Food, glorious food.....
Us artisan-type guys just keep working because that is what we do. People come up to us all the time at parties and say....."Oh, this is so artistic......this is great art."
It is not art. It is work. Good work may approach art, but it ain't art. Still, the attitude is similar. Artists and artisans do what they do because.....that is what they do. The client or the patron doesn't figure into the equation at all......
Well, unless by some miracle the patron can actually inspire great craft or great art.
Most of the time, though a passive-aggressive attitude develops between the artisan and artist and his supposed audience.
"Fuck these people. They have no idea. Kiss my ass."
Out front, we have people to protect us from ourselves....gallery owners, waiters and maitre d's, agents.....and lawyers.
Face it....the track record is not good for contemporary folk appreciating art and craft in the lifetime of the artist or artisan. Everything from antique iron cookware to Van Gogh's to Ansel Adams prints is way more appreciated now than back then. When Van Gogh shot himself and died over days like a character in an old Dennis Hopper biker film....the residents of Arles probably said, "Good riddance....bury that crazy, drunken fuck and let's get back to threshing wheat........."
Sometimes it does work out, though.
In the middle of our crazy September, we committed to doing a dinner for 12 at a nice house for the Monterey Museum of Art. The dinner sold at auction last March. It was the second year we had done this....the first year it went for $2400. Not bad, but it included crazy good wines that our co-host brought. That dinner was a big success.
This year the dinner sold for $24,000. For twelve.
What makes this story completely hysterical from my view is the fact that I am physically banned from stepping on to Museum property at any time, for any reason. Remember my SuperCuts haircut?......"I need to be unrecognizable on a security camera......"
It is just that we humble artisans feel a need to support actual artists, regardless of the politics and personalities, regardless of restraining orders, and regardless of douche bag museum directors who once grabbed my dick and breathed in my ear about a weekend in
My mentor Etienne Merle always taught me to be really nice to people I hate. Super nice. It makes them so uncomfortable that it is worth it all. Shitty people are used to dealing with anger and confrontation. Random acts of kindness fuck them up.
Meanwhile, our co-host is a sweet, sweet man. I am not naming names here, but he is good friends with Mrs. Hatfield. He fought the Coastal Commission tooth and nail to rebuild his shitty Truman era PG ranch house into a cool, modern showpiece. When the designs were finally approved he held a three way exocism: Father Scott, Tom Nason, and a Buddhist came and burned the permit documents, sanctified them, and chased away the silly bureaucratic demons. We love this guy.
The dinner was to be at a house in Carmel Highlands. It turns out the house is owned by a retired Persian nuclear physicist who is now an artist in her own right. The house was built in 1911 by a crazy German artist everyone knows but me. It was literally the first house....anywhere around....and the crazy motherfucker built it himself out of local stone. Before Tor House. Before Green and Green with the James House and Doc Maino's house on Spindrift. The only other house going at the time was Charley Osborne's house above the
The house is impressive from the outside, a tall tower of stone. The neighbors are all fuckheads, but that is another story or stories. There is one cool guy......the fellow who hosted the Naval Intelligence gathering where we learned about Osama Bin Laden in June of 2001. The rest of them are complete douche bags.
Anyway, the impressive tower contains a relatively small studio space.....one big room with a loft. Owners subsequent to the present owner went acutally broke putting in elaborate wood carved ceilings. BG, the current owner, got the place in foreclosure after six failed escrows from other folk. There were plywood sheets nailed over the doors and windows and the place was full of bats......
For anyone worried about the resilience of real estate in general....and Carmel real estate in particular....this was only twenty years ago. 1988. No one anywhere wanted to buy a historic stone house with its own bays and private coves directly under the Highlands Inn. No one.
Back to Tuesday.
The house is so small....and now a working art studio with a printing press......that we had to set up both the serving table for the guests and the kitchen on various outdoor patios.
The guests sat on the rocks overlooking the Spindrift point and the bay in between Spindrift and the
Here is the menu we came up with for two grand a pop:
Dungeness crab cakes with basil oil and rosemary aioli
Eggs Benedict: poached quail eggs, Jabugo ham, Meyer lemon hollandaise and
Warm asiago scallion bruschetti
Caprese bruschetti with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella
Ceviche of wild local halibut
Sesame ginger chicken wrapped in sorrel leaves
Bocadillos of fresh
De-constructed panzanella: heirloom tomatoes, EVOO, grilled watermelon
Roasted baby beets (gold, red,
Parsnip salad: Roasted matchstick parsnips with pears and apples; Cowgirl Creamery blue cheese, blue cheese spuma and tarragon infused honey
Confit of wild salmon: lightly cured wild
Braised Niman Ranch short ribs of beef with five mushrooms; served with Coke Farms baby french beans with two fresh pastas: saffron and basil
Valhrona chocolate/ancho chili poundcake with Araguani single source chocolate crème anglaise, white chocolate crème anglaise, raspberry/plum coulis and Vasquez Ranch raspberries.
So....here is the crew that created all this......Valley kids all, with one exception. Two of them are under 18........
Staff: Chefs Brendan Jones and Michael Jones
Sous-chef Alex Short
Entremetier (Beets) Ryan Parker
Entremetier (Parsnips) Juan Romero
Entremetier (Appetizers) Athena Miller
Commis (Venison) Dylan Jones
Commis (Pasta) Shawn Ward