Valet Confidential

Find out what I've been keeping under my hat

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Mmmm … burritos

I read this restaurant review the other day, and I have to say that this place sounds pretty good. I have a few questions:

Have any of you been to one of the Boloco’s?
Would any of you like to meet me in Boston and give it a try?
How can we get one here on Cape Cod?

Not that our burrito options are bad here on the cape – far from it, really – but we don’t have much in the way of the more non-traditional options offered by Boloco’s.

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Our long national local nightmare inconvenience is over

Yes, Harwich Center has a breakfast spot again! And in the same place that housed our previous breakfast spot, the “Stewed Tomato” – o frabjous day! callooh! callay!

[OK … in all honesty, we’ve had a breakfast place in the area for a little over a year, since Harwich Central Cafe opened … but for whatever reason, they never really seemed to quite fill the loss of the Stewed Tomato … don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place – hell, they even have free internet access there – but it’s definitely more of a funky coffee house than a diner-style breakfast place.

Hey, allow me a little artistic license and cut me some slack here, OK?

Whew. Glad we got that over with.]

Anyway, back to the new restaurant in Harwich Center. It’s called “Shenanigans” and I hear it is run by the folks who run Katie’s Homemade Ice Cream in Hyannis. They are open from 6 am to 3 pm, serve breakfast the entire time, and add lunch items to the menu at 11 am. There’s probably around 8 counter seats (I didn’t count), along with several tables. I went there for the first time the other day with Lady Trout, Princess Pinky, and Prince Stinky.

The restaurant has a very nice menu – for breakfast, there are the traditional egg/toast/bacon/homefries combos, various omelets (including make your own), breakfast sandwiches, a couple of benedicts (standard and one with, if I remember correctly, hash), pancakes, french toast, and even fruit-filled crepes.

The two young royals split an order of chocolate chip pancakes, which they both liked quite a bit – and you don’t even have to go to the children’s menu to order them! Her Highness Lady Trout ordered a veggie breakfast sandwich, which came with a little veggie patty in place of bacon or sausage. I had two eggs with bacon, toast, and homefries. Good bread options for toast, including a multigrain, which is what I got – nice and nutty! The homefries are just potatoes, and were pretty tasty, if not all that exciting. I prefer mine with some onions, but they were quite good. Adding some hot sauce would probably help – next time, I’ll see if they have any. My only real complaint with my order was with the bacon (quel surprise, I know!) – there were only two pieces. I guess I’m used to 3 or 4 pieces to an order at other restaurants – the 2 pieces just seemed. Certainly not a deal-killer, and next time, I’ll know and order an extra side of bacon. Breakfast prices were all in a reasonable range, too.

The lunch menu looks good as well. They have various types of sandwiches – panini, wraps, traditional sandwiches, almost all of which were $7.50 a pop. Bargain on the lunch menu at first glance looks to be the grilled cheese for only $3.99.

I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Shenanigans and trying out more of the food there. It looks to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

If you’re in the area and want to give it a try – call me, I can usually be there in 5-10 minutes!

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Rollercoaster

I just had quite a weekend.

It started off with too much driving in really awful weather, but worth it because I heard some absolutely wonderful music.

It started off Friday night with two shows by the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet. Terry is best known for his keyboard work with NRBQ, one of my favorite bands ever. Terry has been playing with this new band for just over a year now, playing a few short tours with the band. I’ve been lucky enough to see them several times, and have been very impressed by the way they play and by how Terry seems to really enjoy playing with them. Friday’s shows were great – NRBQ drummer Tom Ardolino sat in on drums in place of regular drummer Conrad Choucroun and former NRBQ sidemen The Whole Wheat Horns (Donn Adams and Klem Klemick for this show) sat in, too. As a result, the setlists were filled with horn-based songs I hadn’t heard this band perform before. There were also several newly written Terry songs and new-to-the-band cover tunes. I’m always amazed that, even as often as I see Terry perform, I almost always hear something that I’ve never heard him do before. If you get a chance to see the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet, do whatever it takes to go.

Saturday night I saw Geoff Muldaur perform. Geoff played with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, and is just a wealth of musical knowledge. He told great stories between songs, amazed guitar players in the audience with his picking style, and blew my mind with his singing. What a wonderful performance.

To top it off, my fantasy baseball and football teams had great weekends. My fantasy baseball team (Men of Leisure) finished at the top of the league – 2nd time in the last 3 years (and last year I finished in 2nd place)! My fantasy football team looks likely to be the only undefeated team in the league after this week (depending on how things go tonight, anyway).

Unfortunately, when I got home Saturday night, it was obvious that there was something wrong with my cat, Fox. She was listless, not moving, and just not herself. Sunday I took her to CARE, the 24 hour emergency vet center here on Cape Cod. They noticed immediately that she was breathing with her mouth (apparently an indicator of respiratory distress) and took her in the back to start looking at her. She was dehydrated and her temp was low, so they kept her in kitty ICU on an IV drip and with warm water around her to try to get her temp up. They also drew blood, to see what might be wrong with her, but the vet noticed jaundice in her mouth and told me she suspected something referred to as fatty liver disease (I forget the tech name for it right now). I left her in good hands. Last night, I got a call that the blood work confirmed liver issues, and she seemed to have stabilized. Unfortunately, I got a call early this morning that she had taken a turn for the worse – her temp had dropped significantly, even though they were trying to keep her outside as warm as possible. Also, while she had been able to stand up for a few seconds, now she could not even do that. I got dressed and headed to the vet’s office (fortunately, very close to my house) and spent about 1/2 hour or so with Fox. It was obvious she was miserable and the treatments had not helped, so I made the decision to have her euthanized.


She was a sweet, sweet cat with a wonderful, expressive face. She never liked to be picked up or held, but always wanted to be near me. I’ll miss her terribly.

RIP, sweet Fox.

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The Juice

“Crazy-stupid good” – this is the phrase I’ve been using this summer for food which, in a snootier time, I might have called “sublime”. I’ve run into a few examples of crazy-stupid good food this summer, and last night there were a few at the Juice, in Wellfleet.

I’ve been to the Juice several times, both last summer and this summer, and every meal I’ve had there has been great – and several items on the menu are most certainly crazy-stupid good (the clam fritters for absolute sure – they’re purt-near perfect). Last night, I tried three things I hadn’t had there before:
oysters in the rough (a half dozen raw oysters)
spinach & mushroom quesadillas
chocolate ganache tort

The oysters are local, Wellfleet oysters, and are served with a housemade cocktail sauce which was tasty. The really cool thing about the dish was the little leaf of fresh cilantro added on each oyster. Damn, that really made things great! Also, the price practically can’t be beat – $9.95 for a half-dozen oysters, where most restaurants on the Cape charge *at least* $2.00 an oyster.

The oysters made a nice appetizer, and then came the quesadillas – holey schmoley, where have these been all my life?!?!?! How have I skipped over them on the menu all the other times I ate there?!??! Every bite brought a smile to my face. Really tasty, meaty mushrooms, and the cheese they use was gorgonzola, so there’s a nice blue-cheese bite to it (though not super-strong). Definitely a new fave dish for me, and something to go into the rotation of meals to eat there.

While the quesadillas brought a smile to my face with every bite, the chocolate ganache made me positively giddy – I swear, I actually giggled as I was eating this, it was so damn good.

There are many fine restaurants to choose from in Wellfleet – there’s Mac’s Shack, the Wicked Oyster, Sol, to name a few – just be sure to keep the Juice on your list of possibilities when you’re there – try anything on the menu – it’s all good, and a whole lot of it is crazy-stupid good.

update (later Sunday, around 2pm): I forgot to mention a couple of things about the Juice.

First of all, the building housing the restaurant – let’s just say it looks as if there’s a right angle in the place, I think it just might be a mistake.

Second – if you’re hippy-phobic, don’t let the look and name of the place scare you – sure they have funky pizzas and great smoothies and the staff is filled with surfers and hula hoopers (seriously – at least a couple of waitresses are members of a hula hoop group – look for them around town and at this year’s WOMR “Boogie By the Bay”)

Third – they have Rain organic vodka – I don’t like it as much as my fave vodka of all time, Tito’s, but it’s pretty darn good. Also, when beets are in season (we’re getting into beet season now, I think), they make this really amazing beet martini with local beets and the Rain vodka.

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The Ginchiest

After her stunning, hip shaking, shimmying performance of Don Gardner‘s “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo” with the Incredible Casuals at the Wellfleet Beachcomber this past Sunday afternoon, I hereby nominate Sarah Swain as “the ginchiest

Unfortunately, this is the only pic I got of her on stage (but that’s because I shot video once the song started!):

Holey Schmoley, that was totally groovy – thanks, Sarah!

Update 7/23: Chef Tony sent me another pic of Sarah on stage with Los Casuals:

I think that must be mid-shimmy … ginchy, I’m tellin’ ya, ginchy.

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Young at Heart

Music is a pretty amazing thing – for me, it’s probably my one true passion.

The day after my father died, my ex and I went to see our favorite band, NRBQ; they were playing in Woodstock, NY, very close to my parents’ place in Poughkeepsie, NY, and I knew that it would be a few sure hours of pleasure/relaxation during what was to be a trying week before we had his memorial service. I couldn’t tell you what songs they played that night, and I sure didn’t feel like dancing, but I remember sitting at a table with my vodka tonic and just letting the music wash over me. At times that night, the music actually made me feel happy, and I was reminded that in spite of my sadness about my father, life goes on, and there would be happiness ahead.

A similar event occurred after my mother’s memorial service. My mother had been a member of a local chorus, the Camerata Chorale, for over 20 years (I had been a member for several of my high school and college-age years), and I asked them to sing several pieces at her memoral service. Later that evening, the group had a concert of their own. My mom had been planning on going to the performance, pretty-much come hell or high water, and I had told folks in the group that I really wanted to try and make it to the concert. However, once my mother’s service was over, my adrenaline level just dropped. Still, my aunt and uncle and I made it to the concert and I was so glad that I did. Music, once again, proved itself to be a healing power for me.

Tonight I went to the fabulous Cape Cinema in Dennis with my friends Chef Tony and Kate the Weaver tonight to see the documentary “Young at Heart“, about the Young at Heart chorus of Northampton, MA and their preparations of new songs for a 2006 concert tour. What a fantastic, well-told film. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, that had me laughing heartily at times, grinning from ear to ear at others, and still others weeping until tears were running down my face all the way to my neck.

The Young at Heart chorus is a group of 70+ year olds who sing various rock/pop/soul songs. Many members of the group are in their 80s, some are in their 90s. With folks in that age range, they have to deal with all sorts of health issues, which are covered in the film. Some are kind of funny (one group of members carpools to rehearsals in a tiny little car with paint scrapes on the sides, always driven by Lenny, not because he’s a good driver – he’s not – but because he’s the only one of the three of them who can still see to drive) some poignant (one retired member comes back to sing a song in the local Northampton concert and has an oxygen tank with him that adds an additional “percussion sound” to the song during his performance), some positively devastating (during rehearsals, two members die).

There was one sequence that I thought was just wonderful, where the group is performing at a local prison. At first, during an upbeat song, we see lots of smiles and laughter from the inmates, but it’s not clear whether or not they are laughing at the old folks singing. However, by the end of the peformance, when the group dedicates their final song, Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”, to a member of the chorus who died the night before, there are shots of the prisoners crying, and after the song, they meet the chorus with hugs.

What comes through in the film is the spirit of the chorus and the power of music: they’re willing to try anything, and they have a real “the show must go on” attitude, and performing is a catharsis for them.

By all means, see it – but have plenty of hankies at your disposal.

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Andale! Andale!

One of the saddest things to happen here in this little burg this winter was the indefinite “closed for vacation” of mexican cafe Ay Caramba, a fave of many of my friends and a regular stop on on the usual suspects’ birthday party train. Ay Caramba opened very soon after I bought chez valet and was a welcome addition to the neighborhood. They always took a couple of weeks vacation in the winter, so when they first closed this winter, there was no big concern. Then we started to hear rumors that they weren’t re-opening, and the sign in the window changed from saying “closed for two weeks” to “closed until the end of next month” and then stories appeared in the local newspaper that they were looking to transfer the business and liquor license.

Well … early Tuesday morning, on my way into town from the CTP tour … there was a sign in front of the restaurant … “Andale Cafe opening May 20” … that was that very day, Tuesday! For the rest of the drive home (fortunately for the rest of the guys in the van, only 1/4 mile), I kept singing “Andale Cafe – Opens Today” and doing a bit of a “happy dance” along with it.

Thursday night, Ms Greentwig & I swung by to check things out – as it turns out, the place is now run by a former waiter of Ay Caramba and the menu is very, very similar to that of Ay Caramba – o rapturous joy! It looked like the dessert menu was a little bigger, and tacos are now sold by the pair rather than individually. Also, tuna tacos look to have a different sauce. Oh, there are now several bean choices: black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, and refried beans w/ chorizo. The only semi-bad thing is that they have yet to get their liquor license, but they hope to within the next month or so – and they have glass bottles of Jarritos, so really, who cares if they have a liquor license or not?!?!

So … if you were a fan of Ay Caramba, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed by Andale Cafe. If you never went to Ay Caramba but thought about it – what the heck are you waiting for? Get over there and spend some $$ – ANDALE!