“Bologna is the best city in Italy for food and has the least number of tourists. With its medieval beauty, it has it all.” – Mario Batali
It was a sweltering hot July afternoon in 1945 when famous jazz vocalist Mel Tormé showed up for a writing session at the Toluca Lake house of his lyric partner Bob Wells. Mel let himself in and walked over to the piano. There, on the music board, was a pad of paper with four lines of a verse:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
When Wells walked in the room, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Tormé asked him about the little poem.
“It’s so damn hot today, I thought I’d write something to cool myself off,” Wells replied. “All I could think of was Christmas and cold weather.”
And that is “the rest of the story” behind one of America’s most loved contemporary Christmas hits, A Christmas Song. With this intro, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and all of the best for 2018.
(This post was originally published on February 11, 2017)
“Gourmets are thick on the ground in Provence, and pearls of wisdom have sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. We were getting used to the fact that the French are as passionate about food as other nationalities are about sport and politics, but even so it came as a surprise to hear Monsieur Bagnols, the floor cleaner, handicapping three-star restaurants” ― Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence.
(This post was originally published in January 2017)
An amuse-bouche is served gratis and according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine.
I ola no ke kino i ka mā’ona o ka ‘ōpū. (The body enjoys health when the stomach is well filled.) – old Hawaiian proverb.
“As you read this, the fires in wine country continue to burn. They’ll burn for a while yet. If you don’t live in Northern California, I’d guess you are hearing less and less about them on the news.” – Ron Washam, HMW – HoseMaster of Wine.
Sometimes the best way to work through a tragedy is to immerse yourself in a familiar routine. Personally, I need comfort food. So, today I am going to talk about one of my favorite restaurants and probably the best deal on the planet: Las Cuatros Milpas. For me, and many others, the front door of this restaurant is a time-warp portal. I walk through and step back in time. Whenever I am in San Diego, this is always one of my “go to” stops.
By now, I guess that everyone has heard about the wildfires in Northern California, particularly Napa and Sonoma Counties. The fires started Sunday night and will not be totally controlled for weeks. Since that is the only thing on my mind, I just can’t get my head into writing – somehow it just doesn’t seem appropriate to write about some great restaurant or trip when over 5700 of my neighbors have lost their homes or businesses and everything that they possessed. As of six p.m., Friday, thirty-eight people are dead and over 250 are still missing or unaccounted for.
So far Karel and I are safe and our house is intact. We have power, water, gas, and internet service. We are very lucky. The air quality is the most unhealthy in recorded history so we keep our windows closed and wear masks when we go outside . We have packed some clothes, toiletries, my laptop, and some valuables. The bags are sitting next to our front door. Our cars are full of gas. If necessary, we can leave on a minute’s notice.
I am humbled at the numbers of firefighters and first responders that have started to arrive in our community from all over California and the US – some from as far away as North and South Carolina. Most local firefighters have been working continuously since Sunday night and are only now getting a little relief.
There is nothing more impressive than to see how everyone is pitching in to support our community in this time of need. Please keep sending the good thoughts and raise a glass tonight in support of Wine Country.
Redwood Credit Union (RCU), in partnership with RCU Community Fund, The Press Democrat, and Senator Mike McGuire, is accepting financial donations to aid relief efforts and assist victims of the 2017 North Bay fires. 100% of your tax-deductible donations will go directly to support those affected by the fires. (Donate here)
Maybe next week.
I stopped licking the stream of butter dripping down my elbow and replied, “What kind of crack is that?” – Erma Bombeck, At Wit’s End
“I really like having someone who knows about food and what goes well together make a meal for me.” – Alice Waters
“My dream places me inside a brick-walled wine cellar, or cantinetta, fashioned into an upscale trattoria, where I’m happily sipping Barolo from a globed glass. Torpedoes of cured meat hang from the ceiling in a glass-enclosed aging room, table vases bloom with elegant breadstick stems and we snack on warmed, fat Sicilian olives. I’m in full view of the kitchen’s heart, the 700-degree, wood-fired oven, where three black-hatted, squatty men with no arm hair perform a balletic ritual near the narrow opening that releases vapors of heat and wisps of wood smoke.” – Mike Hale, Monterey Herald