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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crucial Crumbs: Surprising Food Nuggets To Gnaw On

Pig Wizard ain't rollin' dirty no more.

Before last week Palo Colorado's Jonathan Roveto could only share his wondrous spicy Italian and manchego chicken and Morrocan lamb sausages with friends or at special events.

No longer.

Thanks to a USDA nod he finally got last week after his share of hula hoops and beaurecratic bonks, he can start sharing his tubular triumphs with restaurants, though he will need to adjust his label before he can sell uncooked links in stores.

First up—Esteban in downtown Monterey (375-0176) and Big Sur Bakery on Highway 1 (667-0520). Reveto says BSB is already serving the goods.

He told me as much in the sand at Monastery Beach on Sunday as I caught the beautiful, dusky dregs of his birthday party. For him, that meant he provided the pork and other folks furnished the beer.

As in capital "P" Pork.

Yes—he stuffed that suckling pig sucker with carrots, fennel root, onions and his own Pig Wizard sausage. That whole-roast-suckling-pig-stuffed-with-crazy-good-sausage thing is a metaphor for something profound.

I'm just not sure what.

I am sure that it was damn good.

(Read a little más about how the Wiz got his brauts banging—and took home two crowns at the Big Sur Chanterelle Cook-off—by clicking over to a recent blog post.)

School lunch can be healthy, tasty and affordable.

In a past life, as a development director for a big-hearted, small-staffed nonprofit, I used to ask one of my students, lil bug-eyed, weak-kneed Kevonne, "So what was for lunch today?"

He'd blink Bambi eyelashes over watery irises and say, "Spicy Cheetos and a Coke."

Hence it gives me more than pedestrian hope that ace healthy-and-sustainable food samurais like Dory Ford and Esteban Jimenez at Aqua Terra Culinary have launched a school lunch program where lunches are reasonably priced at $5.95 for grades K-3 and $6.95 for 4–8. (Orders can be placed up to 6am the day the lunch is to be served or can be purchased a full month in advance.)

Of course, Stevenson School Carmel Campus—the first to sign up—doesn't have the bussed-in, lunch-ticket, innercity L.A. population Kevonne's Webster Middle School did.

But still.

Wineries and top fitness go hand in hand.

As spots to celebrate a 13-mile trek go, this doesn't suck.

Saturday, Aug. 7, the Salinas Valley Half Marathon starts at 8am—at the historic Soledad Mission—before twisting winds north along the hem of the Santa Lucia mountains and concluding at Pessagno Winery.

More than 1,200 runners and walkers from all over California and 19 other states and several foreign countries will weave through wineries, vineyards and row crops along the way; the arguably wiser spectators can welcome participants at the finish line and enjoy the free Expo and Awards Ceremony—think vendor and information booths, live music, local artists, great barbecue, wine and beer.

Wine tasting and one glass of beer will be free to registered runners (must be 21 or older). Others can taste Pessagno’s most current releases and higher-end wines, or a sampling of their award-winning Pinot Noirs for $5–$15 refunded with wine purchase. Beers come courtesy of Cannery Row Brewing Company.

More here.

MPC Farmers Market is now a Friday thing.

I see more chefs—whatcha got in the bag, Christophe Grosjean? Can I study your grocery list, Mike Jones?—at Monterey Farmers Market at MPC (728-5060) than any other local markets.

It debuts its first Friday fraternity meeting of freshness this week after 34 years of Thursdays. Celebrate the change with free cake (!) and the same fresh produce and local farmers 10am-2pm—new hours—at Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey.

All that bubbles is not Champagne.

The dependably engaging tastings at Zeph's continue with an Aug. 17 expedition into sparkling wines.

The $25 tag is more than fair for an evening of California and international splashes and nibbles by Portabella.

"You'll find delicious flavors and great variety from California, Spain, France, Italy and more," Bill, Vince and the team writes, "without the hefty price tag of the French Champagnes."

Matt Bolton is way cooler than Michael Bolton.

The singer is several years into the whole less-hair-more-heart thing—and visiting Carmel's Sunset Center Aug. 18—and the new executive chef is just a couple of weeks into his reign at Pacific's Edge (622-5445). But I'd much more happily pay to see Matt do his thing than Michael.
One of the best showcases to do so looks to be the first ever wine dinner series at the award-winning cellar of Pacific’s Edge Restaurant he's doing with new wine director Paul Fried.

From August through December, each dinner will be devoted to a wine-growing region with seldom-available vintages from the highest profile indigenous wineries. "An Evening in Burgundy” is Aug. 17. A look at the menu of tastes reveals how they calculated a $300 tag:

Oyster & Caviar Sous Vide – Island Creek, Golden Imperial Caviar
2006 Domaine William Fevre 'Bougros' Chablis Grand Cru
Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio –Australian Winter Truffle, Quail Egg, Brioche, California Osetra Caviar
2000 Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 'Champgains' 1er Cru
Monterey Bay Spot Prawn – Swank Farms White Corn, Chanterelle, Umbrian Summer Truffle, Chardonnay Sauce
1997 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
Sonoma Duck Rossini – Smoked Duck Breast, Pomme Anciene, Port-Bing Cherry Jus
2002 Robert Groffier Chambolle Musigny 'Les Amoureuses' 1er Cru
Dry-Aged Ribeye – Cast Iron Seared Prime Beef, Heirloom Ratatouille, Sauce Bordelaise
2001 Domaine Dujac Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
Epoisse, Tartuffo, Valencay – Grilled Santa Rosa Plum, Blenheim Apricot Chutney, Toasted Walnut-Fig bread
2000 Comtede Georges Vogüé Musigny 'Vieilles-Vignes' Grand Cru

The series sips on through Spain (Sept. 23), Italy (Oct. 21), California (Nov. 18, in celebration of the harvest and crush), and France (Dec. 16).