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Showing posts from March, 2008

Fire Alarms and Widespread Calm

I fear several things when venturing into any restaurant for the very first time but "death" isn't normally among them. Obviously, the potential is always there; various choking hazards, icy sidewalks or an odd ingredient on the floor can create a slipping hazard, and the occasional (though rare) food-borne pathogen waiting to catch you off-guard. For the greater part of human existence, eating has been at least a little dangerous, unpredictable in supply, and something which had to earned. After all, food doesn't want to be hunted; in fact, it seems the more delicious an ingredient is, the harder it is to catch. Tonight, for the first time, the very act of dining itself might just kill me and, if it doesn't, I'll have something to blog about.

I took a seat in a large, possibly "over-done" restaurant, the architect for which is clearly and unabashedly in love with concrete and steel. The bar and floor are concrete, the silo-sized cylindrical wine to…

Inspiration

You'd think I'd have no shortage of ideas on what to cook, thanks to the forest-flattening number of magazines that flood my mailbox and cookbooks with far more recipes than I can ever hope to cook. Likewise, there is no shortage of ingredients which California is capable of cultivating even in those months with an "r" (and sometimes "ry"). With the depth and breadth of ingredients for sale at the local farmer's market, Whole Foods within affordable driving distance, Draegars, Andronicos, the Milk Pail, Ditmer's meats, Oakville Grocers, etc., I'd have no problem throwing together even the most obscure ingredients. I have all the cookware I (or any reasonably-equipped resort hotel) could ever need; albeit in an exceedingly small amount of space. This is hardly a valid excuse because I've had brilliantly-created food out of a restaurant kitchen so small as to prevent the staff from taking a deep breath. With all my talk (whining, whatever), yo…

“CLOSED FOR PRIVATE PARTY”

You know the drill.

It's a Tuesday evening and a friend you haven't seen “in forever” is in from out-of-town. You'd like to catch-up and you “know just the place”. You coordinate schedules, taxis, cars, parking spaces, approach the front door to find it bustling inside and as you reach for the door, a piece of paper unceremoniously taped to the door is already mocking you:

“CLOSED FOR PRIVATE PARTY”
Something about the all upper-case type seems to pound the point home even harder. There's a party going on inside and you're not invited. You may have spent thousands of dollars in this restaurant over the years, but tonight, you mean nothing to them.

I completely get the business case here. Tuesdays are an “off” night and while filling the tables is unlikely, breaking even would be nice. From the restaurant's perspective, it's tempting; 30 people - guaranteed - will eat, drink, and be merry (and spend money).

However...

Meanwhile, 12 regulars came by and were …