Thursday, September 10, 2009
Think of our best local sports bars as San Francisco 49er quarterback Shawn Hill. Just as you wouldn’t expect a starting NFL QB to be hiding in the donut-delivery-guy frame of an undrafted free agent, you wouldn’t expect to find the best places to watch him play to be tucked into hotels.
When the NFL season starts this Thursday (Hill and the Niners take on the Arizona Cardinals Sunday) none will rest on their laurels. Knuckles (372-1234) has long earned our readers’ adoration for Best Sports Bar in our annual poll thanks to the personalized table-top speaker system that syncs with any of four different big screens, the endless (and free) popcorn and peanuts, the above-average bar food and the Sierra Nevada range of 10 drafts. This year Knuckle’s starts big with a barbecue on the patio – chicken, baby back ribs or tri-tip plus two sides like baked beans and corn on the cob for $15 – and by opening the ballroom for scores more to watch on an 8-foot jumbo screen. They’ll continue to use the room for Cowboy, Steeler, Niner and Packer games 15 of 17 weeks of the season and light up the Q on big-game weekends and in the playoffs. Some of the best drink specials hail from Couch Distributing, who hands off 24-ounce Coors for $5 or 16-ounce drafts for $4 on Sundays; other specials (perhaps a “black and gold,” Steeler fans?) and the Bud and Coors girls will be there Thursday night too.
In the Monterey Marriott, Characters (649-4234) has made themselves a sports-bar championship contender with two recent big plays, adding six large HD flat-screens to the four already complementing the huge projection screen, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast burrito buffet ($10) with a build-your-own Bloody Mary option ($15 for both). Game on.
The next best player on this draftboard, Peter B’s (649-2699), also hides out in a hotel, Portola, where they pimp 14 big HD televisions, brew their own beer and have revamped the game-day menu: 16-ounce hand-crafted beers are $4, pitchers $14, half pound Angus burgers $6, grilled gourmet hot dogs $5, and early bird breakfast scrambles $6.
Other strong spots also set up in hotel-resorts: Sticks and its awesome view at Spanish Bay (647-7470), the Tap Room and its lore at Pebble Beach Lodge (625-8535) and Edgar’s and its redone digs at Quail Lodge (620-8910).
Not that there isn’t a place on the roster for all the non-hotel standouts like rookie Woodie’s Bayview Grill, second-year Kula Ranch, or veteran talents like Baja Cantina, Caruso’s Corner, Britannia Arms, Brophy’s and Jack London’s – this scouting report is not meant to be exhaustive. Share your favorite sports bars at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My nemesis was Spicy Cheetos. Their dust invaded the air and coated desks; their achingly artificial red-orange color burned into my nightmares.
And my students called it lunch. It was scary how many of the low-income middle schoolers that I once worked with pieced together vending machine meals with their lunch money. My program offered snacks to temper the madness, but for me, greater hope wasn’t close at hand.
The Child Nutrition Act represents a chance to change that. Locally, two pot-luck-gardening gatherings hosted by Slow Food members took place on Labor Day as part of a larger “eat-in” effort to show Congress that there is citizen momentum behind the act, and to ask for three things, according to Slow Food USA’s Brian Sinderson: the allocation of another $1 a student a day for healthier foods; a requirement that vending machine food and other fast food allowed on campus meet dietary guidelines already in place; and a $50 million boost in funding farm-to-school programs.
I saw how much my students moods and attention spans were tweaked by said spicy enemy and such junk. The expensive effects of childhood obesity are already overwhelmingly obvious. It’s safe to say the gains in education and the savings on later health treatments make this smart progress. For more on the movement, check out www.slowfoodusa.org.
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Monterey Bay Master Gardeners share the wonders of their natural world with an illuminating tour Saturday, Sept. 12: strategies, sunshine, raffles, plant sales ($20-$25, 763-8007)… Also Saturday: Rootstock at Scheid Vineyards ($55-$65, 386-0316) – music from Greg Rutledge and CocoBeat meets great local wine and food… Carmel and thrift aren’t the most natural pair. But excellent Andre’s Bouchee (626-7880) is knocking a quarter off menu prices from 5-6pm Sunday-Thursday. Punctuality pays… Last time I saw Brian Bode he was steering models towards Lamborginis at the Quail Motorsports Gathering. Now he’s inviting Ventana Vineyards’ Barbara Pluth to his Oya Salon (656-0570) 4-7pm Thursday, Sept. 17: tastes, cheeses, discounts on VV buys… Paraiso (678-0300) caught Robert Parker’s eye with its 2006 “Faite” Pinot Noir (“Probably the best wine I have tasted from this winery”). Parker may be overblown, but his props don’t hurt Santa Lucia… That giddy man with a plan Steve McShane has a slate of free Saturday gardening events going at McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply (455-1876), with a Sept. 12 Christa Jennings tomato talk followed by a tasting/judging, a Salinas Valley rose celebration with expert Maggi Coffin a week later and then the anchor event Sept. 26, McShane’s Second Annual Apple Tasting and Pie Bake Off… Go Niners.