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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gourmet Fest 2015 Carmel-by-the-Sea March 5th - March 8th

 Justin Cogley of Aubergine prepared a delicate white fish with greens, chives and a light emulsion

Sarah Wood, editor and publisher of Edible Monterey Bay enjoying the 'Seafood Grill' hosted by La Playa Hotel in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea on Sunday, March 8th, throughout the historic hotel's ballroom and dining facilities on the property.  A beautiful day of sunshine, fine wine, great seafood, enticing chefs and luxurious bubbling spirits and fresh oyster, caviar and friends of this well manicured food and wine festival.

 Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey served up an Amberjack Escabeche with a birch vinegar, wild celery root, winter radish, celruce and sea lettuce tasting much like the ocean flavors and a fresh garden twist.

 Black River Caviar was presented on the hand with a champagne served alongside or a vodka shooter to chase it down.

Jonathan Cartwright of Muse showcased fresh crab salad with a eclair flair which at first glance we thought was a 'crab hot dog' but tasted sweet and almost a desert quality with the light favoring and showcasing the richness of real crab, real fresh

Colin Bedford of the Fearrington House used a fresh raw shrimp from Hawaii (Kauai farmed?) that was topped with a radish greens and crunchy fried crisp rice cake and light broth to add warm to this dish that had so much going in flavor, texture and presentation  (one of my favorites of the Seafood Grill)

 Pacific Oysters were shucked and served naked as Mother Nature has prepared for our enjoyment.

 Pacific mussels prepared with Chicharonnes and seaweeds with a touch of wild roots which seems to be the theme this year in preparations of all of the seafood dishes.  This resurgence in the use of our wild and native greens, roots and trees to compliment of foods have created flavors I am sure have a history dating back to the dark ages when women used them for healing and we honored by their tribes for their knowledge and wisdom.  Let's hope this trend is catching on in mainstream America and bring us all the hope of a world where everything is valued and everything is given it's life and respect to exist.  Viva la vie.

 One of the most amazing dishes served at the Seafood Grill was Jennifer Backman (Weekapaug Inn) was a beet soaked fresh salmon served shabu shabu styled with greens peppers, seaweed and an emulsion (I'm guessing) of fresh ginger, citrus, sesame oil and vinegar which presented the most alluring of flavors on the tongue and a slight aftertaste of the citrus and sweet.  Beautifully plated and presented was a definite 2nd helping dish for me.  Memories of Kauai Island of Gardens and magic just like this dish.

Waren Barr of the Pointe Restaurant at Wickaninnish Inn served a smoked Cod with a rich warm flavor of woods and salted perfectly with seasoning and a light emulsion of green spices.  A lovely flavor and texture with a slight ocean and wood scent

 Digo Munoz was my favorite of the "Welcome Party" hosted by La Playa Hotel on Thursday, March 5th whose charming Spanish accent added to his presentation of veal heart and sweetbreads in a rich brothy sauce and pistachio crushed aioli.   A delicious presentation and something I normally would never eat but for this amazing chef who brought me back to Barcelona where I spent months producing a TV show for CBS and TV3.   Well worth the trip to Spain to visit his restaurant Astrid & Gaston Casa Moreyra

Olga Poplikova enjoyed the global flavors of the closing event of Gourmet Fest 2015 at the La Playa hotel with her favorite airlines, Lufthansa serving the very best in champagne at their "Seafood Grill" and "Welcome Party".  Their airlines serves local gourmet cuisine on their flights now in Business and First Class service as well with great service to European cities from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Worth the booking for your next trip over the pond.

Jennifer Backman's Salmon Shabu Shabu was the most beautiful, flavorful, creative and delicious of all the seafood selections for my #1 pick of the event.  All were unique and had their distinct flavors which I found were mostly focused on the natural flavorings of the seafood with slight touches of greens and wild roots and woods.  Mother Nature's fishing poll at her best.  
Thanks to Mirabel Group and David Fink's group of perfectionists who seamlessly kept this festival running like clockwork and with an elegance and flow that is to be envied.  A second year of success for this amazing event.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 Foodie Moments Around Monterey Bay

I ran into this guy at the Monterey Peninsula  College Farmers Market on Friday Am last Spring (2014) and he had this Porcini from Pebble Beach which looks great but I am told could be filled with  worms???  Last year we had a fair mushroom season on the Monterey Peninsula but 2015 will be epic I'm told and so far I've seen some awesome mushrooms both on my hiking trails in Pebble and PG and in Big Sur Forests.  My word of caution, please do not eat mushrooms you pick unless you have someone 100% verify that they are edible.  

Forge in the Forest small bites at the Carmel By the Glass event in September.   This annual event benefits the Carmel Mission and is sponsored by local wineries and restaurants who host strolling guests at downtown Devendorf Park.  Just a note for the history books;  Jack Galante's (of Galante Wines) grandfather was the Devendorf of Carmel that this park is named in his honor.  He and his partner formed the Carmel Development Company to sell seaside lots to the professors and academics from Stanford University and SF socialites.  Seems like that he was somewhat successful as Carmel can boast both thinkers, drinkers and social types alike.  

The master chef of La Balena in Carmel showed off his rustic bruschetta on wooden planks to the crowd's pleasure at Carmel by the Glass.

I picked 70 pounds of Serendipity Tomatoes out on Carmel Valley Road in August 2014 and made fresh bruschetta and, tomato sauce for the winter months ahead.  We  had fresh tomatoe mozzarella basil salads every week for the whole month of August into September this year due to our seasonally warm summer with endless days of 80 and 90 degree temperatures.  Not a normal summer along the California Coast of Monterey but we'll take it.

The last sit down dinner at the Independent Marketplace hosted by Happy Girl Kitchens, Fresh Catch and Serendipity Farms providing their amazing tomatoes.

Heart shaped beets and hummus appetizers were provided by Rancho Cielo youth kitchen staff who served and were greatly appreciated with praise and applause at the end of this communal meal of supporters for the Independent Marketplace.

La Balena's bruschettas on plank at the Carmel By the Glass.  

Photographer Patrice Ward appreciates a good meatball when he smells it at Carmel by the Glass.

Flashback 2014 Big Sur Food and Wine Festival - November 8th, 2014

King of festivities and fun, Mr. Toby Rowland and his seemingly effortless hosting of the day.
The king of Red Wine, Mr. Pisoni in the flesh and always a smile that kills you with joy and intoxication of his passion for wine and food.    

My favorite wine experience with Tercero Wines and Larry Schaffler and his home-made breads and Artisan Rhone Wine and Red Wines.  What great flavors of both he shared with us that day.  Thanks Larry, you are a wine maker from the heart.

Alvarado Street Brewery served up their small bites of duck ham and micrograms in a pomegranite vinaigrette

Shrock Dairy with their 3rd generation of cheese and fine milk producers located on their hill above the 101 in Salinas Valley, CA   You can tell they use happy cows ... they really have something to smile about.  

The Solano's of Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing and their amazing dish of plantains with a mole sauce & creme and pumpkin seeds roasted sprinkled on top.  This was my favorite of the day of small tastings that took place in the magnificent redwood forest of Big Sur Pfeiffer State Park (under a tent) and with a small and more intimate selection of fine wines, foods and foodies of course.  Thanks to Toby Rowland who is always the ultimate host of the event.
Shades of Big Sur Food and Wine with this past year's (2014)  favorite moments of chefs, foods, wines and celebrations of all things edible.  This great four day event has occurred in Big Sur for the past six years with a wide variety of locations from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park "The Big Sur Lodge" to "Ventana" and "Post Ranch" for the main tastings and a fine selection of restaurants for the specialty dinners and afternoon festivities;  Big Sur Lodge, Big Sur Bakery, Ventana, Redwood Grill, Big Sur Roadhouse, Sierra Mar and Pacific's Edge, to name a few.   I must say, I miss the wine walk at Post Ranch no longer offered and would love to do a hiking with stemware one year if I could get to the website before it sells out, but I can dream of another year in the Redwoods with the smell of porcini roasting on the grill, the smell of a crisp white wine and laughter and smiles echoing down the Sur.  Good memories, good food, good wine and a great event for a great purpose and community.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pebble Beach Food and Wine is right around the corner and in my backyard.  Another year of fantastic food and wine events that rival any other events in the USA now.  I've been a supporter, a volunteer, a dish washer and a food enthusiast for Rob and Dave's first year's event to present and believe that food is the way to our hearts and minds.  Wine helps support this philosophy and presents the flavors and tastings to a degree of excellence that makes this a spiritual mecca of sorts to the Pebble Beach tents popping up along the greens and fields of Pebble Beach Company.

What events will you be attending this year is always a hard choice which is the interesting thing about this event.  Everyone has their own tastes and with a selection of this magnitude, it can only be a wonderful surprise for your body, mind and soul.

I hope to be blogging from the tents and events - with fork in hand and glass primed for another trip to an exotic and tantalizing flavor from some of the best chefs in the world.  Celebrate - live - enjoy !

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Mucky Duck Brings it On!!!

Caught up with the Mucky Duck last Friday night to 'test the waters' with their new ownership and menu and what a great surprise.  Not only has the service become a big deal here but the food has gone off the charts!     I purposely came at a busy time to see how they were handling a Friday night before Halloween and they were prepping a costume party as well.  The teens ordered their Grilled Chicken sandwich, fries and a seafood pasta that was amazingly good with all fresh seafooda rich tomatoe sauce with a light sweetness to really let you taste the seafood piled on top of this BIG dish.   My order of mussels came and I couldn't believe the size and plumpness and grit-free with a hint of oregano and garlic.  The mussel sauce was soaked up with their fresh sourdough bread and this will really be one of my spots for mussels now.   I even tested a few of their draft brews which were very diverse in flavors and settled on the owner's choice (You'll have to ask Anthony the name!) which was a rich, creamy golden with a lovely aftertaste and not too hoppy.      The bone-in rib eye steak finally came (it was alittle on the well side) and was as tasty as the rest of the meal though.  The dinner was a good selection of what is on their menu and offered daily, plus the kids even liked it now and thought it was a great place to dine as a family.

All in all, knowing the fine dining at Tadich Grill has now come to Monterey via the Mucky Duck - I will be coming back for more of their fresh seafood, great grilled sandwiches and fine brews.  Can't wait for the brew dinner they are planning this month!  I see great success for this newly revived Monterey tavern and eatery.  Don't forget the "hangtown fry" one of the best from Tadich's menu now here in Monterey.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


C Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel on Cannery Row (  has a great 3-course menu to enjoy.  I thought  I'd try something new and what a surprise their new organic "Air dryed" chicken with Truffle au jus from Mary's in Santa Cruz Mtns.  A plump flavor with lots of juice and just the right consistency of crisp skin.  Served with the starter, Tuna Tonato which is one of my favorites (can't get enough) with kale and calamari lightly fried with fresh lemon slices to accent the flavoring and a spicy chipolte sauce for dipping.  I selected the "New World Flight" of sparkling wines that really bring up the flavor of all the dishes we tried, including the swordfish with seaweed salad and wasabi cream.  Dessert was a chocolate praline crunch bar that hit the spot and of course, their presentation from Jerry Register's kitchen staff and General Manager, Sonny Peterson was first class all the way.  This restaurant wins my best for a civilized and inviting menu to enjoy with the backdrop of the peaceful waves on the Monterey Bay.  Thanks for a great Monterey Bay Restaurant Week 3-course experience!