Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blaising Saddles

10 Surreal Things About Today:

10. I started the day by representing the Weekly at a symposium on homelessness. I was one of the "subject experts" in a breakout group on framing homeless issues in the media. There were about 250 people there and I had to present to the entire group at the end. The only thing I hate more than speaking in front of large groups is...well, there's nothing. Nothing more I hate than speaking in front of a large group. Also, because of my job, I just assume that at some point I've pissed off at least 80 percent of the policymakers in the room, and will piss off the other 20 percent sometime soon. One guy there asked me if I was coming to a private meeting next week held by a group of private individuals who are trying to put together a ballot measure for a public-safety tax in Salinas. I told him I didn't think I was invited because I tried and failed to get into their last meeting. He smiled and said, "Well there was some discussion about it. Frankly, you scare people."

9. Just as the symposium was ending, I received a text message from my boss offering me his tickets to an event this evening, a sold-out, celeb-studded dealie with lots of food and wine. We were a media partner in the event, but still, those tickets ran $180 each. And I hesitated because I knew I would have to talk to people and frankly, people scare me. But a woman at the symposium overheard my angst and talked me into going. I am glad she did, because...

8. This is Richard Blais, winner of Top Chef All Stars, restaurateur and cookbook author. You know how some people seem great on TV and end up being douchey in real life? He is not one of those people. I am taking a picture of him taking a picture of a picture of himself (we threw down at the table next to his station) at the Monterey Plaza Hotel. He was completely self-deprecating and funny and genuinely nice. He wanted to be there and he was happy to talk to people and he laughed at himself taking a picture of a picture of himself. Also, he served geoduck rolls, i.e., lobster rolls only with geoduck. And the guy next to him, whom I believe was Chef Tim Wood of Carmel Valley Ranch, was dishing up (ladling up?) the most amazing clam chowder.

7. And then there was this:
That's Carla Hall on the left and Chris Cosentino on the right. The event tonight was Carla Hall's "Street Food Extravaganza" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions event. I've interviewed Chris a few times for different things, but this week we featured him on the cover of the Weekly. The little dude in the rhino hat Chris' and Tatiana Graf's son. He loves chocolate.

6. Also, there's Carla and Michele Ragussis.

Michele was serving arancini, traditional arancini, stuffed with ragu and cheese and I swear to God it was only my sense of shame that kept me from eating more of them than I did.

5. Also, there's this.

From left, Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, along with Carla, Carmela Moreno and Rick Moonen.

What's that? You've never heard of Carmela Moreno?

She was my date for the night, as Chuck had a previous engagement. Carmela is our dog whisperer. Carla asked if anyone wanted to come up and talk to her, and Carmela strode right up, "strode" being a relative term because when you're 5 feet tall, have had five glasses of wine and your kitten heels keep getting caught in the cobblestone, striding isn't really what happens. Carmela, who is an original red diaper baby, explained that street food has always been the food of her people. (I kept waiting for her to raise her right hand in a power salute, cry out "si se puede" and try to unionize the hotel workers. "I checked," she told me. "They're already union.") Note that Pawlcyn and Moonen, of RM Seafood in Vegas, came up AFTER Carmela. Moonen planted a kiss on Mela's cheek and told her he liked her passion. "Who is he again?" she asked me on the way home.)

4. This is where my phone apparently stopped taking pictures. Other perfect bites from tonight were Mary Sue Milliken's and Susan Feniger's churros with chocolate sauce. ("I swear this is my last one," I told her. Art Smith, Oprah's own, thought that was funny.) Also, I talked to Susan Feniger about Real Housewives of OC. Apparently she was on it at some point, and she said nobody ever admits to watching it. "I watch it," I told her, "and I don't care who knows it."

3. I had the opportunity tonight to run over someone who caused a dear friend a great deal of pain. He stepped RIGHT in front of my car. I didn't take the shot. Earlier at the event I had seen him ogling, in a most unseemly way, a group of Real Housewives of Monterey County. They were digging the attention, and I wanted to tell them, "Ladies, only if you want an incurable chronic disease." But I didn't. Didn't run him over either. Probably for the best.

2. I've learned to light the charcoal grill. Tomorrow, after I'm done sleeping for 12 hours, finding the perfect aqua blue pashmina (I have a coupon! For Beverly's! One of the Real Housewives of Monterey County was wearing one and I'm feeling covetous), I am going to light the grill and grill flank steak. I will probably forget to take a picture of it.

1. Nigel is woofing in his sleep. Oliver has the worst gas ever. Also, I need to vacuum.