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 Lodge....now 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 gratuity......at 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.

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