Kids, No Chaser

White Elephant / Pink Elephants

Friday, December 15, 2006 posted by Henri

Barbera. I need more Barbera. The past few months are a blur to me. I remember a few moments here or there. I remember something about a lot of business reports and projects. I remember living my days in 15 minute increments. Here's what I need to do in the next 15 minutes, here's what I need to do in the next fifteen minutes. For a lazy bastard like me that is really difficult. It was like a press or stone, no it was like a tumor that grows slowly and gradually increased in mass until before you know it you are carrying around an extra 100 pounds everywhere you go. I remember saying screw it a few weeks back and just spending the afternoon with my family eating crepes in the middle of this madness. And I remember blogging about how we shouldn't complain about our hardships because others always have it worse. I reread that a lot because on that same Friday, James Kim was spending the last day he had with his family before setting out the next day. Yeah I remember James. Then things get fuzzy again until yesterday where somehow I find myself with all of my deadlines met. All of my projects complete. Celebrating the Birthdays of my fellow dadhomies FayeDunaway, Afghanistan, Puffy and Su. Well it wasn't Su's birthday but he's part of the compound. It was one of those rare nights when we all decide to leave the kids at home and rejoin civilization. My final deadline for my last business report for the next few months was a few hours earlier. Somehow I submitted my report, saw all my patients during the day, got in my car and drove to 4th Street in Berkeley without remembering a thing other than the gradual realization of the absence of stress and pain. How's the saying go? Why do I keep hitting myself with this hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop. Ahhh so true so true. So my months from hell changed drastically over the course of a few hours. And as the fog slowly lifted from my squished soul, I gazed out as my vision began to clear. I saw before me charcuterie and a bottle of Barbera from Piedmont, no no no not Oakland "At-least-we're-not-Richmond" Piedmont, Italy Piedmont. Ahhh we are at Eccolo. So the first thing you do is open up an IV line and get that wine in you. Drip. Drip. Drip. Now I'm usually not a fan of Italian wines, mostly due to my utter ignorance and inexperience with them on top of the fact that (ignorant generalization ahead) every domestic Sangiovese or Barbera is utter swill. Ok ok just kidding, I don't know much about Italian grapes, other than to usually avoid them unless driven by kitsch to pair them with Italian food. Ok I was wrong. As the Barbera IV drip began to bathe my brain I suddenly stopped and thought....mmmm tasty. I was pretty surprised. My man Su picked out a really surprising 2004 Parusso Barbera. Very fruit forward. Paired with espresso at the end of my meal it turns into a dessert wine. Good trick. So life slowly crawls back into me and I think hey guys how'd you all get here? And so the night begins...

Me: Hey Su did you know that the greatest poison this world has ever known is Oxygen?
Su: Um what? MotherFu*$%^% what the hell did you just say?
Me: Oh shit.

So Su is the world's worst poker player and also the world's nicest guy. We give him crap nonstop and he usually is just smiling. You can't piss Su off. Unless you bring up environmentalism. And especially if you call an environmentalist a conservationalist just to talk about how Oxygen wiped out numerous anaerobic species on the face of this planet and can be argued to be one of the greatest poisons that this world has ever faced. Things are getting ugly and Su is getting angry.

Me: Hey man, this wine you picked out kicks ass.
Su: You can't say that oxygen is the worst poison this world has ever known.
Me: When we're done I'm gonna take this bottle and throw it in the bay.
Su: Mother$@#^# what?!
Me: And then I'm going to change the oil on my Ferrari Helicopter in my driveway...
Su: You might think this is really funny but you should consider the ramifications of your actions on our kids futures.
Me: ...and by change the oil I mean dump it in the gutter.
Su: This isn't funny bitch.
Me: Oh and I was talking about the driveway in my house in Tahoe...
Su: PoPo you can be a real asshole sometimes.
Me: Have you seen how pretty oil is on the surface of a lake? It's like rainbows you can actually touch. It helps when it's a really clean blue lake so you can really appreciate the rainbows it makes.
Su: My ears are bleeding.
Me: No seriously, how else are you going to touch a rainbow?

Hmmm ok Su. Hahaha put the butterknife down. I was just kidding. I love mother earth. I care about our kids futures. I don't change my oil in the driveway. At least not this week. Yeah so I learned the hard way, Su don't mess around with environmental issues. Obviously it was time to look at the menu. Hmm the last time I was at Eccolo was right when they opened. And I remember thinking no matter how rough around the edges this new place might be, thank god it's taking the place of that awful restaurant that stood here before it. I won't mention the place but dear god almighty I hated it. The first thing I love about Eccolo is the way they curtain off the entryway of the restaurant. You get this clot of people stuck in the entry waiting to speak to the seater and sometimes they get a little pushy and think you're trying to cut in front of them when you walk into the restaurant. No lady I'm not gonna steal your two-top, move the hell out of my way please. I don't know why people think Asians are nice. Have they ever been to a Ranch 99 on a weekend? You see these friendly people being mowed over by the locals. Welcome to Ranch99 bitch. Move faster. So I had to kinda squeeze past this passive aggressive Stella who pretended she didn't recognize how important I am, ok ok she at least pretended she didn't see me trying to get past her or could not understand that some people get to walk right on in. Hell maybe I was just out feeding a meter. Maybe I needed a smoke. Maybe lady some people just need to get past you in life. Thank you. But I like how Eccolo makes this tiny people aquarium, this little elevator to nowhere crammed with indignant foodies mumbling how this isn't as good as this place or that place. Ok ok usually it's only me mumbling stuff like that even though my taste isn't refined enough to pass judgment on Popeye's vs. Church's (Popeye's by a mile). But once you get in, I think the space is great. Nice art, nice bar, cool banquette, focal lighting. Nice and cozy. We started with some salumi which is nice, kinda tough with Cafe Rouge around the corner to not compare the two. Hell I like any aged meat product so I'm real easy, even if it was bad it's still good. But the tagliettele was very nice. Specifically it was Paglia e fieno tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and mint. Mint? I didn't pick up on the mint. The porcini were delicious and of two distinct textures, one firm and holding well to the nicely al dente pasta while the other were these little soft porcini bombs that melted away leaving you to wonder what the hell was that? And can I find another? Delicious. And on we go...

Me: Hey FayeDunaway, what do you think about my argument about Oxygen?
Su: I'm going to kill you.
FayeDunaway: What about Oxygen?
Me: It was the greatest poison this world has ever known.
Su: Dead man talking.
FayeDunaway: I'm going to stay out of this.
Me: Ok. Don't let Su order anything that comes with a steak knife.

So next I had the steak. Specifically it was grilled bavette steak with wild arugula, Parmesan, and balsamic vinegar. Now the first thing my boy Afghanistan says about this is...

Afghanistan: I like my steak to be steak.

Hmmm true. Normally I'd be with him but at least they called it arugula instead of rocket, that makes it a tiny bit more manly. Well I was once again very happy. Very tender. The bavette is cut from the short loin. The combination of rocket and Parmesan is a classic combo, the best being on a pizza I had at Tommaso's...ahh Tommaso's, I love that place. Going back to the this cut of meat has disaster written all over it. Ever try to cook up flap steak or skirt and serve it to a nice group of friends? Of course not that's some tough-ass meat. But this bavette was really really delicious. Meaty flavor which is really important to me and also the reason why I'll always take a ribeye over a filet, and a really nice tender rare center. Too much frise and other crap, maybe just the rocket and Parmesan would have been nice. The balsamic was actually very nice with the bavette. I would order this over and over again. Very very happy. So by the end of dinner me and Su had enough wine to overcome our differences. It was also our white elephant gift exchange so over desserts we started our gifts...

Puffy: Who else bought porn?
FayeDunaway: I thought we agreed no porn.
Afghanistan: I was going to bring porn...
Me: Ummm yeah like did someone not send me that memo because it's about to get really uncomfortable up in Eccolo.
Afghanistan: I was going to buy something with dwarves or fatty's...
Me: I would never bring porn. That is completely inappropriate. If someone opens up a gift and it's porn, it's not from me ok?
Afghanistan: ...but my wife refused to buy it...
Puffy: Umm yeah the wives seem real quiet all of a sudden.
Our Wives: (Silently Glaring)
The Rest of the Restaurant: (Silently Glaring except one couple who couldn't stop laughing)
Me: What? Are we that loud? We said we did NOT bring porn. Especially me, I definitely got the memo and I did NOT bring porn. So if anybody opens any porn it wasn't from me.
Afghanistan: ...I mean literally she refused to go into the store when I parked the car.

OK so really, no Porn. It's a sign that we are getting old. No adult novelty gifts at a white elephant gift exchange. Yup we are old. Afghanistan, although not bringing anything with dwarves or "fatties", did keep the spirit of white elephants alive by bringing Celine Dion and a Redneck CD. No I'm not being racist, the CD literally said Redneck in the title. I think. Other notable $20 and under gifts included, a gigantic chocolate Santa (yay!) and the spinning tupperware thing you see on infomercials at 3:00 am. FayeDunaway and wife picked out something cool at my favorite place on 4th st, Flight 001. Although the gift was STOLEN from me I refused to part with the silver bag it came in. I think that sentence makes me officially metrosexual. No, just plain gay. Hello world. Which reminds me of the fact that Puffy's groomsmen put Puffy in some pink hotpants and they all went out to celebrate the Pride parade the day before his wedding. Hilarious. Ok ok on to dessert.

You can't go wrong ordering pot de creme in any restaurant. Do not order it at Eccolo. Ok ok I probably got a bad night's pot de creme. But it was too rich and too hard in texture, the term clay-like comes to mind. And as rich as it was, it was not very sweet. Bummed me out that my great dinner had to end like that. The espresso was fine and that damn Barbera was still surprising me with every sip. I kept thinking what a great value it was. Really fun fruity, but with some depth and finish. Became a great dessert wine when drinking espresso and trying to finish the bottle. At this point it was just me and my buddy Su drinking. Any man from Chico St. is a man that you know you can have a drink or 12 with. And so we slowly finished the night as the first of a few pink elephants entered the restaurant.

Me: Hey Su any friend of yours is a friend of mine.
Su: Thanks.
Me: And if your best friend is the planet Earth then hell he's my friend too.
Su: Umm wait are you starting up again?
Me: If I wasn't already married I would have invited him to my wedding.
Su: Ok that's it, you're one dead little Korean.
Me: Hey hey easy, I am but Earth's finger.
Su: Take it outside.

So the night ends outside in the crisp cool night of Berkeley, California. Giant chocolate Santa in hand, Pink Elephants to the left of me , Pink Elephants to the right of me. Su laughing and having a good time, forgetting the worries of the world for one moment. Afghanistan still trying to figure out how he could have gotten the dwarves or fatties. FayeDunaway and Company enjoying the gift they STOLE from me. Puffy, once again, trying to kiss all our wives. As the spirit of Christmas finally finds me under the lights of 4th street, I think about how good we have it. I think about those that are missing their loved ones as we part ways with the fathers and wives we call our Compound. Merry Christmas guys. And merry Christmas to internet.

Me: Hey honey.
Cindy: Yes.
Me: How are we gonna fit these Elephants into the car?
Cindy: Umm yeah....goodnight everybody.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my defense I try to kiss all of the husbands too!!! - Puffy

8:27 PM

Blogger Stu said...

Wow, bravo, this is some good writing. Now, I'm a fan of Rene Magritte, so that may skew my opinion in your eyes, but I'm cool with that. Anyway, thanks for the smile. As a stay-at-home dad with two kids, I don't get to eat out much, but I now have to get out, if only to try pot de creme, which I'd never heard of before. What flavor is the best for a novice, or does it not matter?

1:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drunk blogging at it's finest. You truly are one bad-ass chocolate Santa. Mazel tov.

7:20 AM

Blogger honglien123 said...

"At-least-we're-not-Richmond", that's right!

I believe when one does the school, work, family with small children thing, you stop thinking and actually just get things done. Congrats on finishing your stuff on time, descents into drunken blogging are totally expected.

9:30 AM


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