February 1, 2012
Todd Champagne, fittingly enough, is a bubbly dude with some pop to his conscious preservation tactics. Player knows how to pickle.
But he's also orchestrating some of events at his Happy Girl Kitchen (373-GIRL) in Pacific Grove to sync with EcoFarm.
Champagne, his wife Jordan and the HGK folks do everything with enthusiasm—whether it’s house-fermented kombuchas or lively beet pickling classes—so that makes the “EcoFarm dinners” ($55 each) they are doing Thursday and Friday, Feb. 2-3, with veteran Manresa Sous Chef Jacob Pilarski, worthy of several of these suckers!!!
If you’ve been living under a sauce pan for the last few seasons, Manresa is David Kinch's Los Gatos spot that teams with Love Apple Farms to taste make in a major way.
San Francisco Magazine food critic Josh Sens gave it an exceedingly rare four stars the other day.
"For the first time in my nine years as a restaurant critic," he writes, "I'm giving a quartet to Manresa. The first time I awarded four stars, it was to the French Laundry in 2004, and in 2005, I gave the constellation to Cyrus."
His tasty punchline: "An excellent choice for your last meal before Judgement Day."
Pilarski will spotlight two different local suppliers, Live Earth Farm and Serendipity Farm, respectively, over the two nights, with dishes like nettle-and-hominy-stuffed onions and salt-roasted beets with seaweed.
Bluegrass music and beer tastings precede the dinners 5-6pm ($7), and a Saturday authors series follows: John Ivanko and Lisa Kvist on Farmstead Chef (10:30am-noon), Charlie Cascio tasting people on honey and goat cheese and talking Esalen Cookbook, and Rachel Kaplan exploring her Urban Homesteading.
But EcoFarm and Happy Girl aren't the only game in town over the next few days. The two most promising, by my ouija board:
• Chef Matt Bolton, wine guru Paul Fried, manager Jacques Melac and Pacific’s Edge (622-5445) uncork standout wine dinner series Thursday, Feb. 2, with Siduri ($95), followed by Hall/Roessler (March 15), Justin (April 19), Pride Mountain (May 3) and a Farewell to Foie (June 21).
• The annual Portuguese Crab Feed. Picture a football field’s worth of happy tables filling Portuguese Hall in Monterey, and piles of cioppinno crab, prawns, garlic bread, salad and cheap wine filling them. The crab cracks Saturday, Feb. 4, with 5pm and 7pm seatings. Get $45 tickets at the door or, to be safe, call 372-1913 between 2 and 5pm. First dancing happens on the taste buds, then it heads to the expansive dance floor for traditional and free-for-all boogying (for those who can still move). It's one of the most fun foodie evenings you can do. It's more experience than meal, a big, fat. happy, personality-plus mess.