Gourmetfest brings world’s top chefs to Carmel -

10363741_420831428081654_5379756238398257796_nFebruary 9, 2016 – So much about Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest in Carmel sounds like hyperbole—but it really isn’t. Many food events call themselves “world-class,” but when you’re talking about a gathering of more than 15 chefs—who create gastronomic masterpieces at acclaimed restaurants around the globe—there’s no doubt about the level of expertise.

Everything from a foraged mushroom lunch to vineyard tours to a sumptuous rare wines dinner will be crammed into four days from February 25 to 28, with 15 events in all.

Hosted by Relais & Châteaux hotel L’Auberge Carmel, the event encompasses the crème de la crème of food, wine, and luxury lifestyle vendors, with some 2,500 dedicated foodies expected to attend.

Even local chefs can find themselves star-struck by the talent heading to GourmetFest this year. … Read More

Mutari to reopen with new owners -

4dc401df-4bdc-4e79-9341-e7dd31952e94February 9, 2016 – The first bean-to-cup chocolate café in Santa Cruz, Mutari Chocolate, is back with new owners just in time for Valentine’s Day. The popular café attached to the Food Lounge closed it’s doors at the end of last year, when brothers Adam and Matt Armstrong decided to give it a rest. New owners Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier have purchased the business and are excited about launching a series of winter weekend Pop Up Cafés at Front St. Kitchen.

“It’s a pretty beautiful thing,” says Oursler. “We have that same passion for community and for chocolate and are geeking out on that.”

The first pop up takes place on February 13 and 14 from 11am-9pm at the Front St. Kitchen at 504A Front St. in Santa … Read More

Changes afoot on River Road Wine Trail -

February 9, 2016 – Driving down River Road these days, you might wonder what’s up with the vineyard planted where Reggie Hammond’s tasting room once sat, in the days before Marilyn Remark moved into town and Denis Hoey of Odonata moved in next door. The property is owned by Scheid, and they’ve planted some very exclusive clones of Chardonnay and Pinot for a very high-end wine program. Some exciting ideas for the parcel are being kicked around at Scheid HQ, but they will have to wait, as Scheid has been a little busy lately.

A spectacular deck has been added in the Viento Vineyard for trade and media visits, and remodeling is underway in the Greenfield tasting room, where they’re adding a catering kitchen: they hope to have this finished … Read More

Billy Quon’s Sur coming to Barnyard -

69e6c984-c4b0-4679-9a75-382e35de8c41February 2, 2016 – He’s baaack. Irrepressible restauranteur Bill Lee just purchased the space occupied by Namu Asian Cuisine in Carmel’s Barnyard Shopping Village and is getting ready to open Billy Quon’s Sur at the Barnyard Carmel.

“Here we go again,” says Lee, who had a restaurant called Bixby Martini Bistro in the exact same spot nine years ago. “I’m very excited. It feels very much like coming home to me.”

Lee remodeled the space when he took it over from Thunderbird Books and says it’s still in good condition. Following some re-decorating he hopes to open in mid-March. The original Billy Quon’s, which Lee opened in 1982, was at the nearby Crossroads Shopping Center where Rio Grill is currently located.

“I want to make this my last restaurant,” … Read More

LionFish takes over Motiv Kitchen -

ee62c65b-43a8-4d85-b17b-b05481cd0c32February 2, 2016 – The name LionFish SupperClub has a nice ring to it. But until last year I had no idea what a lionfish was. Turns out, it’s an invasive species that is known for its ability to devour other fish and successfully populate open marine systems. So it only seems fitting that LionFish is the name of a pop up restaurant and dinner club that bravely takes on all types of cuisine, near and far, while adding its own signature and taking root in the community. Small difference—they’re actually bolstering their ecosystem by sourcing organic, locally grown and foraged ingredients.

Now that LionFish SupperClub has traveled the culinary world through pop-ups and events, they’re prepared to make themselves at home in a place where others have gone before. … Read More

A sonnet to the vineyards -

37063a8f-8e85-4e71-b2e7-41ae9ebb4c68February 2, 2016 – Born near Newcastle in England, Tony Craig always wanted to be a Shakespearean actor. The stage was his goal, not the cellar. But, circumstances interfered in a most unusual way, and, looking for real paying work between acting gigs, he found himself pushing a broom in the barrel room at David Bruce Winery, rather than playing Hamlet before a sold out crowd.

That was back in 1991. He remembers his first day as vividly as he remembers the last. “It was January 7, 1991,” recalls Craig, of his starting day at David Bruce Winery, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In his own version of rags to riches, perhaps with many more of the former than the latter, he worked his way up through the ranks, … Read More

Pebble Beach Food & Wine announces line up -

eb2ff067-b525-4020-a35a-edf73dba3b78January 26, 2016 – The website is live and tickets went on sale today for the 9th annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine—the largest of our area’s many extravagant food festivals. Glittering PBF&W events are set to take place from March 31-April 3 and feature star chefs from around the United States, as well as plenty of local favorites. New this year is a series of small, intimate dinners like the New Napa Experience featuring three-star Meadowood chef Christopher Kostow in a preview of food from his soon-to-open St. Helena restaurant.

Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson and celebrity chef Brian Malarkey—of Top Chef and The Taste—will offer cooking demos. State Bird Provisions owner-chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski will also be there, preparing a collaborative lunch at Restaurant 1833 … Read More

Gems & Rumors from the Monterey Trade Tasting -


Heather Brand of I Brand Family Wines

January 26, 2016 – Carmel must have a contract with Mother Nature that guarantees shell pink and turquoise sunsets every January evening. Last night at the La Playa Hotel, setting for a Monterey Winegrowers trade tasting, was no different. Thirty wineries poured their latest releases, primarily from vast Monterey county, currently home to 44k acres of grapes—about as many as Napa, by the way.

The colors of the clouds bordered on tropical, providing the perfect backdrop for Nicole Walsh’s (Ser Wines) truly mind-bending Rose of Nebbiolo, a tropical hula dancer of a wine, festooned with leis of orchids and sporting gardenias in her hair. This charming medley of mango, passionfruit, coconut and lime has a zesty edge of acidity accentuated by the wild … Read More

Trendspotting at the Good Food Awards -

377c740f-6b79-46c8-92b7-e44d44872875January 26, 2016 – Even if you don’t consider yourself a food industry trend spotter, you’d have to be living under a rock to not notice certain inclinations from year to year. Restaurant menus, grocery aisles, your friend’s kitchen cupboards…all these places will indicate what ingredients might be most popular at any given time. Remember when kale was the new black? Or when cupcakes were taking over the world? Believe it or not, there are entire career paths devoted to watching these food trends. My own path is not quite on par, but I love food (as I’m assuming most of you who are reading this right now do) and I geek out on food product intel. So here are my six predictions for 2016 food trends, gathered in part … Read More

Ashby Chocolates opening in Santa Cruz -

31ed3288-6bd6-464d-a9b9-7379e080ca05January 26, 2016 – Artisan chocolatier Jennifer Ashby is expanding her Scotts Valley operation and moving into the downtown Santa Cruz café space vacated by Mutari Hot Chocolate at the end of last year. To be called Ashby’s Chocolate Café, the cozy spot attached to the Food Lounge will feature drinking chocolates, European-style hot chocolates, espresso drinks and Ashby’s award-winning candies.

She is renovating the space and hopes to open as early as this weekend. “We tried serving hot chocolate at our Scotts Valley location, but there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I’m so happy to have a busier spot,” says Ashby, adding that the Scotts Valley location at Victor Square will remain open Thursday to Sunday. She will also continue to use the kitchen there for candy-making.

The … Read More