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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, September 8, 2010

Lil' Nibbles for the People

I came across some food-related morsels worth mentioning over the last few days. Without further warning, here they come:

Tequila-cured salmon is a real thing.
Rio Grill (625-5436) in the Crossroads in Carmel has a new Sunday brunch menu by Exec Chef Cy Yontz.

He's talking brioche french toast topped with whipped cream and cajeta, eggs benedict with blackened serrano hollandaise, tequila-cured salmon with sweet potato hash and blue corn, a Southwestern frittata with blackened corn, green chiles, chorizo, mixed cheese and chipotle crema, and a piñón pancake stack with guava maple syrup for $10.25 to $14, among other dazzlers.

Yontz made me a believer long ago with his roast chicken and baby artichokes. These inspirations make me ready to renew my faith come 11am-3pm Sunday.

A $10 bill can get you good food, wine and music—and help local charities.
The 14th Annual Musical Marketplace at Del Monte Center is jamming along Thursday evenings in September from 6-8pm. The 10-spot boosts the likes of Operation Yellow Ribbon and Family To Family, and in return donors get a chance to taste a few local wines, graze on food from DMC restaurants and soak up music from groups like this week's, Red Beans & Rice. Head for the Sunken Garden, or just follow the music.

And $20 can get you even better wines (and more snacks) in Salinas.
Zeph’s One Stop (757-3947) is doing another show-stopping tasting. “Does Size Matter?” happens 5:30pm Thursday, Sept. 16. Picture boutique wineries who produce stellar wines, all pouring several tastes, for just $20 (in advance): Bring on Manzoni, Boete, Puma Road, Joyce, Bookenogen, Pedregal (from Gary Franscioni), each of whom do super sips. So does De Tierra, which just won winery of the year from San Francisco International Wine Competition.

And Zeph's sister spot Portobella provides a range of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres.

In short: Great value. Great night out. Great education. Great people. Great Scot.

Learning can be fun. And should involve drinking.
Kim England, Chef Tony Baker and mixologist Anthony Vitacca scour the “Holiday Party Basics” noon-2pm Saturday, Sept. 25—floral arrangements, gift packaging ideas and appetizers and cocktail coaching with lunch, cocktails and local wine pours included, $45 plus tax and gratuity. 648-8880.

A good team makes for a dynamite dinner.
Tantalizing "Wine and Food Lovers’ Dinner" led by Aquarium Executive Chef David Anderson coming up, in large part because the collaborators are killer. His four-course menu pimps local produce from Serendipity Farms, dessert from Parker-Lusseau Pastries and wines from McIntyre Vineyards. Each purveyor joins the party, as does local fisherman Jerry Wetle, who introduces the catch of the day and talks bay fishery realities. 7:30-10pm Saturday, Sept. 11. The $130 per member; $150 per non-members includes a reception, dinner, wine pairings and a bottle of McIntyre to take home. 648-4880.

Leon Panetta learned to navigate politics by working a walnut farm in Carmel Valley.
As U.S. News & World Report blogs, Carmel Valley's own Leon Panetta, head of the CIA and the old chief of staff for legendary eater Bill Clinton, says he learned everything he needed to know to dodge drama in D.C. as a farmhand.

After working as a dishwasher in the family restaurant run by his Italian immigrant folks, he helped tend the nut orchards.

"My parents believed that child labor was a requirement in our family," the piece quotes Panetta telling a Asian American professional group. "So we worked there, and then my father sold the restaurant after the war and bought a place in Carmel Valley, a farm, and planted walnut trees." Here's the story's kicker:
"I'll tell you an interesting story," he told the conventiongoers, tying his work on the farm to his reputation as a skilled and jovial Washington insider. "In those days, in order to get the crop, you had to go around with a pole and hook and shake each of the branches, and then you collect the walnuts underneath the tree. And so my father would go around with the pole and the hook and hit the branches. My brother and I used to be underneath, picking up the walnuts," Panetta explained, working up to the punch line. "When I got elected to Congress, my father said, 'You know, you've been well-trained to go to Washington. You've been dodging nuts all your life.' " Panetta still owns his family's walnut farm.