Ah, Central Asian cuisine.Specifically, the foods of the Chinese provinces of Henan, Shaanxi and
Xinjiang.My favorite examples of which
have been enjoyed in recent years at Xi’an Famous Foods of NYC.Years ago, we discovered this outpost in the
depths – and I mean depths – of the food stalls at the Golden Mall in Flushing,
Queens.Tiny, cluttered, packed and
sweltering, elbow to elbow, we sampled foods not available anywhere else, on a
food expedition down to NYC undertaken by Larry, John, Michael and me.Since sparked by a TV appearance on Tony
Bourdain’s show, Xi’an’s Famous Foods soon branched out all over the city.
We have collectively been dreaming of finding these dishes
elsewhere, and now we have.In an
unusual place – Boston’s Back Bay, on Mass Ave at Chef Chang’s.Get out!Yes, really.
Larry, John, Shane and I decided to give it a shot, and,
boy, we were pleased.The starter was
the traditional Ma-la Beef & Tendon in Chili Sauce, and an exquisite take
on this common specialty.Finely ground
peanuts, sesame seeds and scallion mixed in with shaved beef shank and tendon,
all marinated in highly-addictive chili oil and Sichuan peppercorn, the numbing
power (“ma”) that perfectly accompanies the spicy bite (“la”).This fairly generous appetizer serving
disappeared in less than 30 seconds, no joke.
Next up, the Cumin lamb with Chinese steamed bun.Cumin being a dominant spice in the region,
it offers a nice offset to the richness of the lamb.Chef Chang’s version has the lamb well-fried
to offer a crisp texture, and the spiciness is cut by the tendrils of lettuce
and the steamed bun.
One of us, did a fun “nips” run earlier in the day.This is an “athletic” event where everyone
brings a bunch of airline mini-bottles of alcohol, and toss ‘em into one big
bag.At each stop, the runner reaches
into the bag, pulls out a random bottle, and knocks it back.So, on 6-7 nips and lukewarm Tsingtao during
dinner, we . . . had a lot of fun with him.Luckily, a nice antidote to the alcohol was the XinJiang Big Plate
Chicken with Hand Pulled Noodles.This
was a massive portion of mild curry with onion, carrots and potatoes,
highlighting on-the-bone tender chicken, served over springy, long hand-pulled
noodles.Perfect for soaking up those nips.
Then came the “gout special”:Braised Pork Belly Chairman Mao Family Style
with Chinese Pancake.“Red-cooked”,
braised pork belly slices with a mysterious ingredient – olives? Prunes?I think a date, perhaps.Unctuous, yes, but oh so tasty, and soaked up
nicely by the buns.
disappointment was the Shaanxi Chinese Hamburger – a larger steamed bun that’s
been toasted, filled with mild pulled pork.Juicy, yes, but, in comparison, non-descript. Note that I was wearing, in honor of our good friend Shane (and those who know him will understand completely why), my Jimmy Buffett concert t-shirt from . . . 1990.
The final dish had the anodyne name, “Tofu pudding beef”,
and was perhaps my favorite on the night.Oil poached tender beef, including the chewy bits, with silken soft tofu
floating in a rich brown sauce.Slide
that on top of some steamed rice, and . . . heaven.
Overall, the food is worth a trip.And I suspect that you should take a trip
soon, since I harbor a bit of fear for the restaurant.Given the location, it’s an attempt at
upscale Chinese, complete with tablecloths and pink cloth napkins.But the seating is limited, and the two other
tables I spotted tonight were ordering things like General Gau’s chicken.How will this place draw the epicures and
adventure seekers that it so richly deserves, when it’s attempting to woo a
different demographic – complete with the high prices to match?The final dinner bill, with six beers, tax
and tip, was $180 for the four of us, easily double what we would have paid in
Chinatown or in Flushing.
Still, worth every penny.Really do try a trip if you’re adventures and able!
Gathering with old friends from college at a Bar Mitzvah this morning, the topic of great movies came up. Working with interns this past summer, I discovered an appalling lack of film literacy, specifically as to those that people “of a certain age” might appreciate and cite often (i.e., old, old people like me), peppering their conversations with
references and quotes that go right over their barely-post-adolescent heads.
This list is what I consider to be a bare minimum for cultural literacy -- if you want to interact proficiently with, say, Generation X fogeys.
It was suggested to me to share the list, so posting it on this (old, unused) blog seemed appropriate.
As a percentage, what’s your movie-of-a-certain-age score?
Dennis’ list of movies that people of a certain younger age
should have seen (in other words, get to it). Criteria for this list is not
particularly laid out, but generally:
·Impact on popular culture (i.e., conversations
littered with quotes and references); if you want to understand what us old
fogeys are talking about….
·Little before the late 60s, and nothing after,
say, 2002; this reflects my own age, and also the expectation that those of you
born in the late 80s/early 90s would have seen later classics already
·Does not include those popular movies that everyone has seen (e.g., Star Wars,
Raiders, The Matrix, etc.)
·I would happily watch any of these if I came
across it playing on cable or on a plane.
¨Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Newman
and Redford at their best.
Sting – or, wait, is this Newman and Redford at their best?
¨Apocalypse Now – Another classic Francis Ford
Coppola movie, with both Sheen and Brando.
¨Life of Brian – Monty Python is one of the
biggest cultural touchstones for humor among Gen X.
¨Monty Python and The Holy Grail – Contains
perhaps the most Python quotes per minute.
¨The Meaning of Life – Not as much impact as
the other two Python movies here, but great nevertheless.
¨Annie Hall – Woody Allen at his best, with a
combination of drama and humor.
¨Manhattan – Better than Annie Hall?No, but damn close, and a paean to New York.
¨2001: A Space Odyssey -There’s the score, of course, perhaps the
first great Sci-Fi movie of the modern era.
¨The Godfather Saga (I, II and III) – Duh.
¨Goodfellas – Scorsese is easily one of the
top five directors of all time.This is
¨Casino – Another Scorsese masterpiece, and again
¨Mean Streets – the first Scorsese and DeNiro
¨Taxi Driver – along with Mean Streets,
reflects NYC of the time, completely different from NYC today.
¨Midnight Run – Goddamn, this is a funny
movie.DeNiro shows his humor chops.
¨Scarface – De Palma tackles the criminal
genre, and is the I Ching of modern gangster rap culture.
¨Casablanca – Bogart and Bergman; arguably the
best non-audience-tested ending of all time.
¨The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – many great
Clint Eastwood “Man with No Name” spaghetti westerns; this is the best.
¨Blazing Saddles – Mel Brooks in top form;
combines pratfalls and fart humor with scathing social satire.
¨History of the World, Part I – Many Mel
Brooks movies, but this is another lodestone of contemporary quotes.
¨National Lampoon’s Animal House – Been to a
crazy college party since 1978?You have
this movie to thank.
¨Jaws – Dah-dum.
¨Rocky – Sylvester Stallone made one great movie.This is it.
¨Saturday Night Fever – Contender for best
movie soundtrack ever, and symbolic of a certain time in a certain place (NYC
in the disco era, bridge and tunnel guys included)
¨Ronin – My favorite car chase sequences, with
no CGI, and a Mamet storyline, with De Niro and Frankenheimer.Duh.
¨Get Shorty – The last great Travolta movie,
with an Elmore Leonard story.
¨Grease – You know you loved Danny and/or
¨Alien – Ridley Scott blew us away.If you like this, consider James Cameron’s
take in Aliens.
¨The Road Warrior – Mel Gibson, pre-craziness,
exploded onto the scene with incandescent heat.
¨Lethal Weapon – Gibson and Glover
(re)launched the buddy-action-drama-comedy genre.
¨Airplane – The most quotable movie of all
¨Caddyshack – Early Bill Murray made four
classic comedies; add Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield, and
¨Stripes – Another early Bill Murray classic,
with Harold Ramis and John Candy.Can’t stop
humming the theme song now, can you?
¨Groundhog Day -- One wishes that Murray and
Ramis didn’t have a falling out; this is them at their best together.
¨Blade Runner – Ridley Scott strikes again,
with Harrison Ford in the first and best example of future noir.
¨Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Cameron Crowe
explodes out of nowhere with Amy Heckerling directing that captures LA valley
life for high school kids.
¨Almost Famous – The second Cameron Crowe
¨Jerry Maguire -- …and the third Cameron Crowe
flick, this time with Tom Cruise.Almost
good enough to make me not regret seeing Vanilla Sky.
¨An Officer and a Gentleman – Worth watching
for the final scene alone.Also, steers,
queers and mayo.
¨Night Shift – Michael Keaton blew us away in
his debut, and the first of his shtick is the best.
¨48 Hours – hey, could that funny kid from SNL
make it as an comedic action hero?Yup.And back before Nick Nolte
¨Trading Places – Let’s try that Eddie Murphy
comedic partnership thing again.Wonderful.
¨Beverly Hills Cop – The first really good
solo Eddie Murphy flick.
¨Diner – Barry Levinson has made a ton of
movies, with some classics and some stinkers.This is perhaps his most personal one, and every guy with male friends
should see this.
¨The Color of Money – Newman and Cruise.Mentorship in many ways.
¨Cool Hand Luke – Ain’t nobody ever was cooler
than Paul Newman in this one.
¨Risky Business – Iconic.And sexy.And quotable.
¨The Terminator – The real debut of James
Cameron, and the first watchable Arnold movie.
¨Terminator 2: Judgment Day – The best Arnold movie.
¨True Lies – Reuniting Arnold and James
Cameron results in an American Bond flick, with humor; the second best Arnold
¨Total Recall – Arnold in a movie based on a
Philip K Dick story?Really?Surprisingly good.
¨The Breakfast Club – John Hughes is perhaps
the most adored director for Gen X.This
is a large part why; those of us who went to high school in the 80s recognized
not only ourselves, but our friends.And
¨Ferris Bueller's Day Off – Hughes strikes
again, with Broderick and a template for teenage coolness.
¨Say Anything – the most romantic movie for
¨The Sure Thing – Number 2 in the Cusack teen
genre, but almost #1.
¨Better Off Dead – Not as high in “quality” as
the first two Cusack movies above, but definitely the funniest (especially the
¨Tampopo – There are three great movies about
food on this list.This is the top
¨Eat Drink Man Woman – Ang Lee, Chinese
families and values, and food.Oh the
¨Big Night – Uncompromising in his cooking,
and his attitude.Oh, the Italian food.
¨The Princess Bride-- No, wait, THIS is the
most quotable movie of all time.
¨Wall Street – Michael Douglas owns this movie, and is more right than
Olive Stone intended.
¨Roxanne – Best
Steve Martin movie; really.
¨Die Hard – Bruce Willis has been the lead in two great movies; this is one of them,
and presents a (then) unconventional action hero.
¨The Sixth Sense – alas, even those who
haven’t seen this know about the twist; when we saw it the first time, the
surprise blew our minds.The other classic movie with Bruce Willis as the
¨Bull Durham – Ain’t no better movie about
¨White Men Can't Jump – Ain’t no better movie
about street ball and hustling.Harrelson is a revelation.
¨A Fish Called Wanda – when I saw this in the
theater, I could not stop laughing, even though I was in tears and clutching my
sides.I had to sit there until long
after the credits so I could collect myself.
¨When Harry Met Sally... – I admit it; I saw
myself as Harry.Even though I was two
decades too young.Now that I’m Harry’s
¨Pretty Woman -- I saw this in the theater
four times.No doubt you have seen it
too, but just in case, I had to list it here.
¨Glengarry Glen Ross – David Mamet, David
Mamet, David Mamet.Learn how to sell.
¨House of Games – I’m going to toss in some
more Mamet here.
¨The Spanish Prisoner – It takes a bit to
figure out what’s going on, but then Mamet drops the cleaver and your mind is
¨Reservoir Dogs – everyone has seen Pulp
Fiction.Have you seen Reservoir Dogs? This is the first time we really get to see
¨Wayne's World – party time, excellent.
¨My Cousin Vinny – Who knew Joe Pesci could be
this funny?And Marisa Tomei – an Oscar!
¨A Few Good Men – Of course, you can’t handle
¨Clerks – Had to restrict myself to just two
Kevin Smith movies.This is the first,
and defined the “Kevin Smith” movie genre.
¨Chasing Amy – Classic Kevin Smith, with Ben
Affleck not being a dick.
¨Four Weddings and a Funeral – who knew Hugh
Grant could make a career out of playing this character?
¨Heat – DeNiro.Pacino.Mann.Done.
¨Spanglish – grossly underappreciated Adam
Sandler movie, in a serious vein, with James L Brooks directing.The bonus feature with Thomas Keller is food
porn at its most tempting.
¨As Good as It Gets – The second of three
James L Brooks movies on this list, and for nothing else, it makes it for the
line, “you make me want to be a better man.”
¨Broadcast News – one of the films that made
me the person I am today.I see myself
as both the Albert Brooks and the Holly Hunter characters.
¨The Usual Suspects – Mind.Blown.If you don’t know the twist, you better see it now, before you discover
¨Good Will Hunting – yup, more quotes.For a work by such young talents, it’s all
that more impressive.
¨Face/Off – John Woo at the top of his
game.Your suspension of disbelief will
be stretched thinner than a condom, but you’ll also realize as you walk out
just how good of an actor both Travolta and Cage were.
¨The Shawshank Redemption.The best movie ever made from a Stephen King
¨There's Something About Mary – comes damn
close to A Fish Called Wanda for sheer, side-clutching laughter.
¨The Wedding Singer – Sweet Adam Sandler movie
with the most awesome music.The one
with Sandler and Drew Barrymore that doesn’t
¨Office Space – you really cannot work in an
office setting without seeing this movie.
Finally, finally, made it out to Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe in Chelmsford, MA. This appears to be a pizza joint converted into a Chinese take-out place. From the name, you wouldn't expect to find a few of the best Xi'an dishes outside of Flushing, Queens. As might be expected, you order at the counter, help yourselves to utensils and napkins, grab sodas out of the fridge, and are served on trays.
Larry T and John B joined me for a romp through the menu. Everybody had their own bowl of Hand-Pulled Noodles -- imagine a 3 foot long noodle, roughly equivalent to a lasagna sheet in texture and made entire by hand. Star of the menu, certainly. Served warm with a spicy chili sauce and minced garlic in a lot of chili sesame oil. Stir it up, and dig in. Larry was having some difficulty making a neat, polite bite full using only chopsticks, which occasioned this piece of advice: "Look, it's too long. It'll be easier to just put one end into your mouth and start sucking."
We each also had our own flatbread sandwich, filled either with pulled pork or spicy strips of flank steak with chili peppers and lots of cumin. Sadly, the pork was nothing special. The steak - made of beef rather than the typical lamb, no doubt in deference to local patron's taste - was much better, with the cumin redolent of the best of such sandwiches.
Despite being, admittedly, full at this point, we couldn't let this opportunity pass. So we shared two more noodle dishes. The Xi'an cold noodles were typical thin wheat noodles in a milder version of the minced garlic in chili sesame oil sauce, with toppings consisting of shredded carrots and cucumbers, bean sprouts and cilantro. Also included was what was described as a tea egg, but to my eye looked and tasted more like a soy-simmered egg. Stir it all up, and voila!
The last noodle dish was the House noodle soup. The same thin wheat noodles in a chicken-based soup with a splash of vinegar and the same spicy chili sesame oil. The veggies in the soup were what I'd guess would be corns, peas and carrots out of a frozen bag. One wouldn't think it special, but for the thin strips of scrambled egg (think Tamago, but not rolled) and especially the double-cooked pork belly, which elevated this otherwise plain noodle soup.
The only real disappointment was due to the fact that my favorite Xi'an dish, the Liang Pi noodles (on the menu as "Xi'an Chilled Noodles") sells out early and are available only on weekends. We missed out. Doh. We were also tempted to try the Lamb stew with noodles, but ran out of appetite. A return for the Liang Pi noodles and Lamb stew is on order.
It should be noted that Gene's also serves a few, uh, American dishes, no doubt to appease the local workforce stopping by for lunch - or more likely, the less-adventuresome friends who are being dragged here for lunch. These include Lo Mein, chicken teriyaki, crab rangoon, chicken fingers, etc. No, we did not order any of those.
Bottom line -- very highly recommended for anyone who appreciates Chinese noodle dishes, particulary Xi'an style with lots of garlic and chili sauce. Worth a try, in any event. We'll be back.
Yes, I have an abiding love and passion for Popeyes Fried Chicken, explored in great detail elsewhere. I honestly think the spicy thigh is the best piece of fried chicken in the world, hands down -- and even the Wall St Journal agrees, comparing it to "legendary" fried chicken joints across the South.
A very short trip to Atlanta allowed me the opportunity to test this theory myself. I flew in on a Monday, arriving at lunchtime. I walked right by this Popeyes outlet in the ATL airport, which brought back the fond memories of enjoying some chicken at this very outlet on my way to Zurich and Maranello. But, for once in my life, I passed by an airport Popeyes because I had to save room for . . .
Mary Mac's Tea Room, one of the few remaining grand dames of Atlanta tea rooms. Although fully update, it still has an atmosphere of what I imagined to be, say, 1957, though it's fully integrated today (about 40% of the diners were white during my visit). Walking in, I was reminded of just how friendly Southerners really are, and their hospitality isn't the result of hours of Danny Meyer-esque training.
My meal here started with a potlikker (complimentary for 1st time visitors), which I learned is the hot liquid from boiling collard greens and seasoned with pork. The waitress indicated that I should break up a small piece of cornbread --itself embedded with pork!-- and dip it in the liquid, like dropping oyster crackers into chowder. Tasty? Sure. But since I didn't have any childhood memories of this tradition, it didn't make me dying for more.
I ordered the Southern tradition of a meat and two sides, in this case the fried chicken meal for $12.50, with four pieces (leg, thigh, wing, breast), along with an extra side. I also had the first of many sweet teas in Atlanta, the version here being an exemplar of the breed.
The fried green tomatoes: fried to perfection; the crisp and hot exterior was a nice contrast to the cooler, crisp bite of the tomato. The cheese and veggie soufflé was delicious, though somewhat indistinct. The sweet potato soufflé, complete with a dab of marshmallow fluff, was sweeter than many desserts.
But what about the chicken? The chicken was . . . good, but better can be had elsewhere. The dark meat was very good, and the crust was traditional. The breast suffered from being overcooked and dry. Overall, I'll give Mary Macs high points for ambiance and wonderful service, not to mention an excellent value. I'd eagerly return to sample the other Southern specialities, but the fried chicken? Good, but not memorable. I'll add that Mary Macs does have a Goodwill Ambassador that roams from table to table, offering guests a back rub. Hmmmm....
A late dinner was had at Curly's Fried Chicken, a take-out storefront that seems to be a renovated, modernized version of what may have been a long-standing neighborhood favorite.
Very upscale, nattily dressed and German-SUV-driving African Americans comprised the majority of the patrons, while the remainder consisted of local college students. Surprisingly busy for 10:30 pm on a Monday night. A few parking spaces out front, and only a handful of bar-top tables.
I had the Dre's Combo for $8, with three thighs, a slice of white bread, cole slaw and a heaping pile of fried okra. The frying technique was impeccable, with each piece of okra being a nugget of juiciness encased in a pipping hot shell. The chicken had a very light cornmeal coating. Though cooked properly, it wasn't particularly seasoned, and the pieces were definitely traditional "fryer" chicken, on the small side. Hot sauce was available, but the chicken was supposed to be "spicy", though it was barely detectable. Verdict: the chicken was better than Mary Mac's, but still not nearly as good as Popeyes.
Lunch on Tuesday had to be rushed, as I had a plane to catch. I stopped at The Busy Bee Cafe, but the line out the door convinced me to just order it as takeout. The interior is what one might expect a 65 year-old Atlanta institution to resemble, though the website is thoroughly hipster-ized.
The food was definitely disappointing. I had the fried chicken special for $12.99 - two pieces, dark or white, and two sides.
The carrot souffle was sweetened carrots mixed in a blender and served with an ice cream scoop. The broccoli and cheese casserole appeared to be those two ingredients, blended and stirred into a box of rice pilaf, and again served with an ice cream scoop. The chicken was somewhat overcooked, though crispy, with a flour crust. No particularly outstanding flavor. Just standard fried chicken that could be had most anywhere, probably even at your local Chilis. Not a great value either, and overall, something of a bummer.
What did I learn in my 24-hours in Atlanta? That I did possess the will to bypass Popeyes, not once but twice (the thought did occur to get a piece on my way home through ATL, if only to scrub the memory of the Busy Bee). That I do very much enjoy traditional Southern cooking, and look forward to going back to Mary Mac's. And Curly's Fried Chicken resembled nothing so much as Kelley's Roast Beef in Revere. Popeyes still reigns. Got suggestions? Let me know!
Addendum: I also grabbed a small order of Mighty Wings, a new menu item that McDonald's is testing in greater Atlanta. Really, I happened to be in the one place in America that McDonald's is testing fried chicken; how could I *not* try it? Quick verdict: I got the batch at 5pm, and I suspect it had been sitting in the holding station for some time. Overcooked -- but it showed great promise, as it was still quite tasty. If McDonald's decides to make it a standard menu item, it'd raise the average for them (see the review here).
For the 3 of you that may care, the Automobile Magazine article on our Supercars Across America trip is now out! Subscribers should be receiving the November issue in their mailboxes any day (some have already gotten it), and it's available now on newsstands.
Tail of the Dragon, TN/NC. 318 Curves in 11 miles. This is a video of the Ferrari 16M tackling the road, with Dennis driving and Mark shooting from the passenger seat (and trying not to hurl). Drove it at "The Pace", a term motorcyclists use to mean going as fast as possible WITHOUT having to resort to braking, and using the whole road BUT without crossing the double yellow. Just balancing that throttle, baby!
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti climbing the mountain with Dan driving and Glenn feeling queasy in the passenger seat, shot by Justin Forte and friends on chase motorcycles. Shot while following the 16M in the video above.
Sidebar: Places of Interest to Eat and Sleep:
Dylan Hotel. We stayed at this newly reopened luxury boutique with surprisingly reasonable rates in midtown East. My suite had vaulted ceiling approximately 20’ high. 52 East 41st Street, New York, NY. (212) 338-0500. http://www.dylanhotel.com/
Alfredo of Rome, classic Italian restaurant at Rockefeller Center. Its progenitor in Rome has been in business for nearly a century, and lays claim to being the originator of Fettucini Alfredo. 4 W 49th St, New York, NY. (212) 397-0100. http://www.alfredo.com/
Trattoria Cinque, a brand new Italian joint in the heart of TriBeCa has an Italian motorsport design motif. 363 Greenwich Street., New York, NY 212.965.0555 http://www.trattoriacinquenyc.com/
The inspiring custom Bertone Manitde cake came from Sweet Results, Framingham, MA. Laura Kean Anes, the baker, does some “wicked awesome” stuff with sugarpaste. Check out photos of other masterpieces here: SweetResults.blogspot.com
Scruggs Real Pit Barbecue. Not the best of neighborhoods, but a smoked pork sandwich to die for (and depending on the time of night, you do run that risk). 1920 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN. (865) 524-4333
Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. Actually located in the upscale suburb of Clayton, this Ritz-Carlton offers a nice mélange of modern hospitality and old European style. The world’s most comfortable hotel bed added major points. 100 Carondelet Plaza, St. Louis, MO. (314) 863-6300. http://www.ritzcarlton.com/
Ritz-Carlton, Denver. Same attention to detail and hospitality as the other Ritz-Carlton, but with a distinctively different modern style. Very comfortable beds as well, and a kick-ass breakfast menu. 1881 Curtis St, Denver, CO. (303) 312-3800. http://www.ritzcarlton.com/
Gateway Canyons Resort. In the middle of nowhere, it’s where you really must go. Offering a full service spa, rock climbing, river sports, horseback riding, and most importantly, spectacular roads and exotic car rentals with which to enjoy them. You won’t regret it. 43200 Hwy 141, Gateway, CO. (970) 931-2458. http://www.gatewaycanyons.com/ and http://www.westernroadadventures.com/
Mi Rancherito Mexican Restaurant. If you find yourself touring along RT 50 in Utah, stop here for the best pork verde in a 100 mile radius. 540 Topaz Blvd, Delta, UT. (435) 864-4245.
Owl Club & Steak House. Full of character, this is a glorified diner with impressively good burgers and chili. The bar and “casino” next door has slots and some large hunting trophies. 61 S Main St, Eureka, NV. (775) 237-5280.
The Village at Squaw Valley. Pre-fab ski village North of Lake Tahoe, the Village caters to outdoor enthusiasts and families during the summer. Large 2 and 3 bedroom suites available at great prices, and interesting restaurants and shops in the adjacent village. 1750 Village East Road, Olympic Valley, CA. (866) 818-6963.
étoile at Domaine Chandon. Named one of the most romantic restaurants in the US, this is a true fine dining destination at a Napa winery. 1 California Dr, Yountville, CA. (707) 204-7529. http://www.chandon.com/
We had to professional photographers accompany us on portions of our trip. Daniel Byrne, of NYC, did the NY/NJ launch, and Brian Konoske of LA did the last day, from Squaw Valley through Tahoe, Napa and San Francisco. Both are great guys, very easy to work with, and highly talented!
Still can't quite believe we did it. I submitted a 9,600 word masterpiece/giant stinkin' pile of rubbish to Automobile Magazine, about twice the length they had specified. Oops. The editors were kind enough to spend several days hacking away the useless bits with a chainsaw to get it down to something like 3,700 words, and with the photos they selected from the professional photographers, Mark and yours truly, it's an EIGHT PAGE spread. You'll be able to see it in the next (November) issue, and I'm pretty pleased.
After that comes out, I may post the funny bits that didn't meet their high standards (all of the rude jokes, the innuendo, idle gossip, and complete and utter lies) on this blog, so stay tuned.
And to catch everyone up: on the Monday after we arrive at Monterey, Glenn, Mark and Dennis finally sleep in and are ready to fly home. Except, to our utter shock and amazement, every single rental car, limo service and scooter in a 100 mile radius of Monterey has been reserved. How could this possibly happen? It's not like it's the BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR ON THE PENINSULA or anything like that. Ooops.
So, finally we track down a black car service to take Mark to SFO to catch his flight, sucking cubic dollars out of his wallet. I was able to phone up old friend Leland and beg and plead for him to leave his adorable baby girl, hop in his Prius and drive down to Monterey to pick up Glenn and me. As we head up to catch our evening flight, I reflect on the ignominy of taking this last stage in a PRIUS, of all vehicles, with Leland extolling on its gas mileage virtues. Blech.
But we arrive home safe and sound, and I proceed to reintroduce myself to my 4 and 6 year old daughters, who I don't think quite realized I was gone for a week ("Oh, daddy, you're home. Did you bring us anything?"), kiss my understanding and patient wife, and collapse into a 2-day slumber. I love my bed.