Friday, May 21, 2010

Gary Danko

No, Gary Danko isn't the latest pitcher for the Oakland A's. He's one of the world's finest chefs. And we went to this 5-star restaurant last night to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. It was a heavenly evening.

After all day of going, "uh, uh" when trying to describe what we ate for which course, here is the Taster's Menu:

Glazed Oysters with Osetra Caviar, Zucchini Pearls and Lettuce Cream

Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers
and Mustard Sauce

Seared Filet of Beef with Yukon Potatoes, Curried Cauliflower,
Cumin-Cilantro Butter and Tamarind Glaze

A Selection of Farmhouse and Artisanal Cheeses

Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces

While some would argue that such a menu in the hands (mouth?) of someone who doesn't even know what she's tasting is, well, wasted. I can see their point. But I can assure such naysayers that I savored every bite, that I enjoyed every minute with my sweetie.

Favorite moment? The service was exquisite. Everything was pitch-perfect, timed wonderfully. But perhaps the best moment was the 4th course, when they rolled the very large cheese cart toward us, as we're already stuffed, knowing we would have to make room for four very special bites of cheese. It was quite an experience.

One doesn't do this every day. I understand that. It'll be one of my best memories.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Petula Clark at the LV Hilton

Tipped off by the IPCS newsletter (International Petula Clark Society), of which I am a member, I was able to buy one ticket to see Petula Clark at the Las Vegas Hilton in early May.

I promptly informed Sweetie that I would accompany her that weekend to her gig in Henderson, Nevada.

I used the GPS to get from a picnic in Henderson to the mighty Hilton, going over no less than 4 freeways and a lot of commute traffic. But I found myself there, hunting for a parking space for the rental car in what seemed a very busy parking garage on Paradise Road, next to the Hilton. Granted it was Saturday night, but it was early Saturday night, and, besides, wasn't this a recession?

I was to find out very soon that (1) there was an international boxing match going on in town, and people would watch from each of the hotels, as well as gamble on its outcome at the sports book, and (2) there was a wedding going on at precisely the moment I parked.

But all of those are good reasons to go early, which I did. I picked up my Will Call ticket, used the match ticket attached to it to play a little blackjack, and finally went to the auditorium.

The Hilton auditorium brought back a lot of memories. My brother and I saw Elvis there. It's funny, I can't remember the year. Maybe mid-'70's? It was certainly before they remodeled the place. When we went that first time, all of those luxurious booths were in place, and all the celebrities were in them. We, of course, were wayyyy in the balcony, at a little table high above the stage, and I was trying to maneuver through my drinks they demanded I buy.

This night, however, I was third row center, a marvelous seat. And you can bet everybody there in those seats down front was a real fan. Well, except for the 4 people behind me; they certainly knew Petula, could name a song or two, but they didn't fall into the rabid category. Everybody else around me, however, were shaking hands, re-introducing themselves to each other. Most were from the IPCS, and had met each other at other events. Two couples had flown in from England to see her.

Her set was marvelous. Half the songs I had never heard her sing live. Oh, yes, I recognized all but one, but only from CDs. And she managed to squeeze in many of her hits, most in truncated form. And she told some marvelous stories: one about filming with Fred Astaire, and the other about playing the piano for Charlie Chaplin in Switzerland after she had recorded his song ("This Is My Song") and it had become a hit.

At one point a fellow down front yelled, "Downtown!" Petula glared at him, and mentioned something about, well, if I did that, we could all just pick up and go home, couldn't we? I thought that was very funny. Of course, she got to Downtown at the end, and entreated us all to sing that magic word of the refrain.

Come to think of it, she also asked for our help with a few other songs as well. And since we all knew the words, that was a lot of fun.

Each time I see her I wonder if there will ever be another time. This time seemed special because it was layered on other memories. And because, indeed, at her age, I wonder if we'll ever see her live again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Perfect Game

I couldn't sleep last night. There may have been many reasons, but this one kept coming to the front of my brain: My Oakland Athletics threw a perfect game.

Not just a no-hitter. A perfect game. Viva Dallas Braden!

I watched the guy for some 5 years now. I remember him carrying the candy bucket for the pitchers, arriving eagerly at the bullpen before the game. I remember seeing the bill that was so straight, all the birds from The Birds could perch on it, thinking, who is this kid? I remember watching him take the freight train from Sacramento to Oakland, bomb out, and then go back again. But there was something about this kid.... you were pulling for him.

At the age of 26, he has now arrived.

I didn't go to the game. I had tickets, but I gave them to our son, Jamie. I messaged him some no-hitter trivia facts in the 7th inning: Dave Stewart threw the last no-hitter in 1990. I didn't dream the game would be perfect. That's so hard, nearly impossible, and depends upon 9 guys being absolutely perfect. But, yet, they were.

I had the game on as I did household chores. Those chores got left behind once we reached the 6th and there were still no hits by the powerful Tampa Bay Rays. Awesomeness was approaching. I cried when the final out was made, Pennington to Barton, and joined with my teammates in jumping up and down.

I still haven't gotten over it. It will probably be the only one I'll ever witness, even though it wasn't live. The event is still awesome, even a day later. This is why you watch baseball, to watch young men do extraordinary things. Especially on the Little Team That Could. This is why I'm an Oakland A's fan.