Thursday, November 15, 2007
Going Birding… Well, Thanksgiving is next week. You know what that means: Time begins to accelerate with each passing minute until suddenly it’s New Year’s Day, you’re making a pitcher of Bloody Marys for yourself and the assortment of family/friends crashing at your home, the parade is on the big screen and sugar-amped little unformed humans are running around screaming and breaking things – but you’re OK because your massive hangover has you numb and just mellow enough to enjoy the whole shebang.
Or: Thanksgiving is next week. You are calm, you have everything planned, including the activities your in-laws really love doing, thereby stepping one hopeful inch closer to someday being actually accepted by them. The free-range turkey is ordered, all the
non-perishable items are stocked in the pantry. The good linens are laundered and ready to go. Your two happy, well-adjusted teens have polished Grandmother’s good silver (oh, how I miss her during the holidays) – not only that, but most of the heavy holiday gift buying is completed and wrapped. All that’s left is to enjoy the days ahead.
Or: Thanksgiving is next week. You are only vaguely aware that it is November and you aren’t really sure when Thanksgiving comes anyway. Ever since you moved away to college, then into your own place, you really only relate to the holidays via Mom’s incessant reminders about “calling Aunt El” and “don’t forget to send Grandma a card.” You’re planning a long weekend to Cabo with your fun-loving friends this Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to think about it much because they’re planning it. You’re looking forward to tonight’s episode of “Looking for Love With Tila.” Christmas… dude, that’s not for a really long time.
I guess we all fit somewhere within the loose parameters outlined above. Regardless, Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season and carries with it a certain amount of stress to counterbalance the joy. There is also sadness floating around during the next few weeks – reminders of lost loved ones, disappointment in our own life situations, relationship strains exacerbated by the demands of the holidays. It’s really difficult for us to live up to the standards set forth in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. However, we owe it to ourselves to give it a try.
Different Feather… If you don’t feel like doing any of the cooking, there are certainly enough restaurant choices around the area in which to enjoy Thanksgiving and not have to worry about all that work preparing, serving and, worst of all, cleaning up. In fact, if you think about it, why do anything else? You will not find a comprehensive list here – we all know my phobia about extensive research. Personally, I lean towards places like Stokes Restaurant or Bernardus Lodge because both those food programs, led by Brandon Miller and Cal Stamenov, respectively, use the highest quality ingredients, including (and especially) free-grazing, hormone and antibiotic free, naturally and humanely raised animals.
Rich Pours… The diverse flavors in traditional Thanksgiving fare pose difficult matches for wine. Recently, at a seminar in San Francisco with 40 or so wine professionals, we did a tasting with four types of wine and a complete turkey dinner. The wines were an Austrian Gewurztraminer, a California Chardonnay, a Northern Italian Rose from a grape varietal called Lagrein and a Beaujolais (Gamay grape). We systematically tried each wine with the turkey alone, then the turkey with cranberry, turkey with gravy, turkey with stuffing and logged our results. It was fascinating. The Gewurz did pretty well across the board but the other three wines zig-zagged up and down depending on what part of the dish was being tasted. My conclusion: Put out about five or more types of wines on the table and have a free for all.
Personally, I’m thinking of leaving town, visiting some friends and letting them do all the serious lifting. I can supply laughs, a good ear or two, copious amounts of wine, attention to the kiddies and the all-around good cheer only an old friend full of love can provide. The other possibility for me is to stay home, turn off all the phones and enjoy the day without any social interaction. For some of us, especially those whose lives have involved unusually large numbers of daily interactions with humans, true holiday celebration is a solitary endeavor.
Whether solitarily or otherwise, holidays always go better with pie. Stop down to Sweet Elena’s Bakery and Café at 465 Olympia Ave. in Sand City, on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9am till noon and 2pm till 5pm to taste pies. The number’s 393-2063.
Closing Nibbles… Casa Munras, the landmark hotel that wraps around the corner in downtown Monterey, recently reopened after an extensive renovation by Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants. Esteban, a Spanish-themed tapas and casual restaurant makes interesting use of a triangular interior and exterior space and has garnered local enthusiasm. Lunch and dinner are served daily so give it a try, estebanrestaurant.com.
I’m flipping through the latest issue of the magazine the Northern California Golf Association sends its members when I come to a big photo and article that looks really familiar. It’s Joe Rombi, local restaurateur, golf enthusiast and long time member of the NCGA. In the piece he recounts various golf exploits, including a hole in one at Del Monte – cool to see one of local stars pop up in the NCGA pages.
Here’s hoping this Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to truly give thanks for all the many wonderful aspects of living here in paradise. It is so easy to take for granted just how bountiful our little fairy tale world here is… many thanks, many thanks indeed.