Arrive on Time, Together

April 9, 2009

Quick post on reservations, arrive on time, and together. Trickling in to a restaurant like a man with an inflamed prostate trying to pee is about as painful to experience as having to be the man himself. If you make a reservation at a restaurant, arrive on time and arrive together, it will make the entire experience much more pleasent for everyone. I will forgo posting an image related to this post.

Foodie?

March 22, 2009
Hes definately a Foodie

He's definitely a Foodie

Where the hell did the term foodie come from. People love to bestow the noble title on themselves and others these days. Oh, I’m a foodie…or Ummmm my friend would love this, she’s a foodie. It gets thrown all over the place and for what purpose. In general it means you are just going to be a pain in the ass and ignorantly comment on the food you eat and wine you drink that was prepared and served by people that know more than you. The new wikipedia definition of foodie is Foodie-People that have no formal culinary training or restaurant experience expressing their opinions generated from home cooking and a community of restaurants which the majority of don’t even own a decanter.

Whatever happened to the term diner. As in one who dines. Someone who loves food and goes out to support local business and experience what they have to offer. Someone who isn’t only focused on accumulating another hip restaurant to their repertoire, or being able to tell all their other foodie friends about how the restaurant they ate at didn’t prepare carbonara the way it should be made. The people I know and respect when it comes to food and wine wouldn’t be caught dead calling themselves a foodie or anyone else. It seems to destroy everything enjoyable about being a diner. Please stop, or collectively redefine it. As for me, I will tell you my name, rather than tell you I’m a foodie, and hopefully if I like your place, you will get to know my name because I will come in and sample your delightful, delectable, and delicious treats on a regular basis. Lastly, foodie sounds a lot like fatty.

Wine Tasting…Does it have to sound like you are an Invalid sucking Jello through a Straw

March 3, 2009

It airates the wine, coats the palate…yada yada. That slurping sound, the one you continue to make over and over while tasting the wine, just destroyed the wonderful images of the hills of Italia in my mind and imparted the times I spent walking through the halls of a convalescent hospital on the way to see my great grandpa. Is it really necessary, especially when the one who has spent nearly his entire life making the wine itself isn’t doing it. I fucking love wine, the flavours, the mystery, the making, all of it, and as hard as it is for me to say for that very reason, sometimes its not the most important thing. Sometimes you need to shut your mouth, or stop your goddamn slurping and allow for something else to take place. Recently, I had dinner at Lucques, openned a 1989 M. Chapoutier Syrah, had some rabbit, but I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the tasting notes on the wine or how my rabbit was cooked. I could tell you how Sarte saved her life, how the maitre d’ was one of the best, and how it was perfectly wonderful, all of it. But the wine and the food, sorry I forgot.

It’s difficult when you love something so much and it’s such a integral part of your life, but sometimes you have to let it go and allow the wine and the food to simply be a framework. Like Anna Karenina in her black dress. Now I’ve become sentimental when all I wanted to say was quit your damn slurping, you ruined the serene afternoon I was enjoying getting to know an intriguing man by making it work.

Also, thanks to the green energy lady for encouraging me to keep writing. I imagine you to be a wonderful, granola eating, prius driving, kyoto protocol loving lady. And thanks to the squirrels that love me, here’s one for you…”You can’t use profanity in commercials it’s offensive…. Don’t tell me how to do my job, I don’t go down to your work and slap the dick out of your mouth” courtesy of Mr. Show, the most awesomest 90′s comedy.

Reservations…and a bit on Verbage

January 20, 2009

“Good evening, two for dinner?”
“Yes, actually, we have a reservation, but it doesn’t look like we need one.”

I have heard this dialogue more times than Michael Jackson has had plastic surgery. Maybe we can recycle him when he dies? Yes, reservations exist in order to guarantee that a party will have a table set aside when they arrive. That is their main function. So why, when a group of people arrive at a restaurant and see that it is mostly empty, do they feel inclined to comment on how their reservation is unnecessary. If I make an appointment with a mechanic and when I arrive I am the only car he is working on, do I say to him, “looks like I didn’t need an appointment”. Who knows, maybe the entire rest of his day is booked after me. Maybe he wanted to get piss drunk on the streets of TJ the night before and start work at noon. Maybe the entire restaurant is booked at six thirty and your party is just the first to arrive out of fifteen other parties. You have no clue. Therefore, when you make a reservation and you walk in to a restaurant, regardless of whether it is slammed or empty, be thankful that your reservation has served its purpose. And instead of making some cliche ignorant comment like “it doesn’t look like we needed one”, which by the way is insulting to a restaurant, have some class and tell whoever is seating you thank you for setting aside such a nice table for your party.

It seems like the logical thing to do. Call someone, ask for something, get what you asked for, and be thankful for it. But the percentage it happens is about as high as Bush’s approval ratings.

From a restaurant’s perspective, reservations are very helpful. It is always nice to be able to expect people over the course of the evening. It also allows restaruants to gauge how busy they are going to be. It helps them regulate how much they need to prep and how much staff to keep on which in turn minimizes waste (good for the environment) and overhead which keeps costs down (that means patrons pay less). As a whole it is beneficial to both restaurants and patrons.

Eat well and often, and be inclined to call ahead and let your favorite local spot know that they are going to be seeing you on a certain date to enjoy a wonderful meal. Sure things are terrible, but tomorrow begins a time when everyone should be getting together, friends and strangers, to celebrate the progress of the United States and the coming change in both the present and the future.

But Goodbye’s Too Good A Word, So I’ll Just Say Fare Thee Well

December 9, 2008

Rejector of water when drinking wine, easily moved by the double pour or the priming of stemware, tyrannical defender of the purity of Brunello, jazz hands extraordinaire, lover of naturally made wine, Billy Joel, roadkill, a Texan, and every punts wildest dream, my dear friend Do Bianchi is leaving the west coast for love, and to the man who is largely responsible for the development of my pour, integrity of wine making, and knowledge of Italian wine, I refuse to say goodbye, so I’ll just say fare thee well, and thanks, more than playing “scenes from an Italian restaurant” a thousand times could possibly express.

I met Do Bianchi last year at Jaynes Gastropub, one of my favorite restaurants and possibly the finest in San Diego, California. I had the opportunity to pour wine alongside as well as for Do Bianchi over the past year. I celebrated the verdict of Brunello, poured wine for the renowned Ca Del Bosco creator Marizio Zinella, and drank some of the most beautiful Italian wines including 1997 G. Conterno Barolo and 1990 Produttori Del Barbaresco, with Do Bianchi in the past year. To one of the most dedicated and influential wine blog writers I know, I find it only suiting to write a post devoted to showing my appretiation and gratitude for everything that has become over the past year because of our developing friendship.

Signs of a True Diner: Things that Make Me Feel All Warm and Gooey Inside

December 6, 2008

On a positive note, I have been experiencing some amazing people in the restaurant scene that simply know how to dine, do it right, and do it often. In the midst of my criticisms, I felt compelled to write a post dedicated to those wonderful few who by the slightest little actions in a restaurant make me feel a warm and happy glow of hope for humankind.

First, when it comes to transferring tabs from the bar to a table, here’s to you for tipping out the bartender. So many times people ask for their bar tab to be transferred to a table and don’t leave a tip for the bartender that has been courteously taking care of them while they wait for their table. To the diners who show their bartenders the love that they deserve for their service provided I say well done. Oh…and a little side note, here’s to the servers that are aware of their transfers, realize they did none of the work, and show due love by tipping the bartender out extra at the end of the night.

I recently experienced a group of diners that sat down for a nice meal on a Sunday and in the confidence of their server, allowed him along with the input of the rest of the staff, select their entire wine pairings for the evening. I should mention what was wonderfully selected, 1998 Hugel Reisling, 2005 M. Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateau Neuf Du Pape, 2003 Rieussec Sauternes. Not a bad night of wine drinking. It was absolutely wonderful to see a group of diners who believed enough in the knowledge of the staff and the quality of the wine list to allow their entire wine pairings to be selected for them. And what better way to enjoy the conversation of your company and the experience of a restaurant by allowing them to take everything out of your hands and provide you with the framework for a beautiful evening. To the bold few that provide the privilege of selecting food and wine to a restaurant staff, I say well done. It is equally as enjoyable for you as it is for them.

I love it when I open a bottle of wine, pour a tasting amount for the guest, and he or she simply lifts the wine to the nose, smells, and says the wine is correct. It makes me feel so good inside, like I just signed up for one of those save a child for a dollar a day programs. It lets me know that the guest is aware what they ordered, that it isn’t a matter of whether or not the wine tastes good to them, but whether the wine is correct, meaning it isn’t corked, or dead in the bottle. Personally, I don’t think wine should even be tasted when it is first poured to determine its correctness. I don’t see the point. It hilarious to me when I open up a wine and someone smells and tastes it as if they are approving whether or not they like the wine. I don’t care whether or not you like it, you ordered it, your drinking it, I’m just allowing you to see whether or not it is correct. And for someone to believe they are judging the quality of wine by the way it tastes in the first minute of being open is just foolishness. Imagine judging every song by the first ten seconds or a book by the first paragraph. Wines may drink great right out of the bottle, but often times, especially when it comes to older wines, it may take hours to open up. And great wines change as they open up, show different flavors on the palate, different aromas on the nose, and make it impossible to judge how they are going to show by tasting them when they are first opened up. We should all be so lucky to drink such wine and to those that simply raise the glass to their nose when they do and reply “it’s correct”, I raise my glass to you.

Lastly, a couple quickies to slip in: guests that order bottled water, pay with a card but tip in cash, order rare, don’t substitute greens for fries, use the same glass, refuse to order hot tea, sit at the bar, start with sparkling, smoke cigarettes, Barack Obama, believe in love, Paris, 1999 Raveneu Chablis, Paulette Godard, French Bulldogs, and the time I tried out for Jeopardy.

Unless You See a Giant Coca Cola Bottle Behind the Bar, Keep Your Change in Your Pocket Where is Belongs

December 1, 2008

Change…really, your giving me nickels, quarters, and dimes as a tip, what…Do I look like I work downtown and pay the damn meter everyday, or it’s nineteen ninety and I am an eleven year old child that loves to play arcade games at the mall. Don’t give change as a tip, ever, it’s insulting.

If you assume that you are doing someone a favor by making exact change for the bill you are wrong. People in the restaurant industry do not need you to make them exact change. Nearly every restaurant in existence has their employees add up all of their checks at the end of the night and the either round up or down to the dollar. There is absolutely no change involved. The only change restaurant employees have to deal with is whatever they receive from cheap ass people or the misinformed.

Please do yourself a favor, save your change for the laundry mat, drinking games, or the nickel slot machines at your local casino. Who knows, you just might restore native american relations along with your dignity.

Foreplay=Priming Stemware

November 4, 2008

At a crass house party in my teens, a friends once told me, “you have to warm up the engine before you can drive the car”. He was referring to sex, but the quote could not more appropriately apply to serving wine. Priming stemware is as essential to pouring wine as foreplay is to intercourse.

For those who have yet to reach puberty in wine pouring, priming stemware consists of pouring a minute amount of wine into a glass, coating the inside of the glass by moving the wine around, and then using the same wine to repeat the process with all the glasses intended for using. Priming stemware should also occur with any carafe or decanter used in the pouring process.

Priming is the only way to traditionally serve wine. It removes any impurities or contamination the stemware may have accumulated while awaiting use. Priming eliminates common elements in glasses such as dust, detergent, or lint. By removing any contamination, priming stemware allows for the guest to experience the purest and greatest expression the wine has to offer.

It is a timely process to prime stemware. Often the practicality of the process can hinder its occurrence. With high volume restaurants, it is nearly impossible to prime all stemware, especially in regards to wines poured by the glass. It is hard to expect restaurants to perform such a task. The most appropriate stance in regards to priming stemware in restaurants is to do it as often as possible, especially when wine is served by the bottle. There is nothing more reassuring to a wine drinker when he or she sees wine glasses be primed at a table. Priming stemware validates the knowledge as well as the service of the waitstaff, allows guests to experience the purest expression of a wine, and further legitimizes the entire wine program of any establishment. Regardless of whether a restaurant is white tablecloth or white trash, priming stemware should be a habitual practice in any restaurant serving wine.

Priming stemware evokes another important issue in pouring wine. If you are drinking wine by the glass, ask to keep the same stem when being poured another glass of wine. First, it makes you look like you know something about wine, second, it will make the wait staff happy that they don’t have to uselessly waste time and energy polishing another glass, and lastly, it reduces the impact restaurants have on the environment by conserving water and energy.

If ever in question about what to do about wine just remember, drinking wine is like having sex, and in this case, although you may be dying to get started on your wine like a hormonal teenager on prom night, taking the time to make sure he or she is without contamination will provide you with reassurance and guarantee a much greater experience.

Anyone But Nancy.

October 7, 2008

We all have gone into a place, whether it is a hair salon, a nail salon, or a massage center, and seen that one person working you would give anything not to have. Whether he or she rips your hair out, cuts your nails till they bleed, or grunts while rubbing you down, you would do anything to have someone else. I am sure it has gotten so bad that often you have requested it. What you may have discovered through and awkwardly unsubtle communication is that its better to request someone specific than to request anyone but that one person.

When I was a kid my mom would take my brother and me to the local Supercuts to get our hair cut. There was this one lady working there at the time who was absolutely terrible. She was a big lady with fried curly blond hair that looked like it was suspended in a continual process of being died. She would pull your hair, rip through any knots with her comb, jerk your head from side to side, and she washed you hair like she was shampooing the fleas off of a dog. I would go home after getting my hair cut, style my hair, and all the lengths would be off. I wore my hair up at the time and it looked like my hair had been subjected to the San Francisco earthquake. Gaps everywhere, different planes every different height going every different direction.

At first I would just leave it up to chance. I would hope each time we went in that she had found a job somewhere else, or had the day off. When she was there, I would try to time it just right in deciding whether I or my brother was going to have our hair cut first. But there were the times, the terrible times, when I would get stuck with her.

One day I just couldn’t risk it anymore. I went in to Supercuts to ask how long the wait was and the woman told me ten minutes. She asked if I would like to put my name down. I politely said yes and gave her my and my brother’s name. At that moment I caught sight of the dreaded Supercuts Certified Hair Dresser. I just couldn’t do it. I motioned to the women running the front and when she came over I asked if there was any way she could make sure I had any other stylist but that lady. She said of course and feeling drastically relieved I walked outside and told my mom to park the car.

There they were, the little blue tickets sitting on the counter, ready to be plucked by the next available hair stylist. Mine was next, sitting at the edge and of course who just happens to finish right as my ticket is delicately awaiting anyone but her, she does. She walks right up to my ticket and just as she is about to call out my name, she reads the note underneath my name. She slowly puts the ticket down, picks up the next ticket, looks directly at me with a pale stare and calls out some other person’s name. Now I am thinking the lady at the front put a request for someone else, made a note that I liked a certain lady other than her, but as I walked passed my ticket on the counter after it had been called by a different lady, I notice in small handwriting the words, “anyone but Nancy”. She totally sold me out. It was so awkward. She knew I didn’t like her and every time I went in she would give me this look as if I was too good for her.

It was that day that I learned that in order to avoid that horribly awkward circumstance you have to find someone you like and request that person. It much better to request to a single person than to request anyone but a single person. I understand the difficulty of this in certain businesses, especially when requesting a nail technician, where in most cases their names sound so similar and are so difficult to pronounce. But trust me, make a mental note, take a Polaroid, do whatever it takes to save yourself from the uneasy feeling of having that person stare right at you, or even come up and talk to you, knowing that you think they are the worst person at what they do in the entire building.

Valet…Stay Classy (fill in your own city here)

September 23, 2008
Park That Azz

Park That Azz

There is something wonderful about a person who is extremely wealthy but you wouldn’t know it. On the other hand there is something disgusting about a person who pretends to be extremely wealthy but actually isn’t. I have seen countless people pull up to a valet in their wanna-be wealthy 1990′s Mercedes, feeling all haute in their outlet mall armani exchange, hand their keys to the valet person, and provide no tip. Maybe they realize that their car probably isn’t worth more than their deductible, and the two dollars isn’t worth the valet taking good care of the vehicle, but part of me thinks people want so desperately to appear like who they see on TV or read about in magazines, yet don’t have the money or class to back it up.

Tip your valet. Two to three dollars minimum. Furthermore, any valet in the business will always be excited about a five spot. Also, tip when you arrive and when you leave. Valet runners run like crazy all night to bring your car within a few paces of where you are.  Most importantly, they allow you to enjoy yourself without having to worry about finding a parking spot or someone keying your car. If you are looking to have a wonderful evenning nothing ends it as well as walking out of wherever you are and having your car waiting right out front, lights on, ready to go. Tip your valet, they deserve it, and if you can’t afford to give a tip, don’t valet. You would be better off saving your money by staying home, eating a microwave dinner, and living vicariously through some horrible TV drama that gave you the idea in the first place.


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