Restaurant & Food News
State Fair: Babe’s Is the California Brewery of the Year
Arthur Vasquez, the chief operating officer at Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage, humbly posits that Babe’s does not make the state’s best beer, as far as his palate is concerned.
“I’ll be the first person to tell you that there are some amazing beers produced in California, and I would jump over my beer to get to them in a second,” he said.
However, the judges at the Northern California Brewers Guild, who run the California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew Competition, disagree: They say Babe’s is the 2015 Brewery of the Year.
This is an incredible honor for Babe’s, the granddaddy of the Coachella Valley craft-brew world. According to the Northern California Brewers Guild, 302 participants entered some 1,086 beers in the contest, and Babe’s took top honors in part because three of the six beers Babe’s entered won awards: the Belgian Vanilla Blond Ale, the 2014 Winterfest Ale, and the Blackfin Lager.
The Independent spoke to Vasquez on the day before he was slated to hop on a quick flight out of Ontario to Sacramento for an awards ceremony on the steps of the California State Capitol.
“We’re in a bit of a shock. We were hoping to win a ribbon or two,” Vasquez said, adding that the six beers Babe’s entered must have “just happened to hit the technical qualities in the categories we entered. … We sent the right beers to the right competition.”
Modesty aside, Babe’s is obviously doing something right: Vasquez noted that Babe’s has taken home at least one award from every competition the brewery has entered since 2009.
“This means a lot to us,” Vasquez said.
Congratulations to everyone at Babe’s, located at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Watch the Babe’s Facebook page for updates and more information.
Johannes Clarifies Bottled-Water Policy
Last month in this space, we poked fun at the fact that Johannes Restaurant, located at 196 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, was going to stop serving tap water, and instead only serve bottled water imported from New Zealand—in an effort to “preserve the environment.”
After that item appeared, chef/owner Johannes Bacher invited me to the restaurant so he could further explain the policy.
First: Bacher noted that even though an initial news release said Johannes customers would no longer be able to receive tap water, period, customers can have tap water, if they insist, rather than paying $1 per bottle for the Waiwera Organic Artesian Still Water.
Second: He insisted he was not making any money off the policy change, because he was essentially offering the Waiwera at cost.
Third: He extolled the virtues of Waiwera, and said he didn’t see much of a pollution problem coming from the fact that the water is shipped in all the way from New Zealand.
“I’m not harming the environment, because much of the stuff in the U.S. comes from overseas, anyway,” he said.
Fourth: He said that the use of tap water at Johannes—and therefore, use of California’s dwindling water supply—had been “greatly reduced” since the policy change.
So … there you have it. You can judge for yourself whether Bacher’s policy makes sense.
Get more information at www.johannesrestaurants.com.
A lesson to all would-be scammers out there: Do your research! Mindy Reed, the owner of Zin American Bistro in downtown Palm Springs, recently received a letter at the restaurant from a Jack Sardinias of Hollywood, Fla. He was asking Zin to reimburse him for a cleaning bill, after a server at Zin allegedly spilled a small amount of sauce on his wife’s jacket. Here’s where the story gets interesting: Reed also owns Alicante, also in downtown Palm Springs—and Alicante received an almost-identical letter from the same person. Word is that other downtown Palm Springs restaurants were targeted, too. … Further proof that the Coachella Valley is becoming less “seasonal” as the years go by: Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café, located at 72990 El Paseo, Suite 3, in Palm Desert, recently announced that for the first time, the restaurant would be open all summer long. “We recognize that many of our loyal customers will be here all summer, and they are so happy that we’re planning to stay open,” said Christophe Douheret, an owner of Clementine, in a news release. Yay! … On the flip side, Margaritas, located at 100 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, closed for the summer on June 28. Management says to expect a re-opening on Oct. 1. … Because most local city councils are paranoid and ridiculously behind the times, it’s unlikely the Coachella Valley will be home to a vibrant food-truck scene anytime soon. However, Noni’s Wood-Fired Pizza, a mobile pizza-service operation, has found a work-around: It’s planning a series of “pop-up” partnerships with brick-and-mortar joints, the first of which will take place at Justme Sweets Bakery and Café, 83214 Requa Ave., In Indio, on Friday and Saturday, July 10 and 11. Visit www.facebook.com/nonispizza for more details.