201 Main St. debuts with gala -

33bae1aa-cd64-41d5-967d-9149263a46c8September 30, 2014 – Nearly five years in the making, the ambitious 201 Main St complex in Salinas endured its final city inspection this afternoon and is getting ready to open on Friday for a Winemaker’s Gala dinner—a kick off event to the 4th annual Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival on Oct 11.

“It’s really exciting to finally see this project coming together and how the room is just going to sparkle,” says Lea Madrid, who designed the restaurant’s interior and is organizing the gala. Chef Alessio Giannuzzi, who as we reported in July will run the kitchen, was formerly managing partner of Il Fornaio in Carmel. He is preparing dishes for the dinner to be paired with wines from Odonata, Antle Wines, J. McFarland and De Tierra Vineyards.… Read More

Wine Tasting on Railroad Time -

1fa33331-fae6-4ac9-a774-52e19643f3e3September 30, 2014 – Did you know that there was once a Southern Pacific Coast Railroad route that took folks from Los Gatos to the beaches of Santa Cruz? Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were several stations along the corridor now served exclusively by Highway 17, and Dan Lokteff’s newly opened Wrights Station Winery is named for one of them.

The long-abandoned town of Wrights, which dates to 1879, when a post office was established at the station, is named for the man who established vineyards, orchards and a stagecoach hotel—a tourist destination at the end of the 19th century. With nearly 3,200 acres of fruit in the Summit region, mostly plums and grapes, Wrights became an important freight station for getting goods … Read More

Vietnamese sandwich stars in new cookbook -

6a00d8341ef22f53ef0115702b758d970c-500piSeptember 30, 2014 – It’s not any old sandwich that merits its own cookbook. But there is nothing ordinary about the tangy, crunchy, meaty, yet delicate Vietnamese sandwich called bahn mi. Award-winning Santa Cruz food writer and teacher Andrea Nguyen has a hit on her hands with her recently published Bahn Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches. 

It’s a small, pretty book with colorful photographs and beautiful illustrations. It also offers a short, yet potent, history lesson on the popular sandwich, explaining why it is a perfect example of Vietnamese food culture. “The bread, condiments, and some of the meats are the legacy of Chinese and French colonialism. The pickles, cilantro, and chile reflect Viet tastes for bright flavors and fresh vegetables,” she writes.

With several publications under … Read More

Top chef heads for Carmel Highlands -

ChefChadMinton Pic1September 23, 2014 – Hyatt Carmel Highlands welcomes a new executive chef next week. Chad Minton of Hyatt’s ultra-chic Andaz 5th Avenue hotel in Manhattan has been hired to replace Matt Bolton, who moved over to the Intercontinental on Monterey’s Cannery Row in July.

“This is a magical opportunity to return to the West Coast, where I’ve worked practically my entire life,” Minton said. He’s been in New York just under two years and before that was executive chef at Ojai Valley Inn and the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey.

But the 40-year-old chef has strong ties to our area. In the 1990s, when he worked at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco under Gary Danko, he says Monterey and Carmel were his favorite get-away spots. More recently he has … Read More

Teen Kitchen Project dishes up compassion -

962cd2eb-f89f-47e3-b4b6-5a7d7cbcc125September 23, 2014 – How would you like to attend a wonderful dinner in an idyllic farm setting, that will simultaneously honor, celebrate, and raise money for a unique local program? The Teen Kitchen Project (TKP) is holding its second annual farm dinner on Saturday, October 4, at Watsonville’s Live Earth Farm. “Harvest Moon” tickets are $100 and include a three-course feast featuring organic, locally sourced ingredients, prepared by TKP executive chef Stephanie Forbes and her teen crew.

The evening promises to be festive and inspiring. A few clients and teens will share their stories. Attendees can enjoy generously donated beverages such as microbrews from Couch Distributing and wine from Storrs and Corralitos Wine Company. Food featured at the dinner has been donated by several farms that regularly contribute produce … Read More

Chef and GM out, Bill Lee hired at Rocky Point -

682_bSeptember 20, 2014 – Consulting chef Soerke Peters and his partner, general manager Amy Stouffer, have abruptly left Rocky Point Restaurant and local culinary legend Bill Lee has been hired to run the spectacular, but problem-plagued, cliffside aerie between Carmel and Big Sur.

Peters gave no reason for the sudden departures and he and Stouffer were both unavailable for comment. But in an email to EMB, he said simply that the two were “available for new opportunities in the hospitality industry.”

Grace Wang, who owns the restaurant with her husband Peter Wang, confirmed that Lee had been hired as general manager and was bringing in chef Herman Hernandez to start on Wednesday. “We really wish Soerke and Amy the best of luck in the future,” she said.

Lee … Read More

Playground for the Palate at MY Museum Dinner -

MY2hSeptember 22, 2014 – Set high above Carmel Valley on Hawk Ridge, this past weekend’s MY Spectacular Dinner—a fundraising event benefiting Monterey County Youth Museum (MY Museum)—was a delight for all the senses. Breathtaking views abounded; the scent of lavender, garden roses, and citrus trees wafted from the gardens onto the terraces; delectable bites and wines seemed never-ending; and laughter punctuated conversations with old and new friends alike.

A trio of local chefs presented dishes that mirrored the museum’s identity. While MY Museum is a playground for the mind, the chefs’ dishes were a playground for the palate – creative, colorful, and delicious.

Executive chef Jason Giles, of Portola Hotel & Spa, opened the evening with an hors d’oeuvres course that combined salty and sweet in almost every morsel. It … Read More

San Benito County’s gourmet celebration spotlights olives and more -

01ce6434-7e9e-4e8f-9351-e0c20e452129September 19, 2014 – Quickly becoming one of the main events on the local food calendar, the 2nd annual San Benito Olive Festival on October 11 near Hollister promises to be bigger, better and more accessible than the first celebration last fall.

“The festival shines a spotlight on San Benito County’s culinary agriculture and premier food artisans,” said founder and president Kathina Szeto. “We had such positive feedback after the first festival that we think it helped change the image of our area to a very welcoming place and raise our profile among visitors.”

Edible Monterey Bay will be running a Facebook promotion and ticket giveaway for the San Benito Olive Festival, so be sure to like us on FB and find out how you can win free tickets … Read More

Shrub Doctor Prescribes Elixirs -

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.55.46 AMSeptember 16, 2014 – Using traditional techniques from the colonial era, Vesuvio general manager Christian Pèpe and bar manager Jay Wallace are launching a line of six fresh fruit shrubs that make great cocktail mixers. “We’ve been serving them at the restaurant since the beginning of the year and thought it was such good stuff that we decided to put it in a bottle and sell it,” says Wallace. A website for the new brand, called Shrub Doctor, went live today and includes information about the ingredients, how the elixirs are made and cocktail recipes.

Wallace says they are bottling their elixirs in the kitchen at Carmel Bakery using a very simple combination of fresh fruits, pure cane sugar and vinegar. They are not cooked, so the result is … Read More

Polar Opposites open in Santa Cruz County -

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.08.39 AMSept 9, 2014 – The wine scene continues to build like a crescendo of waves amped up by a hurricane, with multiple new tasting rooms opening locally in the last few months.

Among them are Armitage and Bottle Jack, as different as two scenarios could be, yet both fueled by the passions of young men influenced by overseas life experiences.

First, there’s Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room, tucked away in a shopping center in Aptos, where you seriously have to hunt to find him. But it is worth the effort, especially if you crave well-made pinot noir, his lifequest varietal.

He’s pretty much devoted to this grape since he fell in love with it while studying viticulture in New Zealand. Up until then, the Oregon native with a passion … Read More