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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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shake It For Salvation

Weekly food writer Tony Seton made his way over to Portola Hotel (866-711-1534) to look in on an annual benefit for the Salvation Army put on by one of the county's first families of food, the Shakes, in honor of their iconic patriarch immortalized by the wooden statue on Fisherman's Wharf, Sabu. Here's what he came back with, alongside some photos from Nic Coury:

Oh what a night! The Shake Family held their third annual “Sabu’s Safari Goes Caribbean” event at the Portola Hotel. It was a grandiose event to honor their iconic father, Sabu Sr., while raising funds for the Salvation Army.

More than 350 attended, among them the incumbent splash of community leaders including supes and councilfolks, a sheriff (above left) and a bishop.

A silent auction featured hundreds of items, among them sports memorabilia, bottles of wine, a few art pieces, vacations, dinners and spa treatments preceded the dinner, with the local glitterati wandering among dozens of tables, writing their bids, sipping libations, and nibbling a delicious array of appetizers including abalone, white anchovies bruschetta, Caribbean papaya with prosciutto, ahi carpaccio...

chevre-stuffed figs (above), and baby artichoke hearts with crab meat.

One of the highlights of the evening was the menagerie of live animals carried among the guests. There was a skunk, a five-foot python named Tarzan, a monkey, an owl who was obviously up before his bedtime, and Wally the alligator. He was only about 20 inches long but would grow to 12 feet; he had his mouth taped shut. The animals were from Wild Things at the Vision Quest Ranch, a primary sponsor of the evening. (Guests also got to have their photographs taken with an animal.)

The main course, of course, was the food. The executive chef was Mo Tabib, who also runs the kitchen at the Fish Hopper (372-8543). He was supported by a number of other culinary pros including Juan Ponce of the Old Fisherman’s Grotto (375-1331), and Jason Giles of the Portola Hotel. And oh my goodness, the food was downright excellent: tables of sea bass, halibut, king crab, lobster, chops, and prime rib, ably supported by steaming dishes of rice and pasta and vegetables, plus various salads and breads. There were also several tables of dessert, including cakes, pastries, and fresh fruit. The food and drink were contributed by dozens of local companies.

The problem with all that food and hours to eat it is that one does one’s best to diligently consume all of these delicious goodies. All-you-can-eat is a marvelous concept if you have a semblance of discipline. Otherwise you eat too much and there’s nothing semblance about the feeling of over-indulgence as you waddle home. Still, it was for a good cause.

There was a video celebrating the life and spirit of patriarch Sabu Shake, who passed to the great restaurant in the sky about a decade ago. And there were stirring reports on all the good that the Salvation Army has done since 1895 when they saw to the needs of the Chinese fishing community in Pacific Grove, and is doing today in our own tough times. Thousands of families, children and individuals get food and shelter, training and counseling, along a path to a better future.

A live auction after the dinner was emceed by KSBW anchor Dan Green, who at one point offered the line that this wasn’t the first time he was upstaged by a monkey in a diaper. He helped raise tens of thousands of dollars (they’re still counting) by bidding out vacations from Kona to the Caribbean, premier treatment at a Giants (baseball) game, and a sparkling variety of special dinners for you and your 10, 20, or 40 closest friends.

The Tropicalismo Dance followed, and then there was dancing to Jeff Narell and the Bongo Beach Band.

The Shake organization ran the affair well, and they were proudly complemented by excellent service by the Portola staff.