Friday, February 25, 2011


February, 26th 2011

It's the bleak part of winter. The holidays have come and gone. Spray tanning has lost it's luster. It's cold and gray. We will be reliving the same exact cold and gray day for another 3 months. The long haul of winter is in front of us. From a meteorological standpoint, February in Portland is a straight and unremarkable road with no horizon, no beautiful sunsets, no picturesque farm stands to entice us to pull over and enjoy the moment. Any sane person would want to escape from this, just for a little while. A vacation would be nice. We can rationalize the absolute need to travel to Hawaii or Mexico because the sun will inspire us. We'll get new ideas. We'll re-energize. We'll be able to reinvent the wheel as soon as we come back.

I've heard this story many times. This time of year, some overworked and underpaid Park Kitchen employee will half jokingly implore me to take the entire staff to the Bahamas in February. It'll do wonders for company morale. Actually, It'll be like a very large and dysfunctional vacation where all of my pasty-white cooks will get sun poisoning and I'll have to worry about employees getting detained at airport security. No Thanks.

It's not that they don't deserve it. I expect a lot and they give a lot. But this is a restaurant. No one gets paid what they deserve, including me. Somehow, this fact isn't so depressing in the summer. It's a lot harder to deal with it in February. Gray wet skies create no diversions for desperation.

Fortunately I have the power to stave off a mass onset of seasonal affective disorder and show a small token of my appreciation to my small and dedicated band of followers. I can provide the occasion for drunken debauchery.

The Park Kitchen staff party was a big hit this year. At least all those who remember it do so fondly. It started with a freakishly delicious crab boil cooked by Feastworks. Feastworks is new catering company run by Ethan Bizagna and his lovely wife Ashley Brown Bizagna. Ethan's day job is as the head butcher at Laurelhurst Market. Ashley was the chef at Kir and was a former Park Kitchen all star before she and Ethan started Feastworks. They nailed it. Root beer floats, Crabs, spicy sausages, mussels, clams, and a kale salad that my wife will not let me live down. If you are ever thinking about throwing a party, look closely at what these studs put on the table and remember to call them.

After dinner, I was presented with a really lovely gift.

That is a stunning glass musket filled with cheap tequila...and fireworks. What a thoughtful present. Not exactly the type of thing I’m going to take home and mount over the fireplace. We have no choice but to drink the booze tonight and light the fireworks off inside because it's fucking pouring outside. Very,very thoughtful.

And because I thought that things might get a little sloppy, I called the bus to take us around for the evening.

Very sweet bus.

First stop was black light 3-D pirate golf downtown. I got a hole in one.

Back on the bus and off to Spirit of 77. It’s amazing to me that as soon as you show drunk people a brass pole, they feel the need to hang on it like a horny monkey.

After we closed that down, it was back on the bus and off to Radio Cab but not before a brief stop at Voodoo Doughnuts. As far as I know nobody hurled at that point but it might have been a good idea.

The next day, nobody seemed to have a clear idea of what transpired after we got on the bus. We were able to piece it together through corroborated accounts and photos.

The hangovers were impressive and ubiquitous on Tuesday. Nothing like a little mid winter escape to re-energize my staff.


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