Mike Hale
Mike Hale

The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival has only five years under its slack belt, but is quite possibly the longest festival in the world ... at least in terms of geography. From the Gateway to Big Sur kickoff event held at Hyatt Carmel Highlands Thursday night (Nov. 7) to the Sunday evening winemaker dinner at the remote Treebones Resort in southernmost Monterey County, it becomes an 80-mile-long celebration of coastal cuisine and fine vintages.

Among a local legion of food and wine events, this rural and real playground stands alone in terms of its rugged, raw beauty and its ability to walk the line between sin and sincerity. Tickets go on sale Aug. 15.

Aside from lucky souls who attend this epicurean marathon, the big winners are the charitable recipients. To date BSFW has raised more than $100,000 for the Big Sur community in the areas of health, safety, education and the arts.

What's more, the event has done much to reinforce the idea that Big Sur is a world-class culinary destination. It brings into the fold already established and legendary venues such as Post Ranch Inn, Ventana Inn and Spa, Nepenthe, Big Sur Bakery and many others, and has even invited oenological royalty.

Event founder and bon vivant Toby Roland Jones has befriended reluctant wine hero Aubert de Villaine, heir to one of the most enviable wine legacies of all time, France's Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or DRC. De Villaine is also the director of HdV (Hyde de Villaine) Wines, a highly regarded winery in Napa Valley, and has lent his name and label to the event's charity auction.


"Last year, the big item was the chance to hike in Big Sur with Aubert," said Roland Jones. "He enjoyed the hike and subsequent dinner so much that he has decided to offer this opportunity again. We are so honored, as no other auction has ever offered this chance before."

The auction will also include collections of wine, winemaker dinners at private homes, tickets for other food and wine festivals, stays at the Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Inn & Spa, and what is being billed as a "Pritchard Hill Experience.

Hikers/tasters take part in the Hiking with Stemware event at the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, which combines the culinary talents of local chefs, a
Hikers/tasters take part in the Hiking with Stemware event at the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, which combines the culinary talents of local chefs, a gathering of noted winemakers and the wild, exquisitely scenic geography of Big Sur.
" This will feature seven of the top Napa wineries on this top wine-producing hill, including two nights in Napa, dinners and wine from each winery.

The event's unique event, called Hiking with Stemware, has become so popular that the BSFW has trademarked the phrase. No other local event combines the culinary talents of local chefs, a gathering of noted winemakers and the wild, exquisitely scenic geography of Big Sur.

The kickoff event at Pacific's Edge (for years the site of the iconic Masters of Food and Wine) has a similar vibe to that now-defunct event. The Hyatt will welcome 20 chefs (led by its own Matt Bolton) from across the county and the country (including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) and 40 wineries (cost is $95 until Sept. 15, then $125). Buy tickets starting Aug. 15 at

www.eventbrite.com/ event/7040150279.

After that kickoff, fans will run streak patterns down the coast into the heart of Big Sur, including Post Ranch, Henry Miller Library, the newly reopened Big Sur Roadhouse and more. Look for top chefs Cal Stamenov (Marinus), John Cox (Sierra Mar), Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill, Cindy's Waterfront), Robert Lang (American Craft, Chicago), Frank Ostini (Hitching Post, Buelton) and many more.

For more information, email toby@bigsurfoodandwine.org, or visit www.bigsurfoodandwine.org.

A sweet and sinful six courses

As adults, it's liberating to finally eat whatever we feel is appropriate. If we want dessert first, so be it. And if we want a six-course dinner made entirely of sweets, we can wallow in our own guilt in our own way.

"Eat the Art" is a collaboration of two internationally known pastry chefs from Southeast Asia with a handful of our own local sweet geniuses. The team will create edible and artistic pleasures to be consumed over six wicked courses.

Organized by Sierra Mar pastry chef Yulanda Santos, the event takes place at 5:30p.m. on Sept. 8, as a benefit for MEarth, the environmental education nonprofit in Carmel. Start with a tour of MEarth's organic gardens, and gather around the family-style table at 6p.m. for the "dinner." No alcohol will be served, although chefs will prepare some fun "mocktails."

Participating pastry chefs include: Will Goldfarb from Ku De Ta in Bali and Willpowder;Jancie Wong, chef/owner of 2am: dessertbar in Singapore; Ben Spungin from Marinus; Ron Mendoze from Aubergine; and Santos. Each chef is responsible for a dessert course and at least one edible art piece, which must be edible.

"The only criteria I gave each chef in regards to the art is that it is edible," Santos said."I'm excited to see everyone's creation and how it will transform with each passing person."

East guest is asked to visually enjoy the art before devouring it.


Stopped in for a drink at the new Beach House Restaurant at Lovers Point and had to battle a three-deep crowd at the bar. Yelp reviews remain mostly positive, with complaints focusing on the crowds and the noise. Following chef Christopher Groves' departure, the new team is already tweaking the menu, so look for this hot place to fully ripen by fall ... My Attic on Alvarado Street in Old Monterey has appeared on the happy hour radar, offering $4 beer, wine and well drinks from 5-8p.m. and all day Wednesday. Look for late-night Sicilian food specialties until last call at 2a.m. Also a Crown Royal Tasting tonight from 7-9p.m.; $20 at the door ... Lafayette Bakery will open soon in The Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel. Look for authentic, rustic French bread, French pastries and desserts, baguette sandwiches and coffee ... Good news for Mundaka fans. The Carmel tapas joint will expand its borders again, this time into next-door Ody's Tavern to create a hip, late-night bar scene ... The sixth annual Three Chefs Heirloom Tomato Dinner is set for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7p.m. at Cantinetta Luca. Join Mirabel chefs Jason Balestrieri, Justin Cogley and Ron Mendoza for a trip through the tomato patch. Four-course dinner with wine pairings is $85. Reservations: 625-6500 ... On Saturday, Zeph's One Stop will hold a free tasting of Twisted Roots wines as well as a mozzarella cheese-pulling demo by Mundaka's Brandon Miller.The $5 tasting is from 2-3p.m. Information: www.zephsonestop.com or 757-3947.

Mike Hale can be reached atgrubhunter@comcast.net. Listen to his weekly radio show "Food Fodder" at noon Wednesdays on KRML, 102.1 FM.