Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Food Whore

I added the Food Whore (turning tricks since 1999) link......nice site, great sense of humor. She IS NOT an illegal home caterer, as I first feared. Praise Allah, though I was willing to forgive even THAT! Sorry......I am super sensitive about home caterers. In Monterey they are thick as the fleas that drove Robert Louis Stevenson away.......I used to forward to the Health Department any invitations I got that included mention of an illegal caterer. The Health Department then would TELL the illegals who was ratting them out.....and not close them down! Makes the joy of writing that yearly check for my license so much greater. AND I got this reputation as anti-woman: 99% of the illegals are female. There is a thesis there somewhere.

Today at the Farmer's Market I saw our own local version.......Scary Cheri, the Big Sur Black Widow. No sense of humor there. The Scary One got her start with us (we even held her hand all the way through her first two weddings). She had a contact at the most amazing house in Big Sur......the Palmieri House. Two thousand square feet of teak decking on a cliff overlooking sentinel rocks at Burns Creek.....just a short way north of Esalen. The house stars in the movie ''The Limey'' with Peter Fonda and Terence Stamp....great, dark movie by the way. Barbara Striesand and Demi Moore retreat there......Trent Reznor wrote an album there.

Anyway, the house was available for rent at times for $4,000 cash. Worth it, every cent. Then one day, on five days notice.......the caretaker cancelled a wedding for 100pp because the owner was coming. Hmmm........The owner didn't know? This was the Scary One's first big wedding. We pulled her ass out of the fire, found a new site up the hill.......and produced the famous Big Sur Bagpipe Butterfly and Bats Wedding. I think Scary fired us halfway through the event. We hung out on the fringes anyway, laughing quietly. Then, proving that there is a God......she got a flat on the way out on the awful dirt road. Yes, we went back and changed her tire......Revenge is a meal which is best eaten cold....and with the hands!

Well, that was that for Palmieri House for AMF. The Scary One left us not long after...... two days after Michael fell from a tree, breaking both arms and rupturing his spleen. As she gathered her things her things, she informed him (he laying in front of the woodstove, kicking the morphine pump hangover, with 27 staples in his belly) that he was just too goddam self-absorbed! Probably the best break-up line ever, given the situation. Self-absorption could be defined as the process of trying to figure out how to wipe your butt with two broken arms......

Needing a place to work and live, she ratted out the Palmieri House caretaker to the owner......and got his job!! Despite having done a couple dozen events there with full knowledge that the man knew nothing of the house's alternate income. And you thought Big Sur was all hippies, peace-love-tie-die. The poor guy barely escaped prosecution.

So today there was the Scary One, schlepping her little red wagon through the market, mistress of all she surveys. If you ever need a really expensive event in Big Sur, prepared illegally in a home kitchen....but with some organic ingredients........ I can refer you. I hear she is booked for September. Maybe I am just pissed off that she got all the Corralitos Market venison and ostrich sausage before I did.........Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Split Personality

D-Day minus seven: Brendan leaves for Prague on the 6th. The process of equipping him for the move is a cross between preparing for mountaineering and preparing for divorce. Instead of ''who gets the Bob Marley cd's, it is: who gets the El Bulli book and who takes which micro-planer? How many off-set spatulas should you take, and which knives. Silpat? Immersion blenders? Nitrous?

Despite being a center of culture for millenia, the Prague food scene is not yet jumping. Quesadillas are new and hip, and lots of cabbage and boiled hocks appear on even upscale menus. We suspect that Brendan needs to bring everything......

And AMF continues to develop our menus and equipment: do we buy a Thermomix? A Paco Jet? With Brendan in Prague, who is going to use them? I will have enough on my hands with old fashioned knife work with the kitchen crew.

While we are splitting in half and turning inside out, we are starting to hit the spring stride: two big dinner parties this Saturday and two on Monday, plus the little stuff. We want to show off, and send Brendan out with an artistic bang......but most of the guests are members of Cypress Point. (We have spent three decades trying to slip chipotle into their cocktails sauce instead of horseradish). One of the two clients is famous for rejecting our involtini pesce espada and lasagnette with the words: ''Michael, we are from Columbus. We are not looking for EEE-talian cuisine......we want EYE-talian."

Luckily, this time we get a shot at the younger generation. The kids of the business moguls are partying: Stanford Business school vs. Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, etc in a golf tournament at Cypress. Last year the tournament was in Barcelona.....somehow I don't think El Bulli was on the itinerary. Still, the crowd will be more for the Patron than the J&B. Passive/aggessive catering will prevail.....squid ink, Absinthe foam, watermelon sorbet, sesame poached ono.....Hors d'oeuvres on spoons. We may never work again in Pebble Beach. At least the Atkins idiots will like the spoons.

And meanwhile, meetings with brides. Tomorrow morning, our first meeting in a year at Holman Ranch. We have the wedding nailed down.....despite being banned by Holman. I may frame their letter to me indicating that in the future NO SWORDS will be allowed at the Ranch (the new management had never seen champagne sabering....especially the two man version with the Hungarian fighting saber, and reacted like Jerry Falwell at a committment ceremony). That should be fun. Protecting the bride from the hostility of the venue. $6500 for seven hours doesn't get you civility anymore.

Then back to Monterey to meet a pair of wedding consultants flying up from Irvine to try to nail down a rehearsal dinner on the beach. They were booked at Quail Meadows (Quail owned by Bernardus Lodge, Cal Stametov chef). The BBQ lunch there (including hamburgers, chicken breast, etc) was $85 per person, plus plus plus. $2500 site set up fee. $30 per hour bartenders, plus Bernardus booze prices ($7 for a Heineken). For 200 people on the lawn, figure $30,000 or so for burgers. Really NICE burgers. Can't imagine why the client faded! The wedding itself is at the Beach Club ($125 per......$30 table setting fee, plus plus plus). Plus everything is marked up by the consultants. Where do these people come from? And how can I get invited? Somehow I think we can find a solution for these nice people. Carmel Beach is free.