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.

P.S. I LOVE blog comments!

let go, fired, downsized, not needed

Hire me, please.  Yes, today I was let go, fired, downsized.  I was advised, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been told from the new president of
Copia, Garry McGuire Jr., to let all the part-time employees go.”  I am a part-time employee, so that meant me.  This actually happened when I called in to find out what time I worked tonight.  That may seem last minute, but actually I had called yesterday, as well.  And the schedule which starts on Sunday is rarely posted until Saturday afternoon.   

So, instead of working tonight and bringing home close to $200, here I sit, blogging. 

I don’t blame my manager Joel, he’s a sweet guy, and he’s just following orders, and truly seems to feel bad about it all.  He’s willing to give me a letter of recommendation and has given me a few leads of places that are hiring.  That’s all I can ask for at the moment.

It’s unfair though, because of all the food servers at Julia’s Kitchen, I actually have the most seniority.  Even though I work part-time, I have been there the longest, since October of 2006.  I have stayed when everyone else left, through five – count them – managers. Steve, Jane, Noel, Jane again, and Joel. Also, Rose, Jazmin and Eric who were acting managers for short periods of time. Also, I have regular customers who love me.  There are two couples that come in and ask for me every Friday night.  The Curley’s, John and Cathy, and the Poliak’s, Richard and Cathy. I had special plans for them to celebrate their 100th and 200th visit respectively.  The sad thing is, I won’t even be able explain and say goodbye to them or any of my friends/co-workers. 

Whose idea was brunch? Mine! (And it’s been very successful I must say!) Who always shows up for her shifts? Me! Who has come in many times on short notice to help out? ME!

I filed for unemployment.  That was a bit confusing.  Apparently both of my part-time jobs, including the one I’m not fired from – with the school district – will pay for the unemployment that I draw.  They seemed to want to know more information from the job I still work for than for the one I was fired from.  Why?

I have almost $300 in the bank and about $23 in cash.  To last until the end of the month. 

This sucks!

The plan is:  Apply for unemployment.  Check.  Update resume.  Make copies of letters of reference.  Start applying at every fine dining restaurant in Napa. 

Do I blame the economy?  Do I blame the new president of Copia, Garry McGuire Jr.?  I really don’t know who to blame.  All I know is that as difficult and unexpected as it is, I need to find a new job and fast.  Wish me luck!

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