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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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Because You Deserve It: Food Photography That Rules

From the How-the-Hell-Did-They-Do-That-One file comes "Turtle Burger."

Weekly staff photog Nic Coury dug this up (as only he can), though he was unable to find someone to credit in all its appearances. (If you're out there, e-mail me...Coury may be out of a gig.)

When I asked Weekly readers to send in their best food photos for $100 in shrimp and hush puppies at Bubba Gump, I got nothing this genius. But I got some good ones. Makes me want to open up the contest continuously...send in shots to whenever and I'll post good ones and work on conjuring some prizes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh My Goat: Chili From God Recipe

This story started with a potluck. It turned a corner with an insomniac e-mail from an intern. And it ended cushioned by a heaven-sent cloud of chili flavor.

Weekly intern-at-the-time (and current contributor/court translator and former longtime ex-pat in Spain) Daniel DeCamp, pictured above in his habit, brought along his stew to a potluck. It was damn good. I pulled him aside, and asked him to start bringing it by on deadline night, soliciting feedback and honing his recipe, because I suddenly had aspirations for an amateur entry at the Carmel Valley Chamber's Annual Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off at Holman Ranch.

DeCamp (seen here talking language theory with sheriff candidate Scott Miller) is prone to firing off essays in the middle of the night, including recent pieces on Spanish food versus Mexican and the problem with dogmatic thinking. One about chili came at me thusly:

"I was in my kitchen, pondering what to do with a massive supply of pork shoulder I had recently bought, when a powerful godlike voice spoke to me," the e-mail begins. "It said: YE SHALL MAKE CHILI! At that moment a sense of divine urgency came over me. I repaired to my study and in a matter of minutes I emerged, like Moses coming down from the mount, carrying a legal pad on which my new chili recipe was scrawled."

The close: "Finally, after much anticipation, I sat down to taste my creation. And it was good. The otherwordly voice spoke again. It said: YOU HAVE DONE WELL MY SON. NOW GO FORTH AND SHARE...

"All my life I've been searching, yes searching for something to give meaning to my life. I thought to myself perhaps this is it. Perhaps this is my purpose. The quest: to be a chili cook-off champion."

He need only perfect his already-excellent stuff. Soon his higher-power pork was replaced with carefully sourced goat to honor some anti-swine eating patterns among our growing champion-to-be team and open up the possibility of a chili called Oh My Goat, which fit with the divine inspiration his e-mail had provided for a theme.

When the day drew near last week, the Weekly angels sprung to action. Folks helped reconoiter the requisite nun costumes, candles and sweet sign designs. We painted a confessions/critiques booth. We crafted the 10 Chili-mandments. Number Seven: Thou shall not steal the OMG Chili recipe. Just ask for it.

Daniel's epic recipe follows, as does another recipe from the pro winner, Marinus Sous Chef Anna Steege.

But wait, you're wondering, how could chili this heavenly, this blessed, lose? My crack expert advice: We were sinfully placed off the main track, tucked into a courtyard away from the lawns, which we didn't so much realize—or mind, since we were between two margarita booths, including Rio Grill's, where Cy Yontz had some boffo buffalo chili going with smoked gouda and blood-orange-serrano pepper margies from Eddie Banaszek.

Almost everyone that did find us thanked the Good Lord they had, whispering, "We were told to find the nuns," but not everybody persevered long enough to get to OMG in the first place.

See...this lady is praying for another refill. Seven types of layered chili pepper can do that. And look at that confession booth with the holy goat. Shoulda been a lock for best table.

This table got top nod...gorgeous tomatoes from a gifted farmer, but creativity that hasn't really ascended too highly. And though you had to admire the great organic sourcing, the chili was plain.

Ah, sour goat milk that can't taint a great event. We had a blast. And now you have some great recipes, delivered directly from the chefs without editing from this mortal flavor-maker.

Wicked Wickets Chili with Short Ribs and Roasted Peppers

Short Ribs 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ½ pounds short ribs
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup, peeled, seeded and chopped heirloom tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup Bernardus Pinot Noir
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
2 quarts beef broth
salt and pepper

Roasted Peppers
1 pablano pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 Anaheim pepper
1 jalapeño pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
½ habanero pepper

1 white onion diced
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
chipotle peppers (optional)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy covered pot over high heat.

Season ribs with salt and pepper – patting it in well with your hands.

When pot is nearly smoking add ribs without crowding them and sear on all sides until they form a brown crust.

Do this in batches if necessary. When all ribs have browned, add onions, celery and carrot: sauté 1 minute to brown lightly.

Stir in tomatoes, garlic, wine, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, pepper and enough broth to cover ribs.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to gently simmering. Cover and simmer until very tender, about 2 ½ hours. Cool and cut into bite sized pieces (most of it will fall apart). Reserve cooking liquid.

Roast all chilies on grill until skins are blackened. Allow to cool in a covered pan. Peel skins and seeds away. Dice peppers.

Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic and diced onions. Cook until onions are translucent and then add roasted, chopped peppers. Add beef short ribs and remaining cooking liquid to pan and bring to low simmer. Stir in spices and adjust accordingly. Add more beef broth to adjust consistency.


Oh My Goat Chili

Main ingredients

3 lbs. goat shoulder cut in bite sized pieces

4 cups cooked pinto beans

15 medium roma tomatoes


1 medium onion

2 medium carrots

2 celery stalks

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeño pepper

1 serrano pepper

1 habanero pepper

1 poblano pepper

1 Thai chili pepper

1 Anaheim chili pepper

Spices and other ingredients

2 tbsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. ground coriander seed

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1½ tbsp. salt

Salt, pepper, garlic powder and flour to coat meat

¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tbsp. for later

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

6 oz. dry Marsala wine

8 oz. organic free range chicken broth

¼ cup all purpose flour

It's a good idea to prep all the ingredients before the cooking begins.

To start, finely chop all the vegetables, except the tomatoes, and combine in a bowl.

Next, blanch and peel the tomatoes, chop them into not-too-small pieces and set aside.

Season the pieces of meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then coat with flour.

In a 10-quart stock pot, bring ¼ cup of olive oil to medium-low heat. When ripples form in the olive oil, not smoking, place a small piece of the meat in the oil to see if it's hot enough to brown the rest of the meat.

The oil is ready when the meat sizzles moderately.

Add enough of the meat to cover the bottom of the pot without crowding.

You may need to do it in two or three batches.

Move the meat around occasionally and when it's slightly golden brown, not dark, remove the stock pot from the heat. Then remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.

You can also go ahead and measure the dry spices and combine in a small bowl or container while cooking the meat or at any time during the process.

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, the cooking process can begin. Put 1 tbsp. of olive oil and 4 tbsp. of butter in the stock pot.

Adjust heat to medium-low and wait until the butter is melted.

Turn the heat to medium high and immediately add the chopped vegetables, except the tomatoes.

Keep cooking and stirring until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Next, add the meat back to the pot with all its juices.

Sprinkle the quarter cup of flour into the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes so that the flour is cooked into the juices and coats the ingredients.

Turn the heat to high and add 6 oz. of dry Marsala wine. Stir in for a minute or two or until you see the mixture turn into a thick paste.

Now add the 8 oz. of warmed chicken broth. Pour in the dry spices and stir until the mixture starts to bubble a little.

Immediately add the chopped tomatoes and stir well so they are equally distributed with the rest of the mixture. When it begins to bubble wait about 30 seconds and then turn the heat down to a very low temperature.

Add the pinto beans after about an hour. Allow to simmer for a total of 1½ to 2 hours or until the meat is tender, not chewy, and you can cut it with a fork or spoon.

Stir occasionally and keep the heat low enough so the bottom doesn't burn.

And that's our baaaaad ass goat chili.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Big Fish for Aquarium Food

She's had a string of successful restaurants to her credit, including Fog City Diner, Tra Vigne, Bix, Roti, Betelnut, Buckeye Roadhouse and, in Carmel, the Rio Grill.

She started Mustards Grill—and a resulting MG cookbook pulled in a James Beard award.

She's been a pioneer in demanding sourcing standards from the land to the sea.

And now she has a gig, given the Aquarium's arm length, where she can reach huge populations of people, and tons of chances to collaborate with fellow chefs to elevate their eating habits.

In short, Cindy Pawlcyn looks like a great fit, and a great catch, for the Aquarium.

“For 25 years, I have loved coming to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with family and friends," she says. "I am excited to bring sustainable, locally produced, farm-to-table foods to enhance the culinary experience of a larger audience, and I look forward to working with a new group of farmers, ranchers, fishermen, artisanal cheese and dairy producers, and purveyors from the Monterey Bay region.

“I am pleased to be partnering with [Aquarium food contractor] ARAMARK because of their commitment to delivering outstanding guest experiences, to providing healthy, satisfying food, sourced responsibly, using fresh, seasonal ingredients in the aquarium's café, restaurant, and catering menus, and to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program.”

“We are very pleased to announce this new partnership,” adds Julie Packard, executive director of the aquarium. “Cindy Pawlcyn has an extraordinary reputation as a chef and an advocate for sustainable cuisine and Seafood Watch. We’re delighted that our daytime guests, and attendees at evening events, will be treated to dishes that reflect her culinary vision.”

More from the release:

• A pioneer in the development of Wine Country cuisine, Pawlcyn has earned accolades since she opened the first of her three Napa Valley restaurants more than 25 years ago. She is the chef behind the legendary Mustards Grill, which opened in 1983; Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen; and the West Coast seafood restaurant, Go Fish.

• She was a student at the Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, she has a degree in restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin and is a two-time nominee for a James Beard Award as Best California Chef.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Glorious Harvestness Happens

If there's one word to describe the second edition of Harvest Carmel, that'd be easy. Overwhelming.

Not in a bad way. No no no. But for its supposed status as a little sibling to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine, this event throws even more diverse activities at its audience, from internationally touring rock talent to eco-minded finger painting to barbecue seminars to breast-cancer-battling cocktails to the West's best wines to Zagat-decorated chefs. Sheesh.

"It's almost like it takes people a couple of years to figure out how to enjoy everything," event co-founder David Bernahl told me as he hustled to (and from) Harvest to a massive Meals on Wheels benefit production with Wolfgang Puck in L.A. each night of the two-day event.

WAR didn't take much effort to enjoy.

The all-smiles alliance had as much fun as the crowd in swinging from their under-appreciated catalog of funk to their as-popular-as-ever "Cisco Kid" and "Spill the Wine."

At least 300 voices the field over joined in on "Why Can't We Be Friends."

But no one danced like the super-talent in the turquoise, who even got a turn on stage.

At the MeEarth Hilton Bialek Habitat area, student art from recycled and scavenged materials rocked their own (break) dance moves. Kids big and small dug in compost to check out wriggly worms (under 12 come in free)...
slapped painted palms on a illustration of Earth...

and got to pet a baby cow.

This cutie got into her own unique kiddy activity come day 2, adding a little tambourine to The Gin Blossoms anthems. The 90s buzz band hit its classics but also unloaded a full dose of originals from its new CD, No Chocolate Cake, which just came out this morning.

Robin Wilson was a force of charisma, swigging Red Bull-vodka from a Gatorade bottle, high-fiving the crowd and distributing tambourines.

He even mugged with sleek cougars and little fans alike. It was that intimate a show.

"This is a fancier crowd than we're used to," he said between songs. "We're just working-class guys from Tempe, Ariz."

As hard as it was to tear oneself away from the super-accessible stage, too much more inspiration lay everywhere on a field that doubles the size of the PBF&W Grand Tasting tent. Guests almost need both days (and two stomachs, and two livers) to get to the 200 wineries and 50 chefs.

Just the organizers' projects represent a small galaxy of flavors—the same Coastal Luxury Management team that founded Harvest in the wake of TomatoFest had its executive chef and chief of the Cannery Row Brewing Company kitchen Mark Ayers (right) pumping out absurdly good mini crabcakes.

Good news: Their bigger iteration is on the menu at CRBC.

Same goes for the heroic carrot cake.

CLM restaurants director Gary Obligacion was all grins at his post repping CRBC sister 1833 Restaurant, still under construction in the Stokes Adobe.

The summertime melon gazpacho with awesome texture from marcona almonds, pistachios and peas knocked socks off—and bodes well for a ever-shifting seasonal menu I'm told is rounding into shape as they survive building code checks and keep assembling the redone 1833 kitchen in downtown Monterey.

The rabbit ballontine with pickled fennel relish was also worth some mmm-mmmm (and a picture).

One epicurean revelation: Brian Overhauser of Wrath Vineyards, whose Peking duck confit taco with meat from Metzer Farm stole the first day's taste award and the $1,500 check that comes with it.

It was a wowser. I could've inhaled a dozen, but there was way too much other taste to get after. Overhauser is planning collaborations with Hahn down in South County to bring the forgotten corner of the county culinary credibility it hasn't enjoyed previously. Stay tuned for word on the center they're putting together in 2011.

Hot name Tyler Stone did these apricot and raspberry wonders...

and mingled at Saturday's afterparty, fitting with a theme of accessible star power that lasted all weekend—where people are coming away with a full belly, dazzled palate and a story of chumming with A-listers.

The afterparties are informal affairs that might be the best part of the day, particularly because you can pluck from the wonderfully wide array of top wines leftover from the day, all at one table.

Rob Baker of Me and the Hound slept overnight on the lawns so he could tend his slow-smoked pulled pork, which was again a home run.

One of the coolest components I saw was the electric pink cactus pear cocktails Salinas' own Andy Boy was doing by the Shoreline-sized stage.

Andy Boy reps distributed ribbons to bump up breast cancer awareness and told me their ag giant has donated $1 million to research to date, and continues to plop pink emblems on their boxes.

Equally inspiring: word from Dory Ford that his Aqua Terra sustainable/healthy school lunch program is expanding beyond Stevenson Lower to Chartwell and All Saints. Better yet, he says he's meeting with lawmakers to discuss subsidizing the meals so more than private and charter well-to-dos can dig in.

More reports from the field soon. In closing this peek at the party I will say this: Yes, the Harvestness hits hard and happy. Start resting up for next year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Best Baby Food Ever (Mom and Dad Score Too)

This week MCW food contributor and new mom Pat Tanimurhardja looks at great places to eat with an infant along for the experience.

She has some excellent (and somewhat surprising) additions to the list here:

Peppers Mexicali Café
170 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove
(3 ½ baby bottles out of five)
In this cozy locals joint, baby is lulled to sleep by white noise leaving mom and dad to enjoy a full bar and yummy Mexican cuisine with a California twist. Quick and friendly service make the food--think garlic shrimp, mushroom and artichoke enchiladas and yummy mole sauce—taste even better. And did I mention the blood orange margaritas?

701 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
(3 ½ bottles)
Arrive for an early seating and you and your family will be seated in a prime spot in the dining room. While adults partake in cuisine with a conscience paired with appellations from their award-winning wine list, kids get royal treatment with a special order of mac and cheese.

Sea Harvest Fish Market
2420 Hwy 1, Moss Landing
(3 bottles)
With the harbor at its doorstep and an enclosed deck that keeps the wind at bay, this Sea Harvest location is a winner. Your toddler will be mesmerized by boats coming and going and sea lions basking in the sun, and your baby will drift in and out of sleep while you enjoy fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices.

Vito's Italian Restaurant
1180 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove
(3 ½ bottles)
This family-run restaurant is all-ages friendly and yet still a romantic dinner spot. Regulars keep coming back for the stellar service and melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi, and it’s the perfect place to introduce your lil' one to his first taste of gelato!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Otter Been There: The Rebirth of Marina’s Neighborhood Bar

"Anderson - Hey there," the e-mail read. "My name is Corby Anderson. Corby M. Anderson, actually. CMA. You, it would seem, are Mark C. Anderson. MCA. Very interesting. Also, you are a writer, and, believe it, so am I. There are similarities in style and subjects as well..."

Thusly this Anderson introduced himself, referencing a common allegiance with the incomparable Ed Leeper in the process. Now he introduces Marina's latest hope for a serviceable night scene, loyal "Mariner" (to use his moniker) that he is:

On a typically foggy Marina night back in November, the Otters Den, long-time juke-and-pool sort of hang out for Marina’s working class that was previously known as the Undertow, was engulfed in a torrent of fire and smoke. Thanks to quick work by the Marina Fire Department and assorted fire crews from around the county, the conflagration was extinguished before the Reservation Road-located structure was totally burned to the ground. But the damage to the revered bar, and in many ways, to the already flagging Marina social scene, was done.

For the past year, thirsty Mariners with a desire to party into the witching hours were left to either migrate out of town or brave the wildlife that teems at cross-town bars where the cards, and often, the fists fly.

But at long last, out of the ashes of recent history there comes another option – one that should well suit those locals who dig watching games, playing pool, and clinking glasses in a, to quote a grand re-opening attendee, “un-skeezy” atmosphere. Owner Jim Bridges’ showed a dogged determination to not only reopen the Otters Den, which he had only owned and managed for a few short weeks before the bar caught fire, but to improve the entire operation and to provide a comfortable, upscale sports lounge to his clientele.

On a recent Friday night, it was clear Bridges’ hard work had paid off. Clusters of people gathered outside to joke and smoke. He and his staff welcomed what seemed like half the town of Marina into his refurbished watering hole. Indeed, it was the largest, and most amiable gathering that I’d seen in my hometown since the police line at the end of my street when my neighbors were arrested for armed robbery last Thanksgiving.

The first impression that I had during the grand re-opening was just how colorful and (yes!) lively the bar is in this new iteration. Gone are the dingy ceiling lights, the tired, predictable posters, and the placards advertising a spelunking experience several hundred miles away, and in their places are big, bright TV monitors that seemed as big as Cadillac hoods, a mesmerizing LED-lit back bar, retina-pleasing drop-down accent lights and the palsy-inducing pulse of a brace of DJ lights.

To add some VIP spice to the evening, Marina Mayor Bruce “Crazy Legs” Delgado attended, replete with ill-fitting Marina football hat (that man has a head of hair so thick that it rejects common hat wear) partaking in the action of multiple games playing on the Otter’s Den’s brand new HDTV monitors, and showing flashes of Riceian suavity on the dance floor to the thumping sounds of DJ Israel.

As a re-opening gift, Jagermeister, the German liver-tickler, was kind enough to send along two of its well-rounded representatives, one of whom drove several hours (from Napa, not Berlin) just to party Marina-style. They kept the crowd plied with a heap of swag – hats, shirts, and tin posters, and $6 Jager shot specials.

“Wait a minute,” I asked. “Isn’t that more than a normal shot costs?”

“I think so,” said the brunette. “But how often do you get to drink in a brand new bar in Marina?” And she had a point…

With their pleasance, good humor, and impressive stash of Jagerswaggen, the shot chicks brought along stacks of extra cups with which to stack. We Mariners are an easy bunch – give us something to stack, break (pool) or chuck (darts) and we’ll keep at it until the sun comes up.

Unless you count the barking of seals or the mating call of the rare (and vicious) snowy plover, live music has been almost non-existent in Marina for several years. But Otters Den owner Jim Bridges hopes to make that a thing of the past. And while DJ Israel does not quite meet the definition of “live music”, i.e., a band, he is very much alive, and was playing music, and though it was technically not even his, most of it was very good…and loud!

Atmosphere, and quality of imbuement, can really make or break a saloon. The new Otters Den is polished to a fine sheen, and chock full of brand new furniture, pool tables, bathroom accoutrements, liquor cabinets, and barstools. A new barstool truly is a wondrous thing. Unmolested by the masses of asses, springy, a welcome touch when contemplating a Sunday’s worth of football games. The Otters Den has a new slogan – “Purveyors of Fine Libations,” and a whole list of custom cocktails. On tap are some of the best beers known to man.

At closing time, the Den was still packed, an amazing site in a town that likes its sleep. Bridges and crew were worn out, having spent the day on last minute touches, and the night slinging the aforementioned fine libations.

“Pretty darn successful,” Bridges allowed in a moment of quietude. “We were packed from 9:30pm on.” And what was his impression of opening night? “It’s a major evolution from what it was. We’ve got a local, middle class, neighborhood sports lounge here, and it’s going to be a fun place to hang out.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Little Things You Should Know

Rancho Cellars is about to be racked.
Tuesday Jacques Melac gave me a few reasons it’s not all bad that Rancho Cellars (625-5646) next to the Barnyard is closing its doors at the end of the month, at least for him (we’re screwed). For one, it wasn’t for lack of traffic or the acidic economy, but because the building’s owners sold. Two, he says he and chef-wife Janet (above), who ran the Cepages Deli within the store, “don’t know how the wine business is going to make it through the next two years,” so a little break ain’t horrible at the moment. Three: “We’re sticking around here,” he says. “It’s our home. And we’ll pop up somewhere.” Finally, there’s still some furniture for the buying, though he admits the inventory’s pretty picked over.

The redwoods are a little lonely.
When I spotted a grinning David Dildine, he was basking in the bombastic Jazz Mafia hip-hop/symphony hybrid at the Monterey Jazz Festival—great taste, BTW, mister chef—when he told me he was no longer doing his Redwood Grill at Fernwood in Big Sur, where’s he has been an enthusiastic (and important) element with everything from the Chanterelle Cook-off to Big Sur Food & Wine. Tells me he’s after world travel for the moment.

Big Sur is Bon Appetit foodie land.
Speaking of the Sur, Bon Appetit named it one of the foodiest towns in the country, though they left off some big reasons why with this:
“In the midst of a 90-mile stretch of protected wilderness along California's Central Coast, this town is home to jaw-dropping scenery, award-winning hotels, and three of the quirkiest restaurants in the West,” it reads. “Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Deetjen's Big Sur Inn and Restaurant, and Nepenthe. And be sure to order seconds when you visit Big Sur—surfing, hiking, and cycling are nearby to help burn calories.”
Um, guys…Sierra Mar, Ventana and TreeBones! bear mention. (As one commenter wrote, “Most foodiest and only three restaurants?...what the hell does ‘foodiest’ mean anyway?) Fortunately all will all figure prominently into the upcoming Big Sur Food & Wine Festival Nov. 4-7 (

Harvest Carmel is a new event unlike anything we've seen.
It's this weekend on the Quail lawns: scores of chefs, 100 wow wineries, WAR, Gin
Blossoms, $85/day, 622-7770…

The Kitchen is cooking.
Great little get together coming Friday in Sand City in crazy-ass chef Todd Fisher’s The Kitchen (970-5073) 5-9pm Friday, Sept. 24. He’s throwing out tasty snacks and a little wine gratis to help turn the community onto his catering superpowers and two artisan allies/experts in epicuria, sausage deity PigWizard Jonathan Roveto and muffin maven Katie Martin of KT’s (who also aces cakes—and healthy lunches delivered direct to the office place, starring locally sourced salads, soups and sandwiches)…

The hell-of-a-time Heller Estate Grape Stomp cometh.
Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon-4pm at the Heller Estate Vineyard in sunny Cachagua—winery tour with Winemaker Rich Tanguay, barrel tasting, good food from Bahama Billy’s, special wine deals, cool organic grape juice up to the knees, yeehaw. $25 per club member; $30 for non club members. RSVP by Oct. 7, 659-6220 or

Bernardus is worth the money.
The Eighth Annual Bernardus Winemaker Dinner happens Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. Chef Cal Stamenov fires up 5-course autumn-inspired dinner paired with the new release Bernardus wines, Winemaker Dean DeKorth and Vineyard Director-compost master Matt Shea talk grapes—this is a party of the highest order. $165, inclusive.

France won at least one.
I saw David Fink sipping something sophisticated at Lalla Lounge (above), and he told me Aubergine Exec Chef Christophe Grosjean is sailing for his native France.
“He doesn’t want to raise his kids in this country,” Fink says. “Can you blame him?”
Looks like Randall Hane, Aubergine’s sous chef, takes over from here. And Fink’s Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group, also behind Cantinetta Luca and a new restaurant-hotel in Napa, keeps cooking.