CCG & Sin City

Brittany and I went to Cedar Creek Grille on Friday night and had a lovely time. We first had a drink at her hotel bar, then a couple of martini’s at CCG and finished with a scotch back at the hotel bar. And, we tossed down a shot of tequila just for the hell of it. I wanted to go to Gio’s but that damn place is always full on busy.

Saturday morning might have been a slow start, but well worth the price of admission. Great FNM night.

Saturday night we were back at it. Albeit a little quieter. We were turned away from 3 restaurants in Beachwood that were too busy but finally got in at Firebird Grille. Pandemic be damned.

Lynn weighed in from Vegas on Friday; martini at Wynn’s and another at Capital Grille. She gets around and carries her weight in the FNM crowd.

Before that, Wednesday night, I called an audible. I was planning to make dinner at home; thai spicy chicken. But it was so sunny and beautiful that I took a walk around the city and wound up at Blue Point. It was nice. Not great. But nice.

Halle is a good bartender. Old school. She handles her business; keeps everyone happy and satisfied. Leaves alone those who are self sufficient and does a little hand-holding with the ones that like that. I started with a Martini. A little unusual for mid-week, but why not. Beautiful sunny spring afternoon in Cleveland Ohio and coming off a year of anxiety and uncertainty. Why not indeed.

I ordered salt and pepper calamari for starter (it was so-so).  But I like to try this dish to see if I can ever find a place that measures up to the Temple in Mosman, on Military Street in North Sydney. So far I have not. That place was amazing. I ate there perhaps 20 times or so. This dish at The Temple was divine. Perfectly spiced and served just at the right level of crispy. It set the bar for calamari. 

In fairness, for a good number of those times I ate there, I was coming out of a session with my spiritual healer, whose office was right across the street. Those sessions were intense and emotionally exhausting. So when I walked across the street for a glass of Whitehaven and a plate of  S&P calamari, I was famished.  So maybe the flavor tasted a little better because I was so ready to relax and have a drink and a nice dish. But this really was perfection. And it was a darkish vibe, so I could sit in a booth and read my book with just enough light to see but not so much to feel too exposed.

The Whitehaven story is another good story for another time. Also a Sydney story. And on the radio at BluePoint, they played ‘Walking on Sunshine‘ by Katrina and The Waves and that brought back another fun memory. Stories are the distillation of memorable moments as we move through this experience and I have a fair share of them saved up.

Hell with it. The Whitehaven story. Best to get it down while it remains accessible to my alcohol-coated neural pathways. I can read the papers tomorrow.

I have a habit of listening to the news while I am going through my morning routine of coffee and grooming. On this particular morning in December 2004, in Sydney, I was getting ready to go in when I heard that our company (PeopleSoft) had been acquired by Oracle. I really hate Oracle. I hate Larry Ellison who founded the company and whose evil and ruthless view of the world permeates the culture of the organization. But this also meant that my visa and employment were now in the hands of Oracle.

So I went to work and my boss said we were all meeting for lunch at a hip place downtown. I think 10 of us. When we showed up, someone ordered wines for the table. One of those wines was Whitehaven. At this time in our lives, there was no habit of taking pictures of everything. So instead I wrote down the name of the wine and the region on a little napkin and stuffed it in my pocket. We wound up being there from around 11:30 in the morning until 9:00 or so at night. And we drank and ate and drank and ate and drank some more. It was a marvelous long dining and drinking experience and a great final meal with very fine co-workers. We were inside, but in a sun-filled room with one side all windows looking out at the city. We all figured we would be getting fired the next day and mostly that was true. Although I wound up staying another few months and ultimately had to sue Oracle to get paid the money I was owed for my employment contract. 

The next morning, I woke up and found that little wine love note I had written to myself. That was my first taste of the beautiful Sauvignon Blanc’s that come from Marlborough region of New Zealand. Whitehaven was one of the first vineyards there, but of course this region now dominates this varietal around the world. Napa and everyone else is trying to catch up, although France has some beautiful SB’s as well.

In 1994 – 1995 when I was living in San Diego, ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was a constant play on 91X. One weekend, 6 or 7 of us decided to head down to Ensendada. It was a spontaneous decision and turned out to be an unforgettable weekend.

So we headed out early on a Friday morning in Spring. I was driving Bo’s T-Top Z-28 which turned out to be good because he can’t drive for shit. After we crossed the border and on that single lane road that runs along the coast, we found ourselves in a bit of a race with a couple of other cars. Not our people, but other folks anxious to get to where they were going and start drinking.  So when a car full of pilgrims passed me in a bold move on a curve, it was game on. For the next 25 or 30 miles we were balls out racing. And it was exciting. Like someone should make a video game out of this shit exciting. We passed one another in increasingly more daring moves and kept pushing up the speed. It got pretty fucking crazy. At one point, and I remember this very clearly, we were on a slow left turn. Sheer mountain side running up on the left and a drop to the ocean on the right. I desperately needed to pass this Corvette that had just got past us somehow in a move that seemed impossible. There happened to be a mountain road that joined the highway coming up from the ocean side. It was not more than 40 feet to the cliff and I was amazed they squeezed a small access road in to merge on to the main road with that little space. I knew we were only a few miles out of town now and so this was probably my last chance to get back in the lead. So when this access road came up, I got right up on the bumper of the Vette and then stomped on it just as the access started to merge. The driver of the Vette was watching on the left while I blew by on the right. There was a car trying to merge onto the main road, but he sensibly pulled to the shoulder and we got passed the Vette and tucked back onto the main road just before the access asphalt disappeared. It was gold. But tense. White knuckles and puckered asses all around. The car was dead silent except for Katrina and the Waves singing Walking on Sunshine.

Which leads to another story… It happened that there was a wine festival in Ensenada that weekend. So we entered the grape-stomping contest of course. Me, Casual Jeff, and Deano and we wound up taking 2nd place in this very competitive event. Our team name was The Bavarian Muff Divers and we crushed it (pun intended). We had no idea we had done so well and had already left the festival to go party in town when the results were tallied. But they dispatched a runner who came and found us in a bar and we went back to get our 2nd place ribbons. It was hilarious hearing the MC call out ‘The Bavarian Muff Divers’ on the loudspeaker.

On the way back to San Diego, we stopped in Rosarita Beach for lobster and cold beer and body surfing. This was before Rosarita was anything more than a stop by the side of the road. Literally it was 12 or 14 half-built cement block structures and a couple of restaurants. We had an amazing meal there. They steam the lobsters in a rich spicy butter and served it with tortillas and beans. All we could eat. After the weekend of partying and then a few hours swimming in the ocean, this long lunch with ice cold margarita’s remains a top favorite meal for me of all time. It was just that amazing.

So, good week of food and drinks last week. I got out a little early and had a couple of rose’s and a nice cigar on the sidewalk tables at The Standard.

Thursday night poker was good, as always. A little sweeter this time since I outlasted everyone. I drank the Rye bourbon from my birthday gift from Sibs.

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

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