Happy Days and New Wines

We have a new voice participating in the wine program. Meet Candy, in her own words.

Okay. now I’m pissed and this is going to overshadow Candy’s contribution if I don’t rein it in but why the hell did a standard scan of a jpeg – the format that’s been used to import all the pics on this site suddenly quit on me? That took thirty minutes to get her scan in here. I am the anti of the techno-savy. I fixed it by going the long way round, but damn if I wouldn’t like a sip or two of the above after that endeavor.

Enough. Really cool sparkling, my favorite summer white, and a nailed it on the ziti/lasagna pairing. This is the type of scary admission of actual restaurant industry competence that I’m wishing to avoid. It kinda makes it look like we know what we’re doing. We’re a dive. I will not brook otherwise publicly. Candy is hell bent on saying the quiet part out loud. Hush Candy. Hush.

P.O.E.T.S. Day! “I’m at the Beach” Edition Featuring the Inestimable Gerard Manley Hopkins!

Welcome to it, the one, the only – except where people are doing it other places – realization that life is short and meant to be enjoyed. Moments savored are the bread and butter of poetry and moments working are decidedly less savory. So break free and embrace the P.O.E.T.S. Day ethos: Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday!

This editions invites you to release your inner sun worshipping and bad tattoo spotting urges that so often we reserve for the occasional retreat to the coast. Things are different at the beach. Beer is generally acceptable with lunch in the real world. It’s a-okay for breakfast here.

Unstrap yourself from the desk, tell the boss that you can’t get the part for whatever flugenator or semi-disfusation unit until Monday, tell the supervisor you have an oncoming bout of dysentery, whatever you have to do to get away and start your weekend early.

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The Wonders of Homewood Vol. 8 Issue 6

Have you had a gyro at Sam’s Deli & Grill? It’s not life changing but there is no such thing as a life changing lunch. There is such thing as day changing lunch.

I go out of my way, plan meetings, and otherwise shirk responsibilities to eat there. Move about for the chance of this wrap. It’s fabulous.

Just yesterday I woke up at 6:03 AM and the damn thing was on my mind. They open at 9:00 so I had to wait, but it was worth it.

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Chicken Chicanery: A Discourse (Kinda) on the National Origins of Chicken Parmesan and Why on Earth It’s Called Chicken Parmesan in the First Place

Chicken Parmesan carved out a place on Italian restaurant menus around the middle of the last century. The thing is, it’s not from Parma and by all evidence it likely originated outside the Italian borders. Most recipes call for mozzarella and/or provolone with a slight few tossing in Parmesan as a finisher. Shenanigans! It’s half-truths and misappropriation nestled in a lightly salted bed of al dente angel hair.

There are people with what sounds like a marvelously fun job if you’re into musty old books and getting shushed by librarians because you’re cursing at the disorder neglect has imposed on the obscure corner of the research wing you inhabit regularly fun. They scour old cookbooks and menus, literature, and diaries looking for the first mention of a particular dish. Imagine these food historians as a better fed version of Oxford English Dictionary etymologists.

Those slightly overweight sneezy people have pinned the first appearance of Chicken Parmesan in Italy as being somewhere in the mid-1950s. That’s two or three years after it popped up roughly simultaneously in the US, Argentina, and Australia – the three top destinations of the 23 million people fleeing miserable poverty beginning after the end of WWI and ending around the mid-1950s. It’s what’s know as the Italian diaspora.

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P.O.E.T.S. Day – The Post Cinco de Mayo Version

Yes I drew you in with a Cinco de Mayo reference in the title and no this has nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo. Sue me. P.O.E.T.S. Day – The Post Cinco de Mayo Version

This is a celebration of a great supposedly Scottish tradition I read about in a mystery series set in Edinburgh. P.O.E.T.S. Day: Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday.

So weasel your way out of that cubical, fake an ankle sprain, have an aunt that doesn’t actually exist call about a house fire, unexplained abdominal pains are good. Get your way out of the office and to my bar a few hours before you’d normally piss off.

There’s a few decent apps that you can download that will place fake timed calls to your phone with whatever caller ID tag you want. The trick is to leave it out, open faced where people you work with can see it. When it rings with “St. Vincent’s Hospital” on the caller ID you are free to leave the office. Nobody is going to question. Just don’t get greedy. If you claim it’s your mother or kid in the hospital you’ll get a follow up question or thirty and there is the danger that they might meet your mom or kid in the future and ask how they fared.

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How a Great Day Can Be Ruined

Yesterday was a great day. Not business wise. We are having drainage issues in our parking lot due to new construction around us and the flash floods gave us troubles (more on that later.) It was a great day because of the people that came in.

I talked with a high school English teacher who had the day off because his students were in a placement exam all day. We talked books and plays. There was a small business attorney and muffaletta enthusiant who was particularly funny, a sheriff’s deputy with two years, fifty-three days to retirement by his count, and couple of nurses with stories that ran the risk of causing blushes. Fun people.

That was all ruined by one particular pick-up order.

We’re not in the haggling business. If you don’t want to pay the price for an item, don’t. Go without. We think our prices are fair. Actually we know they are, math being involved and such.

I quoted a price on the phone, was told she didn’t want to pay that, and told her that I’m sorry but that’s what we charge. She placed the order.

When she came in she again said that she wouldn’t pay the agreed upon and printed and laminated and posted on the internet price. I suppose the idea was that I would give her a discount since we had already made the food and faced with tossing the food or selling it at a loss we would sell it at a loss. That’s just not the way this works. Go down that road and it’s loss every time.

I hate that that’s my takeaway from the day. The teacher, the lawyer, the cop, the nurses… all wonderful. I hope to see them again soon. You remember the frustrating, though.

Kentucky Derby

Let’s just stop right here. You don’t care. You really don’t.

We’ll all pretend that we are of the horsey set for a few hours but we aren’t. We have no idea whose mare was sired by whose stud or any other such nonsense. But we are pretending.

I hate it but there will be no mint julips. You can have a sugared bourbon.., no idea why you’d want that but we have the technology. We just don’t have mint. And no, I’m not hitting the Piggly Wiggly for a bit of mint on the off chance that you (you don’t) care for a preposterous drink that you would never consider ordering if it weren’t for a sporting event that you only watch once a year, maybe a diminishing two more times if the same horse wins.

You really don’t care.

I used to throw a party for the race. One time a local bartender from another restaurant was eating with me and he nailed the win, place, show. He won $15 grand. That was a fun day. He tipped obscenely. He gets a special trip to the grocery for some mint (did you catch the Britishism) but his was a rare occasion.

So come join us for a regular beer, glass of wine, or non mint infused cocktail. We’ll pretend we are Mark Twain or something for the two minutes of the race and we’ll make a fortune off the drinks we sell in the indeterminate period that NBC spends in the roll out. They talk for weeks for an event that flashes by. It’s gold.

Our House Wines

For the sake of all that is holy, if you are curious about our house wines do not go to their website. Pretentious at first, useless from there on out. You get nothing other than attitude and pictures of how happy and carefree the owners of the winery are. There’s also, at least as of this writing, a picture of a hamburger. That makes as much sense as you let it.

If you want to know about Mondavi CK wines, don’t talk to them. Talk to me. The only bit of useful info I got from their site is that the wine maker has the same name as my middle school friend’s dad. That guy was fun. He’d drive us around in a cherry red Miata and we’d get ice cream. Great guy.

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Otis! My Man!

Animal House (1978) Otis! My Man! - YouTube

We get to pick the music when we are the lead on a shift. Right now I’m in the restaurant as a customer for lunch. I took the day off in case my second vaccination shot plays havoc with my innards, but the ever charming waitress has chosen a station called vocal jazz. It’s pleasant.

With the exception of one waiter who played Gregorian chants and Soviet propaganda music just to see if any one noticed (they did) we set a pretty good mood with the music we play.

If you come in before we open on a day when I’m on, you’re likely to hear a semi-punk or hardcore band blasted at an obscene level. I’ve been on a Replacements kick lately and their album Pleased to Meet Me is just distilled happiness. But I cut that nonsense out when we open. When it’s time to entertain guests I ask Alexa to play the Otis Redding Station.

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The Purported Piracy of Restaurant Crews

Restaurant crews are usually pretty attentive about, if not obsessive on, being mannered but notably lax in their attentions to societal norms. I’m not impugning anyone’s character, and not just because I’m lax in my attention to societal norms. It’s just that we inhabit a slightly more off-kilter timeframe than most. We work when most eat and play, and we eat and play when most work.

I spent years as a real estate agent working a nine to whenever I needed to but mostly five job, but previous years of working at meal times left me unable to eat when everyone else did. You develop habits. I eat lunch at the time of day when the lunch crowd leaves, and have even when given the opportunity to be part of the lunch crowd.

It gets insular. Restaurant industry folks become friends if for no other reason that when we have free time, the only others that do are other restaurant industry folks. A mindset sets in. It’s not us vs. them, but there is definitely an us. We’re the ones you can call at one am because we are just making dinner.

Some of us opt out of that. I only work in the daytime now. You get kids of school age and you want to see them. That doesn’t happen when you are going to work when they are getting home from school. But those without kids have cash and no reason to get up in the morning. There are bars that exist on late night post-shift restaurant patrons.

We’re not all that piratical at DeVinci’s. I’ve mentioned on these electronic pages that years ago we caught a beer delivery guy trying to cheat both us and his company so we blackmailed him into providing a regular keg to the employees at his cost. That was about the most criminal I’ve witnessed here, but that was in the nineties. That was a different group. A really fun group, but a different group.

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