June 5, 2012
Between the lively and fresh Independent Marketplace coming Thursday, June 7, to the avalanche of events Saturday—wine fest, beer fest, art fest, surf fest, chowder fest, anyone?—this robust buffet of food bites could be merely about events and still pack your belly.
But it's not. It's about upgrades to arguably the area's most popular supermarket getting better, Trailside strolling its hours into the sunset and the best deal on amazing gnocchi I've ever known. So dig in:
• Whole Foods (333-1600) is applying for a liquor license, which is particularly promising given their impressive empowerment of local managers to buy local, small-batch items in every category. (Fog's End, get ready.) They're also anticipating a remodel with customized burrito bar, pizza area, less cheese square feet and more hot prepared foods. The bakery’s allegedly the first thing to get a lift.
• Trailside Café and Coffee House (649-8600) is back to longer hours (until 7pm except Sunday), and adding live music with them. That's crucial news as the days stretch hotter and longer. Owner Sean Allen will be pouring Trailside’s fine Belgium draft selection at the Monterey Beer Festival Saturday, June 9, plus some North Coast Brewery goods.
• Speaking of Saturday, here's one way to play it: Swing by the West Coast Clam Chowder Cook-off for dozens of super soups, head to Monterey Beer Fest for, oh, 200 tastes from 80 breweries, peek in and win big on I’ll Have Another’s run at the Triple Crown at Monterey Bay Race Place next door, book it over to Carmel Beach for the Sunshine Surfabout, run down Highway 1 to the epic abalone lunch at Pacific's Edge, slide over to Carmel Valley Art & Wine for vino, creativity and nine bands on three stages, head into Cachagua for a ladybug release with wine and snacks at organic Heller Estate, then roar back up Carmel Valley Road to Bernardus for Dinner in the Vineyard with Cal Stamenov and a good cause, hit Post No Bills for the Beer Fest afterparty and then gingerly and gracefully lay down and die. (See the A&E Calendar for more.)
• But first there's Thursday. The monthly Independent Marketplace detonates then with beers and wine (Figge! Bernardus! Joyce! Monterey Beer Festival!), prepared eats (Toast Carmel Valley! Babaloo Cuban! Lugano!), organic produce, kids corner, local seafood, natural meats, pickles and preserves, fresh art and hundreds of square feet more, 4-9pm Thursday, June 7, in Sand City.
• That’s far from all that’s fermenting with the folks at Happy Girl Kitchen, who co-founded the Marketplace. July 6-7, Manresa Restaurant Sous Chef Jacob Pilarski pops back up at their P.G. spot to chef Freewheelin’ Farm produce to benefit youth empowerment outfit FoodWhat ($55, 373-GIRL).
• Chef/Owner Didier Dutertre, Wine Director Colleen Manni and Bistro Moulin (333-1200) bless guests with darn-good $5 deals all month to celebrate five years. They happen to also be two of my leading reasons (among many) that I recommend that place so much: the spinach gnocchi and a glass of Jean-Luc Colombo Provence Rosé.
• Cibo Ristorante (649-8151) recently added a new small bites menu. Now they've just unleashed a lush new $10 cocktail menu, with everything from anti-oxidants mojito to a royal pisco punch. At happy hour, it's down to $7.
• Wednesday, June 13, Basil, Point Pinos Grill, The Golden Tee, Bistro Moulin, Carmel Belle and Henry’s BBQ donate 10 percent to Animal Friends Rescue Project (333-0722) for Dining Out for Animals. www.animalfriendsrescue.org for an updated list.
• Father’s Day ideas: Fandango (free drink for Dad), Tarpy’s ($3 beers), giveaways at Peter B’s (dinners, overnights) and Two Good Rounds: 19th Hole Stories From the World’s Greatest Golfers ($19.95, www.twogoodrounds.com). Author Elisa Gaudet was in town to mingle around AT&T time, gathering treasured golf stories from Arnold Palmer, Graeme McDowell (who won the last U.S. Open here and celebrated at Brophy’s) and Jack Nicklaus, among dozens of pros who also share favorite 19th hole spots, hole-in-one stories and cocktail recipes. Coincidentally, Nicklaus is in town next week as to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of his first U.S. Open with a party at Pasadera.
• Local sausage hero Pig Wizard, aka Jonathan Roberts, has surfaced successfully in Spain with his new bride Nicole (aka Baby Bird) and they are blogging about learning the Old World ways of food as they stay at various farms and essentially live the dream. One post from each up now at Pig Wizard and Baby Bird Do Europe: Farms, Food and Fun. Keep em coming you two.