Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Elevator Nightmare.....

Today I was interviewing a bride at The Store after brunch. All was going swimmingly until she mentioned her baker.......a famous local outfit. The baker......let's call them ''Layers''.....are owned by an old-school local Italian family one would be hesitant to call out in public.


We have been serving their cakes for years now, and they suck. Not always, but 85% of the time. We are almost to the point of refusing to do the the wedding if ''Layers'' is the baker. Gilda and I don't want to be stuck standing there with a pile of shitty dry crumbs, stuck together with chocolate glue funk, wrapped in oozy fondant like corpse skin.

Or worse......the shitty dry crumb stuff is still frozen in the middle from where the minimum wage illegal immigrants and high school kids (and illegal immigrant high school kids!) put it when they made it last month in anticipation of the busy season. My baseline worker is a 25 year old soccer player......if these guys and girls won't eat the cake in the middle of a 14 hour concerned. Talk about the canary in the coal mine......

(There are good bakers...... Two of them. Hire me and I will tell you who they are......)

Many, many people don't realize that the caterer doesn't bake the cake......(including one of my all time favorite brides, Debra.....well, she does now!). Being stuck serving a shitty cake is like being in the dream everyone has of being naked at high school......

I was trying to express this embarrassing frustration to the bride and the mom-of-the-bride without losing the whole wedding.

Then, I suddenly remembered.......The Horror! An event so scarring it doomed me to geekdom for years....maybe still. Sherman! Set the Wayback Machine for 1965!!!

I worked on Wall Street when I was in high school and college, at Smith Barney at 20 Broad Street. This is the same address as the New York Stock Exchange, but we were upstairs on the 9th through the 13th floors (though it was called the 14th floor). My dad was a banker in New Jersey, and he hired the kid of the guy that hired me as a professional courtesy. I don't know who got the worse end of the deal.....the other kid left a satchel full of bearer bonds on the PATH Tube, and I was dumb as a newborn newt. I was such a rube that I was still a practicing Catholic......

(Come to think of it.....maybe that guy didn't LOSE the bearer bonds! Wow! He might own a country by now.......It never occurred to me until now. See, I am still a rube. And I can still say the Mass in Latin....)

Anyway, I worked at Smith Barney I worked the news desk/tube station on the 14th floor. We read the Dow Jones, typed up newsletters every hour, printed them on an offset machine and shot them all around the building by way of a pneumatic tube system. Twice a day we did a special review report and hand carried them around to all the departments.

This meant we got to go down to the International Department on the 12th floor. Their secretarial staff was from Eileen Ford's modeling agency......literally. The Big Dude's personal assistant was a stunning beauty with a gap between her teeth......Every time I got within Arpege range of her the special reports would stick to my sweaty palms and new zits would break out all over my Irishy face . Wow. And the other girls were of the same ilk. Creatures from another planet.....

Because we worked under such pressure, we were allowed free lunch at the company cafeteria on the 9th floor. Multiple plates of food, multiple tiny bottles of real Welch's grape juice, lotsa cheesecake. A 16 year-old's dream.

One day as I got in the elevator after lunch I was joined by a messenger. The guy was short, fat and wide. He was chewing on a horrible wet cigar, and was carrying a messenger bag that looked like it was made from whale bladders. Old whale bladders. The cigar reeked, and the juices from it dripped down his chin onto his tie and the elevator floor. His suit was ancient, shiny with grease, and sprinkled all about with cigar ash and dandruff dendrites. Yeesh.

I pushed the button for 14. He pushed the button for 11.

The elevator rose. It stopped at 11. The doors opened.

Just as the guy stepped towards the door, he released a massive, wet, flapping fart.

I was stunned by the fart's volume, decibel level, and .......the ordure. The doors closed. I gagged.

The elevator stopped at 12. The doors opened.

Standing there was Lauren Hutton and three of her friends....Going up to visit the Bond Guys on 13.

There I was: alone in the elevator with the cigar reek and the fart. And Lauren Hutton.

In the ensuing minute I came to understand Death as a possible Friend......

Not to mention the weeks afterward when I would go around with my specials, and the International girls would all push back from their desks as I approached......

Come to think of it......if ''Layers'' does the cake......

We'll pass.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A tale of three turkeys.....

"Have a nice Thanksgiving!"

Dickens didn't write a Thanksgiving as yet there is no "Scrooge" for turkey day. I guess it could be the English sailor Thomas Dermer who gave the original inhabitants of Cape Cod small pox and influenza and wiped them, out pre-Pilgrims......In the meantime, I'll volunteer. I hate friggin' Thanksgiving......and I am descended from at least three of the orginal immigrant survivors.

Turkey Day food is so BROWN......and any attempts to liven it up are usually looked at askance. To me the whole Thanksgiving ethos is like that old Star Trek episode: The Captain and Spock discover a planet that is constantly reliving The Gunfight at The OK Corral because some UFO's had left a video hundreds of years before. The inhabitants still walked around in ridiculous cowboy gear imitating a reality that never existed.

The Pilgrim's were starving, scurvy ridden, god-addled, English country people who had been living in Holland (two gastronomic capitals if there ever were....) and were dependent upon the kindness of strangers.....technologically bankrupt subsistence aborigines barely recovering from their own pandemic that had literally decimated them. As in killed 9 of ten. Only 60% of the Pilgrims died the first year. Wooo-hoo! Let's party!

I am an Irish person, and a similar absurdity takes place on St. Paddy's Day: starvation rations, subsistence foods of highly questsionable character are trotted out as an ethnic marker. Corned beef was eaten by the Irish building the railroads because it was the cheapest thing that wouldn't laden with chemicals it didn't need refrigeration. And don't talk to me about potatoes and cabbage. Cabbage has just enough vitamin C to keep a destitute worker's teeth from dropping out of his head before his back gives out. It was big at Treblinka, too.

Anyway......this year we are going whole hog. I succumbed to fatal yuppy bullshit and bought an heirloom turkey. I think it is a good thing.....but I am so traumatized by the homicidal shoppers and drivers at Costco and Whole Foods yesterday that I can't make rational judgements for a few days. An off duty policeman actually badged me in Whole Foods to get me away from the turkeys.....and the morbidly obese Costco cretins abandoned all pretense at civility and drove their SUV's and mini-vans like feral Italian cab drivers at a Pope's funeral. Horns, screaming, utter gridlock.....fatties just parking in place in the gridlock, or just turning up the AC and stereo and leaning on the horn. Fighting over flatbeds, cellulite flailing.

I expected the worst from today's Wharf/Farmer's Market trip. Amanda told me to just prepare myself mentally like a Bosnian woman at a Serbian gang-rape: "They just go out of their bodies, you see.....then it is happening to someone else....." (This reads like the PDR specific for Ketamine......a dissociative anesthetic. I had a large jar when I lived in Greece.....too bad there aren't raves anymore for a new supply......) I pictured in my mind the deranged octogenarian that fatally flattened a dozen people at an LA market last year.

Turns out there was no one there. Acres of parking.....Thanksgiving is the one day that the old people who normally plague the market like a driver's ed movie from hell actually get food cooked for them..... I guess, by the young folk....or by The Home. Sadly, there were also only a few vendors. It was like the Moscow Farmer's Market......or come to think of it, the Plymouth Farmer's Market four hundred years ago. Fun with root vegetables!

As always, I was questioned at length by daffy elderly shoppers. This is what I get for being one of two professionals who actually shop for local produce (the other is Walter Manzke of Bouchée). Today, the topic was Turducken: "How do I do a turducken?"

Turducken and bocce are twin plagues brought upon this earth by John Madden, the former Raiders coach. The turducken is basically a galatin (completely boned whole birds) of turkey.....stuffed with a duck galatin......stuffed with a chicken galatin. The chicken is then best stuffed with the fifteen page recipe cum description of how to do a galatin. The whole thing is then tied and roasted. If you like to double dip your absurd cooking fads, you can then deep fry the fucking thing. Whichever method you choose.....bring lots of gravy, because by the time the chicken cooks to a safe 160 degrees, that turkey is one dry mothafucka.

The first four letters of the dish say it all.

There was an old story (that pre-dates John Madden by about 150 years) told by abusive French chefs to explain to underlings some random horrible act perpetrated on some perfectly defenseless food in the name of "gourmet" Zen turned inside out after having sex with Karl Marx: the amount of work going into a dish determines it's value.

The difference between a gourmand and a gourmet:

Make a galatin of an ostrich. Stuff it with a swan. Stuff that with a turkey. Stuff that with a goose. Stuff that with a capon, which you stuff with a duck, which you stuff with a pigeon....on down to an in the song. A sparrow. There is no SPCA in France, believe me.

Take the alouette and stuff it with a caper which is wrapped in an anchovie.

The gourmet eats the caper......the gourmand eats all the rest. Have at it, John......

My favorite Thanksgiving advice day took place years ago. My brother-in-law Monckton was driving west....actually emigrating west in a Triumph Spitfire with two dogs and his girl-friend. He was stuck in Denver for Thankgiving and was staying with Dr. Peter The Peter Doctor, my old Cornell college roommate and former restaurant partner. Monckton was trying to be a good guest and mellow the effect of his descent on Peter's apartment with the entourage and his own normal charming but LSD fuelled persona, by cooking a traditional dinner.

Michael and I had long chats about the side dishes, and a detailed chat about the bird: Stuff the neck cavity with aromatics (apples, onions, garlic, rosemary) and leave the body cavity open except for some random herbs. Rub the whole bird down with good butter, and have more melted butter ready to baste away. Put the bird in a 500 oven to get things going, then turn it down to 275 and cover the breast with some layers of cheesecloth or parchment to keep it moist. Baste for a couple of hours.

"All clear, chief!" Things went well, apparently.

Well, there was one little thing. Michael could not find any cheesecloth, or parchment he protected the breast with a couple of bandanas he used to keep his hair from flying around in the Spitty.

Red......paisley bandanas....

Which dyed the breast meat a lovely red paisley pattern to a depth of about four inches........

Oh, well.

Come to think of it, I did have ONE nice Thanksgiving, once......and Monckton was responsible. Both the Horrible Ohio In-Laws and my mom and grandma were visiting. We cooked at the catering kitchen to escape the dense fug at the house: Jane, Michael, me, Annie and my brothers went to prep and fetch the food. Michael supplied a half pound of local mushrooms and we laughed for six hours......I was actually sore the next day. No turkeys were cooked. I think we went out for Chinese.........

Next Totally Cool Cooking Method: Deep fried turkeys. For no small expense you can by a small Atlas Centaur rocket motor capable of producing about 250,000 BTUs, a large aluminum stock pot and five gallons of peanut oil. You get these things at Costco.....but you will have to fight a fat man for them.

Next, you prepare the turkey normally......and heat the fat in the stockpot to 350 degrees. You pop in the bird, and bob is your uncle in only a half hour or so. What could be better? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, our friend Dr. Bob went for this, as he did all things gastronomic. Dr. Bob was the first guy anywhere to put in a wood pizza oven. He took cooking lessons in Italy with Bugiali; he took grill lessons in North Carolina with Bubba; he took deep fry lessons in Texas from Dick Cheney, apparently. (Turns out Dr. Bob was doing a little stuffing on the this case another Palma High parent with similar gastronomic interests.......)

Dr. Bob's big moment came on Turkey Day. He had his Atlas Centaur set up in the back yard by the pizza oven, just off Del Monte golf course. The fat was hot, the guests had arrived. In went the bird.

The only thing that Bob hadn't quite grasped was that the bird should be thawed first, before being fried. The resutant mix of ice and boiling grease caused a geyser of fat that shrieked into the sky.....and of course, ignited. It somehow missed Bob, but the fat flowed like lava from Kilauea Iki out onto the golf course.......The firemen who responded were too convulsed with laughter to function, and may have been as sore as I was after the mushrooms......Dr. Bob sent out for Chinese as well.

The Final Desperately Cool way to cook a turkey is on a Weber kettle grill. Mmmm. Bird, Weber, charcoal..... manly men standing around drinking manly drinks, presiding over the manly denaturing of manly protein.....What could go wrong?

I have only one experiece with Weberizing turkeys....despite cooking at least two meals a week on Webers....often for hundreds of people, every week for three decades now.

We were doing a Thanksgiving do at Durney Vineyard in Cachagua, for Dear Old Mr. Durney (see other Durney posts). This is years ago.....long enough ago that a Charley's Angel was the guest of honor, and she was still working.....this was the smart, dark-haired one.

Durney Vineyard had a beautiful little guest house with a gorgeous pool overlooking the vineyards and the Cachagua valley. There was also a consecrated chapel and a wine cave. The house had been there a while, though.....since Eisenhower, at least....and I think old Ike might have personally installed the all-electric kitchen. And the wiring....

The day started out wet, and grew wildly stormy very quickly.

As a company we have a well-known antipathy to making coffee, in any form....ever. Mr. Durney was aware of this and successfully badgered us into bringing along an urn......("We make coffee the old-fashioned way.....we URN it!).

Despite, or as a result of, the storm....the afternoon was going swimmingly. Very cosy. Nice Mass in Latin from Father Juan. Decent wine. Nice hors d'oeuvres. The Angel was very nice, and kind, and down-to-earth. The birds were in the ovens, with the yams and the stuffing. The gravy was bubbling on the stove, and the water was ready for the mashers.

At this point, NotGay Ray said, "I am going to plug in the it will be ready." He reached for the cord and slipped it into the outlet. At that precise moment, there was a terrific lightning strike, and a huge bang. The fucking coffee maker blew the 16 amp circuit in the kitchen, and along with the lightning strike, the whole vineyard electrical service all the way up to the pole transformer.

Darkness....utter black darkness.

Mr. old bastard that he was.....had no functioning flashlights, and only fag ends of candles. We got the guests calmed and lept into action in the kitchen, and fired up the Weber with oak chips and branches.

Soon we had a nice fire, and a good ash base. I piled on the turkey, and packed it with yams and packages of stuffing. We wrapped the whole bastard in yards of tinfoil, and carefully balanced on the lid, like some insane Tin Woodman sculpture. Every 20 minutes, we would take apart the entire structure, add coals, turn the bird, and rebuild the fucking thing.

Meanwhile, Mr. Durney had swung into full Doug MacArthur mode: finding underlings and berating them. Somehow he got onto a PG&E supervisor who agreed to send out a repairman......on Thanksgiving, in a blinding lightning storm, miles out to nowhere in Cachagua at the ass end of a long obscure driveway. In the pitch dark.

We were sweating bullets.....the gravy was warming in the fireplace, and the spuds were stuffed in foil into the fireplace coals. The guests were starting to get antsy, and the bird was nowhere close. Finally, we just had to go with it.

Luckily the lights were low, the side dishes were mostly cooked and the gravy hot. I shaved the warm outside of that bird like a surgeon in a burn ward, working on skin grafts. I served some kind of turkey to everyone.

The Angel remained kind.

Dinner was achieved.

Finally the PG&E guy arrived. Mr. Durney bitched him out for taking so long, and the poor schlub went back out into the howling gale. He climbed the pole somehow and flipped the breaker on the transformer. Lights, camera, action.

The guy came back in to make sure everything was kosher.....dripping wet storm all over the tiles. Mr. Durney, maybe somewhat shamed by the guy's heroic behavior and his own pettiness, said, "Can we get you anything? Anything at all?"

"Well......I'd love a cup of coffee......."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More Fishy Foods

So, I called Costarella Thursday morning to order my wild salmon to smoke for Turkey Days. The guy there mistook me for "Mike from Whole Foods" instead of "Mike from Moveable".

When I asked what the salmon story was he said: "Farmed from Norway."

I said, "Not for me, baby!"

"Yeah, yeah, I know.....none of you guys are gonna be very happy with that, but what ya gonna do?"

"Uh....... buy wild fish?"

"Who IS this?"

"Mike from Moveable in Monterey....."

"Oh, shit. I thought you were the Whole Foods guy! no.....I got whole frozen wild kings from Mendocino.......I got 3000 pounds......."

I ordered $600 worth.......four fish!

So...thoroughly irritated.....I called up Whole Foods and asked for Kelly, the manager. She called back the next morning, before my first coffee. I was charming.

I explained to her that I had personally been carrying into her store 50# of "American Gold" farm fish every week, and I had still not seen any farm labelling in the fish counter.

Oh, and I mentioned that the tail of the ''frozen wild California fish'' they sold us came back from the DNA lab as having been born at the University of Washington. Blade Runner fish, not wild by any means. Well, the counter guy could have made a all looks the same. Let us see what the next sample says.

Oh, and I mentioned KPIX-TV and my English reporter buddy at KGO-TV....champing at the bit for some news that did not involve ass-grabbing politicians. I mentioned civil fraud....class action lawsuits....cheery morning stuff like that.

Dear Kelly was completely unaware her store was even buying farm fish. Purchasing is all run out of the district office. She swore up and down that they as a company want to be on the right side of things.....

I asked, "If Whole Foods wants to be on the right side of things.....sustainablility, I guess.....why have they invested in a 15 million pound a year farm in the San Juan straights?

"I will call our fish manager on his cell phone right now.....and have him call you."

I know you will be SHOCKED to hear that no one ever called me back.......

Dear Kelly probably got Ed-jick-ated by the brass.

I wonder what she doesn't know about her produce suppliers.....and her dry goods suppliers.....and her bakery......

And, speaking of it deceptive to put a big pile of hugely overpriced commercial apples between two smaller piles of similarly priced organic ones? Not technically......

Whorish Hypocritcal Overpriced Lying Eco-Terrorists Foisting Off Offal to Deluded Snobs?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More salmon......Boycott Whole Foods

How lazy is this? Just post a website, and call it a post.

Basically.....Whole Foods has come up with a farm salmon program that solves the needs of its consumers (heavy metals, PCB's, guilt) without solving the problems that farm salmon bring to the ecosystem (tons of turds, parasites, etc), fishermen......oh, and the fish. "We like the Atlantic salmon, because they are big, dumb and slow. They just sit there and eat."

Did I mention that there are no more WILD Atlantic salmon? Like wild cows, or wild pomeranians....only in pens, or escaped.

They do not sell the stuff in Washington and Oregon, cuz no one will buy it. Guess what? They don't sell it here, either......for the same reasons.

BUT: They sure BUY it! And it goes in the back door........ Just like parsing Bill Clinton's blowjob.....A quick look at the fish counter shows half a dozen different varieties of wild salmon: frozen, Scottish, King, Coho, etc. A more careful observer at their fish counter will discover salmon products (salmon cakes, salmon roll, stuffed salmon) that do not explicitly say anything but just "Salmon", snuggled in next to its wild brethren . Even this policy is new since my discovery of their farm fish deliveries and subsequent screaming at management.

Hiding their farm fish purchases.....and their financing of the 15 million pound per year farm......says all you need to know about Whole Foods.

And now are you gonna trust their olive oil? Or those $5 per pound tomatoes?

Not me.

I repeat: Fuck Whole Foods for lying about their products and cynically helping to destroy the ecosphere every bit as much as Wal-Mart........

Noel suggests a new anagram: White Over-educated Lame Egocentric Ferociously Obnoxious Overfed Deluded Snobs

A real restaurant guy......

came to the Cachagua Store last night. He has multiple shops, and a bar.....that are well run enough that he can go away for weeks and everything still runs fine.

We were looking forward to his visit.....The Real World's take on our little Store: the place, the food, the prices, the wine, the staff, the music.....

First words out of his mouth, looking at Rachelle the busgirl: "Why do you let that bitch chew gum?"

Uh oh. What would he have thought if he had seen Rachelle set Matt Millae's hair on fire on his birthday? Or her cigarette-birthday-candle deal? Maybe not a great match.

Anyway, my staff replies to the restaurant guy:

"Well, you just exposed the fact that you really are THAT shallow and you lack imagination.

It wasn't long ago that this location was (and still is) the most irreverent place on the Peninsula. Bikers and other illustrious locals and tourists would put up roadblocks to keep the cops away so they could party without limits. And it worked! (Note the bullet holes in the ceiling.....we just re-roofed the place).

They would pour bleach on the floors to have drag races to the other end of the room, or ride Harleys up the sycamore tree out front. Horses were always welcome......but gays were not. Go figure.

Gays are now welcome......and the horses......though our business model has evolved out of the essence of the place. While we welcome the white, moneyed Peninsulites who dare to make the drive.....we won't kiss anyone's ass, nor will we indulge in any of the usual airs put on in most restaurants. The service is simple, the decor non-existent. This is, however, reflected in the low prices.

Whining, complaining Carmelites are not welcome.....and are quickly told: "You don't like it...go to the other Cachagua restaurant. NOW! You don't want the chef to come out here......"

So, to answer your question, sir: YOU DON'T GET THE JOKE!

So, go back to L.A. and enjoy your eat-by-numbers meal at Citrus or Pinot......

And, have a nice day....."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dancing in the end zone......

OK.....Grumpy Puss was wrong. The Republicans didn't rally at the last minute, and there actually is a fighting chance at returning America to at least a partial democracy.

Just remember.....Democrats suck, too. This is why we have plagued by the Bushies 'ere these last six years.

Or, maybe it is my fault..........

In 2000 for the elections, Carolynn and I did the absentee thing and flew to Italy for vacation. On election eve, we were at Acquamatta in Capolona, outside Arezzo in the Cosentino.

We had driven over the Consuma Pass from Firenze on the way toward the hive of the Camaldolis and St. Francis' old mountain retreat at La Verna. We were completely entranced..... in the literal sense of the word. No one told us that Italy would have Alpine villages in the middle of Tuscany.....or vast expanses of blank territory, just sitting there waiting for Wal-Marts or moto-cross tracks. We hit Poppi, with its Puff-The-Magic-Dragon castle and were absolutely stunned into some kind of medieval fit. Then up the road towards the Camaldoli's.

There was a driving storm....thunder and lightning. Wind. Crashing trees on the road. The road wound up into the mountains and got smaller and windier and gloomier....full on Cachagua style. We saw wild boar in the road. We saw a fucking STAG in the road......not a deer, but a fucking stag! The trance went well beyond the mystical and into the creepy and scary.

The monastery, closely affiliated with our boys in Lucia in Big Sur, was huge and dark and completely deserted. Lit by torches. Did I mention the thunder and lightning? Eventually a sweet old monk, Brother Thomas....a former Big Sur-ian, found us and in lieu of tour showed us into the gift shop. We passed on mass (Carolynn is a fairly vigorous anti-cleric) and drifted back down the mountain in the storm. What pussies! Edith Wharton continued on up the mountain in 1915 to the cells at La Verna. The road was so steep the monks had to use ropes to pull her car up. Not us......We felt like the teenagers in Scary Movie: "There MUST be a reason there are no living humans anywhere in sight......"

Anyway, the Michelin Red Guide listed a one-star in Capolona, just a few clicks away, so....why not? This would be our first one-star, and we were intimidated, spell or no. We changed in the parking lot, and felt like fucking Americans. The rain kept pounding down......and there was STILL no one around.

Acquamatta turns out to be about the most charming, beautiful restaurant you could ever find anywhere. It is built right on the Arno in an ancient old mill, and the water flows almost through the dining room. The room is quiet and contemplative.....but the owners are partiers. They actually love food and service, and their enthusiasm shows everywhere. It is the opposite of pretentious.

Anyway, we ate and ate. Pigeons and trouts and weird river shellfish and lamb and killer cheeses and wines and grappa and chocolates and creams and cheeses and wines and grappas and champagne and strange birds and torta crema mascarpone.......there may have even been cigars.

We were beyond hammered. We were psychically, emotionally, sensually, gastronomically and alcoholicly blasted into some new dimension by our day and night. I felt like the Indian who sold Manhattan for the beads: "Take the fucking place......some beads? Perfect!"

Luckily, the owners have an insane friend with a hotel only a kilometer away....and we were able to motor there successfully.

Of course, there were no hotel people around when we arrived at 2am. The gentleman we took to be the owner bought us cognacs in the bar and gave us a key to a nice room. Turns out he was just another drunk, but no matter. The hotel is full of the weirdest antiques and mementos one could imagine......picture Timothy Leary's maiden aunt's lifetime collection of garage sale gems. Typewriters, skiis, elk heads, antique wheel chairs and washing machines in the hallways. Wild cats running around, like that. (La Gravenna in Subbiano, if you ever go there).

Anyway......I think Carolynn was overserved. I was definitely overserved. There may have been barfing. I couldn't tell if I was communing with St. Francis or in the midst of an LSD driven day-glo migraine. In the morning there definitely were brutal hangovers, both from the food and all the booze and the psychic journey.


I didn't think a hangover could last six years........I have felt personally responsible all this time. If I just had not had that Vino Santo.....and that grappa pairing.......and stayed away from the scary monk. And what about the fucking STAG?

Maybe finally it is over......

To ultimately slay this dragon.......We needed an exorcism.

So, at this very moment our wine steward, Alex Lallos, is dining at Acquamatta with his Pops.......on our credit card (Acquamatta is good like card is on file there for any stray Feasters in the Cosentino). No matter how much Alex eats and won't turn out like last time.

That is my idea of an exorcism!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I am scared....

Watching all the polls on ......I am scared. There is WAY to much self-congratulating going on with the Democrats.

Many, many of the ''sure thing'' margins for the Democrats are slowly fading away.

I mean, Conrad Burns, for chrissakes. An obviously incompetent, corrupt, muddle-headed, malaprop-spouting fuddy-duddy is creeping back to a virtual tie in Montana. This is a guy who berated volunteer firefighters who flew in last summer from Virginia to help out. Who gets away with dissing firefighters? This guy makes George Allen look like Winston Churchill......These Montana people must have a death wish.

And don't even talk to me about Richard Pombo from right here in Stockton.....This guy wanted to sell off the National Parks, took tons of money from Abramoff, and people still vote for him?

I fear America is like the abused spouse. Poor white and middle class Americans have already voted twice in a row against their own best interests.

You live in a trailer and you are in favor of tax cuts for billionaires? You think the ten gallons of gas it takes to get to town to look for work in your fifteen year old pickup ought to cost ten times the production price? Oh, and tax breaks and subsidies for the oil companies on top of that? Spend every two days in Iraq the entire YEARLY federal financial support for the school lunch program for every American child?

Makes sense to me.

They have been openly mocked, beaten, stolen from, cheated and lied to by their political heroes. Even Jesus lied to them.....(Grant Risdon was right: they really ARE Crystal Methodists! (And thank you very much, Mike Jones for being a gay, meth-head hooker. As if the rapper wasn't bad enough. At least this Mike Jones hasn't made any CD's people can send me.....Yet!)).

Finally, though...... the American Slobs seemed to be mustering the courage to end the the cops, get some help and put their lives back together. Throw the bums out!

But, when the cops actually show up with the handcuffs, with the paramedics and the social worker......Stockholm Syndrome takes over: "Oh, no....dear is wasn't THAT bad. He didn't mean it. It was really my fault. I tripped and fell down the stairs.....Really. I love you! I hate you! Don't leave me!"

The Fear Message of the Republicans has become endemic and visceral. It is Stockholm Syndrome.

So, please vote. Call your friends and co-workers and just make sure they actually vote. God forbid you should have the time to do the GOTV thing......That would be nice, in some other world.

Don't count the chickens before they are hatched.....

And, speaking of the hatching:

Our voting machines were delivered on Friday afternoon to The Store. They hung out for Locals Dinner on Friday and played pool with the Mexicans, as they are doing tonite. Tomorrow they will have brunch, and then Brendan and I are taking them to town to the Rio Grill for sandwiches and champagne. Of course, they will be there for Monday Night dinner. This is Cachagua, not Oakland or Sacramento or Brooklyn, or Columbus......Even though every resident of our trailer parks probably has a mini-bar key on their key chain left over from the honeymoon in Vegas, there is probably not enough computer expertise to run an Apple IIE. The vote is safe.......In Cachagua, anyway. Picture my voting machines loose at UC Santa Cruz for five days.......Banana Slugs for Governor!

But, really. Five days alone with the voting machines, a mini-bar key, a USB cable and the code.........If Grant Risdon appears as a contender for Governor on Wednesday, you will know why.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Salmon Story, Part Six: Whole Foods Eco Terror

Not to be distracted from the more salacious aspects of CaterWorld.....and not to descend into some weird CodePink-crazy-lady-with-too-many-cats deal......but, really.

Today, Steve Palumbi.....the Hopkins Marine Station marine biology prof I have been trying for years (to no avail) to get on board with my faux-salmon campaign ......announced that all the edible fish will be gone in forty years.

CBS interviewed a Monterey fisherman who said: "Forty years? Wow, that long? I was thinking twenty......"

So.....for the eighth time this week, I went by White Hypochondriacal Overfed Lame-ass Egocentric Ferociously Obnoxious Over-educated Desperately Self-Absorbed to check on their fish counter.

Now, I would not actually BUY any fish from them.....because despite the 60's, 70's and 80's...... and all that Gruet, I still have a brain. Sea Harvest is a short drive, after all. you know, we are radically, crazy-cat-lady, insanely devoted to wild salmon. We have our stuff flown in from Oregon or Alaska to Costarella in San Francisco.....and then trucked down by Olmecs to the back parking lot of Whole Foods.

This week it was Oregon River Fish for us. The Ocean Kings are gone for the year......Our stuff was delivered on Thursday morning, and I was there. Xachatuplaziplacotl met me out back of WF. Of course, my stuff was behind the Whole Foods stuff, so I helped him unload the Whole Truck.

First box out of the gate: American Gold....fifty pounds. Farm raised salmon, appropriately dyed. Maybe 50 pounds. There was also a box of ORF, like ours. Maybe fifty pounds.

I carried in the box of American Gold and helped Xachatuplaziplacotl get checked in (his Spanish isn't that great yet). I also took a moment to peel the label off the American Gold case and stick it on the trunk of the Jaguar. I have a nice foto.

Shocker for you. At no time in the ensuing week did Whole Foods supposedly sell any American farmed, dyed fish. Or, any ORF, for that matter. Scottish farmed was already on the shelf on Thursday and soon went away. Lots of formerly frozen wild salmon, both coho and king. Lots of things made from Wild Salmon. Prices for everything were in the high teens and early twenties.

My ORF cost me $12.50 a pound and more by the time it was fileted. Wholesale, not counting the drive, the filetting, and speaking Nauatl with Xachatuplaziplacotl. Farm salmon runs $4.50 fileted.

How am I supposed to compete against that?

So, let me take a moment make a small statement:

Whole Foods fish department, and by extension, the entire business, are lying, cheating, cocksucking motherfuckers cynically participating in the destruction of the aquasphere and biosphere.

Sue me, you fucks. Prove it is a lie. My lawyer is on his honeymoon, but his number is 624-5000. He is in Ireland, which no longer has any wild fish.

And the rest of the self-absorbed motherfuckers that shop at Whole Foods need to pull their heads out of their tight little personally-trained asses and start patronizing the small local stores that won't lie, steal your money, or destroy the Earth. Cornucopia. The Cheese Shop. The Farmer's Market. Village Produce. The Grove Market. Sea Harvest.

For fuck's sake! Whole Foods is the Wal-Mart of decent everyone to the bottom and pocketing all the cash on the way.

It may be coincidental that Whole Foods is based in Texas.....but I am thinking.......


Remember.....there is a REASON why the Republicans are in charge of every apect of our lives: Democrats suck, too!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In Defense of Groom-Zillas

The Death-Posts are piling up like missed Holy Days of Obligation: Not to attend is a mortal sin, and you will burn in hell forever if you are not shreaved.

More: Evil Wedding Coordinator action.......More: Ignore the Caterer Who Does This All The Time Because You Are Too Fabulous.....

A quick note about Groom-zillas:

Am I being sexist: what a pleasure!

Our first groomzilla was years back. The Bride was a USDA, diamond-hard Bride-zilla From Hell. Actually, Chicago, but nevermind. We were competing against The Bio-tch Club for the wedding , and clearly my suggestion to serve lemonade in paper cups to arriving guests torpedo-ed me at the get-go.

The groom like me, though. And booked the rehearsal dinner for Holman Ranch on the Friday before.

Months went by....and clearly the whole paper cup thing had swept Chicago like Mrs. O'Leary's fire, and not a word was heard.

The Tuesday before The Grand Event I got a phone call from Groom Boy: "Is everything OK for Friday?"

"Uh.....who is this? Groom Boy? Bio-tch Club Wedding Groom Boy? Uh, sure......"

"What do I need to do?"

"Mastercard or American Express?"

So, we pulled the rehearsal together for him. Amex card in hand I ordered everything and we knocked their sox of......White Sox, of course.

My favorite was my centerpieces: Anne from Flowers, Ltd did centerpieces in black Chuck Taylor All-Star high top sneakers.......

It was the bomb. Our food was better, our servers hotter, WAY better flowers......and our bill was ten percent of the Bio-tch Club....

Eat your heart out, Bride-zilla!

Last Saturday we married off our attorney, Tom Nash, Esq. Tom did all the arrangements.

Tom is an actual Officer of the the REAL stories will have to wait for non-NSA monitored environments like this one......but suffice it to say that he is a true hero of the working class schmoe. My favorite Tom Nash quote: "I like to taste bullies' blood!"

A glance around at the crew was enough to realize that many of us were either working off past misdeeds......or storing up for the future. The guests as well. At Tom's wedding, I didn't ask: "Friends of the bride....or friends of the groom?"........I asked everyone: "Criminal or civil?" The florist stared at me and said: " What do you mean?" so I knew she was a friend of the bride.

Tom and I talked for four minutes at The Masters of Food and Wine last February about the date. We met for 14 minutes two weeks before the wedding at the site. He gave me the start time: 1pm....kind of.

He gave me the count: 250. I asked about invitations: there weren't any. I asked about RSVP's. Nah. How do we know the count? "Just do 250. Make it nice. Shayla wants a real wedding cake. OK?"

That was it. We did a nice wedding. We know what to do, and we answered all 800 niggling questions that come up ourselves, without consulting anyone but our expertise and our desire to hit a home run for our hero.

And the envelope, please..........

I think it was God, breathing a sigh of relief: "Hook a brother up......not a single neurotic prayer from this motherfucker.......this guy is all right! Leaves the pro jobs to the pros! I think I will send some sun....and bake those fuckers who didn't come pre-baked......I bless this union!"

Imagine that!

On time, under budget, good time had by all......

That was it.

Viva Groom-zilla!