Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dear Old Durney

Dear Old Durney…

Wow…..last night we were slammed, for The Cachagua Store. I think we did a hundred…..on folding tables by the Budweiser cooler: two hot-side guys, a pizza/foccacia guy and a salad guy. It seemed stressful somehow. I must be getting old.

A highlight was the Hellacious Vineyard crew. I could tell they were in the bar because I got an order for a vegan dish, along with an order for foie gras with a bottle of Auslese. One of the enduring problems of the chef-run restaurant is that you have only a vague idea of who is in your place….and we have a sort-of redneck display kitchen…..we can sort of see out. We insist that the girls write guests’ names on each, but in this case the waitress was Chrissie Handles….subject of the next post….oh, well! Failing written information, the cooks have to read the tickets like Roman priests read the smoky entrails of sheep and chickens…

Rich the Winemaker is a vegan, and the Good Witch of the Hellacious operation. And, one of his twenty-something hose-draggers is among five guys in Monterey County who know that the foie should have a Sauternes or Auslese. Rich makes great organic wines just up the street from us at the old Durney Vineyard. Like great chefs, he experiments, and he usually hits a home run.

The way these things work, Uncle Terry Durney had just been in the day before for Brunch……The Durney Vineyard story is one of the great “Don’t Do This!!” economic morality tales of the last century. I will try to make this quick.

I. Bill Weinstein is a go-getter Hayward college kid. Hooks up with Mr. Durney Senior who owns the license for the Carnation logo. Not a bad deal. Mr. Durney has no heirs….so Bill is The Man. Mr. Durney Senior is a Catholic…Bill converts….and inherits. (Hey, it worked for SPAIN in 1492!!)
II. Mr. Durney2 takes the ball and runs. Marries Hollywood screenwriter Dorothy Kingsley (Pal Joey)….joins Knights of Malta, Knights of St. Johns…..forget the Knights of Columbus…too low-rent. Pebble Beach…golf….shotgunning pheasants and peasants in Scotland with Purdeys…..mango farm in Angola…..vineyard in Carmel Valley with a private chapel….the whole deal….
III. Many stories: see below.
IV. Bill dies. The Vineyard is appraised at $17 million. There are three or four heirs. One of them, David I-am-an-Asshole, has actual experience in the wine business, runs a hugely successful local p.r. firm and wants to run the winery. The other siblings want to be cashed out. David cannot swing it on his own, but can guarantee lifetime cashflows……Other siblings say: “Fuck you, sell the bitch for the $17M…..gimme my share.” Everyone fights…the winery market is dead….So…..
V. CockBoy Heller buys it for $1.7 million…..the lawyers get paid and everyone in the Durney family moves from Pebble Beach mansions to crappy condos in Carmel and start looking for work……

Durney Story 1: Prince Phillip and the Gun Dog

The culmination of Mr. Durney2’s rabid lifetime social climbing is an accepted invitation from Prince Phillip, wife of the queen of jolly old, to come visit the vineyard on a tour of California. All hands on deck!

Mr. Durney2 uncharacteristically cracks open the bank account and buys a $10,000 gun dog to go along with his Purdey shotguns. The dog is from the best, oldest, smartest line of gun dogs in England….transplanted to Santa Monica or wherever. The dog is trained to a fare-thee-well….or should I say, Mr. Durney2 is trained to a fare-thee-well to communicate with a dog that may have been smarter than everyone else in the family. The dog, or Mr. Durney2 as the case may be, is trained to a lure….a hunk of rope with some pheasant feathers tied on, and some scent…..kind of like New Jersey guys in clubs in New York….

The great day arrives, and everyone schlepps out to Cachagua to the vineyard. (The import of this may be lost on you if you are not familiar with our valley. Check out the April post: "The Land That Time Forgot"). Anyway, it is a beautiful spring day. The limos arrive. Champagne flows…..truffles and foie gras…..confit of pheasant...our smoked salmon. The limo drivers scarf all the truffles….thinking they are chocolate. Ahh, Cachagua!

Finally, the big moment arrives: The Gun Dog is produced, and admired by all around. Prince Phillip knows his grand dad. Mr. Durney produces the lure, gives it a lusty spin and heaves it mightily over the hedge by the side of the Chapel. Dog disappears. Anxious moments as we all await the return……

And here he comes! Racing proudly, head high, prancing back to his new owner and the Prince…….carrying a toilet seat!

Cut to: caterer actually falling to the ground with laughter…….


Blogger Rich Tanguay said...

Hey Michael! Thanks for the highly entertaining post regarding the old Durney and the new "cock" or "bad witch" owner. I spent nearly 45 minutes laughing and re-laughing as I topped a bunch of 2004 cabernet barrels. What a story. It really puts a lot into perspective to understand what went on on this beautiful piece of land just a few short years ago. Thank you for your succinct opinion and thought. My thought on that evening is , "why did it have to end so early!" Kids and responsibility, that's why. Thank you for taking such good care of our group (generous wine offerings, massive amounts of free salad and root veggies -- yum -- and an appearance from Mr. Jones at our table to boot -- woohoo!! Oh yeah, plus incredible vegan creations...) So, you'll have to tell me about your last encounter with the cock-owner and his desire for three ice-creams. Somehow I can't picture him with hoe in his hand, cutting a fire-break... Thanks for all that you do...

3:38 PM  
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5:33 AM  

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