Thursday, June 30, 2011
The live Grateful Dead banjo music, BYO wine and entrees like mesquite-grilled pork ribs in pumpkinseed mole ($16) have long made Cachagua General Store’s (659-1857) Monday night-only dinners hot like a Penelope Cruz-stuffed piquillo pepper. But the rogue Michael and Brendan Jones show gets even hotter in the summer, when there’s more light to make the curvy trip to Cachagua and more warmth to enjoy the outdoor dining, creekside bocce ball and sunset castanet dancing by lovable lech Grant Risdon.
The other night I took some New Yorkers out there, and gems like the Chesapeake oysters with roasted porcini cream ($8.50), Micah’s pizza with house-cultured mascarpone and Corralitos ham ($8 or $14), “Mike’s best smoked salmon” ($8.50) and Valrhona chocolate crema ($6) left them dizzy.
Soon thereafter, some sun-toasted solstice celebrators and I surfaced for the lesser-known-but-no-less-savory Sunday brunch, and the rich bacon Benedict didn’t disappoint, especially at the $12.50 sticker, which includes Santa Cruz Organic mango juice and lil’ fatty dollar pancakes.
While there, I learned renegade CGS and Mike Jones are the lone trend-setting local participants on a start-up website that hopefully finds some serious traction. It’s called Real Time Farms (650-814-7796), and its young, forward-thinking, former-Bay-Area flavormakers ID smart-sourcing chefs like Patrick Connelly (Bobo) and Alex Young (Zingerman’s Roadhouse). They also link to all of the high-quality purveyors that places like CGS, L.A.’s Melisse and the White House use. They allow diners to search local farms and markets and generally ferret out those tending to their plots with consciousness. Jones says Cal Stamenov and Bernardus are next. Hit the blog for a link, a piece on Jones that won the Weekly a national award, and a bonus from militant Mike himself.
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So as I was saying: It’s summer. Some other season-appropriate elements to salivate over (visit the blog for more):
• Restaurant 1833’s fire-pitted garden patio is already jumping – and I was there on a Monday. The squid salad ($5), bacon-cheddar biscuits ($3.50), boneless chicken wings confit ($6.50), crispy hen egg ($12) and tomato salad ($10), meanwhile, all scored, as did some clever concoctions like the Basil Pimms ($10) and the Penicillin No. 2 ($10).
• If you are wondering how summer, vampires and P.G. paella play together, you’re not watching The Lost Boys enough. I popped the Santa Cruz-filmed ’80s/summer/vampire classic and happily basked in all its fanged-Keifer Sutherland, ghetto-effects glory. It was the cameo of Fandango (372-3456) server Tony Cain, though, that got me thirsty – not for blood, but for escargot ($10.75), osso bucco ($19.95) and powerhouse seafood paella ($21.95). I’ll be asking for a seat in Cain’s section.
• While we’re at it, a viewing of Goonies also primed my palate for local grub. Joey Pantoliano, who got big with The Sopranos, plays one of the criminal brothers after Mikey, Data and the gang. He’s pards with childhood pal Rich Pepe in Pepe & Pants pasta sauce. And Pepe’s new Vesuvio (626-7373) rooftop and its crafty cocktails are ideal for some summertime under the sky.
• Moss Landing’s Haute Enchilada (633-5843) lunch specials, like the Brussels sprouts arugula bacon Parmesan salad ($10.95) that had Weekly Assistant Editor Kera Abraham iPhoning a pic, scream summer. I also love the idea of diving into the wild-salmon tacos ($14.95), shrimp-ceviche-stuffed artichoke ($12.95) and cumin-lamb burgers ($12.95) on the quirky patio.
• Firok Shield’s Bistro Beaujolais in Carmel Plaza (624-5600) has a happy hour going from 4-6 daily – none of that stinginess on weekends here – and live music every day from 7:30pm on his own attractive al fresco set-up.
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The Brit’s gettin’ legit. Britannia Arms (656-9543) brought aboard Chef Douglas Yeomans of Chicago’s Tarragon Catering to revamp the menu.
“We’ve tried to take the classic pub fare and add more vibrant, healthy flavors,” he says. “We want to keep fish ‘n’ chips but showcase local produce more.”
To that end he’s already added a farmers market Cobb, a Brit chopped salad, grilled strip loin in a Murphy’s stout sauce and coriander-crusted salmon, among other treats. New menu party is 5-7:30pm Friday, July 1, with free tastes of new items, raffles and a chance to win a dinner a week for an entire year.
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It was a throwback, a breath of fresh air and damn handy. Now Daniels Corner Store in P.G.’s Del Monte Park is a memory, as oldie owners Wayne and Shirley are moving close to the grandkids… New small-batch Santa Lucia winery Aiena Wines (917-1989) just opened a tasting room at Anton & Michel in Carmel Fridays-Sunday 1pm-5pm. Tell ’em I sent you… $98 is a deal for a tasty Tudor Winemaker Dinner at Andree’s Bouchee Wednesday, July 6, when it means Dan Tudor’s top grapes and things like cured wild salmon salads, jumbo diver sea scallops in sundried tomato butter and veal tenderloin in morel-porcini-chanterelle sauce. 626-7800… “There shall be eternal summer,” Celia Thaxter said, “in the grateful heart.”