Nice to Have Some Mojo Even if I Am Not Using It.

30 June 2008

The last time is saw the Petite Latina Attorney was almost two years ago.  She was wearing my bathrobe, drinking a mimosa, and telling me that she needed more time from a man in her life.  We had been dating for a couple of months and I was in the midst of opening a new restaurant which is to say I had very little to offer besides late night drinks and breakfast on a Sunday morning.


I had been on the opposite end of the exchange we had this morning numerous times; I have randomly encountered exes when I was not in my most flattering light – in my mind.  This morning on the Metro however was different.  I was wearing a suit that was designed for crossing paths with an ex, my favorite crisp blue French cuff shirt, and the accompanying confidence one has when you are complimented by strangers on the street.  I believe the female equivalent would be a great hair day and the killer black dress.  PLA was headed to the gym, hadn’t showered, and her hair was a hot mess of tangled bed head strangled into slight submission by a pink scrunchie.


We exchanged random bits of information from the last two years.  She was charming despite the insecurity that shone through her smiles.  I wish she knew that I thought her extremely sexy in her gym shorts and sweatshirt.


Given that insecurity, it was little surprise when I received the email inviting me for drinks at the bar of the hotel next to her office.  In my role as amateur psychologist (by the by, lem, you still owe me for the full hour even though we didn’t finish your session – I can be paid in cupcakes) I presume her invitation to be more about changing the last picture of her in my head.


What the hell, I am still wearing the suit. I might as well have the Manhattan that is the perfect cocktail accessory.

Moments when you should drink great wine

28 June 2008

I have long said that great wines are for really good or really bad days.  At the moment I am drinking a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos de Mensil.  Nothing good happened today.

Ordinary Pain

27 June 2008

It was odd that I was found myself having a beer and consoling my super cute colleague about a very recent breakup with her boyfriend. It was not odd that I would lend a sympathetic ear to someone I don’t know that well. It was not odd for me to provide an opportunity for a woman to vent about a “man that done her wrong.” It was odd that I, a gentleman with a close history of heartache, would have that ear, that capacity to allow someone opportunity to vent. But there we were at a slightly divey Capitol Hill pub discussing her pain and a bit of mine too.

She had the misfortune to fall for a man incapable of making decisions of life long consequence. What makes this so painful for her is that she never had a baseline of happiness; she was mostly happy before she met him but felt incomplete without that significant someone. It wasn’t the right moment for me to tell her about the need to be happy with and by one’s self before developing the capacity to be with someone else. I just listened, offered advice when asked, and was the person who wouldn’t let her go home after work because she really didn’t need to rattle around in her house alone with her thoughts.

I wanted to take away her pain – no gentleman likes to see a woman cry – but all I could do was listen. SCC I hope you know that pain will fade because it always does, my phone is always on, my door always open, and you are always welcome to my scotch.

Dating advice from the Refugee – sure, why not?

26 June 2008

I am qualified to give advice on a number of subjects.  I am not sure dating is one of them but since I received this email from a reader, why not…



To: restaurant refugee <>

Date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 8:15 PM

Re:  Advice for a first date


I really liked your list of favorite restaurants and your blog in general.  The list didn’t have any restaurants near the E Street Cinema though.  I have a first date this Friday and was thinking of dinner and an indie flick at E Street any advice?


First I am flattered that you like the blog, and humbled by the question.  While there are a number of good places to dine in that part of town, you don’t need to restrict yourself to dining by the theatre because your idea for a first date sucks.


I know that was harsh but this is tough love time.  “Dinner & a Movie” is thoroughly unimaginative first date; it is a cliché wrapped in slices of low hanging fruit.  More importantly it does little to advance what should be your only objective for the date – to determine if you want another.   A good first date answers that question which means that if she were to stand you up it is still a good first date because you learned everything you needed to know to determine that you don’t want a second date.


If you are going to spend 4.36 hours with this woman (the average time for a dinner & movie date – yes I just made that up) spending two of them in a darkened theater does not help you gather that information. And have I mentioned that is cliché?  You live in one of the best places in the world for FREE cultural events.  Go to a museum, and then dinner.  Go see jazz in the sculpture garden and then dinner.  Do something different; mark yourself as a gentleman capable of crafting a date not born of a cookie cutter mold.  Think.


One more thing, don’t wear khakis and a polo – they’re like garanimals for grown-ups.

Dear Hipster Mom on Metro,

24 June 2008

I don’t want to see your ass.  I am sure someone finds that ass hot.  I, however, am not in that group.  Even if found that ass to be hot, I would not want to see it during my morning commute.  HMoM, surely you could feel the breeze of the air conditioning blowing across the large section of ghastly white ass left bare as your low rise cargo pants and too short tank top failed to cover the fuchsia thong revealing approximately 36.4 square inches of that ass.  That your thong matched your hair is certainly a nice touch for the people that find that ass hot.  I just don’t happen to be among them.


HMoM, I am sure you are a great mother.  Your children were well groomed and as well behaved as toddlers on the Metro could be.  However, I am sure that you would not appreciate your children singing a refrain that involves two world capitols and Mommy’s underpants.



Restaurant Refugee




Among the things I don’t miss about running a restaurant…

20 June 2008

True Story from Restaurant Week three years ago…


10:40 pm; Saturday, restaurant week. Full house, kitchen closing in 10 minutes.

Phone rings.
RR: good evening and thank you for calling Anonymous Restaurant, this is RestaurantRefugee, how may I help you?
Caller: we, um, have a 10:15 reservation, and we are, like, lost. Can you, um, give us directions?
RR: it would be my pleasure, where are you right now?
Caller: um, I don’t know?
RR: ok, well what do you see around you?
Caller: um, there are like, um, big buildings on each corner
RR: ok, well do you see any street signs?
Caller: um, oh yeah, um, 32nd street and J street.
RR: great you are just a few blocks from us. Are you on 32nd or are you on J Street?
Caller: um, I think we are like on J
RR: that’s great, go straight and make the next left that you can make. That should be 33rd street. You will pass a Four Season hotel on the left side of the street.
Caller: um, ok, um, like I see 33rd, we make a right?
RR: no, you need to turn left.
Caller: oh, um, like we missed it.
(Repeat the last four minutes – four minutes of my life that I will never get back)

RR: where are you right now?
Caller: um, like, we’re back at 34th and J.
RR: can you safely pull over?
Caller: um, like, yeah.
RR: pull over. What kind of car are you driving?
Caller: a Hyundai Elantra
RR: great, I will be driving a black convertible. I will be there in two minutes to guide you to Anonymous Restaurant.
Caller: ok.
RR: my pleasure, I will see you shortly.

RR: (to assistant general manager) I will be back in 5 minutes with some lost guests.
AGM: (very puzzled look about her) uh, ok.

Race to lost guest location. Slow down; wave heartily to indicate that their personal Sherpa has arrived. Drive, slowly, back to Anonymous Restaurant, lead lost guests to valet parking. Leave car in driveway to meet lost guests at the door. Meet guests at the door.

RR: good evening. We’re happy that you found us.
Lost guest #1: um, like, yeah, where’s the bar?
RR: just through this door, allow me to show you.
Lost guests #2: tell dude to take it easy on my brakes.
RR: absolutely sir.

Five minutes elapse; guests are seated at the bar. No “thank you” has been offered from either lost guest #1 or lost guest #2.

LG#2: (to our female bartender) dude, can I see the menu?
Bartender: here you are sir.
LG#2: (to lg#1) this isn’t French!
LG#1: no, this, is like, um Spanish.
LG#2: wanna go some place else?
LG#1: like, yeah.
LG#2: (to RestaurantRefugee) can you have that dude bring my car back, we’re gonna go someplace else.
RR: absolutely, sir. Have a good night.
LG#2: thanks, champ.


The Theory of Kissing Relativity

19 June 2008

The Theory

Everyone thinks that they are a good kisser.  Many of you are mistaken.  I have kissed more women than need be mentioned here and while the quality of kisses has improved dramatically since the first one at summer camp with Kimberly Channing all those years ago, more than a few women kiss as well as Dubya runs a country.  They are, of course, outliers of the negative variety, just as the truly knee weakening kissers are outliers of the positive variety.  Most people exist under the heart of the bell curve where the quality of the kiss is dependant on the compatibility of kissing styles of the participants.  That compatibility is not the most important component of a relationship, however how can one truly get past it?


I once dated a woman that was a bad kisser – she used her tongue as a weapon to be precise.  Her positive qualities – drop-dead-gorgeous, insanely smart, very sexy, etc – were enough that I kept trying to make it work.  I tried to show her, gently, non-verbally, and eventually verbally, how I liked to be kissed.  She was unable / unwilling to change, and I was unwilling to have a serpentine tongue assault my mouth every time I kissed her.   


The Solution

After 30 minutes of a date, there shall be a mandatory kiss or get off the pot moment.  If either party has not garnered enough information to make that decision thirty minutes into date, then you actually have all of the information you need.  Why go through the steps of dinner, continue walking through that art gallery, or whatever other activity if kissing compatibility fails to exist?


Why allow emotions or expectations to build through the course of the night, only to have to place your date atop the just friends pile?  Surely both sexes would rather know early if the evening is a waste of make up, cleaning up, or the lucky underwear.

Quick updates for the five people that might care…

18 June 2008

Saturday Night Salon was a runaway, lightly qualified hit.  I nailed every course both in their pacing, portions, and execution.  (I did replace the Tomato Salad with a Tagliatelle with a Slow Cooked Pork Ragu, salmonella scare being the impetus.) Everyone was very full when the cheese was finished but none of us had the beached whale sensation that is the result of over-eating.  The evening extended to early morning.  The wines were spectacular especially the 1988 Grange I opened because I am a boy and therefore should not be allowed into my wine cellar after a couple of drinks. (ed. note – in addition to the breathalyzer for the cell phone, I am also trying to invent one that controls the lock on the wine cellar.)  The only minor quibble – what must a gentleman do to get his guests to understand the meaning of cocktail attire?


Coffee with the Striking Brunette from New Jersey morphed into drinks on the roof of the Reef on Sunday.  Yes, it remained platonic.  Yes, she attempted to change my mind about the platonic nature of it.  Yes, I continue to wear the best cologne ever – eau de unavailable – apparently it is like catnip for some women.


By the by, the Reef continues to be a far better restaurant than required, Corey, the Sunday evening bartender has one of the better IPods in the city; it was not quite summer but the living was easy.  More on that subject later.

My worst date ever….

16 June 2008

…was also my first date.


I was 16 and it was my first day with my first car, a white Fiat Spyder with a tan top. It was the 16th of June many years ago and weather for the evening was supposed to be the kind of late spring balminess that is the reward for bitter winters.

Finally decided to ask out Toi Robertson*. I had been crushing on her from a distance for months but I couldn’t ask her out until I could take her out properly – in a car that is. I get to her house, survive her old man’s roasting and finally make it to the car. I am feeling like I have the tiger by the tail as the really pretty girl settles into the seat of my convertible, the car I had been saving for a year to buy. I came crashing back to earth when she asked me to put the top up. I should have known better than to keep going; but my first real date could not end like this. So I drove to dinner with the wind that was in my sails, now passing all around but not in the car.

I took her to dinner at Houston’s in Georgetown, hoping that the really pretty girl would be impressed that we were having such a grown-up evening. No. Our conversation was non-existent. I was hoping that it was the difficult shy conversation of soon-to-be star gazing teenagers; but no. I kept asking questions only to receive the minimal number of words in response. I tried everything in my paltry 16 year old arsenal, but all romantic weapons were firing blanks.

After dinner, we walked around Georgetown, all the while I was hoping against logic and hope that something would spark. Walk-Away Sundaes from Hagen-Daas – nothing. Continue to ask questions in an attempt to display my earnest interest in her – nothing. The only weapon left was the Declaration of Independence Memorial, a small island on a man-made lake that is romantic overkill. Surely no one could stand in the presence of the most romantic space in all of DC and be blasé.

As we drove to my last chance of an island, I teased the view to come. She actually showed a hint of interest for the first time. Following a brief search for parking, we are walking in the moonlight towards the island, under a canopy of trees, in the midst of a young summer night until we arrive.

They had drained the lake for cleaning.

OK, Karma, message received.

* name changed to protect the lame





Fix it, Buy it, Kill it or Listen

13 June 2008

The other night I had a beer with the Guest of Honor from my only brief dinner party in history.  It was the first chance we have had to get together since that night.  It was also time for me to give him the update on ADA.  GH learned about ADA a few days after our second date but before her predictable panic attack.  The great irony is that GH and I had been having more than a few conversations about meeting the person that is exactly the right kind of crazy for you.  He recently met his second.


His first wife, the love of his life, died of breast cancer.  One need only look at his eyes when he speaks of her to know that theirs was a thoroughly real and pure love.  When she died several years ago GH lost his “one true love” he had told me on many an occasion.  On the first day of April this year, we met for a beer.  As I approached, he ended a phone conversation with “OK, dear, I love you too.  Talk to you soon.”  To which I responded, “that had better have been your mother.”  It wasn’t.  It was his fiancée, a woman he had known for 13 days.  After convincing me that this wasn’t an April Fools day joke, he also convinced me that this was indeed something real.  This dovetailed into a discussion of just how many “ones” are out there for anyone.  After several beers vociferous discussion, we settled on 100 as the right number to use for the sake of argument.


Being the amateur statistician, I declared it a virtual impossibility to actually meet that person.  The fact the GH has caught lightening in a bottle twice notwithstanding; I never expected it to happen for me.  The universe’s comic irony of meeting ADA a couple of weeks later is…well it wasn’t lost on me.


So this evening was dedicated to beer and conversation.  I explained what happened with ADA in very short sentences – all I could put together at the time.  Explained that talking about it now feels like having the wind knocked out of me.  Explained that when I am alone with my thoughts are the worst times.  Explained that I never felt this for my ex-wife, or any of the three women I have loved.   Explained that I think of her constantly.  Explained that a part of me wishes that I never knew a woman could make me feel this way.  Explained that it just sucks, gods have a twisted sense of humor, and that timing is apparently everything.


GH sets a course to present the bright side / tells me to be patient / not right now doesn’t mean not ever / etc.  I stop him. 


RR: I gave you the update because I needed you to know, not because I wanted advice.

GH: got it.  I’m a guy.  When we hear a problem we try to Fix it, Buy it, Kill it or Listen.  We always forget about that fourth option.


I had a cleansing laugh.

June Salon

12 June 2008

Saturday Night Salon, my monthly formal dinner party is this weekend.  Today is dedicated to prep.  I broke-down four ducks this morning and I am using everything but the legs and breast to make a stock that will be the base for the soup course.  I love making stocks as my entire place is gently filled the seductive scent of spiced duck.  Really it is potpourri for food junkies like me.  The menu…



Big Eye Tuna Tartar in homemade tortilla cups

Warm Figs stuffed with Gorgonzola

1996 Jean Laurent Milliseme Rose, Champagne, France

1995 Cuvee Doyard Blanc de Blanc, Champagne, France


Duck & Wild Mushroom Bisque

2006 St. Pauls Exclusiv Egg Leiten Vineyard Pinot Gris, Alto Aldige, Italy


Baby Spinach Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes & Buffalo Mozzeralla

2003 Martinelli Pinot Noir, Zio Tony Ranch Vineyard


Duck Leg Confit with a smoked fois gras pastry wheel

2002 Hyde & deVain Syrah


Selection of Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery with warm Truffled Honey, Wild Berry Compote, & other accoutrements

1977 Grahams Port



Two days, and a lot of cooking to go.

I’m emotionally unavailable – of course women find that attractive

11 June 2008

I have been known to frequent a bar or three in the past.  The frequency of my barfly evenings, however, has slowed since I rediscovered my love for entertaining at home.  Yet it was not entirely surprising that I found myself at the bar to watch the basketball game, have a cigar, a cocktail, and finish my newspaper – not at all in that order.


Three very attractive women celebrating “the two year anniversary of a 29th birthday” happened to take residence in the seats next to me shortly after I arrived.  In deference to them, and because a good bartender tends to new people before friends, they ordered first.  My friend the Smoking Hot Bartender turned her attention to me.  Given the oppressive heat, I wanted something refreshing, bright, and interesting in a glass.  I wanted a Santero.


SBH is a very good bartender; however, maybe three bartenders in this city can make a Santero.  So I taught her.  The three women to my left were intrigued.  I offered them the cocktail to taste and then they were enthralled.  A conversation was sparked.  The four of us ran a conversational gamut between, the NBA Finals, current political landscape, post-feminist women, theatre, and more.


After returning from a visit to the wash closet, two of the three women had repaired to a table at the front of the lounge.  The remaining woman, a striking brunette from New Jersey about whom I could find no NJ jokes to be told, and with a conspiratorial look about her, told me that she wanted “me to have some privacy when I asked her for a date.”


RR: I am flattered you would say that, and at another time I would have already made the dinner reservations, but I am not in a great position to date at the moment.

SBNJ: Of Fuck, are you married?

RR: No, divorced.


RR: No.

SBNJ: Seeing someone

RR: No. (Interrupting her next query) Listen, I am a bit emotionally unavailable at the moment.  I dated someone recently, though briefly, that has forced me to recalibrate my approach to relationships.  It ended in perhaps the only way it could – badly for me.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I won’t say that the next person I date would be on some level a rebound because you just never know about these things.  However, I think a bit more time to get my head around this is the only fair way for me and whoever “she” may be.  I am still very happy we met this evening.  I am glad that I ignored my newspaper, only watched two minutes of the game and had a great conversation with you and your friends.  And I would love to continue getting to know you, but I don’t think you want to date me right now.

SBNJ: I understand, I think.  You’re probably right; I don’t want to date you right now.

RR: Friends, though, right?

SBNJ: I said I didn’t want to date you, now I just want to take you home.


I will never understand women.  I also wish that I knew how to date or “vote” for sport.  SBNJ, I look forward to our exceedingly platonic coffee this Sunday.

my cocktail for summer…

11 June 2008

The Santero

Most people are familiar with the Cuban born Mojito; the Santero is its much lesser known but even more delicious sibling.  The Mojito was born out of humble beginnings in the slave farmed sugar cane fields of Cuba.  During the mid 19th century slaves were mixing Guarapo (the forefather to rum,) sugar cane, lime and mint.  When slavery was abolished the drink slowly began to be mainstreamed but was most commonly consumed by the working poor of the island.  Circa 1940 a bartender at Havana’s Hotel Sevilla was tasked to make a Mojito like drink with more “appropriate lineage” for the socialites that were the hotel’s clientele.  He named it the Santero, a priest of Santoria the most common religion among Caribbean slaves, as homage to that less appropriate lineage. He replaced the sugar with honey, nixed the mint that sticks in your teeth, and topped it with Champagne rather than soda water.


2 tablespoons of honey

1 lime (medium to large) quartered

5 ounces of dark rum

2 ounces champagne (any dry sparkling wine will due)


Place the room temperature limes in a large cocktail shaker.  Add the honey and muddle thoroughly (the lime juice and honey need to be completely blended or the honey will coagulate when mixed with ice.)  Add the rum – do not add the ice yet – and give the shaker a thorough shake.  Fill the shaker with ice and shake until a bit of foam appears at the top.  Pour into two rocks glasses and top each with one ounce of champagne.  Garnish with a lime twist.

the fist bump is officially dead

10 June 2008

Sunday, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) knocked knuckles on Wolf Blitzer’s Show.  Yeah, it ain’t cool any more.

Requiem on Missed Chances with an Ex

6 June 2008

I wish that we had had the chance to ride the subway together.  I have been thinking about that lately.  Getting on the at Dupont circle stop about midnight – did you know that they have one of the longest escalators in the world.  I would use that slow ride down the platform well.  I would stand on the step in front of you and wrap my arms around your waist.  I would start kissing your neck as you lean in just a bit closer.  My hands would wander from your waist to firmly press that spot where your shoulder blades meet and back again, just for the sake of taking the trip.  You would lean down a little more to let us kiss. We would start slowly with gentle touches that last for an eternal moment and build until our mouths are hungry for each other.  I would bite your lower lip as the strength of our embrace increases and our bodies whisper “yes.”  About halfway down the escalator, my hands warm with desire, would find the hem of your skirt, the back of your knee.  Fingers would run gently up your thighs, as our kiss digs deeper.  Finding bare skin, I realize you are wearing the thigh-highs that excite me so.  You lean around to my ear and with a tug of your teeth hiss a seductive “you’re welcome”.  Twenty feet left, ten feet.


We both pray that the train car is empty.


p.s. yes, this post is about someone specific; no it is not ADA; no, that person has never and will never read this.


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