In between running errands, wife Kathy and I-always in search of a better diner-stopped in Chelmsford's Vinyl square, parked just beyond the shop advertising "LIVE BAIT", and went for the 1st time ever to Rosie's Diner. One of the "off shoots" of the diner empire begun by the various sisters of Lowell's 4 Sisters "Owl Diner" fame, immediately recognizable as such when Rosie herself, sizzling up a storm in front of the griddle, turned towards the door--and recognized us in the way that Lowell people tend to recognize folks (and then tell you who is married to who and whose sister used to be married to whose cousin, "you know her, she's the daughter of...") as she shouted with a huge smile; "Hi honey! How are you two doin' honey?!"
Rosie does it right. For starters, the table greeting came from a waitress that I imagined was a starving actress, working a diner in NYC maybe, trying to pay the rent. In my fantasy world, on this day, she was "in character", practicing her next role as "sheepish and adorable". Because, it is hard to believe anyone could actually be so, naturally. She had naturally red hair like you only find in the Lowell area (and Ireland), and a sheepish and adorable smile that you can't mistake if you go.
Coffee tableside, as soon as we sat down, from one of her team mates.
The minute our menus closed, the order was taken, within minutes the eggs were delivered steaming and delicious, and the whole perfect diner experience was topped off with a visit from Rosie herself. Working the tables like the best restaurant owners do; with genuine joy and welcoming.
From that point on, our coffee cups were full always (made so by 3 servers) our water was full always, our creamers were re filled, our status checked on constatntly; "Are you ok honey?", "How you doin over here?", "Do you guys need anything else?", as all three servers worked the room in an improvised but purposeful dance between tables, one circling behind the next without interruption, delivering food, resetting tables, clearing plates, and greeting new arrivals. All guests belonged to each, and nothing went unnoticed.
Finally, when doing the whole Lowell/Boston bean thing with breakfast, blow off Cote's Beans and go with Rosie's!
Have you ever gone out to eat with a bunch of restaurant staff members?
Yesterday, one of our all time most-awesome staff members, Danielle Conroy, got married in the cutest ever Falmouth church, before throwing a great reception-party at the Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth Harbor.
And, in no surprise given the camraderie of our staffs, 10 co workers made the drive south and stayed over night, to celebrate Danielle and "new" husband John. They all looked beautiful, and so happy to be there.
The reception was amazing, in the "better" maintained function hall. (upstairs) A view of the boats and water, great food, outdoor seating...everything you need for a great time. I was only disappointed that we had to leave to attend a 2nd wedding at our restaurant, Moonstones.
But downstairs was another story! As we arrived early in the main part of the restaurant, the 1st floor bar and dining room, I couldn't help but notice how very dirty the carpeting was. I even remarked to Kathy that it must be the result of heavy traffic during summer, and wondered if they changed the carpet each year. (I'm guessing no, because it was almost gross)
As we spotted other staff members at the bar, we joined, only to be told less than two minutes later (in a rather annoyed tone) by our off duty chef who was attending the wedding; "Check out the food sitting under the heat lamp. Someone needs to deliver that shit". Other staff members concurred; Quick to notice slacking restaurant service standards.
We next ordered Bloody Marys. Kathy did not receive a cocktail napkin with her wet glass, and inquired to anyone listening; "May I have a cocktail napkin?". Our staff member sitting closest to Kathy pointed out that there were none. (I confirmed by checking 3 napkin caddies around the bar. Each was empty!) Only a couple more minutes went by, when yet ANOTHER of my staff members motioned with her head that I should look up. When I did, not only was there cob webs in the glass rack; but a big 'ol spider adding to her home work. I could go on. The place was tired, dirty and poorly maintained. Bulbs out, brass dull, dust around table bases, worn furniture....But! If I were not sitting with restaurant people, I may have only noticed the carpet. Maybe the napkin thing. Ok, that's bullshit. I would have seen it all. BUT HEY. The drink was great and we had an amazing view of the harbor.
This Saturday night, a house full (mine) of fine folks celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of my in laws; Sally (Murphy) Moynihan aka "The Saint" and James, Jim, Jimmy, Big Jim, Red Moynihan. It was a beautiful party, full of testimony, smiles, laughs, hugs and love. It was catered, by the way, by Erin Mcmahon (and Chef-husband Brian!) and the food was amazing. It was both weird and excellent to have someone else catering a party in my house. Hire Erin if you want a catered affair with delicious food, great service, attentive and sweet staff members and a thorough, thoughtful job. We invited old friends Erin and Brian to stick around and celebrate with us afterwards and at 2.30 a.m., Erin was still clearing glasses and wiping counter tops!
I digress. Back to the blog at hand! I am not saying that 50 years is easy. The numbers don't lie. For starters, you have to live that long! My own 25 "in the books" is testimony to the love, sacrifice, humor, patience, forgiveness and commitment required to stay together that long, and we are only half way there. But, truth be told, for Jim and Sally it must have been easier than most.
For 25 years I have been family, and I could not possibly describe in full the blessing I have received, the lessons I have learned, or the beauty that I have witnessed as the result of the single smartest decision I have ever made. (25+ years ago) Both display the type of infectious, positive attitude that we shyould all be so blessed to have. They are grateful for all they have in their lives, kind and caring, generous and selfless- putting family and friends 1st all of the time.
At around 1 a.m., after just about all of the "q tips" had departed EXCEPT for Jim and Sal, leaving just 8 of us "younger folk" sitting around the table, we asked Sally; "What is the secret to 50 years?"
"You have to be friends"
"And you have to be considerate to one another and you have to have fun together"
and then, in true form, she pulled out one of her best friend of 50 years many favorite quotes;
"And, through the years,we have gone dancing 3 nights a week. He goes Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I go Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays"
Obviously, a sense of humor helps! If you don't know Jim and Sally, then you don't know just the about the best people anywhere, that said without romantic exaggeration. And if you DO know them, you know exactly what I am saying.
We love it. We seek it. And, at times, we even hide it.
Yes, there are 50 listed on my menu at COBBLESTONES!
Beer fanatics abound and creativity knows no bounds.
But as ludicrous as the beer market has become, we CANNOT STOP! Heads up..below!
Flavored Ales have been around for a spell. In Spring and Summer it’s been all about the raspberry wheats of late. And blueberry of course. Pumpkin and spice has been all the rage in Fall and Winter. What we have found with flavored ales is a wide disparity of flavor, and opinion. Not surprisingly, the masses fall in line for the mass marketed options, by brewers like Harpoon and Sam Adams. (We get it. We support those guys too) But, there is some really (really) good, and obscure stuff available out there. Three cheers to the little guy!
Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Southern Tier Brewery, Lakewood NY (22oz, ABV 8.6%)
Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed! Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Spicy aromas, deep copper color, with flavors of sweet butter, graham cracker, nutmeg, vanilla cookie.
Bewitch your taste buds with pagan spirit! Alcohol content “sneaks up on you”.
STATUS; NOW AVAILABLE.
The Bourbon Barrel Aged craze. Bourbon is delicious. And bourbon barrels, once used, are no longer good for further bourbon production (“against the rules”) Yet the oak barrel wood remains full of tasty. The scotch producers of Scotland know the secrets of infusing bourbon flavoring. As do the wine producers of Spain. And others. Why not beer!? Are you kidding me!
Curieux, Bourbon Barrel Strong Ale, Allagash, Portland ME (750ml, ABV 11%)
The very first in bourbon barrel aged beer, Allagash takes their award winning Tripel Ale and ages it for (8) weeks in Jim Beam barrels, their cold cellars, before re blending it back into batches of the Tripel. The result is dark golden in color, with a sweet nose, no hops, with hints of coconut, vanilla and bourbon. Served in a wine cooler, this is a bottle to be shared with someone else that has your incredible spirit, class and fine palate!
STATUS; This hidden treasure is NOT listed on the menu. You will have to request it special.
YOU are one of the cool people.
100 Barrel series The 100 barrel series was a great concept by Harpoon, whether as a brewing strategy or a marketing strategy, no matter which. Though they now brew more than 100 barrels at a time and I imagine we are no longer part of an “exclusive” group of vendors with the rights to carry this nearly rare brew, we carry it nonetheless, and change with Harpoon as Harpoon changes with the season.
Docesna, Czech Harvest Ale, Harpoon, Boston MA (ABV 6.1%)
The Doèesná hop festival celebrates the harvest of hops grown in the area surrounding the Bohemian city of Zatec. The area has a history as one of the world’s eminent hop regions. This wet hopped ale is chestnut colored with a clean, slightly bitter but smooth finish. Medium body, well balanced , it is something between an American Pale Ale and an Amber with slightly roasted, brown sugar and grassy notes.
Our favorite leftovers and limited releases…
Wilco, Tango, Foxtrot Recovery Ale (WTF), Lagunitas, Petaluma CA (ABV 7.8%)
One answer to joblessness from our favorite freaks at Lagunitas! A big, rich, reddish-brown robust, malty, hoppy, chocolatey and dangerous delight!
STATUS; You need to know someone (Like, maybe, the owner…he knows who has the key…)
OK. It wasn't my idea. But I hope you like it...