Thoughts on the Shortest Season

31 May 2011

Memorial Day Weekend is officially the time to honor the men and women who have given that last full measure of devotion to our country. It also marks the unofficial start to summer. Between a memorial service, a few barbeques, some work, and some boozing time with good friends, I found some time to sit on a coffeeshop patio to smoke a cigar.  While watching the city melt in the year’s first heatwave, I began contemplating the things I wanted to do in this shortest of seasons. From that point, the thoughts morphed into…

Restaurant Refugee’s Summer Rules

  • take wine less seriously
  • take life less seriously
  • sundresses are always superior to jeans
  • the aforementioned goes double for jeans of the skinny variety
  • food cooked outside tastes better
  • check your watch; no matter what the hands say, I assure you it is ProseccO’clock
  • a farmers market stroll makes for an outstanding date
  • speaking of dates… summer is a great time to renew that lapsed commitment to Date Night
  • host your own Screen on the Green Party, may I recommend Bull Durham for your first screening.
  • speaking of minor league baseball… in their stadiums, the seats are better, the beer is cheaper, and you’ll probably get more satisfaction cheering for the guys who haven’t quite made it yet.
  • Choose a cocktail for the season… in case you’re curious, the 12o’Clocktail is mine (recipe at the bottom.)
  • Stop wasting cash at the coffee shop and learn to make your own iced coffee.
  • If you have a friend with a boat, scotch that’s old enough to vote is good start when it comes to bribes or thank you’s.
  • If you’re a gentleman who is follicaly challenged, summer is an excellent time to try the clean shaven look.
  • Very few women actually look good in “skorts.”
  • Linen starts to go on sale circa the 4th of July; stock up then for future summers.
  • When cooking food outside, please do not skip the brine for your meats.
  • Almost always true restaurant axiom #63: the quality of the food will have an inverse relationship to the quality of the view. Cantler’s is a notably delicious exception.
  • On the days when the sky is Carolina Blue*, the temperature is just so, and you see people driving convertibles with the top up, feel free to wish them hostile thoughts.
  • If you find yourself wondering “am I too old to wear this,” the answer is almost certainly yes… but fuck it, it’s summer, wear it anyway.
  • Mosquitoes are the price of freedom, buy your repellant in bulk.
  • I know that I am about to incur the wrath of the 20something fashion icons, but not a single woman looks good in any style of flat gladiator sandle. Stop arguing with me, I’m right.
  • It may be convenient to cloak a bad decision in the dress of “summer fling.” Resist that temptation, but don’t resist the fling – choices will still matter come autumn.


* yes, my Tarheel friends, that was really difficult to write


The 12 o’Clocktail

Initially created in a search for the perfect brunch cocktail (with the help of a couple of other restaurant pros and over the course of several boozy Sunday mornings) and named for one of my favorite lines from the iconic song Lush Life.

1.5 ounces lemon vodka
0.5 ounces Orange Liqueur
1 ounce of Pear Nectar (if you have a pro-grade juicer, fresh will always be better, otherwise Goya makes a very good version but be sure it is nectar not juice)
2 wedges of lime
Splash of Ginger Syrup (optional but really great if you have it and super easy to make)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with 800lbs** of ice, squeeze the juice of the limes and add them too, shake until condensation crystals form on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lime.

Use with great care as these go down far too easily. 

** Toots Shoor, the legendary barman of the early 20th century, incorporated the 800lbs of ice concept into his training program and subsequent drink books as a reminder that there is no such thing as too much ice. 














An Open Conversation with my Blog

25 May 2011

RR: Good day

Blog: Seriously? You ignore me for weeks (not the first time, mind you) and you just ring me up and start with “good day?” I mean, fuck you, I should have changed the passwords on you.

RR: You should have changed your stupid locks, you should have made me leave my key…

Blog: Yeah, and I knew for more than a second you would be back to bother me… you think your so damn clever, don’t you?

RR: Well on the getting-shorter-by-the-minute list of my charms, word-play is still there… in the interest of avoiding awkward silence, will you allow me to apologize and offer some explanation?

Blog: I haven’t hung up yet.

RR: and I appreciate that. I am going to give you the unvarnished truth – the same answer that my therapist finally got out of me.

Blog: Your finally talking to someone? That’s a good start.

RR: I have long said that I started with you because blogging was cheaper than therapy, but the emotional cost of not going to therapy got a little too high.

RR: This is how I have managed problems and relationships for too long. When someone or a group of someones gets too close, I push her/him/them away. It’s easier than being so vulnerable with anyone who has seen completely behind my curtains. As honest and vulnerable as I have been with you – more than any relationship I’ve ever had – I had exhausted all of the topics I was willing to share. So I ran away. And not for nothing, but I do know how cowardly that action was, and that runs directly contrary to the man I told you that I was. But that is the paradox of relationships with me: the better they go, the longer they last, the deeper they get, the more likely I am to do a gradual fade to arms length (at best) or pull an inelegant and ungraceful vanishing act (at worst.)

Blog: Are you really blaming the success of our relationship for the terrible way you’ve treated me during it?

RR: I understand why you say that I’ve been terrible to you, and…

Blog: Do you understand? Refugee, do you really know why I am so angry?

RR: Let me try to articulate it then.

Blog: Go ahead.

RR: I am pretty sure that it is disappointment that exacerbates the anger. 1-when we were good, we were really good and not only did that attention create an expectation, I explicitly promised that expectation. Thus, 2-when I would behave poorly by ignoring you or simply going through the motions of paying attention to you, it was more than anger because I was not true to the promise of word or deed.

Blog: You do know that understanding the problem doesn’t rectify it any more than your pretty words can fix it, right? This whole thing reminds me of a scene from the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Little Grey is talking to McSteamy and she implores him to truly back off because if he doesn’t then she’ll go back. Sure, she loves him and will go back because of that, but he doesn’t make her happy.

RR: Yeah, and she smartly chooses stable happiness over sparkly and dangerous love. I know the scene… but, ummm, you do realize that you’re an electronic artifice that I created and that kinda makes this conversation academic, right?

Blog: Well, then you should stop using this as some sort of proxy for another conversation.

RR: Fair point, but I can have this one and mostly control it.

Blog: fine, so I have two questions for you. One – what’s behind those curtains that is so ugly, and two – since you do have control here, what are you going to do to regain my trust?

RR: The things behind the curtain are… well, they’re still back there, but at least I am acknowledging them. Baby steps are still steps. In terms of rebuilding trust, promises will not be made. I’ve made them in the past – NaBloPoMo, International Crush Day, etc. The only thing I can do now is to keep showing up when I can, and keep trying to get back to the good places we’ve been.

Blog: And when your inevitable freak-out occurs?

RR: Now, who’s using this as a proxy?

Blog: Well, this is the only chance you’re gonna get.

RR: True. When the freak-out occurs, I will try to turn towards you and not away… but mostly, I’m gonna keep showing up.