Ballin’ in Fall
Thursday, September 27, 2007
STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’… Well, it’s officially autumn. That was always a special time for me growing up (no wisecracks). As a true sports nut it was just about the best time of year. We’d still be playing baseball as the Major League playoffs and World Series were upon us; the cool weather would have us out there with our equipment on, slamming each other on the gridiron; pro and college football were heating up; and hoops, which was year-round for us anyway, started to get official with the college and pro seasons not far away. The weather was perfect (this was New York, don’t forget), cool and crisp, great for any type of sport.
Later, while I was involved in college basketball coaching, these weeks held great promise and the magic that only comes from anticipatory glory and achievement. Oct. 15 is the magic day when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allows official practice to begin. It has become so momentous that many basketball programs have festive, heavily attended midnight practice/exhibitions as the clock turns from 11:59pm on Oct. 14 to midnight on the 15th. It’s funny how sensory memories like those stay with you.
I can still hear the squeaks and squeals of rubber on hardwood, smell the musty aromas of gymnasia, the fresh grass and dirt from the baseball diamonds and football fields. I can almost re-live movements in my mind, re-feel pains and struggles as I strained every fiber of tissue in causes profound and pure. I don’t think I’ve ever found anything as important to me as that early sports devotion, when the youthful combination of naivety blended perfectly with growing physical power, forward-thinking dream creation and unabahed joy.
WATSON YOUR MIND… It was unabashed joy I was feeling at lunch in Watsonville last week. One of the five or six regular readers of this column, Mari Lynch Dehmler, owner of Fine Wordworking (finewordworking.com) called me to recommend Café Ella, a newish (six months) spot on East Lake Avenue. Here’s what she had to say: I had my first meal there on Aug. 31 and loved it.My friend Misty Koger, a Santa Cruz grant writer who works in Watsonville for Food Bank, said Cafe Ella is her favorite Watsonville restaurant. Misty is a vegan and, like me, discerning about food and all the other aspects of a restaurant that determine whether it’s truly special.After just one visit, I agreed with Misty that this new restaurant is worth raving about.Although I have lived on the Monterey Bay for over 30 years I haven’t found that many restaurants to recommend in Watsonville.Really happy to have found Cafe Ella. I had the Greener Me sandwich with Panzanella salad, and both were fabulous.I also very much liked the energy of the place and the owner, Tiffany Ella King. For now anyway they serve just breakfast and lunch. The food is very eye-appealing/artistically presented, and she clearly is quite conscious about healthy eating, sustainability, etc. I couldn’t agree more. Check it out next time you’re cruising the Route 1 corridor between MoCo and Santa Cruz, café-ella.com.
THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE… Cheryl “Harvest Queen” Warner told me to make sure I mention the upcoming Harvest 101, a Saturday morning vineyard walking tour, wine tasting and lunch with Steve McIntyre at his family’s estate vineyard and winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Taste the unreleased 2006 McIntyre Estate Pinot Noir and enjoy a simple lunch amidst the vines while learning about growing practices, harvesting and all around grape-groupie knowledge. Steve’s a real pro, a great guy and like most folks who are attached to farming, humble and reflective. Get hubby off the couch and go have some fun in the vineyards, get fresh air, learn about grapes and drink wine. Call Cheryl Warner, 663-2832, or Jackie Skinner, 678-4845.
PUB KNOWLEDGE…Our illustrious publisher, Erik Cushman, had this to say about this: I stopped in on Friday after work and found the whole world gloriously upside down. Dory Ford (from the Aquarium) has come on board and has recreated the menu, now featuring sustainable fish, cage-free eggs, hormone-free meats, local produce, etc… and he has added four new hi-def flat screens, changed the cocktail glasses so the drinks are stronger, put Black Dog Ale on permanent special for $9 a pitcher and is trying to launch the place as a full-fledged, do-gooder sports bar. Menu gets rolled out this week, breakfasts start this weekend. Oh yeah, probably wondering what he’s talking about – Pelican Tavern, in the American Tin Cannery outlet building up from the Aquarium, a couple of blocks toward PG from Bistro Moulin. I say right on, Dory Ford, you big boy you.
SO MUCH TASTE…Thursday, Oct. 4, is the 19th Annual Taste of Carmel, Under the Stars. It takes place in the courtyard of Carmel Mission and is one of my favorite events. Join all the Carmel restaurants, dozens of local wineries, the Bob Phillips Jazz Band, “Chef Chat,” a new feature with Wendie Brodie and Cal Stamenov, a great silent auction and just a wonderful outdoor extravaganza with all your Carmel friends. Call the Chamber of Commerce at 624-2522 for more info.
Just got notice about this year’s MCAP (Monterey County AIDS Project) Feast for AIDS. It takes place on Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Beach Club (you better not have to ask where that is). It is the most important fundraising event for this organization dedicated to helping victims of HIV/AIDS and their families. In the crowded world of 501c-3 organizations (there are something like 500 of them in MoCo alone), especially with the reduction of monies from the government (don’t get me started), fundraisers like this take on heightened importance. Go, buy a lot of auction stuff, donate money, have a good time – you know what to do. 394-4747 or email@example.com. Do nice things, I’m outta here.