Farm to Table will soon be opening where La Mission was on Mission Street.
September on the Atlantic: Three weeks on the East Coast graced us with perfect late summer/early autumn weather. The Jersey Shore cooperated with opulent skies, full of billowing clouds like we never get on the central coast, days in the 70s, soft pillowy sand dunes, and outstanding crab cakes and local sea scallops. Robustly restored after its huge hit last year from Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach Island offered only a few dining options—the season ends here officially on Labor Day. Plantation, a sizeable eating and drinking establishment in Harvey Cedars (established in the late 17th century) did provide deliciousness in the way of locally-caught fluke—a plump white fish—and outstanding scallop dishes. The ever-reliable Mud City Crab Shack, on Manahawkin’s atmospheric marshlands, came through with the definitive crab cake—almost 100% fresh lump crab meat held together with seasonings and magic all bound up in a super-crisp, gossamer crust. Yes, this is a better-than-Annapolis crab cake and honestly I have no higher praise. The manicotti at Joey's helped provide much-needed extra calories and gooey ricotta filling. Given the daily consumption of bagels I logged here, I gotta tell ya the Northeast is not gluten-free territory. As always, we stopped at the Philadelphia Museum on our way to the airport. Lunch in the very soothing museum restaurant was excellent as always and included a terrific seared ahi and pea sprout salad, followed by lemon tart with mascarpone and raspberries.
Meanwhile, Back on the West Coast: According to my latest intel (e.g., an email from Randall Grahm) tomorrow should be the actual, official opening day of the new, charm-intensive Bonny Doon Tasting Room on Davenport’s Coast Highway. Starting October 10, the new tasting facility housed in a charming little white frontier-style store will be open Thursday through Monday, from 11am to 5pm. Right next door to the Davenport Roadhouse, the new tasting room returns the Temple of Doon to the foot of its original birthplace in Bonny Doon. I know Randall would have a few mantric observations about the biodynamic circularity of this circumstance. Like many fans of BD wines, I await Grahm's pithy quote on the matter. . . . New stuff about to shake up the Santa Cruz scene any minute now. Maharaja will soon fill the space of the old (very old) Royal Taj on Soquel, currently undergoing a makeover. Fans of east Indian cuisine (that would include me) cannot wait. And we look forward to the opening of Farm to Table, filling the former La Mission space on Mission Street. That will mean many tasty choices in that tiny Palm strip that includes Totoro Sushi and Pizzeria Avanti.
Odds and Ends: Feast on the last moments of dry-farmed tomatoes while ye may, and don’t forget to indulge in some of the pepper opulence, squash and pumpkin proliferation, and some of the intricately flavored heirloom apples dotting our many farmers markets. . . . Have you tried the thin-cut pork chops from Whole Foods yet? These ultra-slender chops sear in roughly one minute per side hence they serve up both moist and tender. Try them—we like sides of brown rice and black beans—and you'll never eat a thick pork chop again. I'm completely serious. . . . Speaking of pork, place your orders now for December’s crop of whey-fed pork, from free-range animals raised on Rebecca King's pure and natural Monkeyflower Ranch. You can purchase these pigs whole or half, and if that's more pork than your freezer can handle, look for cuts at the farmers markets. For info and to order pork, beef and veal from Monkeyflower Ranch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.