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[whitespace] Joseph Schultz
Photograph by Robert Scheer

Action Chef: Celebrity chef Joseph Schultz will help prepare the dinners at the Gateway School gala.

Gourmet Gateway

Auctions, local wines and top-niche chefs benefit a good cause

By Christina Waters

TWENTY WINERIES, scores of desirable auction packages--from travel and food to interior design and furniture--and an evening of dinner and dancing unfold in the name of high-quality education next week, at the Gateway School 11th Annual Wine Social & Auction Gala, happening at the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom on Saturday (March 3). The action starts at 5pm with wine tasting and a silent auction. Dinner begins at 7pm, and the interactive hoopla of the live auction gets underway at 8pm.

All of this is highly affordable, yet tasteful. Your reservation ($75 per person) gains you access to the opening wine tasting, both auctions, and dinner. Okay, let's see what leads up to dinner. Visualize yourself dressed in something that might please Don Johnson, in both his Miami Vice and Nash Bridges personae. Fine. Now imagine yourself in the deliciously arcane interior of the seaside ballroom. You've just tasted your way through as many of the lovely wines represented as is decent--pouring will be Bargetto, Bonny Doon, Burrell School, Byington, Chalone, Hallcrest, J. Lohr, Roudon-Smith, Storrs and Thomas Fogarty--to name a few.

You've batted your eyes at Randall Grahm and traded investment tips with Pam and Steve Storrs. You've selected your silent-auction targets. You absolutely must have that pampering spa package, and you'll elbow Harriet Deck out of the stratosphere to get it. Or perhaps a private dinner whipped up by action chef Joseph Schultz or the kitchens of some killer bistro like Oswald, Bittersweet or Caffe Lido. Deck chairs from American Leisure have your name on them, but then so does that state-of-the-art Weber barbecue complex and the handmade jewelry. Rare wines. I'm there.

So let's imagine you've made your choices, done some wine tasting and even enjoyed a few dances to the very chakra-tickling ensemble At-One. But now you're famished. Step up to the plate, as it were, and select entrees of blackened salmon with raspberry cream sauce, and garlic rosemary roasted pork loin. Yes, I know you're still full from those Cajun-style appetizers, but you were supposed to save room! Try a bit of Mediterranean pasta, Greek salad and something chocolate or creamy for dessert.

I don't see how this event can miss. Wine, schmoozing with winemakers, dinner, the fab old Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, lots of auction action finessed by those loquacious Slawinski auctioneers--and all to support Gateway School, a nonprofit, nondenominational independent school with a 31-year history in Santa Cruz County. Seventy-five bucks--that's a few Weight Watchers frozen dinners and a few video rentals. For reservations, call the Auction Hotline at 831.423.0341, ext. 342. Do it now.

Meanwhile, Over at Theo's

Speaking of wining and dining, it's possible that you cannot find better pairings of the culinary and oenological arts than the Wine Dinner coming up next Friday (March 9), at Theo's in Soquel (3101 N. Main St.; 831.462.3657). As one of the all-time great California wineries, founded by Frenchman Georges De Latour in 1900, BV set the pace early on for sumptuous cabernet sauvignons and neoburgundian pinot noirs. A winery rep will join the gathering to discuss the wines.

To join selected wines, including the 1997 Tapestry Reserve, chosen by Wine Spectator as one of the Top 100 Wines of 2000, chef Pete Dressen's menu starts with cannelloni of smoked salmon and Dungeness crab, followed by grilled breast of duck. A main course of braised short ribs will lead into a finale of (God help us) mascarpone cheese cake with blood oranges and pistachios. Get out that Visa card--$100 per person, all inclusive. Evenings of fine wine and foods do not get better than this.

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From the February 28-March 7, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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