Thursday, August 30, 2012
It’s a Monday night dinner to rival Cachagua General Store’s.
OK – downtown Oaktown Tamarindo’s upscale Mexican prawn tacos and queso fundido differ from CGS’s rustic bone marrow and salmon soup, and the soaring bar is plenty distant from the hillbilly version in the valley, but the mood at both was MoCo loco.
To my left, Peninsula born-and-bred Alisha Petro, former Weekly design star and current art director for national Yoga Magazine. She’s readying for a trip to New York’s Fashion Week, where last year she did a MCW cover about Seaside native Rachel Roy’s fashion empire, and will report for us again this year. She leaves with one regret: She won’t be able to attend Fashion’s Night Out at the monthly Independent Marketplace in Sand City 4-9pm Thursday, Sept. 6.
It’s a particularly timely and ambitious undertaking for the Todd Champagne-Patrick Orosco-led farmers market on steroids (organic ’roids, of course), which has yet to disappoint after a handful of monthly installments. One reason: The rotating roster on seasonal participants each first Thursday, including different wines, beers and food trucks reflecting themes like Cinco de Mayo and Santa Cruz. Next up: FNO.
Fashion’s Night Out happens across the world – last year it tallied 4,500 events in the U.S. and nearly 20 countries overall – but the Independent will host our area’s first. Organizers are envisioning the Marketplace’s usual farm-to-table produce and “truck-to-belly” grub with designer-to-wardrobe styles from folks like Foxy Couture and Big Big Big Big Sur Fashion Show organizers, plus a Project Runway-style show led by stylists like Maddox Haberdasher, Erin Schelcher and Domini Anne. Oya Salon will be there – you know national talent Brian Bode had to have a role in anything like this around here. DJ Oshen spins; Songs Harry Hot Box Taught Us sings; TopShelf Boutique fashion truck from SF and Cat’s Meow gussy up the few fashion-backward. More treats: a showing of Big Sur International Short Film Series finalists at 8:15pm and lubricants from Wrath Winery, Mesa del Sol and The Drink Mixtress.
Back in Oakland, young entrepreneurial force of nature/Monterey native Temoor Noor sits to my right. He owns and directs the poppin’ Grand Tavern by Lake Merritt, which has introduced a sidewalk bar to go with its pioneering cocktail menu, neighborhood feel and tap beers like Town Lager from Linden Street Brewery, which he bikes over to heed a carbon-neutral mission. More delicious? He’s gathering investors and partnering with fellow playmakers like Chris Pastena of Oaktown’s trendy Chop Bar on a waterfront Italian seafood joint opening in Jack London Square, a Tribute Tavern steakhouse in downtown and a third TBD project in a co-op uptown spot called The Hive.
Noor’s uncle is chef-owner of the former Amir’s Kebab House (642-0231) on Lighthouse in New Monterey, which is up to some stuff too: Owner-chef Mukhtar Amir renamed the joint Amir’s Grill & Bar to reflect a new liquor license, creative drinks and expanded menu that balances incredible Afghan-style delicacies like mantu, koobida kebabs and spit-roasted salmon with tourist-leaning fare like naan pizza and yam fries. The belly dancing jiggles at 7 and 8:30pm Saturday nights, as it will for the grand rebranding Saturday, Sept. 15, followed by West Coast Swing Dance play.
Back in Oakland, Jeff Moses hung out too, grazing on a queso chicaharrones and chiles toreados. As the boss behind Monterey Beer Fest (www.nightthatneverends.com) continues to steer Big Hurt Beer to national prominence, he’s also extending his festival reach, with brand new Holiday Beer Fest Los Angeles and a summer San Francisco event in the offing to complement the Holiday Beer Festival in S.F. Nov. 17. Which means big-city Oakland, as it sees itself increasingly overtaken by Monterey movin’-and-shakin’, ain’t alone.
•There are 16 wine-tasting spots in Carmel now that Ray Franscioni’s Puma Road (214-6871) opened on Friday. They’re serving glasses and snacks from neighboring Tuck Box on Ocean 3-8pm daily. The estate-grown varietals by winemaker David Coventry include Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Santa Lucia Chard and Pinot and the full range of Bourdeaux varietals – Petit Verdot, Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot and Malbec – which is rare.
•Julia Child would’ve loved the stories and impersonations, the beef bourguignon and nicoise, the love and more love. Get a full report on her 100th birthday celebration at Hyatt Carmel Highlands on the blog.
• Big Sur Food & Wine’s Toby Rowland Jones was one of many who donated and attended to the Child event, which evoked the Masters of Food & Wine of years gone by repeatedly. And that intimate-and-mouthwatering Masters mood is just what TRJ is scheming for the opening Nov. 1 Gateway to Big Sur event. Just about every event will sell out, so the need-to-hustle bustle over to www.bigsurfoodandwine.org is no hyperbole.
• Highlands Chef Matt Bolton had one of the best plates with his smoked duck. Saturday, Sept. 22, he hosts a “Meet the Farmer” lunch ($75) with Dick and Bonnie Swank from Swank Farms, 622-5445.
•McIntyre Vineyards celebrates 25 years Saturday, Sept. 15, with a harvest party featuring walking wine tours, new releases of award-winning McIntyre and a lavish picnic in the vineyard. The $65 sticker is sliced by 20 percent with a visit to the tasting studio in Hyatt Monterey, 649-WINE.
• For Sunset Magazine’s Savor the Central Coast Weekend Sept. 27-30, if you book a two-night stay in San Luis Obispo, you get two tickets to the main event free, a $170 value, www.savorcentralcoast.com.
•Our readers’ vote for Best Restaurant in Carmel, Cantinetta Luca (625-6500) is now open for lunch 11:30am-2:30pm weekends.
•“Style,” Orson Welles said, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”