Saturday, October 11, 2008

Big Daddy and more oysters

Friday morning we got up early and walked out in the brisk, breezy morning, up the hill to Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Great timing: we walked right in the door and sat down at a table, and didn't miss the usual wait in line at all (by the time we left, the line was out the door). Lots of good coffee floated us through breakfast; I had a lamb-fennel sausage and goat cheese scramble with their buttermilk dill bread, Cathy had a whiskey fennel sausage omelette with grilled cornbread. Plenty of good chow, and neither of us felt a need for more till about 6:00 that night.

We walked back to the hotel and got to work on set-up for WhiskyFest: setting up the tables for registration and sales, putting up our signage (we've gone pro with retractable stand-up banners, but one of them needed some banging and convincing to work properly), and sorting the hundreds of ID bands for VIP and regular guests. By about 11 AM we were done. We went up to the room, cleaned up a little, and walked down to 4th Street Bar & Deli.

I know I've said places are JAFSB (Just Another Freakin' Sports Bar), and 4th Street largely was...but we weren't there for sports TV or wings, we were there for beer. I started with a Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA, the beer that John had told me they had here. Great stuff: not just hoppy, it's built on a base of solid, sweet maltiness, a nice solid West Coast IPA. Then I got to looking at the full beer menu -- got a taste of Speakeasy's White Lightning, a surprisingly pleasant filtered West Coast hefe (real style-snake biting its own tail, there) -- and lo and behold, there was Russian River Damnation. JAFSB? Well, not quite! After I finished that little beauty, and Cathy finished her iced tea, she went off to shop for make-up at Sephora (what a look she had on her face), and I went back to the room.

I hadn't more than sat down when an idea hit me: call Jim McGinley, husband of our events manager, Joan. Jim's a fun guy I don't get to hang out with enough, and he's usually up for a beer. I got hold of him, and we were soon hiking up to Johnny Foley's. It was time for Guinness! We grabbed two pints and lubed our conversation. Damned good jars, poured properly, and didn't it drive me to get a half-dozen oysters on the half-shell? Yes indeed, and they were delish. (Weird moment: recognized the song on the sound system as the Boomtown Rats "Someone's Looking At You," a song I haven't heard anywhere except on my own stereo for years.) Another pint, some great stories, and then we headed back to the hotel to get spruced up for WhiskyFest.
Things were a bit rough this year at first -- our first time at this hotel, which always takes some adjusting -- but soon ran very smoothly. We had some amazing whiskies that distillers had donated to raise money for charity (San Francisco's FoodRunners): five years of the Glenfarclas Family Casks, five bottles of Glenlivet Cellar Collection, and four one-time, one-bottle special bottlings of The Macallan, selected by four current and past distillery managers. That was just kind of cool to see the labels sporting "Bottle 1 of 1." Cathy wound up pouring the Glenfarclas, and had a fun time with it.

And once again, I ran into Ethan Prater. It's all webs, folks. Hmmm...they're calling my flight. Gotta go. More in a while, including why I'm catching a flight.

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