EL DORADO

The lost city of gold. The first time I heard of El Dorado was from the Howard Hawkes movie with John Wayne and James Caan. A classic shoot-em-up with a drunken sheriff, a grumpy sidekick, a young whipper-snapper and, of course, John Wayne. During an early part of the movie John Wayne and James Caan are riding through a saguaro covered part of the desert to the city of El Dorado, where they will subsequently save the day. I am not giving anything away, the movie was made in 1966 for God’s sake. During this ride, James Caan recites a bit of a poem that ends with “ . . . Continue reading “EL DORADO”

WITH PRIDE

When I think of my sister I remember two distinctive things. One, she taught me how to spell Wednesday. “Wed-nes-day” she said. The reason I remember this so well and so clearly is that the brief interchange shocked me. Why? Good question. You see I grew up in a family with five children and my sister is five years older than me. At dinner we sat on opposite sides of the table and we rarely spent any time together, not even fighting. I guess it shocked me because it is most likely the first memory of anyone helping me with a challenge. The second distinct memory I have is when I was 17 or 18 years old. She had moved out, gone to college and gotten a job. She asked me out to dinner. This is unique because, like I said, we rarely spent any time together. I was flattered because of the attention but also because I was doing this adult thing: Continue reading “WITH PRIDE”

A MEMORABLE WEEKEND

In 1951 my father shipped out from Mare Island. In Korea, at the age of 23, Second Lieutenant Vernon Judt was assigned to a Battalion Aid station. My father only ever told me two stories about the war. One, “When I first went over, when it was quiet, the doc and I would put an inch of whiskey in our canteen cups then fill it with water. By the end we would fill them with whiskey, no water.” The other was darker and more suggestive than inclusive with detail. “Some nights there would be so many wounded that the Doc could not handle them all. On those nights I would have to triage. Some, the ones you knew would not make it, I would give extra morphine to them and tell them that everything would be okay.” Continue reading “A MEMORABLE WEEKEND”

WHAT THE TRUCK?

“Do you have a job yet?” The voice on the other end of the line asked.

The year was 1991, I had recently graduated from the California Culinary Academy and had just, two days prior, returned from a month long driving tour of Europe with my buddy Dale.

“No.” I said, with no apparent alacrity, anticipating the crush of credit card debt that was headed my way.

And so it all began, the call that changed the direction of my life. Within a week’s time I was cooking for none other than Continue reading “WHAT THE TRUCK?”

POSITIVELY VALLEJO

 

Now I like Fridays as much as the next person. First, and because it was pay day, my father used to say, “The eagle flies today.”  Second, being the end of the work week, many of us go out to blow off some steam. Now we have some great steam blowing venues here in Vallejo: Mare Island Brewery, where I was found last night for a pint. Napa Smith Brewery, where I was found earlier in the week . . . for a pint. The Townhouse, downtown, where I was found . . . okay, you got the picture.

 

Last Friday night was different. Last Friday night was not just about blowing off steam. It was about something much deeper and closer to the heart. Continue reading “POSITIVELY VALLEJO”

OUR TOWN

 

I had a lovely visit, not so long ago, with a new friend here in Vallejo. I found her conversation to be both cogent and delightful. The gin and tonics she prepared, not your garden variety. No, it seems that I fell in to the hands of a self-taught expert of sorts, and her cocktails helped sort out a few things for me.  Our conversation naturally fell upon those things we have in common, none more than this lovely town we live in. I use the word town specifically because we both agreed that living here feels more and more like a town and less like a formal city. Not to say that our City is not being professionally run, since I have no details to suggest otherwise. No, it is just that . . .  Continue reading “OUR TOWN”

Black Gold

What the heck was I thinking?

breathe breathe

 

It was a morning, not unlike every other morning. My alarm went off; the dog crashed up onto the bed licked my face; and everything started off as usual.  You see, my morning routine is simple: Wake, wash my face, then boil water for coffee. Next step, obviously, is to grind the coffee. I have one of those burr grinders that gives me the perfect grind every time. One of my favorite little kitchen gadgets it is. So bleary eyed, I wash my face and put the water on the boil but when I turned the grinder on the most excruciating sound erupted from it . . . Continue reading “Black Gold”

Saturday and Back Again

My family has kept a home in Vallejo since the early 1940’s. I have been to bowling tournaments, spaghetti feeds and 4th of July parades. I remember when the military was here and then again when they were not. I even remember shopping with my Grandmother in a lovely shop located on a bustling Georgia street when I was a boy. I have seen Vallejo up, down and even sideways. Through all of that I still get a warm feeling when I pull off the freeway, after a long day at work, knowing that I am finally home. V-Town, for all of her reputed back and forth, is such a great place to live. I am proud to say that I am personally responsible for convincing two of my friends to look for and purchase homes here. They in turn have brought their friends who are happy, as well, with their decision to move. As you know, Vallejo has a lot going for it.

 

Saturday’s are no exception. Being the ever constant advocate for our fair city, I invited a friend whom I met at Burning Man a few years back. I wanted to give her the whirlwind tour of Saturday’s best in V-Town. Time was limited so we Continue reading “Saturday and Back Again”

League of Chefs or Who likes Sunday More Than Me?

My mother says that I was born on a glorious sunny Sunday. I can only imagine that after 9 months of my punching and kicking even a stormy Saturday would have been a relief. So whether I was conditioned as a child to believe that sunny Sundays were my special day  or that they are just generally special makes-me-no-never-mind. I like sunny Sundays. Today was no exception. While the tailcoat of winter is still dragging its way through our little burg this sunny day heralded a less body numbing future to be sure.

 

Breakfast today was going to be a bit more formal and reservations were required. Having slept in until 6, I found that I still had plenty of time to read the news, contribute significantly to the perishment of today’s press pot coffee,  Continue reading “League of Chefs or Who likes Sunday More Than Me?”

At Maggie’s – T is for Technique

It was an odd morning to be sure. It had rained heavily the night before and the power on my block went out sometime mid-morning. Not strange occurrence for Vallejo as sometimes the odd, old bits of our fair city, well, just break. Turns out the power wires had touched a tree top, just up the street from me. Odd, I thought, heavy rain and a tree fire. All was well in an hour’s time but in the meantime, still without my morning meal and the coffee pot not working, I decided to troddle off to someplace new as is my latest want.

 

It turns out I wanted to go to Maggie’s on Benicia Road. Now here was a corner of Vallejo that I had rarely visited. Actually I have one story to tell about this Continue reading “At Maggie’s – T is for Technique”