It is a shame to do so much in a single weekend. Let alone with such good company. When this happens, it seems that regardless of how much fun was had, there is always something which will be forgotten simply because it was overshadowed by something else. I will do my best here to not forget the important things, but I may anyways; forgive me if I do.
Friday at work ended with a sucky fizzle. I just couldn’t get out of here before 4pm, a good hour after I actually end my shift. Typically an hour isn’t so bad, but damn, I had things to do which I just had to let go due to a lack of time. I was stuck at work wrapping everything up so I could take Monday off. Let me tell you: taking a day off now is almost more trouble than it is worth.
I finally got home around 5pm and immediately went into “relax” mode so I could save some energy for when meg and Craig showed up for dinner. Thankfully they were running a little late due to nasty traffic, which allowed me to nap on the couch that much longer. They arrived at our place around 7.30pm and we headed out for some fine Italian dining at Tutto Fresco. It was the second time we have been there, and meg & Craig’s first. I think they really enjoyed the food and atmosphere there.
Dinner with those two was exactly what I needed after this past week. meg was all “energetic” and kept us on our feet the whole evening laughing, though the Chianti may have helped that a bit. After we had stuffed our bellies full of pasta and meat and wine, we managed to make it back to our place and plopped down on the couch to watch “The Usual Suspects”. Turns out this was another first for meg & Craig as they had never seen the movie before. As with anyone who has seen this film, they absolutely loved it.
Not sure what time we actually got to bed Friday night, but I know it was late. We were all exhausted, but had so much fun none of us wanted to make it an early night. And I was very happy we didn’t. It has been tough recently to find a time where we can all get together for an extended time and just relax and enjoy each other’s company. And I feel bad for that. With my schedule now, I just can’t stay up late enough to hang out on weekdays with meg, Craig and the kids, and that makes me sad.
Saturday during the day was spent sleeping in and then cleaning house in preparation for our dinner guests that evening. The majority of the cleaning was washing dishes and sweeping the carpet. In fact, I think I threw out an entire cat after I swept all the hair up from the stair well and upstairs. Once I had the carpets done, I showered and rode my bike to work to clean out any pending issues so at least Monday wouldn’t be too bad for those covering me.
Got back from work and showered again because my ride to and from work was flipping HOT, not to mention a bit gritty from the freeway. (Yeah, Laguna Canyon was STOPPED, so I opted to brave the 405 to work. Oddly, I am becoming more comfortable riding my bike on the freeway and am no longer white-knuckling the entire ride.)
Started the BBQ around 5.30pm and had the corn going by 6pm. I put on two split Cornish game hens (which had been marinating in a Chipotle Lime sauce) when Roni and Eran got to the house. As a quick aside, I have known Roni since 5th grade when I played Bass behind her and two mutual friends Jennifer and Stephanie. I used to make Roni and Steph laugh their butts off by playing my bass parts so loud that Jennifer would begin playing my part on her cello then get all mad at me. They loved watching Jen and I bicker like that and I was more than happy to oblige.
So back to dinner… Roni and Eran arrive and we sit down and chat for a bit just to catch up on the past month or two of happenings. Once dinner was ready we sat down to a fabulous game hen, savory rice, and corn on the cob meal paired with a 1999 EOS Zinfandel. YUM.
As is typical for us, dinner took quite a while. Once we finished, well, we didn’t really finish. We really just moved into the dessert course, which Roni and Eran were in charge of. And damn if they didn’t out do themselves. They set up a fruit platter along with graham crackers, marshmallows, and pound cake, all cut into bite sized chunks. And then they brought out the chocolate and caramel and started the fondue pot.
Now, I am not normally a dessert or “sweets” kind of guy. Usually a slice of cheesecake cut by a nice glass of scotch is my idea of the perfect dessert. But this fondue was fantabulous. Scrumtrulescent, if you will. My-oh-my did we have our fill too. Luckily, I was able to find another bottle of our 2001 Filsinger Late Harvest Zinfandel. I think I won over Roni with that bottle in the same way I won over Colleen a year previous. Truly, it is a little slice of orgasmic heaven. And, of course, it was the perfect match for chocolate and caramel fondue.
After dessert we sat down to play a rousing game of Catch Phrase, but never really made it past the game setup. We were all too tired and bloated from eating and drinking. So we just ended up slugging it on the couch talking and laughing until late in the night.
I think we were in bed around 1am that night…
Sunday morning was a dog. Not because the night before had done its harm, but rather, neither Jean nor I were looking forward to running around Disneyland or California Adventure in the afternoon sun. But we tried our best to be excited and not bitchy.
Once we all made it over to John and Mary’s house, the typical behaviour began. We probably killed Mary 5 times before we even made it to the Suburban, and another few times once we all got IN. After a short stop for food at Carl’s Jr. we were on our way to join in the Bat’s Day at the Fun Park festivities. Jean and Terri were the most “goth” out of all of us, though Tom DID do one better than me and actually dyed his hair black. The rest of us just tried our best to be angsty and morose. But it is hard to be angsty and morose when you are laughing your asses off. So, as you can guess, we failed miserably, which in its self is goth enough I suppose.
Somehow, I was conned into going on the Tower of Terror. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, especially since I hate falling and am scared of heights. Terri was kind (or evil) enough to buy the picture they take of you as you are crapping your pants. I am sure I’ll have that picture posted on my website very very soon. It is really sad if you are in it, and unbelievably hysterically funny if it is your friends who are in it. Yes, I do indeed look like Beaker from the Muppets when I am scared out of my wits.
Luckily for everyone in our group who dared to ride the Tower… there is the Vineyard wine tasting patio close by. We all, shakily, made our way to the patio and sat down for pretty much the entire afternoon sipping on Syrahs and Merlots and even a white called the Symphony, which is similar to a light Muscato.
Sitting on the patio, we met up with some other friends who were also running around the Park the same day which was very nice. They hung for a bit and drank some wine. In the mean time Tom took Logan (the 11 year old in our group) to go on some rides, since Disney for a kid is NOT about sitting around drinking wine and watching the freaky goths walk by as we snark about their clothing. Which is pretty much all we adults did. Tom and Terri ended up taking Logan over to Disneyland proper at about 4 so they could get some rides in before dinner time. The rest of us were still coming down from the Tower and stayed planted in our seats until about 5.30pm, at which point we moseyed over to get a hot dog and then meet up with T&T&L at 6pm at Carnation Plaza.
A quick word to the wise here:
When leaving California Adventure and “hopping” over to Disneyland proper, be sure to get your hand stamped. Otherwise, you will be stuck at Disney’s gate while your friends waltz in beside you. That sucked. Three out of the five of us had not gotten our hands stamped, not realizing it was a requirement of the “Park Hopper” ticket that we had received. But we got it all sorted and were at Carnation plaza by 6.05pm.
After we met up with the rest of our group, we browsed the Disney Gallery, made our way to the Star Tours gift shop, and then back to New Orleans square to wait it out until it was time for dinner. By this point it was cooling off. A welcomed relief for us all.
At 8.15pm we sauntered from our hard chairs in New Orleans Square over to the fabled “33” door. It was slightly disappointing because the facade in this area was scaffolded and covered for a facelift. The actually had the “33” plaque covered up and had repainted the door to have the “33” logo on it instead. Jean rang the buzzer and we were whisked into the “inner sanctum” of Disney known as Club 33.
Jean, John, Mary and myself had been previously in January. Oddly enough the same feeling is there when you walk in the door the second time. I was less nervous, but no less in awe of the lift and stair case, as well as the art on the walls. Tom, Terri and Colleen had never been, and it was a joy to watch them as they took it all in, nerves and all.
I DID, however notice a huge difference in feeling as we topped the stair case and were being led to our table. But this wasn’t me feeling different. It was simply QUIET. As we entered the main dining room, I immediately understood why: there was a single table of four finishing off their dinner. The rest of the room was empty. Last time we had dined here, there was not a seat available. Now, it was like dining in the Haunted Mansion with not a soul to bother you. There was one other group in the Trophy Room, though we only really saw them once.
Dinner was spectacular. Truly the best meal I have ever had. The menu and wine pairing matched my palette perfectly, and the amount of food was proportioned for my appetite as well. I actually left feeling full, but not overstuffed.
The first course was a Caesar salad paired with a 2001 Sunstone Viognier, a lovely bottle of wine which Jean and I had tasted a few months previous at the Sunstone vineyards. I was very please to see Disney sticking with some locals still. The viognier was mellow enough that it balanced very nicely with the salad, which was my first surprise of the evening. Typically I think of lighter whites as a salad pairing. But this worked well.
Second course was a tempura battered soft-shell crab with a tempura and spinach garnish. This was paired with a Chardonnay that couldn’t have been a better fit. The only failing here is that I can not remember the year or the vineyard (if anyone can remember, please let me know so I may update it here). It was truly outstanding and complimented the crab without overwhelming you with Oak as many Chardonnays are known to do.
The third course was a lovely London Broil paired with another 2001 Firestation Shiraz. As five of us know, Club 33 sous chefs know -exactly- what rare means. This cut of meat was by far the best I have had.
Fourth course was the ever-popular Cheese plate, paired appropriately with a 1999 Port. Again, I have failed to recall the vineyard, but was astoundingly surprised to see a 1999 vintage Port was so drinkable! This port did not act young at all, but rather could stand toe to toe with a more mature Port and the Cheese would not have known the difference. A very elegant child in my eyes.
Lastly, the fifth course. Dessert. This is the course I remember least, as I can only describe it as a “chocolaty, mousse-y, fluffy cheesecake-y” slice of heaven. Paired with a Muscato, I was nearly in a diabetic coma at the same level as my Saturday nigh excursion into dessert territory. I should have known better… So to fight off the impending coma, I ordered a scotch to eat through all the sugar I had just consumed.
When we had first walked in, John and I both slowed down when nearing the bar and made mental notes for our “dessert”. We saw 2 bottles of a Macallan, though couldn’t see the ages. Fear not. When ordering, I ask the waitress for the “oldest Macallan you have”. Which luckily didn’t turn as ugly as it could have. It was a calculated risk, but one I hadn’t truly thought out to the logical end, which nearly came. A few minutes later, as we are laughing about ordering Tom a
Shirley temple Mickey Mouse, two glasses come out: a 12year Macallan, and a 25 year Macallan. And the Bartender is carrying them along with an explanation. It seems that there simply was not enough of the 25 year left and he couldn’t find any other bottles, so he poured a 12 as well and would only charge for the 12 year. Which was very nice of him to do. So as John and I sipped our scotches, another glass of the 12 comes out. So now we each had our own and shared the 25. Life was good!
At some point during dinner I was able to sit back for a moment without anyone noticing and just watch the people at the table. And damn if that didn’t warm my heart. Some people may see the house I now live in and the car I drive and think of me as successful, but that is not the case. They should look at the faces of my friends while eating and drinking one of the best meals they have had and judge my success on that. Truly, that is what I live for.
Leaving Disneyland Sunday night was the same as when we had left in January. Our bellies content, and the smiles on our faces had not yet vanished. Memories had been made that day and into the night. Memories which will always put smiles right back on to the same faces years from now.
Monday is not even worth mentioning. Jean and I woke up, moved to the couch and stayed there the entire day. Monday was worthless, and that was exactly what we needed after this past weekend.