Category Archives: general

All You Can Couch Surf

Carpe vitae!  Every now and then an opportunity presents itself that you know you will kick yourself forever if you turn it down.  So, why turn it down?  One night sitting on the internet a message came through, Jet Blue was doing their All You Can Jet pass again. Visions of flitting from place to place sprang to mind, seeing old friends and new, eating and drinking in exciting new places, and in distant favourites that had faded in the mists of memory.  Bars to visit, spirits to try, stupid things to do, and promises to fulfil, all these bloomed in my mind tantalizing me with possibilities.  I found myself credit card in hand buying a ticket, and the reality that this was going to happen set in.

TOTC10 007

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Farewell to my Living Room

Once in a great while a restaurant becomes more than some place where you eat, drink, or gather with friends.  Sometimes, a restaurant becomes your third place.  That elusive locale where you feel at home, a place that comes to feel as natural to spend time in as your living room.  My living room is closing this weekend.  Union in Seattle has been my home away from home, a special place, a place where I have felt utterly comfortable and one of the family.

Union cemented a love of food and added to that a perfect storm of a really well chosen wine list, beer list, and a cocktail program that I watched grow in front of my eyes.  My friend Keith Waldbauer – the barman at Union, and I instigated in each other an appreciation and desire for well made classics, new carefully balanced drinks, and a desire for rum.  Sitting at the bar and in the dining room planted the seed of the idea that maybe I needed to switch over to the other side.  It was the beginning of a path that would change my life.

The dining room and bar were the scenes of many great meals and memories.  Wonderful parties took place, friendships were formed and cemented, great experiences shared, guests feted, milestones celebrated, all to the accompaniment of great food and drink.  Shenanigans took place, lots of late nights were spent talking, laughing, sometimes drinking way too much, always in good company.  We watched the show as people walked up and down the street and dubbed it Union TV.  I don’t think I can ever adequately describe everything that happened but I want to say thank you for a great ride.  To Ethan, Hans, Mark, Tyler, Elwood, Jason, Angela, Keith, Chris, Manu, Manuel, Jesus, Jimmy, Shawn, Sennen, Ethan, Kurt, Vira, Amber, and countless others who made it such a great place, thank you, and let’s get a drink soon.

A Look Back at Union

Guest Chef Menu


Filed under general, Restaurants

Counter Envy

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by counter seating no matter where.  I would always look wistfully on as people would come in sit down and interact with all of the people behind the counter.  They would banter and seem to be having a much better time than I was at some boring old table with my family.  This only intensified whenever we ate at Japanese restaurants.  I mean what more sublime an expression of counter seating is there than sitting at a sushi bar?  It’s a good thing I didn’t know about tapas or robata bars then, I might have gone on a homicidal rampage.  Oh, I wanted to sit up there on a stool, swivelling back and forth watching the world go by.

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I have a whole slew of posts written and ready to go.  I thought, “Ha!  I will be prepared and will put these up on a regular basis and on a schedule. It will be the most organised blog launch in history.”  I forgot about the universe.

I have a little story to tell.

Once upon a time there was a guy.  He thought that he had a really good handle on his life.  Work at a decent job with some really wonderful people that he really loved working with, making a decent amount of money.  He wasn’t going to get rich, but it would let him have the means and the time to enjoy the things he liked.  Chief among these, checking out restaurants, learning about new food and techniques, hopping bars, diving into cocktails and spirits, enjoy the company his friends, and travelling a bit.  Then he got bit by the urge to take it another step.  He loved the people he was meeting and the joy of being a host and providing people with an enjoyable experience of their own was very powerful.

This guy is obviously me.  Thinking things over, I decided that I wanted to get behind the bar.  The strangest thing is, I didn’t really consider going into the kitchen.  I love to cook, and I love to make good food for people, but I also crave the interaction of being face to face with the person you are giving your creations to.  So behind the bar it was.  I asked Jim Romdall at Vessel in Seattle if I could come in and barback for him and start to learn about being on the other side of the stick.  I was incredibly flattered when he said yes right away and I dived in wholeheartedly.

Fast forward a few months.  An opportunity came up at my day job at the University of Washington to leave and be able to cash out all of my ridiculous amounts of vacation time.  (When I say ridiculous, take a huge amount of vacation time and multiply it by crazy, that’s how much I had.)  It was soul searching time for me.  In the end, I realised I had the rare opportunity to pursue my passions and hopefully make a living while doing it.

Having made my decision to leave the safe confines of University employment and make a commitment to the restaurant and bar industry I started to let my friends know.  I was immensely moved by the outpouring of support and well wishes from my former colleagues and the welcome I received from all of my friends in the industry.  Of course, I was nervous and had moments of doubt.  What kind of moron leaves a job in the middle of a recession?!  Still, in the end the feeling of coming to my place in the universe was unmatched and overwhelmed any doubts.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me as I take this next step in life.  It’s been a whirlwind and it will only continue.  Here’s to a fun ride.


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Dum Vivimus, Vivamus

While we live, let us live.

Well, another blog to add to the pile of blogs floating around the interwebs.  Who cares?  Well, you’ve made it this far.  After years of resisting and being lazy, I’ve finally succumbed and decided to start one.  If you decide to read along I hope that you find something of value here.  At the end of the day though, it’s not about pleasing anyone else.  That sounds egotistical but it’s true.  This is a personal slice of my life.  Perhaps you’ll find it amusing or informational, perhaps you’ll think I’m full of crap, or maybe you’ll want to argue with me.  Feel free to comment, interact, argue, or ignore me.  These are my musings on the parts of life that I am passionate about, food, drink, enjoying my life in general, and the company of people I care about.

I like to think of myself as a bon vivant, living life for enjoyment and pleasure.  This is the life that we have, and I’m not going to waste mine.  There’s no need to practice being miserable, that comes naturally.  Hold that at bay, go forth and have a good time, enjoy yourself, you might like it.

While we live, let us live.

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