Thursday, March 25, 2010

Morning Report

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is currently testifying on capitol hill - forecast of continuing low rates, and the use of Reverse Repo's to drain liquidity - nothing new in the prepared remarks.... Jobless claims fell, with the four week moving average falling to its lowest level since September 2008...

And a fascinating story of coded emails and insider trading (site may ask for a password, but just click through it)

UW vs WVU , 4:27 PM ..

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Notice of Party, Part 1

So, I’m turning 50 this year, and that means we should have a party… but I need to have a fun party…and what better way than to schedule an outdoor dependent shindig in early Spring !!!!! The plan is for us to have a low key duck dodge style race, followed by a potluck/BBQ, and then head off to the Clearwater casino to go back 30 years and go dancing…. If you have a boat, please bring it over, moorage is available, and we’ll figure out all of the logistics. If you don’t have a boat, but want to sail, just bring a change of warm clothes and a good attitude, we’ll hook you up !

Speaking of logistics, This is a potluck, but…… Port Madison Yacht Club is a very casual facility, Imagine a log cabin with a pot belly stove, and a 1950’s oven…and 2 propane BBQ’s…so we will have very limited kitchen space – think camping…..

If the weather looks terrible, we’ll go to plan “B” which will be canceling the race, and having the BBQ at our home starting at 5:30, but it wouldn’t dare rain on my parade !

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Johns 50th Invitational Regatta - Notice of Race


1.1 Johns 50th Birthday Invitational Regatta will be governed by the rules as defined in the Racing Rules of Sailing, and as interpreted by John.

1.2 Certain rules may be changed at the whim of John and these changes may appear in full in the SIs……or they may not.

1.4 By participating in this regatta, a competitor grants to John the right in perpetuity to make, use and show, from time to time at his discretion, any photographs, motion pictures and live, taped or filmed television and other reproductions of him or her during the period of the competition without compensation.


2.1 All friends of John are eligible.

3.1 Competitors are encouraged to bring their own boats. Friends of John without boats are encouraged to attend the Skippers Meeting, where they will be assigned/auctioned as crew, schoolyard style. (John encourages bribes -, beer, rum, cookies, kisses)

4 FEES - The entry fee for all is a contribution to the competitive post race potluck / BBQ – John will be playing the role of Tom Colicchio as Head Judge


April 10th 11:30AM “Go – No Go” race determination e-mail to be sent –(potluck and dance are always “on”)

April 10th 2:30 Skippers Meeting/Crew Assignment Auction (deck of Port Madison Yacht Club) (John gets the first pick)

April 10th 3:00 First and Only Start – off PMYC docks (John gets to choose his spot)

April 10th 5:00 Race Time limit expires (John cannot be last)

April 10th 5:30 Potluck /BBQ starting signal (John (as head judge) is first in line)

April 10th 7:00 Award Ceremony (John will emcee (wearing sunglasses like at the 1996 Tasar Worlds))

April 10 8:30 Dancing to RockCandy at Clearwater Casino

6 ADVANCE REGISTRATION - Competitors shall register in advance by sending an rsvp email to Entry deadline is April 9th. Late fee of 750ml Mt.Gay or Meyer’s rum applies thereafter.

7 SAILING INSTRUCTIONS - The sailing instructions be given verbally by John at the Skippers meeting.

8 PENALTIES FOR BREAKING RULES OF PART 2 - Appendix P, Immediate Penalties for Breaking Rule 42, Propulsion, will apply. However, use of motors to complete the course after 60 minutes have expired is encouraged. (Downtown series rules apply)

9 SCORING - A maximum of 1 race is scheduled, of which 1 shall be completed to constitute a series.

10.1 All competitors are expected to maintain the highest level of conduct throughout the entire event. When John, from his own observation or a report received from any source believes that a competitor may have committed a breach of a rule, good manners, or sportsmanship, or may have brought the sport, or John into disrepute, he may call a party foul. After a proper hearing the penalty may range from a reprimand, to buying a round, having to take out the garbage, or other additional action may be taken under RRS 69.

11 PRIZES - Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of John – Prize categories include, Overall performance, Spirit of the event, Potluck / BBQ execution, and additional spur of the moment items.

Contact John or Laurie for further information.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

Axis of Evil on Memorial Day (Bentonville AK)

It was the worst of times…………………

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and our family was off to Laurie’s Mom's house on Hood Canal (They were away taking the boat up to Alaska, so we had the place to ourselves. This weekend was also Laurie’s birthday, so the idea was for us to be able to have some relaxing downtime, and for some fun family activities.

After having two families over for dinner on Friday night, it was up early on Saturday to begin our journey. My idea was we’d hit the Pike Place Market on the way to the ferry, pick up some killer salmon and vegetables, stop by the dahlia bakery to get a coconut cream pie, and hop on the Bainbridge ferry for the short drive to Shine.

Well, in spite of the best laid plans….. we ended up deciding that the market would be a zoo, and we could do just as well at Town & Country…so it was off to the ferry terminal at 9:30 from Queen Anne…. Heading south on Alaskan Way, we negotiated the cruise ship fiasco to be greeted by the “no right turn” sign at the ferry terminal. A “Car Pool” exception was noted on the sign, so I forced a right turn…we waited for 10 minutes in line until we arrived at the fare booth, when an officer of the law walked in front of us and told us we needed to go to the back of the line, down by Safeco field. I pleaded that we were a high occupancy vehicle, but no quarter was given, so it was off to other points. We motored down the road, and noticed that it was at least a two boat wait, so I said we should drive around – we got to the point of no return on I-5 where you have to choose to go north or south. In a split second, we were headed north to Edmonds to get the Kingston boat.

As we headed down the hill in Edmonds, the pleasant sign said a 90 minute wait – oh well, the die was cast. We shuffled down the hill, and at one moment I came very close to the car in front of us, stopping abruptly fractions of an inch from their bumper. The gentleman in the car then proceeded to get out of his car and examine his bumper….I though this was taking things too far, and politely asked “any damage?” at which point he returned – “be patient”… moments pass, the cars move a few feet, and we stop…at which point his wife gets out and looks at the bumper…now Mr. Anxious (that’s me) can’t wait to be done with this line.

As we leave Kingston, after a relatively short one-hour wait the decision is made that “well, Central Market is in Poulsbo, and we’ll go right by it, we can get provisions there. We come to 305, and take a right – guess what? While we are going the right direction to get to Hood Canal, we are going the wrong way to groceries.

We end up in a place I never want to find myself again Wal-Mart –

Now normally I wouldn’t even dream of being in this situation – remember I originally wanted to be shopping at the Pike Place Market – but we had now been in the car for 5 hours, and I didn’t want to stop us from getting to our destination in the most expedient manner possible.

So as Laurie, Jamie and Stacy waited, I went in to vanquish the beast. I took this challenge sort of in a top-chef manner – here was my challenge – make the best possible meal I could from the lame store. Quickly, the salmon extravaganza was thrown out the window. What would Wal-Mart have that they couldn’t screw up - Let's see: a classic Steak dinner of an Iceberg Wedge with Bacon, tomato & Blue Cheese, Corn on the cob, Prime Tenderloin, and Strawberry shortcake? Produce was terrible, but the corn looked as ok as non ethanol May California could. The strawberries in their plastic clamshell looked non-moldy. The iceberg lettuce had hints of crunch inside, and the tomatoes looked and felt like red tennis balls….. At this point I should have bailed, and gone with a simple Pasta…but no…… was off to the meat section where I was amazed at the selection of “Select” grade beef - a lesser grade not usually found where we typically shop. In the beef grading system, Prime is the best, Choice is second, then Select, utility and cutter….I did find some interesting "Choice" T-bones and Spencers, and picked the two best, bright red, good marbling pieces I could find – yet these paled to what I would normally find in my usual haunts – but the pricing was much similar- in fact I think it was more expensive.

The last piece of the puzzle was the blue cheese… in the thousands of square feet, hundreds of pounds of processed American cheese food could be found but nary a wedge of blue……finally I picked up a small piece of “gourmet” blue cheese from a Wisconsin producer who probably makes semi truck fulls of the stuff.

We arrived at the house, the sun was out, and we were all happy – we played on the beach, sat and read – drank champagne, read, played Risk, and it was time for dinner.

I tried, I seasoned the beef, I made an herb butter to help, I timed it on the grill, but alas on the plate it looked sad. Everything looked sad. We all made the best of it – but all agreed, it was the worst meal I'd ever made. We had brought cake that James had made the day before. It was chocolate, with cinnamon and other spices in the frosting. Dying for something good – I 86’d the strawberry shortcake and served the chocolate. It was the best! James comes through!

It was the best of times

After the steak fiasco, the plan had been that I would go into Poulsbo on Sunday morning and do real shopping – but we found a freezer with about 1,000 pounds of fantastic looking Salmon from last year. I took a piece of what I think was Campbell River King, and let it thaw. Since we didn't need to hunt for salmon we decided to go off to Port Townsend. We looked at art and books, had lunch, went to North Point where wetook a fun little hike (and watched a few of the Swiftsure boats head south). We stopped at the P.T. Food Co-op for a few odds and ends – like celery root, potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, asparagus, artichoke, GOOD strawberries, food I felt good buying… we got back to the house and relaxed some more.

Then it was time to make the red wine reduction sauce, the celery root puree, prep the salmon with diced ginger and black pepper roast the asparagus – and then grill off the salmon- and put it all together. See the photo above - Roast Salmon with Ginger & Pepper, served on Celery Root Puree with a red wine reduction sauce- along with grilled asparagas & Cherry Tomatoes, in the top left is a glass of Adelsheim Pinot Noir ............

Tres magnifique! We all were quite happy and agreed that next time; even if we took a “wrong turn” we’d make sure we kept going right on past the store that shall not be mentioned!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out of Retirement...I'm not dead yet

I had the good fortune to sail in the Puget Sound Sailing Championships (PSSC) a few weeks ago. This is a buoy regatta for keelboats held at Shilshole Bay in Seattle , with over 100 boats in attendance. This regatta has a reputation of being one of the best - good race committee, tight rating bands, and good close short course racing, you do well at PSSC, and you know you’ve earned it.

In the late ‘80’s early 90’s I sailed in the event every year, it was the end of the season for our boat – even though we always qualified for Grand Prix, we rarely sailed it- but that’s another story. Racing on the Laser those years was a total treat – we had fantastic crew work, the folks in the back of the boat were brilliant, I did foredeck – I hustled and worked hard to make sure we could do anything called for… gybe set, no prob – fake gybe, bring it on….windward douse- you betcha. It was a 28 footer with a fractional rig – something that a 30 year old guy who sailed 5 nights a week could horse through when the going got tough. The bow was elegantly rigged, I had control of topper, foreguy and with the pole stored on the boom, no worries about being clear to tack. … we did well, we frequently were first, and usually would win our class.

I left the world of keelboat racing about 10 years ago, and have been putting my toe in the water a bit here and there, I helped a friend out with a Ranger 22 on Bainbridge a few years ago ( I had a blast with that program) , did Center Sound when Kelly O’Neil died so I could throw daffodils at Blakely Rock, and have a 25 foot Santana525 that we play around with at Duck Dodge – but I haven’t really gone whole hog , until…..this year.

I got the e-mail in early October – from a friend who was wondering if I’d sail... one thing led to another, and I signed on for the weekend…The boat was an Olson 911S…the same type of boat that the Laser had had a dickens of a fight with… Steamer…….I was ready for the challenge !

All week long I looked at the weather, Fog, no wind , Fog, ARGGGHHHH !!!!!!!!! Emails were flying, Sailing Anarchy checked, I turned down three other rides… I was looking forward to sailing with compadres – Derek, the owner – super smart guy with a great wit, Fritz – my old neighbor, and a great friend who has a way of bringing out the best in me. Teri, a gal who I had only met once, and Phil- for Saturday-some dude who I knew nothing about.

Saturday morning …Fog, fog and more fog……I take the dog for a walk and think about putting a glow stick on her tail so I know where she is…………. I hit Starbucks for coffee and the Cell rings – Fritz is on his way, can he give me a ride ? I head back home, and I put my duffle in the middle of the street… I think of all of those going off to Soccer….I sip my coffee and smile…I get to go racing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We head down to the boat on “P” dock, as in pea soup…..Derek is in full lightening mode…”don’t think we are going to need the Number Three….” Soon a conga line is formed as we take multiple trips to the container…oh wait we are a low budget campaign, so the container is Fritz’s Prius, which is soon stuffed to the gills.

Its foggy, lots of moisture in the air – yet we all try to dry off the decks of the boat, but when any of us step on it it just gets dirty again…..and the toweling off begins all over again. Teri arrives with provisions - beer is prioritized, with Red Stripes and Stellas staying, lesser brews are placed in the dock box…as we hang out and wait, a Melges 32 next to us is being tinkered with by a very busy assembly of guys wearing TP 52 Glory togs…Scott Smith (who I haven’t seen in 12 years – but hasn’t changed) is directing the troops…tape measures are hoisted, crew is hoisted, numbers checked, “half a turn off the D2……blah blah blah…….Tuning is not my stong point, I like to “set and forget”…..Derek chats up the owner – “Philippe (Kahn) is getting it going on the west coast, especially since the boats are getting affordable we should see some traction” I think to myself…affordable ????? Ante has to be at least 150K, and then the care and feeding has to be something like 25 K per event……but then that says something about the whole racing culture. Back when I last sailed PSSC on the Laser, the class we were sailing in would have been on the bubble to be the last fleet North Big Boat course , or the first class on the south small boat course… now , our rating band was third in the small boat course, and boats that used to be in the middle of the big boat course were now down south… boats are getting bigger , faster, and more expensive, but those of us in the back are still having as much fun, just writing smaller checks.

Next it was a stroll up to CYC to make sure there were no changes to the race instructions, and to check out the scene…not much action, see a couple of familiar faces, smile and give them a nod……. After a quick chat with the RC to confirm nothing was going on until the fog lifted it was time to make the first good call of the regatta – Head off to Salmon Bay CafĂ© for breakfast. …too much fun hanging out over a bacon & cheese ommlette just talking about stuff – last nights concert (Mozart) , Fritz and his travel stories of the wild frontier of Oregon, other sailing stories. Soon it was time to wrap up and head back to the boat, the check arrives, and the high finance starts – exacerbated by the fact that Derek has forgotten his wallet. 20’s change hands, fives are past around, a ten here and there…some how I put 20 in, and ended up with 25 in change…bills are passed around again…tip is left and we’re all square…except the pesky owner , but we all know where he lives. Don’t even ask about the sweatshirt transaction…I’m sure it was a ponzi scheme somehow. Then there also was that trip to the grocery store on Sunday, but I digress…..

P dock still is shrouded in gray, but much like Elvis, the Meleges has left the building. Taking their cue, we cast off and head out to throw up the sails and see what we can do. As we go by CYC, both RC boats are showing now signs of moving, so this will be solely a tuning extravaganza. Past the breakwater, and visibility is about 100 yards at best, and a ominous fog horn is heard coming from the west, but the Sun is really working hard to poke through, golden gardens and the turning leaves are seen….the breeze is about 3 to 5, the sails go up, and we cruise around – a little sail trim here, but nothing to constructive…but lots of good conversation, Weather its about music, relationships, or just gossiping about boats – I am so happy. We see the Melges heading back in, but we stay out a bit longer- another Stella please ! Eventually its decided to call it a day, and hit the REI sale – me, I go home , play with the dog, work through the punch list of chores and get ready for a fancy pants party that night. Fritz is staying with me, and he rolls in takes a shower and we head off to a lovely birthday party at Wild Ginger. As we get into my car, both of us nattily attired in our sport coats, sweaters and slacks I think to myself “boy this looks gay” (not that there’s anything wrong with that)….After dinner the party migrates to the Triple Door for an evening of dancing to Soul Provider – a great band with strong vocals and strong horns. Its like the old days of going to see Duffy Bishop & the Rhythm Dogs at the Owl. The rest of the crew joins up with us and there are smiles all around…did I say I was happy ? The evening ends as we walk through the streets of Downtown Seattle at 1 AM, I feel connected to my city, I look around at all of the buildings I’ve worked in, all of the memories, all of my friends, the party, the prospect of racing, things just feel right .

Is it Sunday morning already ? Same as Saturday, Foggy, no wind…..rinse lather & repeat. We head down to the boat, I fully expect not to race, that we’ll hang around, have breakfast, wait until Noon or so and call it a day. So….I bring the dog. We walk around Shilshole, her tail is going 100 mph…. Noon rolls around, and the AP flag goes down…WERE GOING RACING !!!!!!!!! Dog goes into the car, windows open, I say goodbye, and eagerly cast off.

It’s turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon, wind is 10 to 14 from the south, flat water….up goes the medium 1, boy that’s a bigger sail than I’m used too..oh right it’s a masthead…..Derek drives, Fritz does main, that means Teri and I do everything else. We quickly try to come up with an arrangement for releasing, tailing and grinding. We knock off a couple of tacks… on the first one I release and come across to grind and skirt. The adrennelin is rushing, I come across , miss my foothold and partially pass through the lifelines, bash my leg , and chew up my hand….but get the jib in , rush to the high side and take stock. …I’m not the Kid I used to be…got to think more, got to realize my boots aren’t gripping, got to keep in control….poise is key. Another tack, lets get this one right. We go through it OK…When I sail I want to do things with hustle and efficiency, and smoothness -we’re not just messing around -those guys over there might correct out on us by a second because I didn’t grind hard enough…I release, Teri tails, and I grind, head down , muscle it through. While we are not at 100 % efficiency, for what we are working with , no one can doubt our spirit. After two more practice tacks, we crack off and head back to the line. On the way back, I tape up my finger, and throw on a life vest – that fall woke me up a bit.

We grab the course, W-L-W-L-F….. two sets, two douses, this will be fun. After a bit of confusion on the timing of our start we head upwind. Our heads are down, only thinking about mechanics, not think of tactics, but we stay in touch with the fleet. Our boat speed is OK, and our teamwork is coming together. Teri is a huge gamer, working hard and staying on top of things. Fritz is doing a great job in difficult circumstances - We are all focused, I’m on a rush, things get done, but it seems like I’m a bit more vocal than usual…and are there patches of red on the deck….is that blood ? We round, standard bear away - kite goes up…..eventually……seems that I didn’t loosen the Velcro quite enough ……We head downwind….gybe goes OK, but I need to get in sync with Derek, I’m having a hard time rolling into it, and the squaring back seems off, but I’m digging life on the pointy end. Half way down the leg we come up to the Start/Finish area…I know its restricted, but I’m not sure if its both or not…I give Teri the sheet to her surprise, duck below, pull the race book out of my duffle and see its all restricted, this puts us way left, setting us up for a gybe douse…. ARRGGGHHHH !

I used to always be really prepared – my watch was spot on, I knew the flags, I knew what he tides were doing, I understood the restrictions…I got rusty, and need to sharpen up. We round, chute is down , and we are clear to tack quickly….we stay right on the way back up… We miss a skirt on a tack and put a hole in the foot of the jib… oh if we only had one more set of hands life would be good, but we sally forth….rig for the next set, this one goes well and were back down hill……tug is good, burn the heat…up a bit, feeling soft…gosh I love this !!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stay with the fleet, but are off the pace and finish in the back… We douse the jib and review…My self assessment is – I haven’t worked this hard on a boat in a long time….and I love it. I need to hit the gym, get the cardio up, I need to get back in the groove of preparation, I really like sailing with this team – we all are focused while racing, but we all are very simpatico…

Chutes to pack, Vitamin Waters to chug, lines to run, time for another race. I stay below and run the tapes, Teri rigs the lines. In my professional world I have learned a few words to live by – “Document or die”, “Flexibility is the key to long life” and “Trust but verify”. As we get ready for the next start I take a quick look at the foredeck, Lines look good, halyard is ok, pole is set, and we’re good to go. But again I’m a bit rusty, while everything is mechanically right, tactically we are off. We are rigged for a port pole, with a starboard launch…..meaning on a port rounding that we are committed to a gybe set. Of course I realize this halfway up the weather leg………..

Did I mention that Derek nailed the start ? We were on the line, clean air, and moving fast forward. We played a nice leg, and rounded in first., rolled into the set, and while it worked, I think it put us on the wrong side of the course. The next douse and rounding was a bit rough, but we persevered and made it to the top again in the middle of the fleet. We were able to go for a plain vanilla set, which was captured by Cliff Estes of borrowed light, a nice sequence, and I think it was the best of the weekend. As we went off , pressure kept dropping….by the time we finished the whole bay was flat. We hung out for a while, but soon it was obvious that we were done -the beers came out the sails came down. Instead of being able to stick around, have that shot of scotch, and hit the club, I had to hustle to the train station to pick up the family.

But as I left I had a feeling of accomplishment, respect for my teammates, exhaustion, and a huge desire that has been missing in me –It was one of the best weekends in my life and I’m really looking forward to future events with Amicus . Its amazing how being with the right people, in the right circumstances, can change your whole perspective on things…….Tally Ho !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

In praise of Boeing engineers

It’s a Sunday afternoon in March; I’m in my garage, watching a cardboard U-Haul box. The box is just outside the garage door. In it is an electric hotplate, a pan I bought at Value Village for 99 cents, two dowels, a screen, two thermometers, some wood chips, and two salmon fillets. It’s a homemade salmon smoker.

Last summer I tried to make homemade downriggers for salmon fishing, using clothesline, dumbbells, and clothespins… I have higher hopes for my salmon smoker a la Alton Brown. But these two inventions remind me of something about Seattle, something that I think is being lost - the practical ingenuity and mechanical aptitude of the Boeing Engineer.

I have been fortunate enough to be involved with two groups where that creative thought had really come to the forefront. There is a sailboat called an International 14. 14’s have very limited rules: the boat has to be 14 feet long, and have a certain amount of sail area, and a few other restrictions – but it is truly a boat for tinkerers. The largest fleets in North America used to be Seattle (Boeing) and Long Beach (McDonald Douglas). In Seattle the 14 fleet has dwindled, as fleets of other, larger boats have evolved. These new boats are often expensive, and frequently are cared for by professional managers, who hire out various maintenance……no tinkering by the owners.

The ski area we go to, which is supported by volunteers, has an amazing “garage” quality to it – currently the big mechanical guys are a Boeing lead mechanic and a guy from the UW Applied Physics Lab. These guys spend a lot of energy maintaining our 3 rope tows and the WWII-era snow cats that are used transport skiers and snowboarders up to the lodge and back. As well, they keep our cranky 70 year old wood-burning furnace alive. We are lucky to have them, their knowledge, and their interest in spending an inordinate amount of their free time making things work.

Growing up in Seattle, hydroplanes were the big deal. They used old WWII aircraft motors for engines, before switching to Vietnam turbine helicopter motors. The other big enclave for Hydros was Detroit. You know, the center of the American automotive industry…. The pit crews of those hydros were guys who played around with the motors in the evenings in the winter, and took vacation time in the summer to make the races.

The most visible part of the economy of Seattle has changed – it’s gone from Boeing Engineers that worked on interesting projects in their garage, to one of Microsoft developers who stay up late writing code, only to burn out at 42 and go raise goats on San Juan Island.

It’s moved from being a blue collar city, where the industrial area by Boeing Field, Interbay, Ballard and even south Lake Union were filled with manufacturing, maritime support, and even the Rainier breweries to a city of condos, boutiques, and intellectual ingenuity rather than mechanical aptitude and the use of one's hands.

And somewhere it seems that the soul of Seattle has left – and all that’s left is a shell of individuals, rather than a city-wide community.

The old Seattle guy I’m talking about would look at the cardboard box smoker, and say – “That’s a great idea, I bet if we made an adjustment here, and changed that with this piece of foil, and made this rotate with a small motor I have in my tool box, we’d really have something!” The new one would laugh, and say they just bought a super deluxe $700 smoker from Smith and Hawken in forest green.

I’m sharing my salmon with the old guys!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


There are times that are magic.....Sometimes they are hugely magic (birth of our son) and sometimes they are small (watching the dog and the cats play together), and then there are those times in the middle.

We took our annual winter vacation last week up to British Columbia - A couple of days in Vancouver, followed by a week of skiing in the Okanagan at Silver Star. The first night we were in Vancouver we were unsure of what to do for dinner. Our usual move would have been to have had room service while drinking a fabulous bottle brought from the cellar (a 2002 Camespelo was in my bag)... but the room we wanted (Westin Bayshore "old" building, room x15 or x16) wasn't ready and we'd need to wait an hour or so. I went and visited Norton the concierge under the pretense of a recommendation for Dim Sum the next day, but happened to slip that did he think we could get into Feenies for dinner that night.

Next thing I know, he is convincing my 10 year old how fantastic the hamburger is , and how the poutine has a maple hint to it...and voila we have a reservation at 6:15.
We hop in a cab and its off to Kitsilano. We are early and stroll about, it's a typical west coast February night, dark, 40 degrees and a heavy drizzle..we walk, hit a bookshop, browse, and make a few purchases. Then it's off to the main event...

We walk into Feenies , the "casual" annex to the classy Lumiere next door. Vancouver Casual is much different than Seattle Casual, more like NYC or SF casual. We shed our huge ski parkas, and were ushered to an empty room off the bar where one seat had a wonderful view of the kitchen - I though to myself "are we being segregated from the rest of the scene because we don't fit?" but soon that thought left as within 10 minutes the room was packed, and we had some of the best service I seen in a long time - the gal who waited on us was friendly, nice, appropriate, patient, and a real good sport.

My wife had been longing for a whisky sour all afternoon, so a round was ordered, and soon arrived... functional, but not over the top...a bit too much like sweet & sour bar mix, without the jump of fresh squeezed juice. Luckily, the functionality of the bar was quickly forgotten when food started to arrive-

A fantastic salad of greens, prosciutto and cheese - augmented with truly aged balsamic - everything melded in the mouth. but that was just the start. The mains were out of this world. My son had an outstanding burger with frites - very simple but executed with perfection, what looked like a house baked bun, super fresh produce of Tomato and lettuce, and perfectly done ground beef. I shared a bite and was astounded by the flavor that came through - it was if it was the best BBQ of the summer. The condiment arrangement was original, but yet not cute.

My wife had a Shepherd's pie of Duck Confit - hot hot hot...and in a good way ! So many times food is served lukewarm, or what was once hot in the kitchen is merely warm by the time it hits the table. This was hot, and stayed hot through our enjoyment of it. and enjoy it we did, a creamy truffle hinted mashed potato topping with lush duck confit hiding below the surface, accompanied with a lovely pan jus. My wife is not a huge duck fan (though I am), but she was honestly blown away with this dish, and I , well I was wishing I had ordered it - but I hadn't....

I had an amazing piece of sablefish (Black Cod below the border) that was presented in a mushroom broth , with shitakies and a few herbs. Again served piping hot, with rich aromas, and a depth of flavors that made my mouth so happy I almost forgot the confit next to me.

A few bites in, we all were in shock of how lucky we were to be there that night, and how we were experiencing the magic in process...we started talking about memorable meals, both from a food and place perspective...French Laundry....Jean Gorge...Prune...Canlis....Napa Rose.....Market Street Grill....Patit Creek.. when it hit, This food was "French Laundry Good", and it was at that time that our waitress appeared, we let her in on our discussion, and she was honestly interested.

Dessert was a trio of items all good, but not memorable two weeks later...

Happy and feeling magical we bundled back up in our ski parkas, headed out to the street ready to flag down a cab when the magic continued.............

For the past three years we have been going to Parkside when in Vancouver, and have been always remembered by a server who made our son (and his books) feel welcome, remembered the last bottle of wine we had, and something similar that we might enjoy. She had the knack for remembering us, and making us feel comfortable.... So we are out on the street on a drippy Vancouver Friday night, when who do we meet, but this woman ( who I feel terrible but I don't know her name) we chat for a bit, and find out that she is now working at Lumiere.... I think we know where our next dinner in Vancouver will be !