Thursday, February 23, 2017

Echos und Echoes



My restaurant godmother, Momie Hilde Kalmus of Fernand fame was a Berliner.  Her dad had a day resort outside the city when she was young. Hilde moved to town as a teen and worked in all the great hotels of the time, Fier Jahre Zeit, the Adlon, etc.  This was before the war….and then all through the war.  She was the first woman to progress that high in hotel kitchens…a toughie 
At the end of the war, she was taking care of a whole group of women in a bombed out basement, foraging all day for scraps of food and fuel.  When the Russians came she went up on the roof with her two year old….if they found her she was going to toss Gerhardt and jump after him.  All the women in the cellar were raped and some were killed.  The Russkies didn’t make it to the roof.
For decades I would stop in to say hi after work…first at Fernand’s (now Corkscrew) and then at her house on Laurel, after she retired.  Momie drank gin and flat lemon-lime soda from giant bottles….no ice.  I would drink the schnapps her husband had made in his secret still, and we would watch TV and chat.
After a couple of pops, Momie would get comfortable and would forget that I am not from Berlin and lapse into full on Berlinisch.  I have enough kitchen German to follow and we would both drift off into a kind of time machine…..Berlin before and during the war.
Momie is gone now….I keep her memory and memories alive by reading about the time period.  Police procedurals, spyish novels, etc.  Phillip Kerr, David Downing, John Lawton, Luke McCallin, etc.  If you are fans of Michael Connelly or Robert Crais or John Sanford I just gave you another 25 books for your list.
There is a lot of hysterical noise about Trump and fascism and Hitler and all that.  There is something to it in the sense that Trump has unleashed resentment, hatred, anti-semitism and homophobia in his low information voters. His intolerance of dissent or criticism, etc.
This is something that really scares me.  In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor and head of a coalition government of Nazis, Commies and Social Democrats. They each had about a third of the seats.  Less than a month later the Reichstag (parliament) was torched by an arsonist, a Dutch kid named Marinus Van der Lubbe.  He was caught and beheaded in the guillotine less than a year later.
Hitler blamed the fire on the Communists and used the excuse to get emergency temporary powers, suspending habeas corpus, freedom of speech, press freedom, the right of public assembly and free association and the secrecy of the mail and telephones.  Thousands of Communists were arrested, including all of their legislators.  Hitler now had a majority in the legislature and passed yet another law enabling him to govern simply by decree.
The Arizona law allows police to arrest anyone, including the organizers of any peaceful demonstration, if there is any property damage or injuries.  They can also seize the assets of anyone in attendance, whether they are guilty of vandalism or assault.
Not everyone believed that Van Lubbe was a Communist. It was too perfect a scenario for Hitler, and the speed and organization of coup was highly suspicious.  Momie Hilde never believed a word of it….she was sure the kid was just a stooge for the Nazis.
So here is a modern scenario in Phoenix: a Mothers Against Drunk Driving rally attended by some legislators….mostly Democrats, of course.  A couple of skinheads start a fight and throw a rock through a window.  Everyone that could be rounded up at the rally would be subject to arrest…..and the confiscation of all their assets by the police without a trial.
The fact that these guys even THINK of something like this is what scares me.  The mere publishing of an executive order about immigration instantly put our entire Latino population on the defensive, legal or not.  Across the country anyone with slightly sketchy papers, or anyone who works with, hangs with or godforbid lives with someone with sketchy papers is subject to arrest and deportation.  People are staying home from work, from shopping, from school…..and certainly from protesting or marching.  The Arizona law puts everyone in that exact same boat.  Shut up or be crushed. 
I find it ironic also that Hitler had 32% of the votes when he started….right around Donald’s “highly approve” rate.  Think it can’t happen again?  Better get busy.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Butterfly Wings....


I firmly believe in the "butterfly wing" aspect of chaos theory.....If a butterfly in Vietnam flaps its wings in a slightly different way, a tsunami hits Honolulu.
What is going on in your brain right now is also going on in the brains of all your friends, co-workers, family, people you bump into at Costco, Scott at the Chevron, etc.
If you live in super liberal Carmel and decide "fuck it, we're safe" and don't vote on 8 November because you are bitterly hungover from Monday Night Dinner......so will 250,000 other folks in Wisconsin. Hungover or not....Though....Wisconsin. Probably hungover.
It really is important to try to constantly use your decisions for good things....even when it is only slightly hard.
Get out of bed. Vote in your pajamas. There will be coffee at the polls.
This week is far and away the slowest week in local restaurant life. Post Thanksgiving....overstuffed and over socialized. Pre Christmas....Fuck, I have to buy presents for all these people I don't even like?
And...the start of the Christmas party season. I am told by a major social dynamo that this weekend is one of the two key weekends for Christmas parties. Because blah blah.
The guys on the Wharf are depressed....no one is buying fish. The Farmers Market guys are depressed....you could shoot a cannon through the market and not hit a single annoying Carmel lady.
The meat guys are depressed....our new driver is so stupid I actually was momentarily grateful that 55% of eligible voters did not vote on 8 November. Trump is bad enough....this guy would have voted for Pretty Colors and Hot Chicks.
Long story short.....go out to eat in a restaurant this weekend and week. Lunch. A couple of apps and a glass of wine. Brunch on Sunday.
I am not chasing ambulances here....we are busy because we are caterers on the "second best weekend" of the season....
Butterfly flaps, tsunami. Cocktails and apps in a local joint, healthy restaurants and social life the rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rumors of our death......

......are just rumors.  We have been open continually since before the most recent fire.  We were even open when we were inside the mandatory evacuation area.  Sunday Brunch from10am, Monday Night Dinner from 6pm.  Same phone number: 831-659-1857...with the added convenience that it is now a cellphone, and you can text us with questions or reservations.

However......we have moved from Cachagua!  We are located at 13762 Center Street in Carmel Valley Village.....Lokal Restaurant.  Same menu, same longtime staff.....closer to town for those of you who tell me that Cachagua is too far to drive.

The sad part is that our local locals now have to drive to see us.  We orginally started as a local restaurant...a place for guys without girlfriends to get a meal or two a week that did not come from a microwave.  The guys (and girls) turned out to be farmers, gardeners, hunters and fisherfolk, so they pushed our menu into the adventurous shape that it is today.

Why did we move?  "The rent is too damn high!"  We were victims of our own success and longevity at The Store.  The rent kept climbing implacably to Carmel and Carmel Valley Village levels over our thirteen plus years, and the 75 year old building was becoming increasingly senile.  Our absentee landlord did not want to participate in repairs and maintenance, adjust our rent.....or even give us a new lease next year.  Nothing to be done.

We all look forward to seeing you at Lokal!  One of the brightest spots of our move is that Chef Brendan Jones from Lokal lives on the premises and once again you have the father-son combo working the hot side of the kitchen.  As much fun as you can have with your clothes on!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Diet Diet....

That's a joke, see.  The Diet was/is the parliament in Rome, Japan, Germany, etc that legislated.....never mind.


Back in the day we used to work/teach a Stanford University Sophomore College class: 16 incoming sophomores for 20 days in Monterey, Cachagua, Tassajara, Big Sur, etc.  We did the cooking, so I had to send out a dietary request so I could plan the forty or so meals.  Over 17 years we came up with categories:

Omnivore: don’t care, living, dead, animal, vegetable or mineral. Yay for that!
White meat omni:  pork and chicken are fine.
Carnivore:  Meat!  Things grown in the ground….why?  Nothing green, please.
Vegetarians were divided into subgroups:
Standard Ovo-lactic: Eggs or dairy are OK.
Kurt Cobain: “It’s OK to eat fish cuz they don’t have any feeeeelings…”
Sorority: Fish are icky….and bloody stuff, too.  Chicken is great. It’s white!
Proto-vegan: No meats, no eggs, no dairy.  Butter is somehow not dairy, and honey is fine.
Straight Edge Vegan: nothing from the animal world.  Honey oppresses the bees.
And, of course religious folk….no pork, shellfish, etc.  No meat on Friday.
Real allergies: shellfish, scallops, celiac folk, etc.
Snowflakes: some combo of lactose, gluten, seed, oils, fruits, etc intolerance.  “I am allergic to mushrooms….”  (No….you just never got over learning that jock itch and porcini are both fungi).

We got fired by Stanford a few years ago….Oh, not fired.  They just went in a different direction, so we could spend more time with our families or something.

No worries…..Cal hired us immediately and we do lots of sciency retreats at Hastings Reserve….and all around the state.  Same list applies, with new gluteny wrinkles..

Today I experienced a new iteration of food weirdness while working at Lokal. (Lokal is 30 minutes closer to town, so they get lots!)

A couple wanted to know all about the vegan soup, and were tying up the waitress when we were slammed.  She asked me to go out and talk.

“What’s in the vegan soup?” Vegetables.  “Which vegetables?” Uh, stuff Brendan’s mom grows 300 meters from here in her organic garden. “Broccoli?” No. “Cauliflower?” No, we don’t use crucifers unless it is a crucifer only soup like cream of cauliflower or cream of broccoli. “So which vegetables are in the soup then?”  Uh….(trying to remember)….mirepoix, fennel, leeks, some garlic a few mushrooms at the end, a little tomato in the broth. “What is mirepoix?”  Carrots, celery and onion. We have a few different kinds of onions.  “Is there dairy?” Uh, no.  It is a vegan soup. There is not even honey, honey.

I am dismissed.

They order a pear salad (with blue cheese and the parsnips that I forgot were in the soup, too) and the crab cake.  The couple is clearly Jewish and older….but there are as many different kinds of Jews as there are vegetarians.  For instance my good friend Richard Rosenthal is the go-to guy for ribs anywhere within a hundred miles of here, with a sub-specialty in San Jose and San Leandro ribs. And bacon is the gateway meat for all vegetarians, vegans, Jews, Muslims…and Catholics on Friday..

I once had Rabbi Frankel from The City (an OG rabbi, complete with the tattoo from the camps) follow me around at a bris, yelling at me for serving the remake the host had ordered….filling the house and ceremony with bacon smoke.  “Rrr-andy, wouldn’t do that!   Rrrrandy is a good Jew and a good boy!”  Sorry, Rabbi…don’t shoot the messenger.
These folks before me were Jewish vegans.  Cheese is OK.  Crab…apparently OK, too.  God bless you.
The menu says clearly that Brendan’s crab roll is roasted in bacon fat….but butter is an option if one wants.  

 No one said a word about cooking techniques…

And they sent back the bacon roasted crab….and stomped out…. to go back to the hotel and write nasty stuff on yelp! About Lokal.

A vegan that is OK with cheese, but not butter….but won’t tell the waitress or the chef.  A Jew that is OK with crab, but not bacon…..ditto.  Even though choices are right there on the menu.   
We are supposed to know somehow....the Cloud?
……
My spreadsheet of dietary stuff has now spread out into three dimensions!

Did I mention that crops have failed again in Somalia......

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Hell of regrets....



With all the flap about North Carolina and Mississippi legislatures taking a Jesus stand against LGBT folks…and completely missing the irony of the fact that they have already been serially on the wrong side of history for generations….I give props to PayPal and Bruce Springsteen and Charles Barkley for drawing a line in the sand, pulling up stakes and moving on to more rainbow pastures.


What I object to in this whole deal is the term “homophobe”.


Today we had a black guy come in and share what life is really like in the Carolinas.  As a musician he is used to moving in all kinds of circles.  In the Carolinas there are many, many restaurants and bars that he still can’t go into with his white friends.  Still.  This is not just racism... it is race hatred.  


“Homophobe” means “afraid of homosexuals or homosexuality”.  I submit to you that the folks in Mississippi and North Carolina have gone way past fear and are into full on hatred.  Not sure the Latin term for “hatred of homosexuality” is.


My dear departed brother, Rob (whose 62nd birthday we just didn’t celebrate) was gay My dad, Roger was gay, it turns out. .  Good on them.  They were originals way back before it was “OK” to be gay.  I mean, my dad was a NYC banker.  I remember the day he wore a blue striped Brooks Brothers shirt to work. He was shitting himself with worry.  Rob was the first secretary of ActUp in New York, etc.


Funny how Rob always had the hot, smart girlfriends in high school.


Anyway….based on my genetics….I have a little homophobia.  Lurking fear that….well?  


I am also kind of scared of depression, alcoholism and anger related issues that have popped up for generations in our family.


Locally we have very little actual race hatred…and a declining amount of actual LGBT hatred.  We still have homophobia.

Lots of the local general pop are afraid of homosexuality.  Unsure, worried, not understanding…..but not hateful.


I feel sorry for the Miss/Carolina folk.  I think they will live to regret their hatred and their actions.  Jesus actually always in all situations loved all his people…..and all his critters and plants, for that matter.  Anyone have a count of the gay, hermaphroditic, etc plants and critters around us?


Our local folks I worry more about.  I don’t’ see hatred.  I see fear. Still, there is a curse to come for these folks, too.  And Jesus has nothing to do with it.


When you turn your back on your beautiful, hard-working daughter…and her love choice (who is also gorgeous, genrous and hard working to a fault) when they choose to expose their love to public scrutiny by getting married….you are going to cursed.


Not by Jesus.  By your own self, and your regrets as the world passes you by, and you lose track of the best people in your life.


In twenty years, when you are sharing a room with your buddy Jim in the Heavy Equipment Operators Rest Home (for some reason, none of the available women are into you anymore) and your grandchildren are confused and scared by your attitude to their moms…..


You will be boiling in a hell of your own regrets.  I promise.


Guys….women:  don’t be afraid!  It’s OK.  These are great, great girls….and if they have a connection and want to make a life together…..support them. 

Heroes are made not born.  You can do it. .  


Go with hope…and faith.  Duh, love.


Jesus would approve. That’s what he did.