May 16, 2011
• Post No Bills, the craft beer house-to-be in Sand City's Design Center, appears on track to open on time Monday, June 6, at 3pm—hallelujah—which means it will serve as Monterey Bay Beer Festival's official pre-, post- and all-purpose auxiliary party place. It'll be open 3pm-midnight Monday through Thursday week one, then 11am-2am for a Brewers Party Friday, June 10, before June 11's festival, during which PNB will stay open, and prepare to receive the after-party peeps until 2am. It's even open 11am-midnight Sunday for a "No Rest for the Beer Fest Weary" engagement. The festival, meanwhile, is selling out at $35 a ticket. That's 12:30-5pm that Saturday, with a new VIP party opportunity ($55) to help celebrate the "10th Year of Great Beer in Monterey." Get tickets at the festival website or Compagno's Deli (375-5987) in New Monterey, Zephs One-Stop (757-3947) in Salinas, English Ales Brewery (883-3000) and Wild Thyme Deli (884-2414) in Marina or the Monterey Fairgrounds office (372-5863) in Monterey.
• Rich Pepe's new Vesuvio Trattoria Bar and Pizzeria in the former Piatti opens Wednesday, May 25. At this weekend's soft opening the pizzas were on point, the arancini apps were cheesy and flavorful, the big downstairs bar, fireside lounge and wider dining room (next to the open kitchen) were all sparkling, and Pepe was in full welcoming effect…but it's the roof at this volcanic spot that's going to be on fire. Loungy couches, firepits, a compact but complete bar, heat lamps and small stage make it the only real topside destination this side of Carmel Hill. With help from, say, a smoky mescal cocktail from Assistant GM Adam Olthof's deep reservoir of drinks, this place is set to explode this summer, and will help Carmel's social personality get a little younger. (Check out a past post for more on what Pepe's planning.)
• Last week I reported on the nice additions to Carmel Valley's gastronomic game in time for summer adventures, including a new, hip Joyce tasting room (659-0312) open Friday-Sunday next to Parsonage, a Corkscrew Cafe Sunday winemaker series (659-8888), and a new quick-and-easy food stop Kathy's Little Kitchen (659-4601). More good news where that came from: Dan Karlsen's Chock Rock Vineyards (659-4725) has a tasting room next to Toast Carmel Valley (659-8500). In other valley news, sources tell me they are thrilled with the return of Jenn and Nelson Foreman at the helm of the Running Iron, and digging what former Rocky Point chef Danny Locklar is doing to the roadhouse menu. And finally: 11am-5pm Saturday, June 11, the whole village rallies for the 7th Annual Art & Wine Celebration in Carmel Valley—plein aire artists, photographers, jewelry designers, and an assortment of local crafts, live music on multiple stages, fine art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, and a wonderful selection of cafes and restaurants, with no admission fee. (Wine tasting al fresco is $15 a person.)
• St. Angela's Children's Center has a great way to celebrate a quarter century: A Louisiana lobster boil. It bubbles up 6:30-10:30pm Saturday, May 21, at Lighthouse and 9th. For $65 per ticket guests grub a 1.5-pound Maine lobster, plus prawns, sausages, corn, artichokes, potatoes and bread plus a Klondike Bar for dessert. While a DJ spins Zydeco, jazz and pop music, a no-host beverage, beer and wine bar and a benefit drawing—which includes five chic chic dining and travel experiences—amplify the messy, bib-wearing, social experience. Get Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company diva Janet McAthie for more info at 521-5932.
• Alberto Bonatelli's Italian represents some of the most artful flavor by the bay. Now he has a full-on art studio opening just a few doors down. Medusa’s Emporium (655-3325) is now open with limited hours—and an open house happens 3-7pm Saturday, May 21. Bet the treats beat most art opening fare, which will go nicely with the work of S.L.Greek (from Possibilities Art Studio & Gallery) and Bonatelli. Just across the street at Fifi's (372-5325), meanwhile, a superb wine dinner is coming together Wednesday, May 25, and will likely sell out quickly, as it should when Chef Janet Melac pairs four courses (like local rockfish with lemon-vermouth cream and magret of duck with spiced carrot puree and port reduction) with seven Burgundy wines for just $75++. That happens Wednesday, May 25, 5-8:30pm.