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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dinner in The Kitchen

From 8:00 in the morning, It started to look like a strange Thursday at work. The Director for whom I do most of my work called me in, said I was doing a great job, and gave me an gift certificate.

Quick aside:

I immediately returned to my office and bought a book: “The Left Hand of God”, by Michael Lerner. Although I haven’t yet reads the book, the premise is that the left can unseat the Neo-Fascist Right (Lerner politely calls them the Religious Right, but, as Saruman once said, “You know of whom I speak”). The left can do by this speaking to the same yawning spiritual void to which the right speaks today. However, the left can deliver a more rational and effective agenda, because the left supports causes that help and empower, rather than impoverish and subjugate American families. Expect more on this subject later.

Now, back to our previously scheduled program:

Early in the afternoon, I was called back to talk with the very same director. A marketing executive had scheduled a festive dinner that, night, but several of the employees she invited called in sick. I have always been on good terms with this executive. In the desperate search for breathing bodies, they asked me to come with my wife. “Sure”, I said, thinking “who am I to refuse a free dinner?” When they gave me the particulars, the deal got even better. Dinner was at The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento. The Kitchen has become a regional nouvelle cuisine food-snobbery icon, second only to Chez Pannise. The schtick is that the design is an open kitchen surrounded by luxurious seating, with the diners sitting around the area where the chefs do the final steps of preparing, a lot of sautee and plaiting activity. The one seating took about 4 hours.

After everyone was seated, the chef gave a short talk about the restaurant’s philosophy, “We’ll do anything your way as long as you don’t make animal right’s comments about my foie gras”. He showed us a trick involving hypnotizing lobsters to stay in a headstand. Pretty entertaining. Several time he repeated that guests are encouraged to ask for seconds at any time. He explained each course in excruciating detail, with great emphasis on reductions, truffles and foie gras, exotic sources of onions for soups, Kobi beef, which is a breed of cattle imported from Japan and bread in America. By this time, it all gets pretty fuzzy, since my hosts were buying what felt like an unending fountain of posh champagne, followed by reinforcements of pricey red and white wines, some in magnum bottles.

Course the First:

A pasta pillow (read loosely wrapped ravioli) stuffed with Bolognese sauce in a beef reduction that was rich, slightly salty and delicious. The Bolognese had very little resemblance to the Hamburger Helper product of he same name.

Course the Second:

French onion soup garnished with teenage chives and thin slices of black truffle, you know baby vegetables are so nineties. Very good soup. This joint is so nouvelle, even the soup has food piled up in the middle of the plate. I never had imagined anyone would balance a crouton on its side with a crust of burnt cheese balanced on top. I think there were grilled thin slices of foie gras in the soup, but I was too pleasantly overwhelmed to notice.

Course the Third:

The fish course. A lightly breaded and fried pie of a fish I had never heard of stacked (for a change) atop a small handful of baby greens sitting atop very tasty chunks of lobster and crab meat. The food tower emerged from a shallow lake of a light broth (likely chicken stock) drizzled with a cross between aoli and Mrs pauls red seafood sauce. The tower and plate were sprinkled minature hushpuppies. These were not you father’s hushpuppies! These babies wee almost solid crab and lobster meat, with just enough cornmeal and egg to hold them together. They were scrumptious.


We were invited out to the walled patio, warmed by a raging fire, for oysters and sashimi. The oysters were a smaller tasty variety, most oysters in northern California are over six inches long and best served bar-b-qued in the shell. The sashimi was excellent, even the octopus, which was sliced paper thin and not rubbery. The chef made great noise about the real wasabi he hand grated for us. Tasted just like the stuff from the grocery store. At this point I started feeling some concern about my capacity to continue eating. Don’t worry fans, I toughed it out. We took the break as an opportunity to chat with guest at some of the other tables.

Course the Fourth;

Meat! Slices of perfectly grilled medium rare beef, served over a delicious brown gravy, and a wild mushroom tart. This was the most popular course with most of our table. About half the party asked for seconds. I thought about asking for A-1 sauce, but thought better of it. The mushroom tart was one of the tastiest moments of a very tasty evening for me. By this time, I had noticed a conspicuous lack of vegetables, but they had no prune wines in stock.


Desert was relatively modest, featuring a scoop of blueberry sorbet and a small piece of a very rich chocolate tart. It was good. I was surprised to see a second desert appear, a scoop of palette-clearing Myers lemon and passion fruit sorbet. Although I was already full, the sorbet was unbelievable, very tart, but never pushing the envelope of too tart.

As we waddled out to the car, I was very glad The Kitchen is in our part of town. Most of all I am so grateful that my digestion cooperated. I actually slept most of the night!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.
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