Chantrelle Cook-off

Fast approaching is the Big Sur Chantrelle Cook-off, to be held in two locations – Ventana Inn & Spa, and the Big Sur Lodge at the State Park.

Ventana Inn and Spa will host the kickoff party 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Feb. 24 with local wines, mushroom-slanted food and Songs That Hot Box Harry Taught Us coaxing guests from the table to dance. The following day Ventana will host Art and Syrah from 3 to 6 p.m. at the resort gallery, with art, a trunk and runway show and sips of Parsonage Syrah from Carmel Valley.

Following the show is a five-course rewards dinner that Ventana chef Truman Jones is calling “The Fungus Among Us.” Jones has earned a reputation as a creative chef who creates memories among diners. Look for a salad using chanterelles three ways (raw, pickled and cooked), a cream of chanterelle soup with a grilled truffle and brie sandwich, a chanterelle-crusted Alaskan halibut, Angus beef with chanterelle pudding, and a sweet finale featuring chanterelle bombe with maple anglaise, caramel mousse and praline ice cream.

The Lodge at Pfeiffer State Park also hosts two events; A Wild Mushroom Walk and Talk will delight those who want to know more about the botanical aspects of the Chanterelle. This educational event will be followed by The Grand Tasting with Big Sur chefs showcasing their ingenuity with creative Chanterelle concoctions. Guests will taste the offerings while casting “People’s Choice” votes and talking with the official Grand Tasting judges. This year’s illustrious judging panel includes: Margo True, editor of Sunset Magazine and author of The Sunset Cookbook; Marlene Sorosky Gray, freelance contributor at San Francisco Chronicle and cookbook author; Jim Dodge, Director of the Specialty Culinary Programs at Bon Appetit Management Company; and Tami Yu, founder of and San Francisco writer who tracks the latest lifestyle trends, new restaurants, fashion designers, beauty treatments and travel destinations.

Kara Stout of Big Sur’s illustrious Ventana Inn is the host (or one of them?), and has done an incredible job of making sure this event actually happens.

The award dinner at Ventana costs $150. The cook-off at The Lodge is $50. Tickets and information about all the events for the two days, including the costs of other events can be found at

All monies raised will benefit the Big Sur Health Center.

Rain Rocks Netting Project Photos

On Thursday, February 16, 2012, Cal-Trans flew in a helicopter to assist in laying out the metal “drapery” or netting used in more and more locations along Highway One to keep rocks from “raining” down on the highway. This particular location is notorious for that problem. Thanks to reader Nicole LaRoche, you, too can see this endeavor. On behalf of all my readers, thanks! (BTW you made my life so easy by just sending your best two!)

Helicopter at Rain Rocks by Nicole LaRoche
Climbers at Rain Rocks by Nicole LaRoche

Sorry I have been absent much of February, so far. As many of you are aware, I have been wrestling with a grunge that is going around, and doing much of anything, other than sleep, was a challenge there for a while.

It’s Snowing!

5:30 pm update – It snowed several times today, but none of it stuck, so no photos. I’ll bet Cone Peak is beautiful, if I could see it. I also had slush up here, and last I checked, only about 1/2 an inch in the rain gauge. The wind has been gusting into the 30 mph plus range most of the day, and continues tonight.

Now, under the covers with four dogs to watch a DVD. No TV reception. I was lucky yesterday to have reception all evening, and that the Grammy’s were on the only station I get! S

And all I’m doing today is trying to stay warm! My heating systems are not functioning well, but I’m working on it!


Well, this caught me by surprise Friday afternoon, even though the AT&T Pro Am was in town. I, too, was in town Friday. I was surprised by the glorious lack of expected traffic when the golf pros and celebrities are in town, but around two o’clock, as I am getting ready to head south, the drizzle started, and it never let up! Saturday is when I was expecting it, not Friday.

There is another, similar one coming. Not a lot of rain, but a couple of tenths, at most, is expected. This is what NOAA has to say about it:


Controlled burn escaped

This morning, a controlled burn on the west side of the highway at MM 6 across from Gorda Mountain escaped its handlers and the BSVFB and the USFS were called in to get it under control. Unclear if Cal-Fire were called in from Cambria or not, but as of about 1 pm this afternoon, it looks like with the additional resources the controlled burn is under control again. If anything further develops, I will be sure to let you know, but from what I was able to gather, this one is done.

Urgent weather event

9:30 pm – so far, gusts have only gotten as high as 35 mph, but it is still early. However, I am fading, so unless the wind wakes me, I might not be reporting much tonight.

Check out the NOAA urgent weather advisory beginning at 10 pm tonight. Extremely high winds – up to 50 mph – as well as rain. Click on the NOAA Discussion link to the right, as i still dont have the hang of copy and paste on my iPhone. I’m in town doing grocery shopping, as I have been sicker than a dog the last 3 days.

When I get home, I’ll let you know what my wind and rain gauge indicate later tonight.

Dancing Flames

And now for something a bit different. I had the opportunity to go to Quartzite recently with my aunt and uncle. What an experience that is! The biggest convergence of RVs, old farts, flea market/gem show, and dumb asses. But lots of fun. My uncle would often build a fire in his portable fire pit between our 2 RVs. These were taken one night. Enjoy this psychedelic fire!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

RAIN on the way – Monday, it would appear.

South Coast Fire Mitigation Meeting

January 31, 2012

Dear Big Sur Friends and Neighbors:

The Basin Complex and Chalk Fires of 2008 made us all aware of some of the potential threats to our community. In order to reduce future fire danger in the wild land-urban interface in which we all live, the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade applied for and was granted, through the Monterey Fire Safe Council, $178,000 by the US Forest Service. This money is to be used to create defensible space along strategic roadways, on ridge tops and along slopes.

It is estimated that this amount of money will enable us to treat a maximum of only 175 acres on the South Coast. The area we are dealing with is huge. It is South of Essalen institute to the Monterey County line, from the Ocean East past the Coast Ridge Road. Therefore, funds will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis.

We are acutely aware of the aesthetic, environmental and archeological treasures of Big Sur. To this end, we are working with Jonathon Pangburn a Registered Forester with Cal Fire, to manage parts of this project. Jonathon is currently working on environmental review and compliance with the California Coastal Commission on this project. He will write prescriptions for each area to reduce fuel loads by thinning flammable brush, removing or mulching dead and downed trees, and limbing live trees. We will focus primarily on access roads to private property as well as fuel breaks on private parcels. This work is designed to create a mosaic, open, natural setting which is beneficial to wildlife while, at the same time, helping to create defensible space.

Bulldozers to create “fuel breaks” will not be used as part of this project.

If you would like to find out more about this unique opportunity to protect both yourself and your neighbors, we invite you attend an informational meeting to be held at Pacific Valley School in the Community Center on Sunday, February 26th, 3:00 – 5:00 pm. If you are unable to attend, please feel free to contact John Handy for additional information:

John Handy (805)927-2820

Looking forward to seeing you on the 26th,

Sincerely, John Handy
Board Member, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade