Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ghost of Turkeys Past

We have worked the last 30 or so Community Thanksgivings in a row, so there is some compulsion/addiction/PTSD to continue to cook the American Traditional Brown Meal on third Thursdays in November.
I had to order turkeys in August…not because of some failure of Joe Biden, but because of the continuing failure of the American meat industry to recognize the value of its workers and: a) protect them against a devastating disease in the workplace; and b) pay them actual money for doing the worst job in North America.
A job so stressful and awful that no actual North North Americans will do it….at any price.
I ordered two turkeys….Diestal organics. We had already decided to have nothing to do with the Community Thanksgiving shit show, but last year we had a Beach Boy and a dear friend panic at the last minute looking for a turkey….so two seemed like a good call.
And…turkey dinner is Amanda’s favorite meal. And the hounds like turkey.
Twenty years ago or so was our first Thanksgiving after buying the Cachagua Store. We were feeding our normal 300 or so in town, plus we were on site to protect the 50 or so meals that were supposed to be dedicated to Cachagua. Town folks had to come to us to get the food for town folks, so Cachagua was in the cat bird seat. Back then, the original values of my Mom and Dorothy and June Campbell were still in play: Thanksgiving wasn’t cheap food slopped in a to go container, but real food served on china, with linen and flatware….and even glasses for the wine. Yes….wine.
I think I did 30 turkeys that year. Plus all the sides, etc.
The deal with working for Pat, Dorothy and June was the food had to be fresh and hot. Normally the Thanksgiving free dinner folks start cooking the turkeys a week or so out, and just reheat them. Along with everything else.
No, no, no, no with those ladies.
To have 30 hot/warm fresh turkeys by 11 am, I had to start early.
I had two ovens that could hold three racks of sheet pans each. We brined the turkeys in our walkin the day before, then cut them all in half. We cut out the backbones, roasted them to make gravy.
I think I started about 1am in actual turkey cooking. I could fit three half turkeys on a sheet pan, three pans to an oven…two ovens. So nine turkeys at a time. 2-3 hours per load, three loads, 27 birds, plus three for Cachagua later.
It wasn’t just throw them in and forget them. I had to take each sheet pan out, flip it around, and move it up and down in the oven to make sure they all cooked evenly. At that time we had inherited Dave Fox…a local houseless person who pretended to tend bar in the Pub, and who slept on the floor of the bar at night. Bartender, night watchman, burglar alarm.
Except that Dave was nearly deaf. Sometimes in the mornings it took actual gunfire or small explosives t wake Dave up to open up the Store for us and actual customers.
That night I started at 1am when Dave closed the bar. I set up next to my ovens in a sleeping bag, and Dave set up next door in the Pub.
I set my alarm so I could get up every hour and switch out the sheet pans of turkeys, front to back, top to bottom, middle to top, etc.
After four or five shifts of switching roasting hot pans on an hour’s nap, I was getting a little bit punchy. This time I staggered a bit, slipped and dropped the edge of the sheet pan…and poured boiling hot turkey fat on to my stocking clad feet.
I screamed bloody murder, shoved the pan back in the oven, and ripped off my socjk….taking all the flesh off my foot with it.
I screamed again. Fuck.
“Mike? You, Ok?” Dave came around the corner of the kitchen. At a dead run.
Are you fucking kidding me?
“Here. This will help.”
Dave was holding up and ice cold beer and a Vicodin….
Cachagua first aid.
That is when I first really knew I was home out here.
Thanks, Dave.
Miss you, and Amanda and I think of you and laugh and laugh every Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Take out Menu.....Interesting Times

Saturday Take Away Menu
While our landlords battle it out in court we will be open for on site catering in the garden sporadically. We are wide open for midweek dining, as always. Call or text 831-659-5100 to order. We deliver in the Village.

Prices include tax and tip.
Infamous Fandangos: asiago/scallion bruschetta $7
Corralitos sausage with Muia local mustard and our sauerkraut $6
Cast iron grilled Borba Farm padron peppers with river salt and EVOO $8
Gazpacho Andaluz (heirloom tomatoes, roast peppers, etc) $7
Massa Estate cheese platter: Schoch Farmstead cheeses, Rebecca’s local feta, Pt. Reyes blue; lactic fermented carrots, pineapple/fennel relish, our cherry membrillo, red onion/black pepper compote, local fermented cherries $16

*Amanda’s kale salad with her amazing sesame dressing $9
*Cachagua Store Pear Salad: yuzu:dressing, parsnip chips and Pt. Reyes blue cheese $12
Roast Borba Farm baby cauliflower with Schoch Farmstead Junipero cheese and raw yoghurt $10
*Amanda’s Carmel Valley oak smoked wild Monterey salmon with capers and onions $14
Hog Island oysters with yuzu vinaigrette $10
Kathy Lambert’s special sandwich: grilled Nueske’s ham, Schoch Junipero cheese, Jane Flower tomato jam, baby arugula $16
Mesquite grilled Wagyu sirloin with wedge salad and blue cheese dressing $20
Homage a Tout Va Bien: Entrecote grille avec chanterelles $24 (NY strip steak)
Duck tacos: Sonoma Muscovy duck with mole verde, duck cassoulet, red rice $14
Grilled wild Monterey Bay salmon with Momie’s dressing, Borba green beans, red rice, etc $22
Salinas Valley syrah braised short ribs with our fresh linguine $22
Mesquite grilled Mishima Ranch Wagyu sirloin with sides or as a sandwich with garden salad $16 (after 1:45)

Desserts
Carl Muia olive oil cake with Valrhona white chocolate crema inglese and Vasquez Ranch strawberries and strawberry coulis $8
Valrhona Araguani chocolate crema inglese with river and sea salts and Muia EVOO $10
Vasquez Ranch strawberries with strawberry coulis and white chocolate crema inglese $8

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bang bang.

Hey...I know the Alec Baldwin/Rust thing has been hashed over...and over.
Now everyone involved is pointing fingers, trying to dump responsibility for the completely avoidable death on set.
As probably one of the only (or very few) gun guys (except for Barry Powell and Lyle Linares) all y'all will ever see on your feed, there are some lessons here.
The iron clad rule among gun folk is that....if anyone hands you a weapon and says it is "cold" or "unloaded", you never believe them. Not only that, you look down the barrel and make sure that there is nothing in the barrel....pistol, rifle, shotgun...doesn't matter.
If you don't know how to open the weapon, ask.
Trust, but verify.
Brandon Lee was killed....not from a live round as seems to have happened last week....but by a fragment in the barrel left by a previous discharge.
Anyone hands you a weapon....even your best friend, dad, mom, boss.....you check.
Not to doubt them....but shit happens.
If there are rounds visible...you take them out and check to make sure they are blanks or whatever they are supposed to be.
You can not only kill someone in front of you, but you can kill yourself.
You can shoot your balls off. It happens all the time.
Even if there are no rounds in whatever chamber, you still look down the barrel.
It is like passing a knife in the kitchen: all of us would agree that you never hand anyone a knife blade first.
It is not polite, and is not safe.
Anyone from that set who tries to pass blame downhill is an asshole.
Never, ever, ever take a weapon from anyone whoever without checking yourself to make sure it is safe.
And.....even so....never, ever, ever point a weapon at anyone you don't want to actually kill.
Right now.
Gun folk take a lot of heat for being retro assholes.
No one I know involved in guns would ever have accepted a weapon and pointed it at a human or animal without checking to make it safe.
Drunk or sober.
So...fuck a whole lot of Alec Baldwin.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Life in the Fun Zone

Quick update on our various Glove Box projects.
Our houseless friend....we grabbed her new leggings, a new backpack, a new down vest. Socks from Costco, of course.
Still haven't managed an actual private shower for her since July....and no more daily coffee funding. Oh, well!
A little trickle for our "on the spectrum" genius kid, ditto a trickle for our food folks and our ex Cachagua single mom who just needs to pay the PG&E.
I worry about our house-less friend. I don't know if any of y'all have ever had to apply for help from the state, but it is seriously demeaning, complicated and invasive.
At one point when we owned the Cachagua Store, our income was so low that Amanda qualified for food stamps, etc. The County sent a form, un invited....and still send forms.
On the form, she was supposed to even declare the value of her wedding rings.....which we still haven't got around to, by the way.
The process is so complicated, and so degrading (probably by intent) that folks turn away.
Like our houseless friend.
She lost her phone service....because her dickhead son (Army colonel) never followed through with the promised phone.
Her iPhone is in my Glove Box......but he promised her. so she is still waiting.
She lost her EBT card because because she is now past the point of being able to deal with bureaucracy....and they can't contact her because she has no phone.
It is winter now....and she can't stay in her place between 7am and 9pm. She doesn't want to have to ask for help, because.....she has pride. She is our neighbor.
Her physical health seems to be spiraling down, along with her mental health.
No public transport to health services (it takes three or four hours to get to Natividad from the Village...each way), and then there is all that paperwork.
Our lady has lived and worked in the Village for 30 years....steady.
Amanda and I do what we can.....but in the end, we are daily watching our friend die by degrees.
My 14 year old, cherished dog is also dying by degrees......His friends have all passed, and we are preparing ourselves for that sad,sad day.
Every day we also wonder.....how and when will Mary die? Who will find her?
Will she get more respect and concern than my dog?
As if......

What is fun.

We might whine a little bit at the prospect, but in the end our favorite favorite food service experience this past year or so has been....private dinner for two or four or six in the garden here at Massa.
It makes no economic sense...but no one still left in the restaurant world has economic sense as a driver of why they go to work each day.
I love small dinners because it is just me and a few guests. No menu, no pricing....we just work it out on the spot.
I get to cook what is super fresh....and easy (I am cook, waiter, busser, etc) and the interaction is direct between us all.
One of the worst things about our business is that all the chefs you know fret and worry coming up with menus that try to predict what all y'all might think about ordering.....two or three days hence.
It's a nightmare with no end.
In little dinners, we are all in control....guests and cooks.
As I said...there is no money in it....but there is a huge amount of satisfaction.
Enough to remind us all about why we actually go out to eat, and why we folks in the back actually work all day to make food to please people.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

That Day Again, Redux

The damage, and the heroes surrounding 9/11 echoes long after the actual day twenty years ago.
Here is my go to 9/11 story:
My friend DJ Skelton is wild and fun, an athlete and food nut, and a dedicated retired US Army major. DJ was enlisted, out of South Dakota and our local DLI in Chinese languages. DJ doesn’t hide his light under a bushel, so next thing you know he is one of the very, very few enlisted enrolled at the US Military Academy at West Point.
We met here when he was at DLI the second time around, and bonded over food, and wine, and general crazy and fun, with a serious side. We put 2500 crosses on Carmel Beach in 2005 to commemorate our kids killed in action, and again two years later when the number had ballooned to 6500.
DJ himself was always that guy. As a sophomore at West Point with rock climbing skills he volunteered after 9/11 to come down and help search the wreckage for survivors….well, we all knew. DJ was assigned to work closely with one particular fire house from Staten Island, and always proudly wore the t-shirt they had given him as thanks after a couple of weeks of hard, dangerous and ultimately fruitless effort.
DJ himself barely escaped being one of those numbers after being badly, badly wounded at the 2nd Battle of Falujah in November 2004. I think he stopped counting at 80 or more operations for repairs that continue to this day. He always has been, and still is, the go-to guy to try to stop military suicides, to build back wounded soldiers hearts and souls after war has done its damage….at the expense of his career. DJ does not suffer fools gladly, whatever their rank….and has the most open and giving heart of anyone you are likely to ever meet.
For years I taught a Stanford class of incoming sophomores called Sophomore College (SoCo) in early September each year. Kids were supposed to come down for three weeks before classes to learn marine biology at Hopkins Marine Station. Luckily, the lead prof (Stuart Thompson) was a recovering beatnik so we changed the curriculum. We took the kids to Big Creek, to Tassajara for work period, out to the Store and the wineries, etc, etc etc. Our goal was to try to change them into actual humans before they took over running the world.
I myself had a minor brush with 9/11 but it affected me deeply. The way I think about food and hospitality, and the importance of community changed forever that day. When I met DJ we were of one mind about trying to integrate the lives of all those who serve with those lucky folks who have no clue they are being served. Hence the crosses on the beach, bring soldiers out to the Store, etc. In 2011 I was doing my normal SoCo thing when I discovered that one of the girls dad was a New York City fireman who had died saving people in the towers on 9/11. She was seven, and was obviously still wrecked each year when the anniversary came around. She was a tall, beautiful, super smart, intuitive girl…but she was haunted. There was damage below the water line.
We talked about it with the group, and decided to do a mini memorial on Carmel Beach for the 343 firemen who were killed on 9/11. I had the stakes still, and we made cross pieces with the name of each firefighter, their date of birth and their firehouse and engine number, etc. We lined them up perfectly in a grid just be the 13th Street cove, and hung garlands and flowers and gathered shells….especially the one for her dad.
It was immensely sad. The SoCo groups and I spend three meals a day together, day after day, and you get really close. Our girl was sharing deeply personal stuff about growing up without her “hero” dad. Hero to everyone in the world…but she had grown up as the only little girl in her class without a daddy at all those events kids love to have their daddies come to. Sports, dances, graduations….It was almost like: “Why did you die for people you didn't even know, and leave me alone all this time? Why my dad?” I had called DJ to let him know what we were doing. He was super busy being an actual Army Captain at DLI at the time, but promised to come by the beach.
We had all the crosses lined up and decorated and our girl was sharing her heart and story as we sat around a fire at 13th. DJ came down the stairs to the group…..wearing the t-shirt from her dad’s engine company on Staten Island.
DJ had spent two weeks searching through the wreckage of the towers, looking for her dad.
The two of them went off by themselves to talk. For a while.
I don’t know what was said, but our girl came back transformed. She was a different person. It was as if all the pain and anger and abandonment at losing her dad had washed away. The hurt was still there clearly, but DJ’s words and comfort had given her an entirely new outlook and perspective on her dad and his sacrifice….and her own sacrifice.
Like I said at the beginning….their were heroes and awful damage on that day 20 years ago this morning, and there are other heroes walking still among us, still doing the work to shift that damage.
While we have DJ's in our lives, we have hope. Dedicated to 1st Lt Michael S. Parker, 75th Rangers.

That Day Again

Hey, folks. Thanks for your patronage with our wild, dysfunctional world these last 18 months. Thank you for your understanding and support. I am increasingly not in love with Facebook, and this blog has been traditionally an actual blog. If you want to read fun (if dated) rants about food, etc.....search back before 2020. We are returning to blog/opinion/rant mode on this page. For food/menu information please go to www.quietfoodcarmelvalley.blogspot.com We are not getting younger, and like every restaurant everywhere in the world, have no staff to help. Please don't be mad if we can't transform ourselves into those insane guys we used to be. Right now we are me, Amanda, Brendan (thank you, Jesus) and Alex (thank you, Buddha). That's it. We are open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30-4 in the garden. Reservations are important, if you can be that guy. If you just see the flag out, and have a wild brunch hair....please pull in and check us out. All things are possible, even at the drop of a hat with weird demands. That is why we are still here. For the fun, and y'all are the fun. Still, we are also happy (we are caterers!) to open during the week by arrangement for a dinner in the garden of any size (one diner is our minimum...but even that is open to discussion). Peace, Michael

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Sunday Brunch

This is what we are up to today! Sunday Garden Catering Menu Cachagua Store Sunday Brunch; Eggs (duck or hen) bennie: Meyer lemon hollandaise, smoked salmon, wild Monterey salmon, Nueske’s ham, Corralitos sausage or smoked turkey,, Zeo tritip or bacon; simple omelettes, home fries, coffee, OJ $16 Infamous Fandangos: asiago/scallion bruschetta $6; Han Kook Market Kim Bap (vegan sushi) $5; Minazzoli Galia melon and prosciutto $8 Gazpacho Andaluz (Borba Farm organic heirlooms, etc) $7 Massa Estate cheese platter: Schoch Farmstead cheeses, Rebecca’s local feta, Pt. Reyes blue; lactic fermented carrots, pineapple/fennel relish, our cherry membrillo, red onion/black pepper compote, Minnazoli cherries $14 Borba heirloom tomato caprese salad: fresh mozzarella, our basil, Muia EVOO $16 Panzanella: Borba Farm heirloom tomatoes, our basil, fresh mozzarella, Muia, etc $16 *Street elotes: organic corn off the cob, spring onions, pasillas, Wisconsin butter $12 *Amanda’s kale salad with her amazing sesame dressing $9 *Cachagua Store Pear Salad: yuzu:dressing, parsnip chips, Pt. Reyes blue cheese $12 *Roast beef salad: mesquite grilled Mishima Ranch sirloin with capers, spring onions, & arugula $16 Wedge salad with mesquite grilled tritip, blue cheese dressing and heirlooms $20 *Hawaiian style poke: ahi tuna, seaweed salad, soba, spicy cuttlefish noodles $14 *Amanda’s Carmel Valley oak smoked wild Monterey salmon with capers & onions $14 Kathy Lambert’s special sandwich: grilled Nueske’s ham, Schoch Junipero cheese, Jane Flower tomato jam, baby arugula $16 Grilled OraKing salmon with beurre blanc, sprouts, black rice, etc $20 Grilled local Monterey wild halibut with caper beurre blanc, etc $20 Mesquite grilled Zeo Prime top sirloin cap with rice, potatoes, sprouts $20 Mesquite grilled (single!) Zio Brand pork chop with mango chutney $24 Desserts: Beckmann’s butter crust apple pie with Jack Daniels caramel and vanilla ice cream $8 Butter crusted strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream $7 Death by brownie: two chocolates, brownie, strawberries, coulis $9 Carl Muia olive oil cake with Valrhona white chocolate and Vasquez Ranch strawberries and strawberry coulis $8 Valrhona Araguani chocolate crema inglese: river and sea salts and Muia EVOO $10 Vasquez Ranch strawberries with strawberry coulis and crema inglese $6

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Recent menu.....

Hey, folks: This is our Saturday garden catering menu, and essentially our to go menu. We are open Saturdays from 11am to 5pm or so, and Sundays for brunch from 10:30 am to 5pm. This is essentially our to-go menu as well. We are also happy to open on any given day for private dinners of any number. Last night we did an impromptu menu for two folks who happened by and stuck their heads in the door. Impromptu and spontaneous is our favorite thing, but a day or two's notice is better. Thanks for your patience! Saturday Garden Catering Menu Infamous Fandangos: asiago/scallion bruschetta $6 Pinnacle galia melon with prosciutto $8; Han Kook Market kim bap (vegan sushi) $5 Gazpacho Andaluz (Borba Farm heirloom tomatoes, etc) $7 Massa Estate cheese platter: Schoch Farmstead cheeses, Rebecca’s local feta, Pt. Reyes blue; lactic fermented carrots, pineapple/fennel relish, our cherry membrillo, red onion/black pepper compote, local cherries $14 Caprese salad: 1# of Borba Farm heirloom tomatoes, our basil, fresh mozzarella, Muia EVOO $16 *Street elotes: organic corn off the cob, spring onions, pasillas, Wisconsin butter $10 *Carmelized Violini Farm brussels sprouts: Nueske’s bacon/Han Kook Market kim chee $12 *Amanda’s kale salad with her amazing sesame dressing $9 *Cachagua Store Pear Salad: yuzu:dressing, parsnip chips and Pt. Reyes blue cheese $12 Hawaiian style poke: ahi tuna, seaweed salad, soba, spicy cuttlefish noodles $12 *Amanda’s Carmel Valley oak smoked OraKing salmon with capers and onions $14 Roast beef salad: mesquite grilled tritip, spring onions, capers and heirlooms $16 Kathy Lambert’s special sandwich: grilled Nueske’s ham, Schoch Junipero cheese, Jane Flower tomato jam, baby arugula $16 Grilled Ora King salmon with beurre blanc, Violini asparagus, forbidden rice, etc $22 Grilled wild Monterey Halibut: beurre blanc, Borba Farm green beans, forbidden rice, roast potatoes, etc $18 Mesquite grilled Zio Brand top sirloin cap with sides or as a sandwich with garden salad $16 Double Duck: Confit of Sonoma duck leg with grilled cured breast, cassoulet, our kraut $22 Normal mesquite grilled Zio Brand pork chop with mango chutney $18 Desserts: Butter crust apple pie with vanilla ice cream and Jack Daniels caramel $8 Carl Muia olive oil cake with Valrhona white chocolate and Vasquez Ranch strawberries and strawberry coulis $8 Valrhona Araguani chocolate crema inglese with river and sea salts and Muia EVOO $10 Vasquez Ranch strawberries with strawberry coulis and crema inglese $6