Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birthday bash follow-up

I know, I know. I left you all hanging in that last post with promises to update again shortly…and now it’s a week later. A full, busy, chaotic, awesome week later, as I am about to expound on.

Obviously, the first order of business is to finish up the Chez Panisse post. Well, in case you couldn’t guess, the evening with capped off with me meeting Alice Waters. I know. I know! It was epic. I’d heard that she’s not at the restaurant all that much these days – after all, she practically has an empire to run. So I wasn’t expecting to see her at all. And then I spotted her early in the meal, stopping at various tables to chat. Alex and I began to notice something kind of weird – it seemed like everyone at the tables around us seemed to know each other, and Ms. Waters was kind of sticking with that group. Finally we deduced (well, a nice fellow at the table next to us explained) that it was a staff reunion night, which was why Alice was there in the first place and why they all seemed to know each other—because they did! Then, right before dessert, she stopped by our table and asked how everything was!!!! We chatted for maybe a total of 30 seconds, but they were an awesome 30 seconds. Alex commented afterwards that he was impressed with how composed I remained. Inside I was totally freaking out, to be sure. Anyway, it was a pretty excellent ending to an already fantastic meal.

But the birthday extravaganza didn’t stop there! Oh no, there was much more to come. First, Alex and I saw Bruce Springsteen that Friday night, and it was just an awesome show – I mean, Bruce never disappoints. And. And! He sang “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” If you know me at all, you know what a big deal this was. BRUUUUUCE!

So then came my actual birthday last Tuesday. The last two birthdays Danielle and I have gone to Boston and ate lobster, so I was originally thinking that maybe this year would be kind of quite in comparison. Well, then Chez Panisse and Bruce happened, so there went that theory. But I still wasn’t expecting much else, especially on the day itself. Wrong again! The guys at work took me out to lunch at an adorable little French bistro in the city, followed by cake and champagne back at the office. Then a bunch of “the gang” went out to a very good Vietnamese place in Oakland (Le Chavel). It was a fun day.

And then. AND THEN. Everyone at work (which is a total of five people, myself included) went to Disneyland for a couple days. True story. An epic birthday all around. Let’s hope that this means that 26 is going to be an epic year. It’s off to a very good start.

Monday, December 3, 2012

So much to say, yet I'm speechless

Yes, the rumors are true – I had dinner at Chez Panisse last Wednesday! Yes, the Chez Panisse. And wow, was it something special. My darling brother and I went to celebrate my birthday a bit early. Consider this a life goal checked off the list. And I just have to say, it was everything I wanted it to be and so much more. I had high expectations for this dinner, and they were far and away exceeded.
Alex made our reservations a few weeks ago, knowing how much I wanted to go here to celebrate the big 2-6. We’d originally been hoping to go closer to my actual birthday tomorrow, but Wednesday was the closest we could get, and I have to say, it couldn’t have worked out better – but I’ll get to that shortly.

We got there just a few minutes before our 8:45 reservation and just hung out upstairs in the bar for a bit. Before too long, though, we were taken to our table – and it was a primo spot. We were seated in a cozy corner booth that looked diagonally into the open kitchen. From my seat I could see lamb roasting on the open grill, baskets of bread and fresh vegetables, and chefs hard at work. Also, I have to say a word about the atmosphere. Even though it was busy and a relatively small space, it still seemed quite and intimate. The whole room has a soft glow thanks to copper panels that reflect the light. In a word, magical. But enough about all of that. Let's get to the real matter here -- the food.

The perfect meal.