Thursday, June 3, 2004
BE HERE NOW… Life is so complex and incalculable. Great minds endlessly speculate about the forces that control the world around us, yet they are all as dumb now as they were centuries ago and probably will be centuries from now. No one knows anything. Least of all why the restaurant community’s good friend, 33-year-old James Striegel, had to die last Sunday in a freak boating accident in Fresno.
For those of you who have frequented Fifi’s over the past years, you all know James. He was the quiet, kind of absentminded friend to us all, who was always pleasant and had a glimmer of mischief in his eye. He’d recently left the restaurant world to pursue work as a builder, but had just been back helping Calvin and Michele for a week while they were away.
Calvin was the one who called to tell me of the news and, obviously shaken, share a few of his memories: “James was real humble, very sweet, a real kind-hearted fellow. He was just here; had a week of ‘Oh James, so nice to see you’ from all the old customers and employees. It’s nice to think that he had that week of everyone enjoying seeing him. He had recently told me about how much he’d grown up in the past 8 months, how he realized he needed to get going, try to get some property…it’s amazing how much you feel these things.”
Sweet Thing and I had gotten to know James the past couple of years and always had such a good time interacting with him. His laid-back demeanor was such a contrasting rhythm to the natural craziness that is restaurant life. He was also a long-time caddie for the Cypress Point Club and must have been a great one to have, with his calmness and even temperament. We had golfed together a few times…I can’t believe he’s gone.
LESS IS MORE… Tony Baker , executive chef at Montrio Bistro in Monterey, has launched a new spring menu. Its philosophical slant is “feeling good about what you eat,” and it’s dedicated to prime meats, organic produce, and sustainable seafood. With the addition of a dozen new offerings, the spring menu also reflects current dining trends toward leaner, healthier, and smaller portions that still offer excitement, choice and flexibility.
As Chef Baker notes, “We’ve added more diversity to our menu and are offering menu portions and options that are consistent with the way people are eating today.” He’s referring to his “small bites” category, which has taken off in popularity since Montrio began offering it. Now, in addition to the full-fledged dining experience, you can enjoy tidbits of this and that, along with interesting wines, beers and cocktails on a shoestring. Check it out, maybe by attending the afternoon “High Spirits” from 4:30pm to 6:30pm daily that features small bites and discounted libations. Call 648-8880 for details.
HOLD THE FRIES… To really understand how important the way you eat is, go see Super Size Me at the Osio in downtown Monterey. This is one they won’t be showing on the 100-screen mega-unlimited-plex in the endlessly sprawling shopping center of the future. It tells the story of an independent filmmaker who decided he would check McDonalds’ claims that their food was healthy. He eats McDonalds food only, breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days, and records his changes on film, while being monitored by doctors. The results are astounding and the presentation is very entertaining.
Sweet Thing, who knows a thing or 200 about health said, “if you value your health, if you value your life, please, please, run, don’t walk to see this movie. It’s a great gift to a child or teenager to take them along, too.” If you want to do something to reverse the damage you’ve caused yourself and your wonderful bodily systems, log onto her website, iamforhealth.com to learn more. Meanwhile go check out Super Size Me .
BACK FROM THE EDGE… Had a great little evening with the high-flying Hunsackers, Heidi and Chuck last week. First we went to Christopher’s for drinks and apps. This place is quickly becoming a locals’ hangout. It’s where Sans Souci and Lincoln Court used to be. Christopher has put in a small bar in the front, so it’s a good spot to have a quick pop, an app, then hang for dinner or whatever. It’s got a really eclectic menu of items chef/owner Christopher Caul has gathered in his repertoire over the years. Call 626-8000.Went to da Giovanni next door for dinner to revisit a place that had lost some of its luster for a while during the time when delightful owner Firok had unwittingly allowed a former employee to damage his restaurant’s reputation. Thankfully, that person is long gone and the service, food and ambiance are just superb. Go and eat and laugh and enjoy, 626-5800.