July 20, 2011
Out there at the Corral de Tierra and Highway 68, they've been waiting.
The wait is over. At least in part.
While progress on the larger Corral de Tierra Neighborhood Retail Village development languishes along at the general pace of a bored banana slug, 10am tomorrow (Thursday, July 21) the former Cal’s Market and Corral de Tierra Market reopens as an upscale deli-grocery after two years of darkness.
Introducing the Corral de Tierra Marketplace (484-5100).
I called my pal on Laureles Grade with the news. "Oh man, it'll be great," he said. "It's a quick drive instead of rolling all the way to town and back."
I stuck my head in Monday when I saw the lights on late and found the core team rolling the cement floors a rich red and grinning excitedly in anticipation.
They quickly pointed out some welcome upgrades—like the wooden ceilings they've revealed from behind a metal lining—and noted that the number one question has been, "Will you be smoking while you make the sandwiches?" as the previous owner had. (If you don't know the answer, here's a hint: It's a little nicer place now.)
“It’s 2011 now. I gave it a face lift,” says owner and Carmel Valley resident Nani Linares (above, paint can in hand). She brought aboard her long-time friend-turned-business-partner Elizabet Wigham from her work in Scottsdale managing a boutique grocery there, and her do-everything-daughter-turned-manager Jaime Hinton.
A deli and espresso bar rank among the cherry additions. This brand-new walk-in (above) isn't as sexy, but is just as crucial to the new game.
The deli offers premade pasta and vegetable salads ($4.99), sandwiches and paninis ($7.99), with names evoking local features of the landscape.
The Highway 68 is an adventurous-sounding specimen, with roasted turkey, cranberry sauce and cream cheese, while the Laureles Grade is more traditional, with salami, pastrami, peppers, onion, lettuce and tomato.
Linares’ favorite lunch from the marketplace is the Corral de Tierra veggie sandwich on fluffy Palmero ciabatta bread, with fresh avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, pepperoncinis, sprouts, and Swiss cheese with a hint of mustard.
For commuters and locals alike, the espresso bar feeds all caffeine cravers, open from early morning to late evening, with made-to-order lattes ($3.50 for 12 oz.) and cappuccinos ($3.25 for 12 oz.) to brewed coffee ($1.75 for 12 oz.).
In addition to the usual milk, eggs, and bread, the marketplace also offers beer and local wines, fresh organic produce from Watsonville, and organic poultry and meats from Sierra Meats.
The trio of lady playmakers insist wine tasting and barbecue afternoons are in the offing, but that was back-burnered in an effort to get the joint open in time for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix and California Rodeo Salinas this weekend.
The store is scheduled to be open 6am-8pm at 2 Corral de Tierra Road, Salinas. Call 484-5100 or 484-5102 for more.
Amanda Womack contributed to this story.