Thursday, January 21, 2010
There’s something major on the menu in Asilomar.
Jules Dervaes will teach others how to approximate the success he’s had with his lil’ yard gardens: 3 tons of produce harvested, 1,000 gallons of biodiesel made and $20,000 in gross sales to local restaurants cleared. From just a tenth of an acre. In the thick of urban Pasadena. John Bloom of the vanguard nonprofit financial services firm RSF will bird-dog how community supported agriculture can heal the injuries of a town wounded by economic and even racial ugliness. Some 60 other visionary farmers and food activists like Frances Moore Lappé (Diet for a Small Planet) and Gary Hirshberg (“CE-Yo” of Stonyfield Farm) will guide four days of earnest workshops, pioneering tastings and deepening discussion. But it gets meatier: USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will be in the house for EcoFarm 2010. For a one-time rogue gathering of dusty dudes in tattered overalls, that represents a big step – and a light year leap from its original edition exactly 30 years ago, when conspicuous consumption, Nerds candy and the McRib were the law of the land. “She’s making quite a statement by coming,” says EcoFarm spokesperson Marcy Coburn. “We’ve been seen as ‘fringy’ in the past – this shows how our movement is entering the mainstream.” Merrigan, a former congressional aide who helped write federal organic food-labeling rules and recently directed the agriculture, food and environment program at Tufts University, has blazed a promising path since her appointment, pioneering the landmark “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” As Merrigan herself is well aware, the time is ripe for the sort of change EcoFarm sows. “Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than they have been at any other time since most families left the farm,” she says, “and we are marshalling resources from across all of USDA to help create and strengthen the link between local production and local consumption.” The gathering is booked, but Weekly readers can follow enviro-reporter Kera Abraham and myself at twitter.com/mcweekly starting Thursday, Jan. 21.
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The exoskeletons stand no chance. Here comes the dripping, the splashing, the smiling. I’ve never seen so many community crab feeds coalesce at once. An amen is in order.It starts with 700 pounds of crustacean at the North County Crab Feed 6pm Saturday, Jan. 23 (633-3084), with all proceeds from the $40 entry benefiting local seniors and kids. Saturday, Jan. 30, Monterey Pacific Rotary is packing St. Angela’s in P.G. for Phil’s Fish Market cioppino plus some Mike Marotta music. $55, 277-5936. Tickets for the 6th Annual Central Coast Young Farmers and Ranchers version go on sale Feb. 1. Fifty clams equals crab and tunes from Trail Ride Cowboys and the Shan Johnson Band Feb. 27. $50, 751-3100. The veteran experts of the mass-crab odyssey – the glowing men and women at Portuguese Hall in Monterey (372-1913) – do their $45 original Saturday, Feb. 20. Each is stacked with salad, garlic bread and wine. All stoke good causes. And every one has sold out in the past. Get cracking. ~ ~ ~
Some restaurants feel right, with hospitality hardwired in every server, piece of art, cushioned booth and homemade morsel. So it goes with the new oui-oui-worthy Le St. Tropez in Carmel. I swung through Jean Hubert’s charmer and the generous crudité (olives, house-crafted hummus, rustic breads) and a plate of mussels Marseillaise ($9) – a couple dozen delicious shellfish in a steaming garlic saffron broth that demands dipping – impressed. A Patch Block Sauv Blanc from a short list of varietals by the glass (there are 70 bottles) paired well.
The work Jean and his wife Mary put in is obvious and inspired. But the tastiest thing going might be what he and the Dolores Street Dream Teamers (think Georises, Finks and Pepe) are scheming: a street market fitting the Euro feel of their fare – Jean pictures violinists, sidewalk tastes, shops open late, even a juggler. (Oh hell yes.) Here’s hoping Carmel’s City Council gets it.
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François and Christine Richard, formerly of Chez Christine and Bistro Christine, are back. With owner Nancy Lewis, the duo has opened Le Normandie in Pagrovia, in the corner left dark by Mélange. The Weekly’s Michael Whalen attended last weekend’s soft opening. “They’re in top form, serving an expanded menu of classic French food paired with a nice wine list – over 20 by the glass,” he says. “The beloved endive gratinée is back, and if the rabbit with sauce chasseur is any indication, Le Normandie’ll soon be a local hot spot.”… Deamer Dunn’s also back with Pajaro Street Wine Bar (754-3944) in the same spot as his beloved grill. He’s calling it a “light” version of his seven-time winner of the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, and lining up small plates like veggie terrine and baby back ribs for around $5 to go with his super cellar of wines 4-8pm Wednesday-Saturday… Salinas stalwart Smalley’s Roundup (758-0511) is taking its porterhouses, Grandma’s platters and secret sauce to to the former Baker’s Square. The grand opening’s Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 9:30am… The 10th anniversary of Peppoli’s February events have already started selling out, 647-7490… AIWF’s Champagne, Caviar and More tasting hits the Lodge in Pebble 3-5:30pm Sunday, Jan. 31. Reserve by Jan. 25, 626-9369… … That’ll do.