Thursday, June 4, 2009
A favorite local chef is resigning his post, the best bar in Salinas just went the way of the brontosaurus and the most inspired music venue in the county has apparently gone kaput.
In other words, local folks could really use a beer. Thank Pacha Mama for Jeff Moses and his now institutional Monterey Beer Festival, which comes this Saturday, June 6, from 12:30-5pm.
The earlier-than-traditional timing is also nice because it means the gathering will gain more gates and a bigger space at Monterey County Fairgrounds. This sucker should sell out, so hustling over to the fairgrounds office, Compagno’s Deli, Zeph’s One-Stop, Wild Thyme Deli or English Ales Brewery would be wise.
For this year’s “Tribute to Beer,” $30 allows access to more than 80 breweries, literally hundreds of different beers and four tribute bands playing on a stage plopped right in the center of the lawn where the vendors set up.
“I got the best tribute bands I could find,” says Moses, whose selections will channel Weezer, Police and Tom Petty. “With any of those bands in concert, you see their sound is perfect for outside – big, expansive and powerful.”
Festival host/self-labeled “beer geek” Chris Nelson has some sophisticated beer sensibilities – he’ll trek to his 500th brewery later this year – but his prediction for Saturday is simple: “It’s just a fun day.” 373-2843, 372-5863, www.thenightthatneverends.com.
Back to the not-so-savory stuff. Oldtown Salinas institution Penny Farthing Tavern is shutting ’er down after a quarter century of quiz nights, pints and pool. Owner Amanda Oliver, who has run the pub with her husband Mark since 2000, just couldn’t fend off financial hardship any longer. PFT’ll be missed.
Though he’s leaving Portola Restaurant in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we won’t pine for Dory Ford too terribly – we’ll just have to drive a little further. After almost five years of remarkable work on both the sustainability and flavor frequencies, he’s heading south to play executive chef for Joie de Vivre Hotels at The Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur.
“No one can really resist a brand new restaurant, can they?” Ford says. “There’s 240 acres to plant and grow and harvest. So I think I’m gonna do a little gardening and focus even more on the seasonal thing I love so much, getting food at its peak onto the plate.”
Hopefully his shift translates to opportunity for a talented Portola team led by Executive Sous Chef Jeff Walker and Chef de Cuisine Estevan Jimenez. (On a related note, I erroneously reported last month that the wily Canadian-born Ford had found a co-op to supply him fresh wild halibut at a steal of a deal if he swore off farm-raised rivals. It was actually wild salmon.)
The next farewell came suddenly. Monterey Live, the place that brought the area a mystifyingly strong roster of top local and touring acts in a swanky and intimate setting, sent out word this weekend via Facebook that they are done as of last Sunday. Stunned locals wondering what will fill the resulting cultural void poured in all weekend to see it off.
Meanwhile, rumors fly – including one that has primary owner Gary Smith hooking up with Morgan Christopher and Ol’ Factory Cafe to export his liquor license and cherry sound set up to Sand City. Sean Croce of Croce’s Pizza has long been linked to Live and all sorts of food and pizza permutations. And Smith says he’s had several offers to help book music elsewhere.
Attended a glorious vegetable-driven symphony of tastes starring Napa Valley’s Ubuntu at L’ Auberge Carmel’s Aubergine restaurant the other day. More on that soon; in the meantime, check out www.laubergecarmel.com/activities.php for upcoming flavors… Greenfield’s now got its own certified farmers market with the help of Iris Peppard, who worked similar magic in Marina and P.G. Grand opening is Saturday, June 6, at Palm Avenue between Ninth and El Camino Real, 9am-1pm with Oaxacan dance from 11am-12:30pm… Schooner’s Bistro on the Bay has a new menu, including grilled swordfish, some crispy tuna and asparagus sushi and sugar cane shrimp skewers. 646-1706… Ag Against Hunger launches the latest summer of their good work with a Gleaning Kick-Off and Barbecue Saturday, June 6. 755-1480, www.agagainsthunger.org… Marina’s first-ever “Restaurant Week” is happening now through June 10. Get a passport stamped at Bamboo Pavilion, Coffee Mia, D’Anna Thai Kitchen, English Ales, Everyone’s Harvest Marina Certified Farmers Market, Frutti De Mar Grill, Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse, Lola’s Kusina, Talpa Jalisco, Tico’s Breakfast and Lunch Restaurant or Wild Thyme Deli and enter to win a full plate of prizes including a free meal at each participating joint. 384-9155, www.marinachamber.com… Pour on the art and sunshine at Carmel Valley Chamber fifth annual Art & Wine Celebration – more than 60 artists, free Grapevine Express rides out there, beautiful wines from Boete, Parsonage, Joullian, Talbott, Chalk Rock and Heller… Check, please.