Well people, after yet another long trip around the sun, we’ve arrived back here, at the best time of the year. The days are long and warm. Your skin, no matter how high an spf you choose, or how many hours a day you spend at your computer, can’t help but take on a rosy glow. Everyone starts cooking dinner outside on a grill. And we here at this little hotel can’t help but join in.
Have all of you out there been looking forward to the return of our Wednesday night BBQs the way we have been? I know it’s been a long year, full of elections and hurricanes and a sequestration and Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy, so let me refresh your memory. Every Wednesday night, from now through the end of summer, we’re going to set up a grill out by our pool. You’ll have your choice of chicken or steak, grilled however you like it (though requests for rare chicken are strongly discouraged) either of which will be served alongside a buffet of fresh salads, piping hot baked potatoes, decadent desserts and more, all for under $15. And remember, this is in combination with our ever present, ever popular unlimited free drink happy hour from 5-7, and our bar now staying open until 11pm. Sounds good, no? It’s like being invited to a friend’s place for a poolside cookout every week, except that when you ask what you can bring the answer is always nothing, no one will ever ask you to take over the grill for a bit and you will never have to worry about having one more drink because there is no drive home.
Here’s hoping your summer travel schedule gives you lots of Wednesdays with us this year!
One of the nicest things to do, if you find yourself in a big city in the summertime, is to find an open-air cinema. In New York it’s at Bryant Park, it’s free and people come hours early to stake their claims, bringing picnic dinners along with them. In Berlin you will most likely pay a few Euros, but there’re several throughout the week, sometimes more than one a night. Paris, I believe, has a free one too. The list goes on and on, but not quite all the way on. Poor San Francisco has failed, again and again, to get a thing like this going. Why? Because San Francisco has a dirty little secret: It’s never, ever warm enough, in the summer in San Francisco, to sit outside and watch a movie.
But never fear! San Jose has got what you’re looking for, if you happen to be looking for an open-air cinema. Starting June 12th, the city of San Jose screens a series of classic family favorites, starting with The Princess Bride and including one of my all time favorites, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, every Wednesday night, for free, outside. Notice I haven’t named a venue? That’s because San Jose’s unique take on this summertime tradition is to rotate it around the city. Every week you have to check to see where it’s going to be, the idea being that this way the different parks, neighborhoods and local businesses all get their turn to show off.
This does, of course, coincide with our Wednesday night BBQ, which is in accordance with Murphy’s Law. Still, an outdoor movie can’t start until it’s dark out, which is not happening very early these days. And, actually, starting with our BBQ and then moving on to sit under the stars and watch Ferris Bueller on his joy ride would not be a bad night at all.
Forgive a bit of bragging, but this month’s employee story will be devoted to how very proud we are of Liliana Francisco. Lily has been with us since she was a teenager, working behind the front desk as soon as she was old enough to have a job. We knew she’d be dependable and solid because her mother was, and still is, the manager of housekeeping, and genetics and accountability are two of the major hiring principles around here. Still, there was no way to know just what a devoted hard worker she’d be, or how much pleasant good humor she’d bring into work with her every day. We have loved her and will continue to love her and she’s been the front desk manager for the last few years and she just absolutely rocks, but this is not a story about Lily’s job here with us.
After high school, Lily spent a couple of years going to community college and then transferred to San Jose State University. Her major was Social Science. Last week she graduated, and when Lily walked down that aisle and accepted that diploma, she became the first member of her entire extended family to hold a college degree. Do I need to talk now about the odds she’s come through, or what a sparkling gem of a person she is? The fact is enough, I think. It holds so much in it. We are both happy to have been a part of the structure that she used to get herself to this place, and humbled by someone doing such big, important work right here in our midst. Please, when you see her in the next weeks, months or year, give her as many congratulations as she’s willing to take.
Listen up friends, this is an important announcement: I have a new candidate for Best Pizza in the South Bay. It’s called Pizza Bocca Lupo, it can be found in the San Pedro Square Market, and it is seriously amazing. It’s obsessively authentic Neapolitan style; they even go so far as to claim that the reason their pizza is so much more truly the real thing is that they’re the only ones in the South Bay who’re making pizza in an oven imported from Naples, which feels just ever so slightly like an empty gesture, done so that it could be written about on their website. Still, who am I to criticize their ways? The pizza I ate there was so good I wanted to cry and if they say they needed to ship an oven across an ocean and a continent in order to make it, fine, it seems to have been worth it.
Traditional Neapolitan means that we’re talking about a very thin crust and it means that you won’t find any groovy California toppings being allowed to interfere. No avocados or sprouts on these pizzas. This is the kind of place where the margarita is going to be heaven in its perfect simplicity, but knowing that, you know that they’re going to be serving up some pretty amazing sausage too. And the good thing, if it feels too hard to choose, is that this is not the heavy, greasy kind of pizza that can only be indulged in every once in a great while. This is a light delight, perfect summer fare, and going back a couple of nights later to try the one you passed up is a perfectly fine choice to make.
The story of the Longoria Winery is the story of Rick Longoria, owner, founder and winemaker. So, let’s start off with by saying that Longoria was a student at UC Berkeley, when the decade was changing from the 60s to the 70s. While there, he developed a fantasy about joining the winemaking business, because he felt that it was in tune with the counterculture principles he was being steeped in. Still, his first impulse was to dismiss the fantasy of winemaking and go to law school. While traveling through South America, though, he discovered that there was no other path for him besides that of winemaker.
And so, returned to America, clear on the path he was to take, Longoria got himself up to the Napa Valley and apprenticed himself to the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff. A career had begun, but still there was another shift to make. Longoria found that the winemaking lifestyle in the Napa Valley was too hectic. Which, if you’ve ever been up to the bucolic Napa Valley, speaks volumes about this man. He chose, instead, to take a job at a little place down near Santa Barbara, which was, in the late 70s, not really known as a winemaking region. He stayed there, at the J. Carey Cellars, for a few years, then moved over to the Gainey Vineyards for a bit, always making his own Longoria Wines as a side project.
When, in 1997, he felt that his side project was strong enough, Longoria let it take center stage in his life. Now, as Santa Barbara wines have become known, Rick Longoria is a part of how that happened. His is a story of having found the particular path his life should take. He did it by whittling away the more obvious choices, by choosing less glamour and more patience, and, in the end, that way started winning him awards. If these are the lessons to be had from Berkeley in the 60s, well, they look pretty good on Rick Longoria.