Leave it to Chef Dory Ford of Point Pinos Grill and Aqua Terra Catering to bring his locavore touch to the new menu at A Taste of Monterey Wine Market and Bistro on Cannery Row. Perched above the bustling tourist scene, the wine tasting room has long showcased Monterey wines and now there are delicious foods to go with the drinks. Settling into a club chair with panoramic views of the Monterey Bay afloat with kayaks, sailboats and frolicking otters wending their way through the canopy of the undersea kelp forest is like a mini-vacation. Ford’s menu is packed with local stars like Monterey crab dip with Castroville artichokes, Pig Wizard fennel sausage on flatbread with foraged mushrooms, the ATOM (A Taste of Monterey – get it?) salad with Baker’s Bacon and Schoch Farm cheese, and of course, roasted Gilroy garlic in the baked baby brie with Watsonville berry preserves.
The locally-sourced menu draws inspiration from international influences as well, with goodies like “The Spaniard” flatbread—more than enough for two diners—with piquillo peppers, Manchego cheese, spicy chorizo, and marinated artichokes. And then there are the Goat Nachos. Really, need we say more? OK, it’s a big old plate of deep-fried tortilla chips topped with grassy cilantro, creamy avocado, ground goat meat, salty Oaxaca cheese, black beans and sweet-pickled jalapeno peppers complete with veins and seeds for a hit of serious heat. Tikki Masala Chicken in filo dough is a spicy little plate with hints of cumin in the scented spinach and warm, sweet spice in the accompanying sauce. It comes with a spoonful of walnut chutney, a sweet/spicy/crunchy condiment that carries the exotic flavors through to an intriguing finale. Ford’s plates are big on interplays of texture as well as flavor—layers that parallel those in the wines. Surprisingly, there is no list of suggested wine pairings for the menu, but the staff is working toward that goal.
The wine list invites guests to unwind with a great selection of wines-by-the-glass made from Monterey County grapes. From Bernardus’ lightly oaked 2010 Soberanes Chardonnay to Joyce’s 2010 Tondre Pinot Noir and a 2008 Le Mistral blend of Syrah, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah, the Central Coast hits keep coming. After 4 p.m. “table flights” of three two-ounce pours of specific varietals or blends can be purchased as well.
Food prices are wallet-friendly, ranging from $5 for a plate of Inzana Farms almonds and pistachios to $16 for the Goat Nachos—easily enough for three or four people. The flatbreads are $12-$15 and again, are made for sharing. The combination of the view, the wines and the food at these prices is enough to make anyone stop and take notice or better yet, stop and enjoy some of the many pleasures of living on the Central Coast all in one spot.
A Taste of Monterey Wine Market and Bistro • 700 Cannery Row, Ste. KK, Monterey, CA 93940 • 831.646.5446 • http://www.atasteofmonterey.com