acoustic show Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Ice Cream Shoppe (655-4419) on Lighthouse, there will be tequila lemon sorbet (hola, Acapulco Gold), rum raisin, and Kahlúa truffle – and six kinds of beer (micro-brewed and handcrafted root beers, including Sparky’s Fresh Draft Root Beer, that is). Rock on, Pac G.
• Organic superstar Jamie Collins and Serendipity Farms have a fresh gift idea – boxes of seasonal treats straight picked that day. (Torpedo onions! Heirloom tomatoes! Baby artichokes!) Her CSA delivery service ($25 a week, four-week minimum, 726-9432) ramps up in March, but a gift package with preserves arrives in time for Christmas.
• Family-owned Yama Sushi Bar & Restaurant (646-9262), where El Indio once lived in Del Monte Center, is slated to start sating shopping-summoned sushi appetites soon.
• Sweet Elena’s (393-2093) is rolling out flourless hazelnut yule logs with coffee cream and chocolate ganache among other amazements. (She’s also hosting Nani Steele again for a special-recipe-serving book signing of My Nepenthe, 2-4pm Saturday, Dec. 19, complete with mulled wine and prepped recipes from the book, like the lightly legendary cheese pie and Lolly’s roast chicken.)
• A number of splurge specialists are assembling awesomeness for the holidays. Sardine Factory (373-3775) is readying the lobster-truffle bisque and filet as part of a $59.95 four-course on New Year’s Eve; Pacific’s Edge (620-1234) has elegant spreads for Christmas and New Year’s, which will include champagne and dancing.
• Some post-Hanukkah action: Dec. 24-27, Asilomar Conference Center hosts the thinkers and doers of the New Jewish Food Movement for the fourth annual Hazon Food Conference – food justice, kosher meat issues, health, cooking and gardening, Israeli food and agriculture. See if you can find Lee Lightfoot on the site (www.hazon.org).
• The David and Kathleen Fink family behind L’Auberge Carmel and Cantinetta Luca (and formerly Bouchee) have something to celebrate: Hotel Luca officially opened Tuesday in the heart of Napa. Twenty rooms, devilishly dope designs by the irrepressible Kathleen, an inspired Cantinetta Piero restaurant, a full-service spa, www.hotellucanapa.com.
• Then there’s something David Bernahl and company are celebrating: “Thank God it was a blowtorch.” According to Bernahl, if the men removing equipment at the Stokes Adobe had used a grinder instead of said torch, the severing of a small gas line would’ve meant a fire big enough to bury the building instead of a small wall of flame. Meanwhile, his Coastal Luxury Management remains on fire – the deal for Cannery Row Brewing Company was officially “signed, sealed and delivered” this week, with demo underway to move the entrance and reinvent the bar. Target date for opening: early April – not coincidentally, right around Pebble Beach Food & Wine (April 8-11). The CLM deal for Stokes remains in escrow, which could close at January’s end.