‘Tis the Season Already
Thursday, November 17, 2005
No Depression November…There is no denying the holiday season is upon us. I have been struggling with my feelings during this time of year for so many years that I don’t even know how many years actually were a struggle and how many years became a struggle because I was struggling in my mind with holidays for so many years. (“Ya hear that Myrtle? That’s what I’m talking about.”)
I vaguely remember being a kid and getting excited when the holidays were approaching, although I think those memories might actually be artificial ones that were implanted in my brain by too many years of watching White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. For some reason, my conditioned response to the realization that it’s late September, middle November and suddenly…right now it’s Thanksgiving, then you-know-what, followed by you-know-what…has morphed into indifference, folded into inconvenience, laced with inconsequence and topped with inertia. Inevitably, denial becomes my running mate as I barely accept the calendar’s thumping countdown—like Raymond the Red-Nosed Ostrich, I bury my head in metaphorical snowdrifts of confused feelings, piled high by a lifetime of wintertime emotional precipitation.
Earlier this season, I have glimpsed the mad ostrich in the mirror of my mind’s dressing room, and I dared to fix its stare. After allowing it one screech of displeasure, one feathers-flying rampage of impotent wing flapping, I have quelled the beast’s dumb desire to disappear, to wait out the holiday season with ass held high, missing the many blessings and potential joys each holiday season brings.
This year will be different. This year, Rudolf and the gang will be coming to my house.
Special Specials…One sign of winter is the early evening dinner special. Two of my favorite local bistros, Fifi’s Café & Bistro in PG and Bistro 211 in the Crossroads Shopping Center, have activated their yearly winter specials for diners who want to come in a little earlier, because maybe they are afraid of the dark, or they just can’t stay up past 8pm, you know. Each offers delightful dishes at a reduced rate, along with the regular top-notch service, atmosphere and overall vibe.
The nice thing about those types of specials is that it leaves you a bit more money to splurge on that fancier bottle of wine, or maybe that second bottle of your regular favorite. Now don’t let me come in one night and look around seeing people sitting there drinking iced tea or overhearing “I’ll just have water, thank you.” That’s why God created take-out, so you can bore your own family in the comfort and privacy of your home. God made wine and nice restaurants so people can synergize a delightful little world within a world together, enjoying le joie de vivre with the proper tools. Bistro 211 and Fifi’s both give you the tools…now go help build something lovely.
By the way, this is Fifi’s 20th year in business…that’s a lot of picking up and laying down plates. Just think of how many pieces of bread have been eaten under that roof—or think of it in grams, how many grams of flour used in all the bread served for the past 20 years…or come up with your own yardstick. Anyway, before I extrapolate this formula into oblivion, stop by Thursday, Nov. 17, for Fifi’s annual Beaujolais Nouveau dinner. Enjoy a delicious three-course meal, including a bottle of Louis Tete (one of my favorite producers) Beaujolais Nouveau for only $75 per couple (that’s two people). While you’re there pick up a coupon that celebrates 20 years with a complimentary dessert or glass of sparkling wine with dinner. Call 372-5325 to find out about that and the upcoming wine dinners on Nov. 26 and in December.
Cool New Stuff…Came across a great new local soft drink the other day. The Big Wave Soda Company of Monterey has just released its latest Monterey Bay Soda, Root Beer by the Beach. This locally made, premium, handcrafted draft-style root beer is brewed with pure cane sugar, Mendocino honey and natural vanilla. The label is really pretty, boasting a photograph of our own rolling coastline. Root Beer by the Beach retails for around $21.50 for a case of 24 12-oz. bottles; ask for it wherever fine sodas are sold…or call director of sales Rachel Ortiz at 524-1904. I’ve turned about five different people (different ages too) on to this Root Beer and each has loved it…you will too.
Ran into the coolest new restaurant industry gadget at Hog’s Breath. I was talking to GM Wassim Chaarani and noticed a little contraption attached to the computer system at the front desk. It’s a little module that reads an employee’s fingerprint. As a labor cost control device, it eliminates the possibility of employees clocking each other in or out, or punching the wrong card—absolutely brilliant. In a business so reliant upon narrow margins and controls of things like labor, this system by Digital Dining is cutting edge.
Rapid Fire…Danny Warner, of Southern Wine and Spirits, wants to know why Paula Herrera has had to lay off local Red Cross employees while millions of dollars are being funneled out of the area (and so do I and others) …I stopped by Tarpy’s Roadhouse for the first of the regular Wine Down Wednesdays. On tap was Steve “The Colonel” Pessagno, passing out tastes of his Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and even a special Port. The place was rocking with people jamming the front room, having a grand old time and digging the wines. It happens each Wednesday with a different local winery from Tarpy’s list…English Ales Brewery in Marina is doing Firkin Good Nights with Firkins full of delicious brews. Go find out what the Firk is a Firkin…Ted and Cindy Walter, who are on their way soon to watch daughter Megan graduate from Adelaide University, are devotees of Roxana Robles’ Garden Bistro in Carmel Valley because of the great ingredients and wonderful food…Paraiso Vineyards Open House on Friday, Nov. 18 from 6 to 10pm, 678-0300…Lugano’s Swiss Bistro is having hospitality industry employee specials through Nov. 23; call 626-3779…ciao amici.