Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Last night I was privileged to go to Monday night dinner at Cachagua’s General Store, where Valley legend Michael Jones whips up the best of local cuisine at bargain prices. Cachagua is not on everyone’s radar, but this is a gourmet treat, and a fair reward for braving the wild boar, charging deer, and crossfire from rival meth producers that makes Carmel Valley Road a venue fit for Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder. There is always a sizeable and eclectic crowd, mostly locals, but beginning to be infiltrated somewhat by the Mercedes SUV-driving crowd. It is locals, however, who get the majority of the love to be had at the General Store, judging by the terrific wines my cohort enjoyed last night, compliments of the chef. Last week, I called to add a few people to our reservation. I was asked who was at our table, and recounted a few names. The proprietor replied, “Oh, you mean the wine fuckheads!” This is why I love the Valley.

I have become, of late, an avid reader of the Cachagua Store blog, located here. Besides being remarkably entertaining, Mr. Jones reserves ample wrath for the corrupt practices of many local dining establishments, some of who hollow out their stuffed potatoes days in advance, or prepare everything in the same rarely-changed deep fat fryer. Reading the righteous indignations of a true chef had caused me to spend more time thinking about what really constitutes good food, and what I have done to advance the cause. My guacamole, of course, is beyond reproach, especially since the addition of a minor wrinkle in the recipe that has revolutionized the product as we know it. Obviously, I cannot divulge that here, but if you are interested (and willing to part with your firstborn) get in touch with me and we can work something out.

In totality, I’m not sure how accomplished I am as a chef, although chances are you can ask any of my ex-wives and get a glowing report. It might be the only glowing report in which I figure prominently, but, as Eddie Murphy put it in “The Nutty Professor”, “We do what we can.” Certainly, I have a ways to go, but I believe I have grasped one essential truth already: the food should never have to compete with the chef for attention. Just as the great Zen masters to not seek self-glorification, but rather facilitate the journeys of others towards the truth, I believe the great chefs strive to facilitate a journey towards true flavor. Cute hybrids and garish novelty pairings might grab the front pages of some lesser food sections, but innovation for its own sake cannot improve the art and science of cuisine in the long run.

Food is, at its very essence, a sexual experience. Most things are – especially for those of us whose minds have been in the gutter so long that the gutter has started charging rent. This puts the chef in a unique position. In his great poem “Tor House”, Robinson Jeffers writes “my fingers have the art to make stone love stone”. It is no different for chefs, who according to the graces of their art, are the catalysts for unions of every variety, from the sadomasochistic to the truly vanilla. In so doing, they may channel Yente, the matchmaker from Fiddler On The Roof, a subtle conjurer with age-old methods, or reflect instead the hard-sell ethos of Iceberg Slim, “America’s Pimp Laureate”. Ultimately, of course, you can’t force love. With the right Cab, though, you can come damn close.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wine consumed at the General Store on September 26, 2005:
- Pelerin 2002 Zinfandel
- Chateau Beychevelle 1978
- Durney 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon
* Chateau de Meursault 1989 100% Chardonay
- Durney 1996 Chardonay ->garbaged
- Gruet Rose
- Gruet Brut
- Grahms Vintage Porto 1977
*The star of the evening

2:13 AM  

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