Chez Panisse

Yesterday, my friend Angela invited me to come visit her. She lives in Albany, next to Berkeley. I drove over and we decided to go out to lunch to this place that I can’t remember the name of, but she said it was across the street from Chez Panisse. So, I said, “What about just going to Chez Panisse?”. Angela said, “Well, I checked on that online and it said that you need to make reservations about a month in advance”. Angela is getting a degree at UC Berkeley (that I don’t remember the name of but it has something to do with food and wine). Angela also just finished reading “Alice Waters and Chez Panisse” by Thomas McNamee. (I can’t figure out how to underline the title here in WordPress – forgive me, I do know better). In any case I knew Angela would love to eat there between her major and just finishing the book, so we drove downtown Berkeley and found a parking spot and put 10 quarters in the meter. Berkeley is so cool and quirky. There were people picnicking in the grass in the meridian of the street. Lots of them! With cars driving by on both sides of them, like they were in a park! Most of them were eating pizza from a nearby place. I was dying for Alexandra’s digital camera! I had asked Angela to bring hers, but the battery was dead, so no luck there either.

We decided to try Chez Panisse before going over to the other restaurant, and they took us right in! We went upstairs to the cafe, which I am told is a bit less formal and pricey than the restaurant.

We were seating in a very tight spot, very close to another table, but we didn’t mind, everyone was very friendly. They first ask if you would care for still or sparkling water and they bring it the table in a pretty etched glass decanter. It says Chez Panisse on one side, and Still on the other. There was a wonderful flavorful brown bread that was served with some very yellow butter. Angela said that the guy that started Acme Bakery nearby had worked at Chez Panisse and Alice Waters had helped him get started, so we imagined that the bread was probably from Acme Bakery. That was where our bread from Julia’s Kitchen had been from, too. The busser girl told us the butter was from grass fed cows and that it was yellower because it had more carotene. Wow. I guess I didn’t even know what color butter was supposed to be. I’ve grown up on the pale butter made from grain fed cows. It’s kind of a shame.

We ordered a bottle of rose wine that was rather inexpensive and Angela said she had read it was one of Alice Waters’ favorites. It was perfect! Our server was apparently in training because another server came over to open our wine while instructing her. Later I saw her trying to open the wine for another table. I wanted to help. (I could have taught her much better…)

We shared an appetiser. (I’m on a budget) It was a salad with fried goat cheese. Angela once again said that she had read that it was one of the classic dishes at the restaurant. Next we share an entree. There was a boneless chicken that they said was pressed as it was cooked to make it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It was wonderful! As were the herbed peas. I’ve never had better peas. Honestly. And then there were some homemade potato chips as well. So good! Lastly, dessert. I had a peach and raspberry tart with vanilla bean ice cream and Angela had the fresh fruit, queen anne cherries and a plumcot. We were both in heaven! Truly a meal to remember!

In between all of this, I forgot to mention that since I knew I was going to be near Chez Panisse I thought I would bring along a resume and drop it off, since I am on the market at the moment. After we were seated for a few minutes I handed our server my resume and asked her if she could please give it to her manager. A few minutes later she brought it back to me and said it would probably be better to wait until I was leaving and give it to a manager myself, that way they might have time to sit down with and talk with me. Then, once again, a few minutes later a woman comes up to our table and says, “Hi, I’m Renee, did you want me to look over your resume?” I gave it to her of course and we continued our lunch. When we finished I checked to see if she was available, but the said she was in a meeting and had my number and would call me. Honestly, that is probably for the best, I don’t know what kind of interview I would have given after drinking half a bottle of wine!

Angela and I stopped and she got a couple of cheeses and some bread and salami and a lovely cold bottle of prosecco and we went back to her place, where her son Elijah and boyfriend Jesse were, and watched a French foreign film I had rented from Netflix, called Avenue Montaigne. Not Amelie, but very cute. We had the best French themed day!

Chez Panisse didn’t call today. Maybe tomorrow.

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Plurk Haiku

words on the bright screen
showing all the wide worlds thoughts
connected we plurk

Published in: on June 7, 2008 at 3:56 am  Comments (4)  
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Gum: a Lethal Weapon

Gum Cut

Is gum dangerous? I never thought so, until today. Driving back to work after my lunch break I decided to freshen my breath WHILE whitening my teeth with some Orbit White spearmint gum. I grabbed the pack, popped out two pieces and slit my baby finger, my little finger, my pinky! It actually produced a drop of blood as you can see in the picture above (taken with my cell phone).

So beware, gum CAN be dangerous! The next time you chew, have a clue!

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Earthquake and a Chemical Factory Explode!

What a week! And it’s only Wednesday! Yesterday an earthquake and now today a chemical factory explodes incredibly close to my house!

Last night I was in the middle running my meeting for RW Investments, a women’s investment group, and we felt a small earthquake that went on for two or three seconds. The earthquake happened at 7:29 PM with a magitude of 3.9 and was centered near Vallejo, California. We all just sat there rather calmly and said, “Hey, I think that was an earthquake!?” Katherine Klein, who is adorably 7 months pregnant, jumps up and runs to a doorway! We all look at her, and she looks at us. And we start laughing and say, “Is this your first earthquake?” and she says, “yesss!”. She is a little afraid and rather shaken up, but we assure her that if it was going to be a bad earthquake that it would go on for a longer time and that you would have time to run out of the building. She said that she felt the baby moving and then realized that she was moving too! Leo Martinez, our guest speaker for the night, was standing and didn’t notice it at all, only the people sitting did.

It struck me rather funny how we all reacted so calmly to it except Katherine. We really don’t have earthquakes often, but I have felt them every few years. The worst one that I’ve felt was the time the bridge collapsed in San Francisco. That one went on long and hard enough that I grabbed my baby son out of his crib and ran out to the street. That was a bit scary, but I had absolutely no damage. Whenever an earthquake is reported on the news my mom’s phone lights up with calls from her relatives in Tennesee. They are all afraid we’ve fallen into the ocean. Just kind of funny how we take it in stride, while the rest of the country is frightened by the thought of it.

So now, today, I am cooking dinner, and my neighbor, Cathy Reisinger, calls me and asks if she can come by and drop something off to me. I say sure, and I hear her yell outside, so I walk out and she yells, “Laura! Come here! You have to see this!”. I walk out and straight down at the end of our street, though you can tell it’s in the distance, is extremely black smoke rising up in a colomn. Then we start hearing noises! “Bang…bang bang! Bang!”. This continues on intermittently. We are both trying to think what is located in that direction and what is blowing up making those bang sounds? We consider the gas station and a Burger King. We both go back inside our homes and she calls me a few minutes later and tells me to turn on the news. KCRA 3 news is reporting that the Ashland Chemical Plant is in the middle of a 3-alarm fire. The fire started in a tanker trailer, which may have been what we heard exploding. I heard a woman on the news saying that the fire smelled like tires. They evacuated nearby residents and sent them to a shelter. We were pretty nearby I’ll tell you, but luckily the wind wasn’t blowing in our direction. I’m sure it’s less than 5 minutes drive away from me. They told the rest of the local residents to stay inside. I have been staying inside! They are saying that the chemicals are “relatively” non-toxic. “Relatively” doesn’t make me feel very good to be honest with you. Reports say that the fire was put out at 8:30 PM, but it’s about 9:15 PM now and I still hear helicopters flying around constantly.

So, it’s been a rather eventful week, and it’s only Wednesday! Here’s to the rest of the week going out like a lamb.

UPDATE: Just now at 9:30 PM I received an automated phone call from the Fairfield Police and Fire Departments saying that the fire has been contained, air quality is good, and we all can resume our normal activities.

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Laura Enjoys the 2008 MTV Movie Awards

The RED Carpet![What a view!waving at the fans!arriving at awards night

Laura arrived for the night in the chic new Honda Civic mini limosine! As she exited the car the paparazzi bulbs flashed and fans cheered! Entertainment Tonight hosts begged for an interview as she strutted down the RED (ish) carpet (looked a bit like a kitchen rug)! Laura signed a few autographs for her fans and gave a quick interview to ET, saying, “I’m so excited to be here, it’s going to be a fabulous night! Has anyone seen Jane Porricelli yet?” and then was wisked inside by her entourage to watch the show. During the show she enjoyed some expensive French bubbly champagne (or was it Ocean Spray White Cran Peach?) as she sat and chatted with the other celebrities (or maybe she was home alone).

Laura was thrilled to see little tiny Ellen Page win for best actress for her perfomance in Juno and was shocked to see Iron Man win best summer movie? “What were they thinking? I’ve never even heard of Iron Man? Naturally it should have been Sex in the City!” she exclaimed. Laura thought SJP and Jennifer Hudson were smashing as they announced Will Smith as the Best Actor for I Am Legend. Their outfits, their shoes! Oh YES! And Sarah Jessica Parker and Ellen Page must be about the same height, little tiny!!!

For best comedic performance Anne Hathaway announced the winner, “YEEEAH! JOHNNY DEPP!”, as he walked out from behind the stage casually chewing gum, the crowd was almost in shock! Laura wondered if he had been backstage and people didn’t realize he was in the theater? He wore jeans with a striped cap tucked in the back pocket and a brown leather belt buckled on the side, a black short sleeved button up shirt with rolled up sleeves, Charlie Chaplin type hair, looking very clean cut and handsome and hot! He looked so young, just like he did back in his 21 Jump Street days. The crowd erupted! Laura Iriarte and Lindsey Lohan were the only two celebrities to give him a standing ovation! Diablo Cody seemed ready to swoon as she touched her heart! Chris Brown and Rhianna oddly seemed unimpressed? Jonah Hill from Superbad, another nominee, gave him a joking two thumbs down. Johnny won once again in the Best Villian category for his performance in Sweeney Todd. Tila Tequila was thrilled! Johnny said, “wow, this is nutty, two times in one night!” and proceeded to thank one and all. He ended by pointing at Laura and saying, “Hey Laura, I must say you look amazing darling!” (or maybe he SHOULD have dammit!).

Tom Cruise, in a very preppy look, black slacks, white button down shirt with a black v-neck sweater over it and very shiny black shoes, presented the MTV Generation Award, an award presented to someone who has given us significant cinematic achievement. The award this year was presented to Adam Sandler! Tom Cruise calls him The Sandman and reminds us of all the films Adam has been in, then a montage of clips follows, including some Saturday Night Live clips. Finally as Adam is announced he slowly rises up through the floor of the stage and sings, “Nobody Does It Better”, his own version, as women in gold bikinis pose (a tribute to James Bond’s Goldfinger). After Adam acknowledges that his song was the most arrogant thing he’s ever done, he then gives a heartfelt acceptance speech.

Best Breakthrough Performance went to Zach Efron for Hairspray. Best Kiss went to Brianna Evigan and Robert Hoffman from Step Up to the Streets. Laura didn’t see the movie, but after their steamy re-creation on stage Laura could see why they won! The evening concluded with Transformers winning best picture. Laura saw Transformers and agreed it was a very good movie, much better than expected. But having seen both, Laura would have picked Juno. She thought it was much more original.

The standout performances throughout the night were Coldplay, The Pussycat Dolls, and Wayne’s World. Coldplay and their new song were amazing, but there were just too many rose petals or big confetti thingys fluttering around and getting on the lead singer and even on Laura in the audience. The Pussycat Dolls did a sexy, energetic, choreographed performance, and host Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey recreated their Waynes World skit! Party On Dudes! Excellent!

Laura’s posse snuck(?) her out of the auditorium through a secret back door, dodging the paparazzi, then the Honda Civic Mini-Limo took her off into a night of celebrity parties (or maybe she went to bed). What a life!

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