Monday, August 31, 2009

A day with no dogs, in LA

As those of you who know me know, one of my reasons for choosing to go to California was the hope that I might get to meet the Dog Whisperer.  I had watched all his shows, over and over in repeats, while I was having chemo.  Plus I had discovered what he meant by "energy" when he talked about how dogs understand people.  I also felt this energy from people when they learned about my diagnosis and I could discern whether it was positive or negative.  I had written him at his 61st St. address but had received no response.  I also emailed him from his website and only got a standard response, very polite but "we don't do tours, sorry", sort of thing.  Undeterred, I had Peter put his address, which I obtained from Mr. Google, in the GPS and that was one of our destinations the next day after we got to Santa Monica.

But first, we had to do laundry.  We like to pack fairly light and this means that halfway through a two week vacation, we have to do laundry.  I brought my trusty unscented liquid Tide with me and we found the Bubbles Beach Fluff and Fold laundromat not far from the hotel and drove over there.  We were the first ones in and a very nice lady who worked there helped us get sorted out with the change and everything.  She also recommended a place for breakfast just up the street which we went to when the laundry was done.

DSC_3106  This was a very nice restaurant called Amelia’s (on Main Street) run by a Mexican husband and Italian wife team and the breakfast was good and they were friendly. After that, we dropped the clothes off at the motel and headed out to south east LA.  It's not advertised as a haven for tourists but we locked the car doors and went anyway. 

We found Cesar's place with no trouble and it looked all locked up tight.  I got out and buzzed on what appeared to be an intercom but no one answered.  Dogs barked right behind the sliding canvas barrier that you see on tv and they didn't sound very calm and submissive to me.  I decided to write a short note and stick the Canada-US flag pin on it for Cesar, when a car pulled up.  A woman was driving and she seemed to be on the cell phone in the car.  Finally, I got out and approached her and asked if I could leave something for Cesar in the mailbox.  She told me that Cesar had moved and I was dumbstruck.  And that's when I remembered that he had been going to buy a nicer place in the mountains.  And I remembered suddenly that everything we get up in Canada is last season, so even if the re-runs were the most recent, they were still old shows.

I was surprisingly calm and unperturbed.  She said she still forwarded all his mail and she took the note with the pin.  I got back in the car and Peter commiserated with me.  We reset the GPS to our next stop (which Peter had called "dog 2") and took off.  Our next stop was the fire station on Wilshire Blvd. called the 29s.  I had seen them in one of Cesar's episodes and they had a Dalmatian named Wilshire who they had got as a puppy and needed Cesar to help them.  As Cesar always says, he rehabilitates dogs and trains people.  The fire fighters seemed like nice guys in the show so I decided I would drop in on them, especially as I had been pretty sure I would not be able to see Cesar, even if he hadn't moved.  Our GPS took us there and it looked just like the street views on Google maps.  It was also locked up and no one was about.  I rang the doorbell anyway and someone showed up and let us in. 

I explained that I was on a pilgrimage (I don't know why but that word popped into my head right then) and I was hoping to say hello to Wilshire.  Just then, the Captain (who was the same fellow as in the show) walked by and said hello and I explained our little mission, that we'd come all the way from Canada just to see Wilshire.  I know that's not exactly true, but at that moment, it was.  He was just as nice as pie and he told us that unfortunately, Wilshire the dog was at the trainers that day.  But he wanted Wilshire's handler to meet us.  He called for Ryan to come over to meet us and he was also the same fellow as in the Cesar episode. They were just as nice as they could be.  I had brought a BBQ apron as a token gift and it had a maple leaf on the bib, so I gave it to them and they seemed inordinately pleased to get it.  They do do all their own cooking at the fire station so I guess it can come in handy.

It turned out that Ryan's mother (who I guess may be a little older than I am) also has breast cancer and so we had a great big hug and talked and talked until our parking meter ran out.  They invited us for a tour of the fire station but we said no, we were just happy to meet them.  For all that there was no dog there, and we forgot to take even a single photograph, that short visit was a real highlight of our trip.

If you go to the link for Wilshire, you can see all sorts of videos of him helping kids understand fire safety, like "stop, drop and roll".

Really.  Go now. I’ll wait.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

SLO, Solvang and Santa Barbara

After our leisurely but sometimes hair raising trip down the Big Sur coast, we decided to stay at San Luis Obispo for the night.  I am not sure where I first heard the name of the town but it has stuck in my head for years.  The Lonely Planet guide book writes it up nicely and it is off the beaten track because it is in from the coast a little.  We also used the Guide to direct us to a motel.  We were daring (for us) and did not book accommodations for the four nights we would be driving up and down the coast.  The Guide had not let us down in Pacific Grove so we decided to see if it would work for SLO and it did, in spades.  We pulled in to the Peachtree Inn and were bowled over by the rates (mid-week) and free internet access (the wifi at the Beachcomber was there but just not in our room).  The folks running the place also owned it and breakfast was included.  After a huddled confab, we decided to book them on the way back, especially because they were less than an hour from Hearst Castle, which we would be touring in a few days.  And because of the market on Thursday evenings, more of which later.

We asked the owner what restaurants she recommended and she gave us several business cards.  The downtown area was a 20 minute walk from the motel so we changed and headed out.  It seemed like a very pleasant place and not all touristy, with real people walking around.

We looked at a few of the restaurants and settled on the Big Sky Cafe, which was also mentioned in the Guide.  They don't take reservations at Big Sky but they had a table for us.  They had an eclectic menu and a great wine list and Peter selected a locally made Voignier, a white wine grape, even though we hadn't settled on our menu selections.  We've decided it's OK to drink red wine with fish or chicken and white wine with a BBQd New York Strip ... Well, OK, if we're having any kind of beef, a full bodied red rules!  But instead of selecting the wine to complement the meal, a lot of times we select the wine first and then we look the menu and, maybe subconsciously, select the meal to go along with it.

This time we selected the Voignier and we both selected a meal that went with it.  I had the Buttermilk fried chicken with peppered pecans.  It was tasty!  It came with corn and black eyed pea relish with cucumber tzatziki and toasted ranch dressing.  Peter wanted four or five things and said we had to come back here, they all looked so good, but finally settled on the brown sugar brined pork roast.  It was a slow roasted pork roast loin, dry rubbed with Caribbean seasonings and served on a risotto of arborio rice, yams, onions and chardonnay-garnished dried fruit with tangy mostata and veggies of the day.  They turned out to be kale with some very interesting seasonings we couldn't identify and Napa cabbage, cut fine.  We thought it was baby Bok Choi.  As usual, we passed forks-full throughout the whole meal, so it's like we both enjoyed the spoils.

Food was good, service pleasant and we were happy.  We had not realized however, that downtown was also down hill and the walk back took us more time on the suddenly apparent slope.

The next morning, we headed out for Santa Barbara, but Peter had put the town of Solvang in the GPS because it figured in the movie "Sideways" and he wanted to have a coffee at the Solvang Restaurant.  Solvang is (sort of) like little Denmark but quite touristified.  We found it nice enough but the Guide gives it the brush-off by saying, "grumpy families and blue-hairs plod down Copenhagen Dr., where over priced trinket shops lurk behind faux-Scandinavian facades".  Which is true.  But we like everywhere we go, so never mind.

We also had the Americanized version of the Danish version of a sort of donut (doughnut?) called aebleskiver, which of course we mocked by using our Swedish chef voices.  bork, bork, bork.  Even though it was very tasty and just what we were wanting at about 11 am.

We then took off for Santa Barbara, where we planned to have a late-ish lunch before ending up in Santa Monica for the night.  Again relying on the Guide (please note that I am not getting any money for recommending this book), we set the GPS for the Brophy Brothers seafood restaurant and enjoyed the spectacular California scenery all the way there.  That is one beautiful state.

We were starting to trust "her", our GPS guide, but still second-guessing some of her directions.  We were gradually coming to realize that when the GPS said "turn right in 300 feet", we were probably already, almost at the intersection.  In any event, Santa Barbara didn't seem that complicated and we got to the harbour-side restaurant with no wrong turns.  Parking initially looked to be an issue and we circled the building, wondering about what looked like a municipal lot but then, just as we were hesitating, someone pulled out of a free (non-metered) spot and we had the same serendipitous parking experience as we had had at Muir Woods.

We walked up the flight of stairs to the restaurant and were told our wait might be all of 20 minutes.  We were given a pager and I set my watch timer and we wandered back down to the docks and hung out in the sun.  We watched a fishing boat come in and unload a few barrels of fish, much approved by the local gulls.  There was a kayak rental place right below us and we watched tourists clamber in and shakily take off in their plastic boats.  Before we knew it, we were being paged and sat at our table, outside on the railing, overlooking the harbour.

The food was good and I tried to get them to hold back on the portions but it was too much to eat all at once.  I felt guilty leaving behind food on my plate but I made sure to eat all of the fish, because it had given its life so I could eat and I owed it at least that.


Pretty soon, it was time to leave and we drove along the shore line until we had to get back on the One, toward Los Angeles.  We drove through Malibu and gawked at what were apparently, over-sized houses hiding behind walls and gates and then we got to the beach part and I spotted a public changing house thingy and realized I had to pee so Peter pulled over without hesitation onto the no stopping shoulder of the highway and sat in the car while I "leapt" over the rope barrier and made a break for it.  Other than that, Malibu was unremarkable and so we continued on to Santa Monica, where we had booked two nights at a beachside motel.


We had not thought before booking (some weeks earlier) to see if they had free wifi and they did not.  You could pay for it but we had heard that Santa Monica was full of free, public wifi so we went hunting for it.  Mostly in vain.

I am sure you could spend a very nice week of your vacation in Santa Monica but we seemed uncoordinated in our plans and didn't find any outstanding dining. 


We had a nice walk on the pier and the boardwalk and did find a place to eat whence we scored some free wifi.  But it wasn't enough to post blog entries and barely good enough to do email.  We decided to call it a night and went to bed early, planning quite a few things for the next day, all day in LA.


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Aquarium and Big Sur

One of the main sights I wanted to see on this trip was the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It is world famous and rightly so.  It is also right in Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck.  Our Lonely Planet guide was correct when it said that Cannery Row bears no resemblance to the novel and it is just a bunch of touristy shops and hotels along the water.  I suppose it needs to be said that Cannery Row in the book was a seedy place that no tourist would want to visit but it is a bit too bad that it has become what it is today.  Nevertheless, we did walk along the main street as we had time before the aquarium opened at 10.  Peter calls all the ticky tacky stuff "eye candy" and makes it look better than it is, in his photographs.
We wanted to be in San Luis Obispo that night so I had given us two hours, from 10 to noon, to look at the aquarium.  As I discovered with other things, that was not nearly enough time.  In fact, the guide book also says that you should consider spending the whole day there and they were right as usual.
I wanted to see the river otters first because I have a thing for them but we were waylaid by the sea otters, swimming around their tank.  Feeding time for them was going to be in only 15 minutes or so and a crowd was already beginning to form.  I think the otters also knew what was coming because they were quite animated in their swimming and playing.
There was no room for us to see the feeding so we left and went to the river otters enclosure but they were fast asleep.
So we wandered around the other parts of the aquarium and found all the tanks to be breathtaking.  One section just had jellies in it and they are displayed to their best effect, with lighting just so and maybe magnification, although we were never sure about that.
There were small jellies that were self-illuminated, with tiny lights that pulsed along their ribs.
The main fish tanks were glorious, with all sorts of fish in them, from large tuna to hammerhead sharks to schools of mackerel that may survive the sharks by being in schools, or maybe because they feed the sharks other things so they don't eat the smaller fish.
They had a special exhibit called "The secret lives of sea horses" that was so well done, I figured they had to keep it as a part of their permanent collection.
In the round entrance to one area, there was a tank near the ceiling, with just sardines swimming round and round in a silvery circle over your head.
We went to the bat ray pool where you could see rays and other fish in a set that also had "shore" along one side, with real shore birds standing around.  A sign on the wall said that all these birds were rescues and most were being rehabilitated before they would be set free again.  Some had been injured to the extent that they could never survive in the wild and so they were permanent residents of the exhibit.  They even had a gizmo hidden under the end wall that made waves lap the shore line.
I tried to pet one of the rays on the petting side of the pool (there were small sharks on the other side - no petting there!) and I touched one briefly as it swam close enough to the side for me to reach.  But the rays were mostly keeping out of the way of the people hanging over the edge.  (That’s a flat halibut below – you’ll have to go to the whole set at Flickr to see if there are rays.  We’ll put the link up later but you can start here and check back every now and then as we progress.)
We missed the penguins completely but we did see a bunch of children putting on dry suits and masks and flippers and being introduced to a constructed tidal pool by aquarium staff.  They never had anything that cool when I was a kid!
Finally we had to leave.  We had a quick lunch at a 50s style diner where I had the fish taco (wrap) which I felt a little guilty eating after admiring the live fish so much.  However, as Peter pointed out, they actually sold cans of tuna at the aquarium itself!  Then we headed down the coast on highway one, to the Big Sur.  It was originally just called "el pais grande del sur" or the big south country.  They recommend you get gas and food before you start, as everything along the coast is expensive and infrequent.  We did that but the drive is only 90 miles and only takes a couple of hours even if you stop everywhere, so the advice is a little alarmist.  We stopped for water and a pee in the middle and it was fine.
And the scenery lives up to the hype.
You can't drive that fast because of the roads - the turns are sharp and the slopes are steep so while you may get up to 50 mph in spots, you regularly have to slow down to 30 and there are lots of places where it is posted at 10 mph.  And you do want to stop at all the turn-outs there are.
The first one we hit was the Bixby Bridge, one of the really beautiful pieces of engineering over one of the many ravines along the coast.  (There were two bridges like the Bixby and I may have the other one up here.  Sorry.)  Sometimes, there are bridges but as often, they just wind the road into and out of the sides of the mountains as the slope down to the Pacific.
Since we were driving from north to south, we were on the outer lane of the two lanes of traffic and I got to look down into the ocean, down the hills to my right, when I wasn't trying to do the driving from the passenger seat.  Peter does a fine job of driving, especially when it is challenging but I do admit to wearing a spot on the floor from trying to hit the brake more than he was.  We also had the GPS on and I finally took it away from him because he kept exclaiming about how it twisted and turned like a video game and I thought he should be watching to road a little more.
We passed a surprising number of cyclists, including fully loaded touring cyclists.  The shoulders on that stretch of road are narrow and there are many horizontal twists in the road, so it seemed a little dicey from that perspective.  But it was the vertical challenges that made me first, and then Peter, agree that this was one cycling route we were probably never going to attempt.  I finally wondered aloud whether anyone has ever cycled the Big Sur coast TWICE.  We sincerely doubted it.

As usual, don't forget to click on the pix to see them larger, and soon we will have full sets up at Flickr, so you can see everything.

Meals and Muir Woods

I haven't been blogging much about the food yet, especially breakfasts, so it is time to play a little catch-up (see what I did there?  "catch-up"?).  Our first breakfast was of course, after the balloon ride.  Our second was at Gillwoods in Napa, in the "city centre", which is a pedestrian mall sort of area, very nice to stroll around in.
On our second morning in Napa, when we left the motel, we discovered that hundreds of old cars had been driven in and parked all over the downtown, in what was one of many local cars shows that they seem to have in California.  Some of the cars were really old, from the 30s but many were also from the 60s and everything in between, with the newest I think being something from the 70s.  I am not a gear head.  You'll have to look at Peter's pix to see for yourself.
I thought it was nice that many of the locals brought their dogs to walk around too.
Gillwoods had the usual breakfast fare and I had two sides - fruit and an English muffin - as I am still watching what I eat in the way of avoiding too much fat and other things.  Now that I think of it, I don't think we had any really outstanding (or maybe I should say "unusual") breakfasts while we were there but maybe that was our choice of restaurants.

On our last night in Napa, we decided to go to Zuzu's for a small plates/tapas kind of meal.  I remember we had the Sonoma coast lamb chops with Moroccan BBQ glaze and the Albondigas - Niman ranch pork meatballs with PX and piquillo pepper sauce (I don't know what PX is, sorry).  And I know we had some other, equally delicious things but nothing looks familiar on the menu we took with us.  They support local producers, hence the reference to the ranches and locations of the meat.  As usual, we chose a California wine to go with the meal.  And as usual, it was good.

We planned to leave the next morning to drive down the coast and end up on the Monterey peninsula.  That morning, we had chosen to go to a restaurant within walking distance of the motel and on the river but when we got there at 7:30 am, which was the opening time as written on the door, we found out it didn't open until 8.  We talked to someone hosing off the patio and she said they keep meaning to change the sign on the door.  So we went for coffee up the street at a coffee place that was open early, and did some people watching of the locals.
When we went over to breakfast at the appointed hour, we were the second ones in and the breakfast was fine but again, not outstanding.  But it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the early sun.

We set the GPS and were off, with Muir Woods National Park as our first destination, on the way to Monterey.  Someone had told us it was a must-see and we had not seen any of the giant redwoods AND it was on the way.  You don't realize how hilly California is until you are driving hairpin turns and braking down 30 degree slopes and staring down into the abyss from the passenger seat, all the way up and then down the mountains, to get into Muir Woods.  It was certainly worth the trip but if you are a nervous driver, I would suggest you let someone else do the driving.
When we got there, (this was a Sunday morning), the place was packed with tourists and their cars.  The first parking lot was full and we crawled over to the "overflow" lots and they were full and then we looked at the parking-on-the-shoulder option offered by the park as a last resort.  We gave up and crawled back to the first lot, which still had a large "Full" sign blocking the entrance.  We decided to see if maybe someone had already left and our karma was strong that day, as we were just pulling in as someone was leaving and we got a perfect parking spot.
We then showed up at the park office to pay our entrance fee and discovered it was "free parks day" (or something like that) and we didn't have to pay for anything!  Life is good.
Except for some loud tourists (most people seemed to speak in hushed and reverent tones as we were), it was beautiful.  There are several hiking trails in the park and we chose the one that would take about an hour.
On the way out, we saw yet another deer.  I know they are not exotic wild life and we have them up here too, but it is always fun and even a little thrilling to see any wild animals, especially large ones like deer.  This one looked right at all the tourists staring at it and nonchalantly continued its way up the stream bed where it had been wandering.
Then we were off and climbing out of the valley and back onto highway one, heading for the Golden Gate bridge.  We thought traffic might not be so bad in the middle of the day on a Sunday and it wasn't.  It's a toll bridge and so you have to pay when you get off but they make that pretty easy too.
By the time we got to Monterey, it was getting to be late afternoon and we chose a motel based on the recommendation in the Lonely Planet guide we had bought before going on the trip.  This guide was very thorough and proved to be accurate with everything we used it for and never let us down.  It suggested we stay in Pacific Grove, which is right between the much more expensive Monterey and Carmel and they suggested three motels and we chose the Beachcomber Inn.

It also said there was a so-so fish restaurant next to it but we ate there anyway and it was just fine.  The Fishwife turned out to be very busy, with many locals eating there.  They had a nice selection of different seafood meals and they were cooked well and tasty.  AND we had the California wines to go with them.
The motel is right on the coast and almost on the beach, so we went for a cool walk on the shore.  Even after Bodega Bay, I was still surprised at how much cooler it is on the coast.  We had brought clothes for a very hot holiday and so I doubled up on t-shirts and wore a jacket and the one cotton scarf I had brought "just in case".  The wind whipped in from the ocean and the birds ran in the surf.  There were a few hardy souls in wet suits surfing. 


A few people walked their dogs on the beach and we came across a seal carcass that had been washed up.  On the way back, in the gloaming, we saw the mother and young deer that we had seen stumble across the road on our way out, and they were grazing on the municipal golf course that is one of at least five golf courses there, including Pebble Beach. 


I got sand in my shoes and I think some sand flea bites on my ankles but it was lovely. 


I was not however, at all tempted to dip my toes in the Pacific, as I had announced I would before I got there.

Don’t forget – we’ll be putting up whole slide shows of pix at Flickr soon.  The pix above are merely representative of a bigger and better show to come.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jack London, Bodega Bay and the CIA

We have been talking with my parents via Skype, every now and then on this holiday.  This morning we connected and since we didn’t have a definite plan for the day, Dad suggested we go see Jack London’s place.  London is one of his favourite authors, along with Steinbeck.  I have enjoyed reading Steinbeck, especially his collected letters and “Travels with Charlie”, but I never got into London.  It always bothered me, in “Call of the Wild”, that the dogs were mistreated and the main dog was a Saint Bernard, who would never have survived a dog sledding career.  But anyway.

We put the State Historic Park into the GPS (which we still didn’t entirely trust but have learned to love over the last week) and headed out.  This is beautiful country, California.  The hills are steep and golden because of how dry they are and they are dotted with gnarly green trees and cows graze along the ridge lines.  Everywhere you look is another perfect photograph.



We wended our way over to the park and were pleased to find that few cars preceded us and when we got to the parking lot, few cars were there.  Compared to the venues we had been seeing in Napa and the surrounding areas, it was refreshing to think that we would not run into too many people on our ramble.  We got the walking map and headed out toward the ruin of the enormous house Jack had planned for himself.  Now that I have read up on Jack and how he was only 40 when he died, I think of him when I hear those country lyrics “if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all”.


We took the path through the woods instead of the service road.  There was a sign at the start of the trail that said you should keep small children near you, not just because of the poison oak and rattle snakes but for the mountain lions.  I am not confident in my ability to fend of a determined mountain lion but I decided not to let it bother me.  Right away, we heard and then saw a deer off to one side of the path.  Then we spotted its friend and I figured if two deer were wandering around, there probably weren’t any mountain lions about.  As we walked, we saw three more deer!  And lizards and birds.  Except for a few other folks, we had the place to ourselves in the hot sun and dappled shade.


Finally we came out on the service road and went left toward the ruin.  Jack had planned a huge house made out of stone and wooden beams and just as it was nearing completion, it burnt to the ground.  We kept on walking and it was quite steep and hilly to get there.  Dad had mentioned walnut trees but we only saw one along the path.  We had heard it was a big house but it exceeded our expectations.  Huge stone walls still stood, along with  the many fireplaces.  It was heart breaking.


We slowly walked out and back to the parking lot.  I was glad I had gone.  Back in the car, we looked at the map and I said, “we have to drive over to Bodega Bay!”  It was so close and being a fan of “The Birds”, I simply had to go.  Again, we set the GPS and headed out.  I don’t even think it was an hour before we were at the coast and driving up the coast road toward the famous movie site.  I acknowledge it was and is a real place for the people who live there but forever, Bodega Bay will mean “The Birds” to me. DSC_2215

It has been built up since the movie and it is hard to know exactly where the marina was, where the gas pump exploded, and where Tippi Hedron got her boat to go across the bay to Rod Taylor’s house.  We were especially appreciative of the scene, early in the movie, where Tippi is driving with the love birds in the cage in the car and as she rounds all the tight, steep corners, the birds lean one way and then the other.


We got out of the car and were immediately impressed by how cool the coast was, compared with Jack’s place inland.  We put on our jackets and walked along the wharfs and then we spotted a seal family!  It was fun to see the small seal with two larger seals, bobbing up and down in the water off the wharfs.  I am sure the local fishermen don’t agree but we enjoyed seeing them.  Lots of seagulls to remind us of the movie were screeching overhead and trying to cage some scraps of food from the tourists.  We drove around the bay to the other side to see if we could determine where Rod Taylor’s place might have been but it must have been another movie set.  We were told by a local that the school (where the birds attacked all the kids) was in a neighbouring town.  It was interesting that there seemed to be very little touristy stuff surrounding the movie, except at the local gift shop where you could buy some tshirts with the Birds concept on them.


After we had had enough, we turned back to drive down through Sonoma but then we got sidetracked by the fact that the CIA had (fairly) recently opened a second campus in St. Helena.  No, not that CIA – the Culinary Institute of America.  Peter is taking culinary classes and since this trip is a sort of pilgrimage for both of us, we made the detour over there.  The CIA is located in an old winery, which was some sort of co-op originally for making wine in the area, dating from the 1800s.  After the original winery, some monks took it over and revitalized it.  Eventually, they too left and some few years ago, the CIA took over.


They have a diploma type course for about $50,000 and you can also take courses for no credits.  It’s very impressive and they have a big book store where Peter decided not to buy a chef’s jacket for $90, as his plain old cheap one from Algonquin is good enough, thank you very much.


After we had finished inspecting the corkscrew collection, we drove back to Yountville, to see what all the fuss was about with Thomas Keller’s restaurants.  We found that there seemed to be too many food snobs there, crowding around and making like they knew a lot about wine and food.  I think we even spotted Mr. Keller outside Bouchon (at the bakery) but we were a little put off by the pretentiousness of the crowds and so we decided not to be disappointed that we didn’t get to eat at one of his restaurants.