Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beach Dogs Open Il Mare!

This week I return to a couple of recent and familiar themes here in Loreto Bay - food and music. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a restaurant opening at the Golf Clubhouse, since then there has been another opening.

My friend Hector and his wife Natalie, who have two restaurants in town, (La Cava and Bruno’s) have taken over the ocean front dining space at the INN and opened an Italian style Trattatoria called (appropriately enough) “Il Mare”. This has always been one of my favourite spaces at the Hotel – open air, adjacent to the Beach with a natural reed Pergola roof, it makes a beautiful setting for lunches and dinners. (By the way, for casual dining and afternoon bar service, the Snack Bar at the Pool remains open for lunch, but is now closed for evening meal service.)

Hector has had a long relationship with Loreto Bay, previously as Director of Customer Service, and he has lived in our community before moving into town when he opened his restaurants there. He also has some impressive qualifications as a chef as well. In addition to the successful restaurants in town, Hector has been one of the top finalists in each of the past three years of the local Paella competition, which many of you are familiar with from postings I have written here before. (“Paella Cook-off” Nov. ’10, “Big Week” Nov. ’09, “Extraordinary Day” Nov. ’08). So this addition to the dining options, both at the INN and within the surrounding community of Loreto Bay and Nopolo, adds another welcome dimension to our lifestyle here.

Il Mare is open for lunch and dinner, except Mondays, with salads, antipasto, pizza and pasta at lunch, adding steaks, lobster and shrimp in the evenings. Currently they have a limited wine and beer selection, but Hector promises they will be adding a special House wine and Draft beer in the future. After a two week “soft opening”, during which time they have been operating at close to capacity, Hector invited “Los Beach Dogs” (the working name for the Homeowner trio that I featured most recently in “Woodstock with Golf Carts” last month) to play for an opening party at the new restaurant.

Like with most things that happen in this community, word travelled fast and when Rich told me that the music would be starting about 6:30 I anticipated that this would be a popular event so my neighbour Boyd and I arrived at 6:00. Good thing that we did, when we arrived every table had been reserved but fortunately there was one of the two couches still available. Several of the tables were already occupied and the rest filled up quickly with the Guests who had had the good idea of reserving early.

As more people converged, an area of the surrounding INN courtyard became an informal “overflow” and some of the people even arrived carrying folding chairs. When we sat down, Boyd and I ordered a pizza with sausage, artichoke and yellow pepper on a generous base of cheese over a crispy thin crust and a couple of drinks to enjoy while the food was being prepared. Soon after, Los Beach Dogs, who had set up in one corner of the open air dining area, began their first set.

Hector and his staff were kept very busy, having to serve all of the tables and over 50 to 60 people at the same time stretched their resources, plus some of the “overflow” audience ordered their own pizzas “to go” and enjoyed them “al fresco” on the courtyard grass a few yards from the busy tables. But it was a happy crowd and no one was in a hurry.

The combination of music, good food and drink was further complimented by the light show that filled the darkening sky in the background – no “special effect” could equal the dazzling sight of the orange to rosy coloured wisps of high cloud being illuminated by the sun setting behind the Sierra del La Gigante range.
In spite of this stiff competition from Mother Nature, George, Rich and Steve “had” their audience enthusiastic from the first tune and played a well received set of now familiar blues and pop standards, sharing the vocals between all three of them. After a break, where they visited with friends and neighbours at most of the tables, they returned for a second set which featured a special treat. A couple of weeks ago, at the “Woodstock” concert, one of the highlights for me was the debut of a song that Rich had written. I was really moved by the lyrics of “The Road Uncertain” the first time I heard it, and it captured the feelings many of us have shared in the experience of beginning a new life here.

I wanted to include a sample of the song with the earlier Blog, but time and technology conspired against that happening. However, this time your humble Blogger brought his video camera to the concert so that I could record the song for your enjoyment. With apologies for the poor lighting, and with the permission of the composer and performers, please click on this link and enjoy online premiere of The Road Uncertain:

Nice eh? I confess, I get a little choked up every time I hear it again, and I dare say I’m not the only Homeowner that will react that way!

The evening carried on until “Baja Midnight” (anytime after 9:00 pm!) with more songs as the sunset turned into another star filled night sky and the audience, all of whom were part of this special community, shared in good food and drink accompanied by this entertainment provided by friends and neighbours. In speaking with Hector afterwards, he plans to do theme evenings in the future with more entertainment and special menus – the social life of Loreto Bay is developing!

Hector also told me that when Il Mare gets their phone extension from the INN switchboard he wants to begin a Pizza delivery service within Loreto Bay! Be still my pounding heart! Does this mean there may eventually a use for our Hi-Guys – true progress!

So another Red Letter Day in Loreto Bay – a new Restaurant, with plans for entertainment in one of the prettiest locations in the whole development providing another gathering place for us to share – this winter life just keeps getting better “Living Loreto”!

My thanks to Al Graichen for providing some of the pictures in this Blog (who was that grey haired guy with the pony tail?)