Most people best know Monterey as a city with top tourist attractions—Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, the Monterey Aquarium.
But Monterey also is a county. In the mid-18th century, it served as capital of Spanish and Mexican territory, Alta California. Today, Monterey County ranks as a major wine-producing region, known for its increasingly good reds, whites and bubblies.
Primarily a cool-climate growing region, Monterey County holds nine American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the stars, especially in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of the Santa Lucia Mountains (part of the California South Coast Ranges that also includes the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north).
In recent years, plantings in the warmer, southerly stretches toward Paso Robles—the San Lucas, San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley appellations—are producing Syrahs and Merlots of distinction. Sheltered in its mountain amphitheatre, little Carmel Valley features warmer weather that can ripen Cabernet Sauvignon to complex ageability.
Anytime of the year is fine to visit Monterey, although winters can be damp and chilly. A fun event, Winemakers Celebration, is held every summer. Sponsored by the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, it’s in charming Carmel Valley, on the “warmer” side of Highway 1, the Coast Road. Or you can get out of town and travel the River Road Wine Trail, which winds through the picturesque, remote foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. —Steve Heimoff
For decades, Monterey County grew a lot of grapes but made very little fine wine. Most of the fruit ended up in the gigantic tanks of big wine companies, where it was blended into inexpensive jug wines.
After the boutique winery era started, Monterey slowly emerged from its slumber. Inspired vintners with starry eyes started up wineries, struggling for recognition. Today, Monterey boasts many famous wineries, but it took the work of these pioneers to get there.
The earliest modern efforts date to the 1960s, when Chalone Vineyard was founded in a remote region of the rugged Gavilan Mountains. Subsequently, visionaries like Jerry Lohr, the Wente family, Rick Smith and Nicky Hahn launched their labels. Three names in particular stand out for the high regard their brands brought to Monterey: Talbott, Pisoni and Morgan. The Pisoni vineyard, in particular, almost singlehandedly introduced the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation to the world, through selling their Pinot Noir grapes to other brands before producing their own wines.
These well-recognized wineries frequently help launch new talent, as the proprietors hired young assistant winemakers poised to become tomorrow’s legends.
At the same time, Monterey is attracting a new wave of winemakers eager to explore its potential. The county’s diversity of terroirs and relative lack of long-standing wine-making traditions allow for a more creative, idiosyncratic approach than in more established regions where habits are entrenched. Here are three winemakers and one winemaking family who are exploring Monterey’s possibilities for cool-climate wines. —Steve Heimoff
A former surfer, bear hunter, Peace Corps vet, ski bum and carpenter, Brand, ended up in California with an old VW bus, a surfboard and not much else. Pretty much broke, he took a job working the bottling line at Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz, and discovered his life’s passion: wine.
“I pestered the winemaking team to learn about every detail,” Brand recalls. In 2008, when he decided to do his own thing, he chose Monterey County. “I want to help this area get over the perception that it’s all bulk wine,” a stereotype that had been lodged in the public’s and critics’ minds for years.
Shunning more popular appellations like the Santa Lucia Highlands, Brand looks to the Gavilan Mountains in the east and the southern Arroyo Seco, both of which he calls underappreciated. “They have good soils and climates, but a paucity of interesting wines.” He thinks he can do better. Among the wineries Brand works for are Coastview (owned by others) and his own projects, Le P’tit Paysan and La Marea.
Raised in Marin County, Sabrine Rodems got her B.A. in Theatre, Film and TV at UCLA. But after working in the entertainment industry for 10 years, she decided on a change, went back to school at UC Davis and got her degree in viticulture and enology in 2004.
She’s the employed winemaker at two brands, Wrath and Kori, but in 2011, “I decided to create my own personal wine project on the side, Scratch Wines.” It is a brand, she declares, “designed to push my limits, a challenge to pick varietals I love and make them in styles that show them off.” These include racy Riesling and elegant Grenache, both from the Arroyo Seco, and a graceful Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.
Another Bonny Doon alum, Eric Laumann, originally moved to Santa Cruz “to surf Four Mile or Mitchell’s Cove at lunch.” While there, he concluded the chilly coast makes for the best wines. “The cool climate is always better for every varietal with one huge condition: that the grapes achieve physiological ripeness.” When it came to establishing his own winery, Cambiata, he turned to Monterey County, much as Ian Brand had.
Laumann produces two Monterey wines, Albariño and Tannat. The former is an old Spanish white variety, while the latter constitutes the dark, tannic red wines of the Madiran region of southwest France. Both posed challenges. Planting Tannat in a cool climate was a risk. “There’s so little track record for it in California that you have to have an open mind and just go for it,” says Laumann. Albariño ran a similar risk of being too acidic.
Yet he succeeded. Both varieties are now among the best of their type in California.
The Caraccioli family had worked in agriculture for four generations. Inspired by the success of their neighbors in the Santa Lucia Highlands, they decided to jump into wine, launching their eponymous winery in 2006.
Their first effort: a méthode Champenoise bubbly. For that, they turned to veteran sparkling wine expert Dr. Michel Salgues, who for decades oversaw production at Roederer Estate winery in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. Later, they added Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the roster. The still wines are produced by another veteran, Joe Rawitzer, who started winemaking in the 1970s.
The resulting wines show a cool-climate influence in their crisp acidity and delicacy. “Our goal is to produce not only distinctive still wines, but also high-quality vintage sparkling wines that highlight the ideal Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” says Scott Caraccioli, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales. The winery operates a tasting room in Carmel-By-The-Sea.
Off the Beaten Path: River Road Wine Trail
It’s not Highway 29 in Napa Valley, with its fancy wineries and restaurants. In fact, on the River Road Wine Trail, yours might be the only car. But that’s part of the charm.
The Trail winds for a few dozen miles south of Salinas along the picturesque eastern benchlands of the Santa Lucia Mountains, below the soaring heights of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. Dry and rocky, the Vaca Mountains rise 20 miles to the east. On the flats in between, bisected by the main 101 Freeway, lies “America’s Salad Bowl”—the vast Salinas Valley. Its endless tracts of rich, black earth are heaven for row crops, such as lettuce, celery and the micro-greens so in demand by local chefs.
The wineries include Talbott (the furthest north), followed by Pessagno, Hahn, Paraiso and, furthest south, Scheid. There are 13 tasting rooms in all, offering everything the region does best, from Cabernet Sauvignons of grace to fat, unctuous Chardonnays and silky, age-worthy Pinot Noirs. There’s not much else to do besides visiting wineries: no restaurants, few B&Bs. You’re out in the country here. But you’re likely to find the proprietor or winemaker pouring the wines, and the informality of Monterey makes a refreshing switch from the bustling tasting rooms to the north.
Monterey's Top Varieties
Pinots from the Santa Lucia Highlands are rich, dark and ageworthy; those from the Gavilan Mountains are delicate.
The most compelling come from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Extraordinarily ripe, they often show apricot and tangerine notes, as well as lavish oak.
There isn’t a lot of it in Monterey, but from producers in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the wines are rich and dry, with mountain intensity.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style red blends
Most of Monterey is too chilly to ripen these varieties, but the small Carmel Valley appellation shows increasing sophistication.
The few Monterey examples of this southwestern France variety show enormous potential. The wines are dark, tannic and complex, and utterly unique.
Where the Earth Meets the Sea
Shafts of sunlight suddenly pierce through fog. Redwood forests cling to 3,800-foot high slopes. From the ridgetops, views swing from the blue Pacific in the west to burgeoning Silicon Valley towards the east. On the clearest of days, observers might discern the spires of San Francisco and its sparkling Bay in the north.
Add in hidden glens and meadows, wildcats and coyotes, silvery streams hurtling down gorges, and wildflowers that bloom after heavy winter rains. Residents range from eccentrics living in yurts hidden in the woods, to hippies who never left the Sixties, to high-tech moguls ensconced in the occasional mega-mansion.
And, from a wine point of view, pay homage to vineyards that grow some of the best wines in California. —Steve Heimoff
The Santa Cruz Mountains take in 100 miles of coast ranges that extend from south of San Francisco down through San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. They finally end in the Salinas Valley, where the Santa Lucia Mountains take over.
Wine production in the region dates to the 1800s, started by the same Franciscan missionaries who developed viticulture throughout California and gave Santa Cruz— “the Holy Cross”—its name. The tradition continued at the end of the 19th century, when the Jesuits founded their Novitiate Winery in Los Gatos, famous for sweet, fortified Black Muscat dessert wine. Their old winery building, now renovated, houses the well-known Testarossa brand.
Rich History, New Promise
In the early 1900s, one of the greatest wines in California came from Paul Masson; in 1936, the brand was purchased by Martin Ray, whose Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs showed the region’s promise. In 1960, the launch of Ridge Vineyard—still going strong—brought the Santa Cruz Mountains to the wine world’s attention.
Ridge’s forte was Cabernet Sauvignon, and specifically their Monte Bello Vineyard bottling. The vineyard lies on the warmer, eastern side of the mountains, where Cabernet thrives. The western slopes, cooler and damper, provide a natural home to dense, age-worthy Pinot Noirs. Chardonnay, that vinous chameleon, thrives everywhere.
Among the top Santa Cruz Mountains wineries, in addition to Ridge, are Clos LaChance, Kathryn Kennedy, Thomas Fogarty, Mount Eden and Byington. Last but not least, there’s Bonny Doon, whose proprietor, Randall Grahm, was an early advocate of Rhône varieties in California, and remains to this day one of the state’s most colorful and legendary vintners.
The local winery association lists about 70 members, but many are very small, backyard-vineyard brands that seldom if ever see the public market. Although the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the biggest appellations in California, actual vineyard acreage is scant. Plantings are limited because of the same suburbanization that wiped out the fruit and nut orchards of the Santa Clara Valley—an area now called Silicon Valley.
The Beach Vibe
Santa Cruz also is the name of the county as well as the seaside city that boasts a campus of the University of California. Located 60 miles south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz maintains a reputation for alternative lifestyles, occasionally punctuated by local political turf battles. With its boardwalk and beach attractions, the city lures in hundreds of thousands of visitors, especially in summer. Thanks to its unique southerly exposure, the town beckons as one of the warmest spots along the Northern California coast. A must for travelers is Surf City Vintners, where a dozen local wineries have turned a warehouse space into a popular destination.
The town is experiencing a restaurant revival. Leading the pack: Lalli, with its Silk Road-South Asian-inspired fare; Soif Wine Bar, with an exquisite California-fusion menu; and La Posta, offering traditional Italian food.
The Restaurant: 1833
Pan-Roasted Black Cod
6 black cod portions, about 5 ounces each
Salt and pepper to taste
Season the Black Cod with salt and pepper, and brush with olive oil. Sear in a hot, ovenproof pan—two minutes on one side, 30 seconds on the other. Put it into 350°F oven until cooked. Serve immediately with the pea purée, fricassée and baby heirloom tomatoes. Serves 6.
Sugar Snap Pea Púree
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ pound sugar snap peas, chopped
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes. Add the snap peas, stock, and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are tender about 2 minutes. Purée them in blender until smooth.
Chanterelle and Asparagus Fricassée
12 1-inch green asparagus tips
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon butter
12 baby heirloom tomatoes, peeled
In a medium pot of salted water, boil the asparagus until tender, then chill in ice water. Dry and reserve. Boil the baby heirloom tomatoes for 5 seconds, then chill, peel and reserve.
Pour olive oil in a large sauté pan set over high heat. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper, and sauté for 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add the garlic, shallot, thyme and butter. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender about 4 minutes. Add the blanched green asparagus and cook until warmed through. Season to taste.
La Marea, Spur Ranch Vineyard Grenache (Monterey)
The Chef: Levi Mezick, Restaurant 1833
“A chef always looks for great ingredients,” says Levi Mezick, executive chef at Restaurant 1833. “Monterey has the best you can choose from anywhere.”
Before opening the restaurant in 2011, Mezick cooked at top New York City restaurants including Café Boulud and Per Se. “There, most of our fresh produce was flown in from California. Now I get it right from the farmers market two blocks away. For abalone, I walk to the pier and buy it live.”
Named for the date it was constructed, the historic adobe over the years housed an apothecary, California’s first newspaper press, and the celeb-studded Gallatin’s restaurant. Lavishly and lovingly renovated, the building charms with its different dining areas. From the Founder’s Balcony, leather booths overlook the action-packed bar, while the Sunroom inspires romance with its ivory wing chairs
and small-paned windows. On the patio, guests gather around fire pits for cocktails and small bites. An oak tree, said to have been planted in the 1700s by mission founder Junípero Serra, arcs nearby.
“I try to reinvent classic flavors in new ways,” Mezick recounts. “What’s paramount: that the food tastes good. I look for tastes that satisfy the entire mouth.” He deftly harmonizes sweet and spicy in dishes starting from his already famous bacon-cheddar biscuits with maple-chili butter to beef carpaccio with Sriracha foam. Featured “whole roasted” entrees include the salt-crusted dorade and the truffle-butter chicken that slowly basks in the house’s 150-year-old kiln.
Mezick enjoys building relationships with local purveyors. “When they see you come to their stands to pick out products yourself, it builds trust. They’ll show me cool little potatoes or unusual lettuce strains. Going to the market gives me a full grasp on seasonality—what I can cook right now.” Foraged ingredients flourish in dishes such as gnocchi with morels or pizza topped with fava beans, black trumpet mushrooms, spring onions and spring onion flowers.
The wine list has about 500 labels, with one-third from Monterey County. “From the beginning we wanted the restaurant to showcase great local wines, especially small producers and rising stars,” states Beverage Director Ted Glennon. “There’s no peak that Monterey wines cannot reach.”
Favorite Farm-to-Table Finds
Black Cod: Found only in the North Pacific, it is also called sablefish or butterfish. Rich and moist, “it’s practically impossible to overcook,” Mezick notes.
Meyer Lemons: Deep yellow in color, they’re sweeter than the standard supermarket lemon. Restaurant 1833 gets them picked ripe and fresh off the trees.
Sea Grapes: Native to coastal beaches, the plant bears clusters of fruit that, indeed, resemble grapes. Chef Levi uses them whole on hamachi sashimi with orange, pickled jalapeño and vinaigrette.
Wild Mushrooms: Foragers seek out forest treasures such as morels (crinkly-capped fungi generally found in spring) and black trumpet mushrooms (with deep, woodsy flavor).
Monterey Bay Salmon: The season runs April through October. “Jerry, the fish guy, brings it right to our back door,” says Mezick.
Down in Monterey
The jewel of the Central Coast, the Monterey Peninsula juts out from the shoreline into the blue-green Pacific Ocean. Much of the area looks as it did millennia ago with sandy beaches, wave-crashed shores and forests of gnarled Monterey pine.
Three population centers anchor the Peninsula. There’s Monterey itself—a fishing village that has swelled to a city with 30,000 residents. Thousands flock to the souvenir shops and restaurants of Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Highlight of any visit: the Monterey Aquarium, where floor-to-ceiling windows let you get up close and personal with everything from giant kelp and jellyfish to sharks and rays. Check out the sea otter exhibit, with viewing areas to watch their aquabatics both above and below the surface.
Pacific Grove holds an exclusive—but easygoing—enclave of galleries and cafés. Violet-colored ice plant dots the dunes, and every winter the annual Monarch butterfly migration provides fluttering color.
Carmel-by-the-Sea remains the quintessential California beach town that mingles old Spanish missions with mansions, art galleries and cafés. Carmel also sparkles with show-biz glitz: longtime resident Clint Eastwood’s served as mayor in the 1980s.
Carmel has become a hotbed of fine dining. Aubergine’s tasting menu showcases local delicacies from salmon to steak to abalone. South of town, Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers stunning seaside views. —Steve Heimoff
Walk or Drive Through
Perhaps the Peninsula’s greatest claim to fame lies in its golf courses. Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the U.S. Open Championships five times. Spyglass Hill and The Dunes also challenge players.
The Peninsula encourages walking, whether it’s a shopping stroll, a saunter along dog-friendly Carmel Beach or a hike along Point Lobos State Reserve’s sandy trails and bluffs. Here, you can tread (gingerly) past tide pools where starfish and barnacles dwell.
The best-known sightseeing jaunt unfurls along the 17-Mile Drive, described as one of the most scenic routes in the world. It winds from Pebble Beach up to Pacific Grove, offering glimpses of natural beauty as well as the (closely guarded) lifestyles of the rich and famous. The latter include Brad Pitt, whose beach house sits on a dune in Carmel.
Taste the Best of Monterey
Wine tasting will naturally be a focus for the enologically inclined. At A Taste of Monterey in the heart of Cannery Row, 80-plus wineries pour in a casual, spacious tasting bar. Or you can head inland to the River Road Wine Trail. Other tasting opportunities include the Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea, a self-guided stroll of seven tasting rooms. Or head southeast to Carmel Valley, on the sunny inland side of Highway 1. Here where the coastal fog lifts, tasting rooms, resorts and charming B&Bs dot the roadside.
Sometimes fog-bound, more often brilliantly sunny, the Monterey Peninsula stays cool year-round. While the local waters remain chilly, they provide endless opportunities for snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, scuba diving or just plain roll-up-the-cuffs beachcombing.
Recipe courtesy Sardine Factory, Monterey, CA
The Sardine Factory has been a fixture in Monterey for 45 years and “Big Mike” Kolpaczyk has been a fixture behind its bar for 40 of them. His signature tropical elixir, the Blue Sardine, is as deliciously fruity as it is colorful.
Fill a shaker with ice. Add 1 ounce gin, ½ ounce Hypnotiq liqueur, ½ ounce Peachtree schnapps, ½ ounce blue Curaçao and ¼ ounce Rose’s lime juice. Shake, strain into a martini glass and serve.—Brandon Hernandez
And Don't Miss…
One of America’s newest National Parks, Pinnacles borders the Chalone appellation near Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands. A remnant volcano that straddles the San Andreas Fault, it offers protruding handholds loved by climbers plus lava-melted canyons that feel like caves. The park is also one of the best places to see free-flying condors.
With one of Pinnacles’ entrances along the road to the historic Chalone Winery and Brosseau Wines, a day of wine tasting and hiking is easy to juggle. Accommodations range from campsites to luxurious vacation rentals with swimming pools.
To the west, Big Sur encompasses 90 miles of scenically spectacular shoreline. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park beckons for hiking and whale watching.
Farm-to-Table Feasting with the Pisonis
Descended from Swiss-Italian immigrants, Eddie and Jane Pisoni began farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1952. Their son Gary planted vines on the family cattle ranch in the 1980s—the passionate pioneer of Pinot Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Today, his sons Mark (vineyard manager) and Jeff (winemaker) operate Pisoni Vineyards & Winery. The family produces wines under the Pisoni Estate and Lucia labels, with fruit sourced from the Pisoni, Soberanes and Garys’ vineyards (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).
Most Sundays, four generations of Pisonis dine around a long (very long) table at either the vineyard or house in Gonzales belonging to Jane, the 88-year-old matriarch. Festivities center on Jane’s specialty: steaming cauldrons of cioppino (chuh-PEE-no), a zesty fish and seafood stew popularized by early Italian immigrants in San Francisco. Thanks to the piscine plenty of Monterey Bay, fresh catch here is a given.
“The meal brings back the notion that when anybody pops in, you can sit down and enjoy each other,” says Susan Pisoni Tavernetti, Jane’s daughter. “The food is good, but it’s really about the company.”
Recreate the Region
“Dungeness crab, prawns and clams are at the heart of the cioppino,” says Susan. The Pisonis modify the recipe depending on what fish is available—Monterey Bay crab season runs mid-November to mid-June. The Pisonis serve salad along with the cioppino—acid from the dressing offsets richness of the fish.
Antipasti (cheese, home-canned vegetables, homemade salumi)
Pane (homemade bread)
Lemon meringue pie
On cold days, the family dines at Jane’s house where she uses china that belonged to her mother-in-law, Esther. “The dishes are more than 100 years old,” Susan adds. “They have family value—they allow that grandmother to
be with us at the table.”
If dining at the vineyard, the Pisonis use white ware with deep bowls. Small seafood forks help pry every bit of crabmeat from shells.
Kids decorate bibs made out of butcher paper while awaiting the meal. “Cut rectangles with U-shaped holes for the neck,” Mark explains. “Use Sharpie-type markers if kids are bigger and you can trust them; otherwise, they decorate them with crayons. Punch holes and tie with string in back.”
No music—everyone’s too busy chatting. “As dinner goes on we get even louder,” Mark says. “It’s really fun.”
Riedel Burgundy glasses are the family go-to choice—they use them for all wine varietals.
The family loves to have a wide range of beverage options to accommodate their multi-course menu. To start, the Pisoni’s prefer a rosé with their antipasti, like their Lucy Rosé from the Santa Lucia Highlands or a Provencal selection from Triennes. For the cioppino, the family opts for a Pinot Noir, like their Lucia Garys’ Vineyard bottling or Dehlinger Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. Chardonnay makes for a lovely companion to the lemon meringue pie for dessert, and they look to their Lucia Soberanes Vineyard selection or the Peter Michael Chardonnay from Knights Valley.
Jane also adores sparkling wine and Champagne. The Pisonis often pop the cork on bottles from their neighbor, Caraccioli Cellars.
Jane Pisoni's Cioppino
¼ – ¹⁄³ cup olive oil
3–6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 each medium onions, chopped
6 stalks celery with tops, chopped
4 28-ounce cans organic whole peeled tomatoes (with basil, if desired)
2 14.5-ounce cans organic stewed tomatoes
2 8-ounce cans tomato purée or tomato sauce
2–3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 cup dry fino Sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dungeness crabs (cleaned, cracked)
½ pound cod or sea bass, de-boned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds prawns (shelled, deveined)
2 dozen clams
1 dozen scallops (optional, cut in half if large ones)
Heat the olive oil in a heavy kettle. Sauté the garlic, parsley, onion and celery for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and purée, and mushrooms. Season with bay leaves, basil, marjoram, Sherry, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer at least an hour (whole tomatoes must break down into sauce).
Add the crab, fish and prawns to the sauce. Simmer for another hour.
Scrub clamshells well. Steam in a little water with a garlic clove and parsley to open the shells. Strain some of the liquid into the sauce. Add the scallops and clams in their shells shortly before serving. Serves 8.
6 cups organic, unbleached white flour (divided)
1¾ cups boiling water
1 each package active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
Place 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then mix to make sure there are no dry spots. Cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit overnight.
The next day, proof the yeast in the warm water according to package instructions. Add the yeast mixture to the flour-and-water mixture. Sprinkle in the salt. Stir and then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until somewhat smooth. Add the remaining 4 cups of flour, a handful at a time, until the dough is smooth and satin-like. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes on a floured wooden surface. Cover the dough and let rise about 1½ hours, until doubled.
Shape the dough into a round loaf by flattening it and folding the edges into the middle. Seal the seams with the heel of the hand. Let the loaf rise for 30 minutes. Then flatten the loaf with your hands to half its original height. Flip it over onto a well-floured surface. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Put the loaf directly on a baking stone or baking tray. Bake 45-50 minutes, until the golden crust sounds hollow when tapped. Shut off the oven and let the bread remain inside for 5 minutes to develop the crust. Serve warm with cioppino.Makes 1 round, 2-pound loaf of bread.
Lemon Meringue Pie
For the pie dough:
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shortening
½ egg, beaten (save remainder in refrigerator for another use)
¼ cup ice water (approximate)
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat an oven to 475°F.
Sift together the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening. Pour egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough ice water to make ¼ cup. Add the lemon juice. Gradually add remaining liquid to the flour-and-shortening mixture. Don’t overwork. Gather dough together into a ball.
Use half of the dough in the ball. Roll out on floured board. The dough may be temperamental (due to the weather and humidity) and may need to be pieced together. Ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim edges with scissors, leaving ½-inch overhanging the pan. Fold extra pastry back and under, building a high-fluted edge. Hook the points of the fluted edge under the pan to help prevent shrinkage while baking. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry to prevent puffing during baking. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
This makes two single-crust pie shells. Any leftover dough can be frozen for another use.
For the 9-inch pie filling:
1½ cups sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1½ cup water
3egg yolks, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter
¼cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon rind, grated
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil one minute. Gradually stir at least half the hot mixture into the egg yolks, being sure not to cook the eggs. Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the sugar and cornstarch in the saucepan. Boil 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Continue stirring until smooth and thick. Blend in the butter, lemon juice and lemon rind. Pour into baked pie shell. Immediately pile meringue over the filling.
For the meringue:
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk until stiff and glossy and all the sugar is dissolved. Do not underbeat. Beat in vanilla. Pile meringue onto hot pie filling, sealing the meringue onto the edge of the crust to prevent shrinking and weeping. Swirl the top of the meringue with a spoon or spatula or pull up points to decorate the pie. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until the meringue turns a delicate brown.
Gil Campbell, CEO of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Born in Exeter, England, Gil Campbell first realized she loved auto racing at the age of three. Now this former teacher is CEO and General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The track draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Central Coast every year for world-class race weekends. Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, Roger Penske and Hélio Castroneves have raced here, as has motorcycle star Casey Stoner. After living in Monterey County for more than a decade, Campbell admires the area’s viticulture as much as the sport of speed.
“It’s a heaven for great wines. My favorites include Robert Talbott Vineyards, Kali Hart Chardonnay and Manzoni Estate Syrah and Pinot Noir. Bernardus Winery’s Ingrid’s Vineyard Chardonnay is ideal on a lazy summer afternoon at the Bernardus Lodge’s spa, followed by lunch at Wicket’s Bistro. I also love McIntyre Vineyards—the scent and being of the Santa Lucia Mountains dominate these wines.
“Next door to Tarpy’s Roadhouse, my go-to locals’ spot, is the Ventana Vineyards tasting room. Their red wines totally please the palate. In addition, organic and sustainable vineyards are very important in this region and none more so than Morgan Winery—those wines have personality.
“In dining, I prefer out-of-the-way places with a local feel, some of which are also popular with the drivers who come to Laguna Seca. These include Restaurant 1833, with its old Monterey-style architecture; the Cannery Row Brewing Company’s incredible burgers and more than 100 beers; Montrio Bistro downtown; and Baja Cantina, a Mexi-Cali style joint covered in racing memorabilia that pours the best margaritas in town.
- 2Old Meets New on the Cool Central Coast
- 3The Santa Cruz Mountains
- 4Monterey: Food
- 5Monterey: Travel
- 6Monterey: Entertaining
- 7Your (Fast-Driving) Monterey Tour Guide