When the temperature dropped right after Election Day, I thought it was the perfect time to test al fresco winter dining and try to figure out how we were all going to make it through the next few months.
My first foray was Friday happy hour at an outdoor patio just as the sun went down and the breeze came up from the ocean. Ouch! The metal chairs were ice cold and my denim jacket was not enough to keep me warm, even with a cozy knit scarf. A full-bodied pinot noir helped a bit, but not enough to stay out there for a second round.
The next night, I went out better prepared. Bundled in a down jacket and boots, my husband and I grabbed a sidewalk table for an early dinner. It was 51° F but the outdoor heaters worked well, the host appeared with furry blankets for our laps and we heartily enjoyed the best meal we’ve had since the pandemic began. Sure takeout is fine and helps local eateries stay in business, but there is nothing like the full restaurant experience, even on a wintry evening…outdoors.
We are lucky to live in a place with relatively mild winters, but even so, restaurants around the Monterey Bay are scrambling to make it through the upcoming months by offering comfortable winterized outdoor dining and food to go. That’s the scoop reporter Mark C. Anderson got when he talked with chefs and restaurateurs for his story Surviving Winter (page 31).
Though the pandemic has been front and center all year, we also tackle other important food topics in this issue, like what to do about all that plastic covering local farm fields, in Sarah Wood’s story Plasticulture (page 54); and we uncover a surprising secret about organic strawberries in our story Strawberry Fields Forever (page 48) by Jamie Collins and Kathryn McKenzie.
We introduce you to three entrepreneurs on the verge of making it big in the local food and drink world. Jessica Tunis urges us to make foraging for mussels an annual wintertime family tradition. Raúl Nava offers a lesson in amaro, the traditional Italian digestivo that is making something of a comeback and he shares what the pros are drinking right now. And, of course, we have lots of fun recipes to try at home.
We hope this edition of Edible Monterey Bay brings some joy to your holidays and year-end celebrations as we close the books on 2020, a truly memorable year! One lesson of 2020 has been that we all spend way too much time online, so we invite you to unplug and sit back in a comfy chair with your beverage of choice to enjoy the luxury and pleasure of our beautifully produced print magazine.
Our sincere thanks to all our wonderful advertising partners, who have stuck with us through this very difficult year and make our work possible. To them and all our readers, we wish you a very happy and healthy new year!