Archive for May, 2011


Yountville.  The West Coast mecca of 2 and 3 starred Michelin restaurants.  Our good friends Snoopy and Peppermint Patty [yes, those are their aliases, not their real names] made a push for us in calling for reservations.  Our best showing?  Wait listed for any meals while we were in the Bay Area.  In fact, we opted to stay another day longer to try and see if we can get a Friday or Saturday lunch time seating.  For 5 days, my cellphone didn’t get any calls from an area code number starting with 707.  The closest we came to dining at the French Laundry was actually visiting the restaurant, just down the road from their Bouchon bakery.  We walked around in the garden and just sat at their bench for about 10 minutes.  Taking it all in.  Looking around to see the staff coming in and out with flowers for that evening’s service.  Seeing the kitchen still buzzing and prepping for what will most likely turn out to be a busy night.

Like a giddy school girl waiting to see her own David Cassidy, I gushed when I saw Thomas Keller walk around the restaurant from the front to the kitchen.  We were across the street in the French Laundry garden, seeing the vegetables they were growing for their daily menus.  I’m sure if it wasn’t for all the hype and press around food over the last 10-15 years, we wouldn’t have even thought about who he is and what he does.  But I think we all need to admit and accept that food is becoming more crucial in how we live our lives now.  Organic versus non-organic. It all plays into where we are at with our overall health these days.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have bog food conglomerates who continue to want to have us buy crappy frozen foods laden with just the things we can’t afford to have in our diets: sodium and sugar.  So to see Thomas Keller is not just seeing another celebrity.  It’s about what he and the restaurant represents.  The highest quality both in food and service.  Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it’s a meal that many people will never get a chance to eat due to its price.  But we were close.  We were thisclose but still so far away.  Next time.  We will have to plan our whole trip around this meal.  A meal that can set the standard of all meals to come.

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Renewal

It’s been 2 months to the day since my last post.  Time seem to fly with every day life, but then, time seemed to stand still because of it.  No inspiration from the drab dining experiences behind the Orange Curtain and feeling flaccid in any attempt to call upon any muse for something magical.  Then, there’s nothing better to feel a sense of renewal in prose than to be inspired by things that are beyond the everyday.  During our vacation up north, we experienced a lot.  And to be sure, it reaffirmed what I have been pontificating and standing on a soapbox about for many, many posts now.  There truly is nothing less spectacular in our eateries in South Orange County than your average chain restaurants.  Even those we do like sometimes feel overused and over visited.  And yet, we seem OK with that.  We seem OK continuing to get our bagels at Panera Bread and Corner Bakery when we should be demanding the simplest things to come down here, like Noah’s Bagels.  We should be wondering why places like Redd and Cyrus would likely get less customers and attention than a BJ’s or Islands.  But we don’t.  I guess in many ways, we’ve come to expect nothing less than mediocre from our senses as we devour another pizookie.

And yet, when we were in the Bay Area, we truly experienced some places that are magical.  More magical than Providence.  More magical than Mastros.  Places like Redd, Cyrus, Bouchon, Incanto are just a few places we let our sense of taste be released from the dreary and the mundane.  Places like Gott’s, Oxbow Market, and the 1 Ferry Building remind us of how a good public market doesn’t need to serve Baja Fresh and Panda Express.  I had to take a break from my own rule of no more taking pictures of our food during our vacation because the food we were eating were so damn good.

We were surround by great friends and family during our week there and it was those times that stick out, even more than the food we consumed.  But the food, as simple as strawberries from local farmers that tasted like candy it was so sweet, added a dimension to our vacation that we will not soon forget.  It will be tough to come back to the reality of BJ’s and Islands, but we can always draw upon our memories to  remembers that we are not prisoners of our own culinary demise.  We don’t have to settle for mediocre.  We just need to search out something better with vigor and perseverance.