February 14th, 2014

Listen up everyone! This is important. There is a game on, and you all are contenders. Which means that you’re all potentially winners, but it also means that every pair of eyes on this newsletter that is not your own, is your competition.

The contest is not so very hard. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself with your keycard. Simple. Now that we can all turn our phones into cameras and our cameras into mirrors whose images can be saved, there’s really nothing stopping every single one of you from entering.

But what will be in the photo, besides you and that key card? That, friends, is for you to decide. And for us to judge you on. You all are travelers. Where you go when you’re not here with us is a big mystery. What you do when you’re not working or sleeping is another blank spot. Heck, we’ve got no idea about the work part either, really. So we’re asking you to show us. Maybe one of you is building robots and another of you is an avid spelunker. Maybe you’re doing things we won’t even know exist until you send us the photos. We want to see it all!

We’ll pick winners every quarter if only a few of you play. But if you inundate us, we’ll pick more and more winners. The prizes are a plush bathrobe and your winning photo on our Facebook page for a month. The rest of the details are on our Facebook page. Which, while you’re there you may as well admit you like us if you haven’t already. Play early, play often! We can’t wait to see what you all are up to!

February 13th, 2014

Yoga, just a few short decades ago, was considered kind of a fringe practice. Something for the new age hippies, a California cliché. To say that one felt invigorated by doing yoga was akin to saying that one felt clearer when surrounded by crystals. Not so today! Now everyone’s doing yoga, and just about everywhere. Most gyms offer yoga classes. Senior centers too. It’s benefits to health and well-being are nearly universally accepted.

It can seem, though, that in order to achieve mainstream acceptance the way it has, yoga has had to disguise itself as merely a physical fitness regimen. The ubiquitous power yoga classes push aerobic and muscular endurance. Hot yoga, too, takes students pretty far toward the limits of their strength and flexibility. It’s a great way to get in shape. So great, perhaps, that it’s almost possible to forget that yoga is a religious practice. Is, essentially, prayer to Hindu gods. Or it has been. Maybe it isn’t anymore. Maybe it is in some, but not all the places it’s practiced. Maybe it’s now many things and that’s ok.

The newest exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco might not resolve those questions, but for those who are troubled or curious about them, it can at least help in your conversations on the subject. It’s called Yoga: The Art of Transformation and it claims to be the world’s first major art exhibition about yoga. If you’ve ever been to a Bikram class, if there’s yoga at your gym and you’ve been meaning to check it out, if you even just know what downward facing dog is, consider spending an afternoon with this exhibit. Yoga is such a huge part of our culture these days, it’d probably be good for us to understand a bit more of what it’s all about.

February 12th, 2014

As some of you may have already noticed, a couple of months ago we stepped a bit out of form. There is now a woman behind the bar at the Grand Hotel. Shouldn’t be such a revolutionary move in this day and age, and yet, up until now, we just have not had a female bartender. Nothing against the men who’ve passed in and out of that post over the years, but our bar was ready for a little girl power, and Stacie brings that in spades.

The bar, now, is lively and bright in a way we probably didn’t know it could be before Stacie got here. She’s almost too young to even be in a bar, she’s full of the fresh energy of youth, and yet she comes to us with years of experience. The perfect paradox. She tells a story of drinking in a bar a couple of weeks after her 21st birthday, chatting with the bartender, and being offered a job on the spot, unsolicited, just because of how much that bartender enjoyed her. Two years later, she’s come here to us. She’s got all that same exuberance, and now she knows how to pour a drink too.

Talking to her, which all of you will get plenty of chances to do, you learn that though she fell into bartending, she’s now choosing to do it because she loves it. She gets to have real, in depth conversations with people whose life experiences are different from her own, and different from one another’s as well. She talks about how valuable it’s been to her to learn about the different ways that people live and think. She knows about a wider range of problems, now, than what she expected, but also about an equally wide range of solutions. Her enthusiasm for the richness other people can bring to her life is palpable and infectious. The bar is aglow. Hurry over and see.

February 11th, 2014

Any Seinfeld fans out there? For those of you nodding yes, do you remember the episode that Elaine spends lamenting her inability to order a “big salad”? I don’t remember why the one she wanted was unavailable, I only just remember relating to how hard it is to find a good “big salad”. Those of us who like them know what it’s like to want something only as light as a salad, but to want it to be big enough to fill us the same way a meal would. Seems paradoxical, but, thanks to Elaine, we know it’s a real thing that makes sense to other people.

It can be hard, though, to find a so-called entrée salad that doesn’t leave you feeling hungry. But I do know of one reliable place. A few, actually, since the Crepevine is a Bay Area chain. Go in hungry and feel safe ordering a salad, trusting that you won’t be back for bread and cookies when you’re done, desperately seeking satiation.

As you maybe guessed from the name, salads aren’t the only thing on offer at the Crepevine. They also serve those beautiful, thin pancakes, stuffed in ways that would make their French progenitors blush. Sweet or savory, and maybe some combination of the two, if you ask nicely.

One final, oh-so-welcome feature of the Crepevine is that it’s open until midnight. Those of you who’ve spent any time in California at all know what a precious and rare resource the late night eating establishment is. And if you’re eating late, you basically have to resign yourself to eating greasy crap. Except that, from now on, the Crepevine will be your salvation. Big salads at 11pm. You’re welcome.

February 10th, 2014

This month, instead of introducing you to yet another California wine, I’ve got something even more local for you to try. What could be more local than, say, the wine that sits fermenting in the hills you can see out the window of your room, you ask. Well, how about a little project happening right here in this little hotel? For the last several months, it seems, Ed, the weekend bartender at the Cupertino Inn, and Jerry, our marketing and sales manager, have been practicing a bit of alchemy. Infusing exotic flavors into a few of the bar’s old standards.

As experiments go, they needed a bit of time to sort themselves out. Bacon in whiskey is smoky decadence; sausage is fatty revulsion, it turns out. They haven’t peaked yet, but they have landed on a few winners. The aforementioned bacon whiskey, for example. They’ve also got a juniper cardamom, inspired by an idea of simplifying gin, and a pineapple jalapeno, inspired by pizza. They’re having a lot of fun doing this, so I’d imagine that there are going to be new things to sample for months and months to come. I would even go so far as to imagine that if you had and idea, and could convince them it was even slightly plausible, they could get it going and have it ready by the next time you blew into town.

Of course the good thing, as always, about trying out whatever I recommend here, is that it’s free when you are our guest. Not all of these are going to be to everyone’s taste and there’s nothing worse than paying big for some fancy specialty cocktail, only to find that the idea was better than the execution. The stakes are much lower here. Sure, you might end up with a bad taste in your mouth, but all you’ve got to do to fix that is ask for something else.