Thursday, February 22, 2024

Miracle on Ice

Miracle on Ice Weird anniversary today. In 1980, Jane was working the front desk at the Lodge (for $7 an hour) and was pregnant with Brendan. During her shift, she noticed that she was spotting some blood. Concerned, she called her doctor (Dr. Thorngate). Of course, she couldn’t get through to the doctor, so she described her symptoms to the nurse. “Oh. It looks like you are having a miscarriage. Save the tissue and bring it with you to your next appointment.” Jane lost it…to the point where her friends at the desk called me to please come and get her. Valentine and I drove down to the Lodge and literally had to carry Jane out to the car. She was hysterical. With good reason. Meanwhile I called good old Peter Dintiman, our brand new doctor buddy in Colorado. “That is bullshit. Get her out of there. Tell her to just take it easy. Don’t run or jump around. Bring her here and I’ll talk to her. Oh, and get another OB-Gyn!” So I did. I got a rental car, packed up Jane and our ski equipment and we drove to Telluride. As one does during a miscarriage. It’s a great drive we have done a hundred times: through the Mohave, across northern Arizona, then through Navajo country and Canyon de Chelly and the Four Corners tofinish in the San Juan mountains. It started to snow when we left Cortez, and quickly became a blizzard. We were racing to get to Telluride before the roads closed, and I was driving faster and faster. Being stuck in the San Juan’s for days was not part of the plan. By the time we hit Rico, it as a full fledged blizzard with hardly any visibility. We knew Rico…the snowiest town in the lower 48 states! Rico also had a girls softball team in the local league who often played in Telluride. The Rico team was sponsored by a bank robbing gang, the Rico Freako’s. When they came to our town they’d post up in our bar, complete with automatic weapons, lines chopped out on the juke box, etc. A fun bunch from a fun town. Rico, unbeknownst to me had a big, wide country main street..wide enough for a team of horses to do a u-turn with a big ore wagon. Therefore, when they plowed they piled up the snow in the middle of the street, creating two lanes. I came barreling into town with no viz and no clue at 40 mph and hit the big snow pile like Sherman hit Atlanta. The rent-a-car rolled a time or two as it crashed through the barrier, but somehow finished right side up on the top of the heap. This was great fun for the locals in the bars. When they found out we knew the Freako’s, they rallied, and in no time we were pulled back onto the flat with just some slight stonewashing and a newly 10 wired muffler. Don’t run or jump around, right? We barely made it into town. Peter was, for once in his too short life, a kind, calming influence. His verdict: if the baby survived the car crash, Jane was good to go. To go skiing that is! “Just take it easy. No moguls!” So we did. The storm kept on burying the town and slopes in feet of powder, so it was an ethereal experience…smooth, silent, drifting in a cloud of snow. The US hockey team was playing Russia in the gold medal final at the Olympics in Lake Placid. In the era before cell phones and internet, the lift attendants were all listening to the match on transistor radios and had chalk boards at the bottom of each lift with the progress. To add to the frisson, the great Ken Dryden, my fraternity brother from Cornell was the color commentator. Russia1-0 after nine minutes. We score after 17 minutes! Russia takes the lead again. With time running out, our guy shoots from the blue line…and we sink the rebound! 2-2! The Russian coach is so pissed he benches his #1 goal keeper, Tretiak. Second period, Russia scores, we don’t. Russia 3, US 2. Fuck. Then, we score twice in the final period. Our goalie stops 32 shots from the frantic Russians, and the US holds on! It’s hard to describe the joy in that (then) tiny mountain town. The Miracle on Ice for everybody in town and the country, along with our own private miracle:Brendan was born exactly seven months later. Dr. Vogelpohl presiding, by the way! And, Doctor Peter is Brendan’s godfather. Of course.

Saturday, January 07, 2023

What We Do....

Whoops! I guess it has been a while since I updated all y'all on the happs here.
We are open for sure every Sunday 10-2 for breakfast, brunch and early lunch.
We also have occassional popup Monday Night Dinners...

Meanwhile here is our Sunday set up.
There are no prices listed because we have stopped charging a specific price for food and service.
We leave that up to you.
We are open inside and out. On rainy days, reservations are strongly advised. Tables by the fireplace are at a premium.
Please note: if you think you have made and on-line is a fantasy. This right here is the extreme end of our on-line prescence.

69 West Carmel Valley Road at Massa Estate

Cachagua Store Sunday Brunch.
Eggs any style, or
Eggs bennie: Meyer lemon hollandaise, our smoked OraKing salmon, grilled salmon or Nueske’s ham or bacon, or Corralitos sausage (Andouille, German, Cheesy Bavarian, Linguisa), sous vide sirloin and or veggie and chanterelles
Local chanterelles and soft scrambled eggs
Simple omelets (veggie, salmon, meats, cheeses (Schoch, Laura Chanel goat cheese, mozzarella)
Juevos Rancheros: Poached eggs with chile colorado de rez,puntas de rez, or lengua en salsa ranchera and King City pink beans
Includes buttermilk blueberry pancakes, organic OJ, coffee

Corralitos sausage (German, kobasica, cheesy Bavarian) w Muia mustard and our kraut
Famous fandangos (Asiago/scallion bruschette)
Paul Bocuse pumpkin soup with toasted Salinas Valley sweetbreads.
Werner Kalmus saffron salmon soup with leeks and potatoes

After 11:30 am
Chanterelle risotto with Barry Powell foraged chanterelle and poached egg
Roast Massa Ranch brussels sprouts with Nueske bacon, Han Kook Market kim chee, balsamic and maple syrup
*Amanda’s kale salad with her amazing sesame dressing
Schletewicz Farm citrus salad with shaved fennel, baby arugula, walnut oil and candied pecans
Amanda’s Cachagua Road cold smoked salmon with capers and sweet Phil Foster onions
Roast beef salad: Mesquite grilled sous vide beef with spring onions, Borba Farm winter heirlooms, capers, sweet onions
Kathy Lambert’s special sandwich: grilled Nueske’s ham, Schoch Junipero cheese, Jane Flower tomato jam, baby arugula
Sous vide Salinas Valley sirloin sandwich with kale salad
Beef bourguignon with our fettucine, Borba Farm french green beans.
Syrah braised short ribs of Salinas Valley beef
Ashkenazi style braised Wagyu beef tongue with capers, rice, etc
Lengua (Wagyu) en salsa ranchera with King City pink beans
Grilled OraKing salmon with Momie’s dressing, etc
Puntas de rez with smoked Oaxacan pasillas, King City pink beans, Forbidden rice, etc.

Carl Muia olive oil cake with Ichigo Ranch hydroponic strawberries, coulis and Valrhona white chocolate crema inglese.
Valrhona single source Araguani 72% chocolate crema inglese with sea and river salts and Carl Muia Carmel Valley freshly pressed olive oil

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Plus ca ca change pas

Re: Sunday and Walking The Christians.
Dear Christians:
We are probably the most open minded restaurant this side of Dharma’s on 41st in Santa Cruz.
You can wear a Southern Battle Flag T-shirt here (Tim’s great grandfather died fighting for the South in the same battle where my great grandfather was wounded. They might have shot each other!).
You can wear IRA shirts, and British rugby shirts.
You can wear ManU jerseys, even though we are Liverpool and Barca folk (Real Madrid….not so much!)
Sorry, you can’t wear a t-shirt with a rainbow and some bullshit words like: “Jesus hates the sin, but loves the sinner”. Hashtag: GTFOH!
I grew up as the bishop’s altar boy in Reno. My tree is stacked with Jesuits and Sacred Heart nuns as far as the eye can see. I am cool with Jesus and God and their Whole Crew. I can still say the Our Father in Latin…so back off.
My memory of the Jesus I met in the scriptures was a revolutionary guy who lived at home with his mom until he was 33, hung around with a dozen dudes, and whose best female friend was a hooker. Where do you get “homosexuality is a sin” from that?
The only time he actually got his ire up was when he laid the lash to the bankers and moneylenders in the Temple. What was it you do for a living again?
My Amanda just spent a month overseeing the passage of my mom from this side to the next side. The last ten days she spent 24-7 by her bedside, praying her soul out, trying to connect Pat (and herself, and us) to the Whatever Comes Next.
In Amanda’s world you don’t pray to one guy or one thing… just fucking pray. Somebody will hear, and that Something is probably beyond our feeble tries at definition.
The experience itself is transformative.
Amanda had in the Jews. She had in the Buddhists. She had in the Unitarians. She had in the kindest, sweetest spiritual lady with crystals. She had in Father Emil for Last Rites…..not to mention the daily visits from the Shamanae nurses from the Hospice. The vibe was intensely spiritual, peaceful and supportive.
One day I arrived for a visit from trying to keep all our balls in good juggling mode, and Amanda made me sit in the yard for an hour with a glass of bubbly until my energy matched the house’s. At no time were any of these devotedly spiritual people anything but positive, generous and loving. Zero judgment or condescension…..even from the Catholics. Against the enormity of transformation and death….petty Earthly squabbles vanish.
You think Jesus gives a shit who has sex with who? Jesus is fucking Jesus, you morons!
Just because you are a hypocritical, judgmental asshole…don’t flatter yourself that God made you in his image. Production line errors are common. Consider yourself a spiritual Pinto, and believe me, The Factory is anxious to recall your model before you do further damage to The Brand.
I worked in Swiss and French kitchens long enough to become toxically allergic to arrogance and condescension. It puts me off my feed.
So…..please move your pure, virginal buttholes on to the next restaurant.
Perhaps they will be silly enough to believe that the customer is always right.
Yours in Christ,

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Back at it.....

Saturday Garden Catering Menu
Instant COVID-19 Test (for two) free

*Amanda’s kale salad with her amazing sesame dressing $9
*Cachagua Store Pear Salad: yuzu:dressing, parsnip chips and Pt. Reyes blue cheese $12
*Industrial Eats Rt 246 salad: Oro Blanco, Cara Cara, tangelo, navel, Meyer citrus with garden cress, candied pecans, Schoch Junipero cheese $14
*Massa Ranch grilled organic brussels sprouts with Nueske bacon and Han Kook kim chee $14
Grilled Hog Farms organic asparagus, Linda Ferasci poached eggs, Rebecca’s sheep feta $14

*Amanda’s Carmel Valley oak smoked wild Monterey salmon with capers and onions $14
Hawaiian style poke (ahi tuna) with soba noodles, seaweed salad and spicy cuttlefish $14

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

Grilled OraKing salmon with Momie’s dressing, Hog Farm asparagus, forbidden rice, etc $22
Monterey Bay wild rockfish Catalan style (capers, olives, tomato), sides $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 12:45)

Carl Muia olive oil cake with Valrhona white chocolate crema inglese and P and K Farm 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
Contact Us: Text or Call 831-659-5100; Massa Tasting Room, 69 West Carmel Valley Rd

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Dina Syndrome

Dina Ruiz syndrome tonight: where the man in the power couple tells me "no more wine for her".
At cocktails.
Before the Echezaux, the Montrose and the Yquem.
I don't serve drunks, but I do serve funny, irreverant, ironic women who raise the level of discourse.
I mean....I live with Amanda! You want to hear truth? Buy her a large sake, and pucker up.
Amanda and Liz have this look they get when the menfolk talk over them and ignore them.
It is not pretty.
We call it Dina Ruiz Syndrome from a small dinner party we did back in the day.
Clint and Dina, the Pine Cone couple, our intellectual Republican hosts, and a few grindingly boring folks.
Dina was fun. She may have even danced around spontaneously at cocktails.
When the table of eight sat and I started serving the first wine, Clint put his hand over Dina's glass.
Fuck you, buddy. What gives you the right? You are a guest in someone's house, and being served by a professional.
Oh, your wife's behavior makes you uncomfortable, and so you want to shame her in this small, powerful group?
One nice thing about being a waiter, sommelier, bartender, etc is that we represent the bedrock of human interaction. You need to eat, you like to drink? Well, asshole there are rules we have worked out over a few thousand years.
Be nice, be civil, respect each other enjoy, each other's company, wit and wisdom.
You might learn something.
And fuck a whole lotta "Don't serve my wife".
Y'all are lucky she bothers to talk to you..

Friday, February 11, 2022

Wuv, twoo wuv.....

Reposting this romantic story from 2005in time for Valentine's Day. Hope it works! Otherwise just search the blog for "Runaway"

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.