Thursday, July 31, 2003
I was particularly interested in this show for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I was involved in a few high-profile New York openings myself and wanted to see how realistic the program was going to be. I assume the six-week deadline was instituted to provide the show''s dramatic core, since no one in his right mind would ever attempt such a feat.
In fact, DiSpirito''s restaurant is cursed from the get-go because of the short cuts that had to be taken in the building, the staffing, the training, etc., etc. Trying to correct many of the problems while the place is up and running (it will be packed every night because of the hype) will be a nightmare. I haven''t seen the second episode yet, which deals with opening night, but I''m sure they must have screwed up service for many of the diners. Take it from someone who has opened 19 different restaurants--customers don''t give a damn why you screwed them and they always come in on opening night looking for something to complain about.
This is a well produced show with great pacing, honest interpretations of the characters behind the scenes in a restaurant, warts and all, and is definitely worth watching. I got the "heebie-jeebies" watching everybody stressing out--brought back a heap of excruciating memories.
TOURIST FOR A DAY... Call me kooky, but Sweet Thing and I have discovered the coolest thing to do on the Monterey Peninsula: Tony Rappa''s Amphibious Shuttle. That''s right, you read it here. We were out cruising around last Sunday near Cannery Row when we came upon this great truck, no it was a bus, no it was...a boat on wheels? There it was, this land/water vehicle that starts out in Cannery Row, drives down to the boat launching ramp on the Breakwater Cove wharf near Massaro and Santos, and drives right into the water.
There are two of them so there is not much wait as they rotate people to and from the water. We cruised all over the inner harbor and near both Fisherman Wharves--it was spectacular. Everyone on that thing was having a blast, especially us. I really feel like these two cool "vehicles" are greatly helping elevate the tourist experience for visitors to the area, even those who live here. Check it out as soon as possible.
SOME MEN ARE FROM MARS... Swedish biophysicist Gisela Hagberg (a close personal friend) recently published some interesting findings in Nature News Service, an arm of the respected scientific journal Nature (of course I''m a subscriber). She tested seven male sommeliers and seven males without any specialized wine training (there''s a joke in there somewhere) on the reactions of their brains while they tasted wine.
Through some very scientific monitoring on a type of machine that measures brain activity, Professor Hagberg observed that an extra burst of activity in the sommeliers'' brains occurred in the area of the frontal cortex that helps with language and recognition ability. This supplemental brain activity was consistent in all the sommeliers, who were all Italian and mainly based in Rome (there''s really a good joke in there now).
She is continuing the research with women sommeliers to see if the results are consistent with the first study. I''m not exactly sure what it all means but it certainly helps substantiate that there is a difference between the way professionals and non-professionals experience the act of drinking wine. I wanted to do a little experiment of my own for this column but I can''t get this damn cork out.
SARDINE HISTORY... In case you think the Sardine Factory is just sitting back collecting awards, it has created a new Web site called, oddly enough, sardinefactory.com, where folks can go to learn about the restaurant and find out, well, all the things that Web sites help one find out. I found out that, when Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino first opened the joint (back then it was a joint) in 1968, the site had been a former cafeteria for sardine workers during the booming cannery days. That''s the kind of interesting information I''m talking about. Check out the handsome photo of Cellermaster Marc Cutino who, if he ever tires of the restaurant business, can always become an actor, or model or something (sorry Marc, I don''t know what gets into me). Have fun.