This is the time of the year when I’m supposed to be writing to you about the start of our summer BBQs. It’s been one of our favorite traditions over the years, feeling the sun start to warm us up and then pulling the out grill to properly enjoy the new season. Inviting you all to have dinner with us out on the patio every Wednesday night through the summer made us feel lucky to be in California, and pleased to be able to share our bounty.
Unfortunately, you, our guests, seem not to have felt that same joy. This is to inform you that, due to last year’s poor attendance, the Wednesday night summer BBQs at the Grand Hotel have been cancelled. Sorry. Not that you care.
But, maybe you do care! Maybe you were looking forward to them as much as we always do and this news is a big bummer to you. If that’s true, hope is not lost. You have two options. The first is to complain! Tell the bartender, the front desk staff, the general manager, anyone you can get your hands on. Trust me, this is one complaint they’ll be happy to get. Ok, but that’s slow moving and won’t really fix your desire for a nice piece of steak by the pool on a Wednesday night, which leads me to option number two. Get a ride to the Cupertino Inn, our sister hotel. Her BBQs are have been very well appreciated over the years and you’re so welcome to join that party. We’ll even give you a lift in our limo.
There’s a bit of an anomaly in our little neighborhood, maybe you’ve noticed it. Tucked neatly away between the apartment complexes and mini-malls that make up this Sunnyvale-Cupertino borderland that we inhabit, there’s a little cherry orchard. In a way it’s so unusual that you could almost miss it, mistake it for a park or the tree filled entrance to yet another cluster of town houses. But it’s a real orchard, one of the last of its kind. It’s owned by the Olsen family, who’ve been growing here for generations, since the days when all their neighbors were in the same business. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, even here in this newsletter, about this valley’s fertility in the days before silicon. Well, the Olsens have been here since then and, unlikely though it may seem, they’ve got no plans to leave.
What this means for you is that some really juicy California delicacies are just around the corner from your home away from home. The Olsens have got a shop, open yearly, stocked with locally grown fresh and dried fruits and nuts, fresh baked pies and other sweets. You’ll find perfect treats to munch on poolside and ideal souvenirs, plus you’ll be supporting, well, the survival of a local endangered species.
To talk to Iris, who’s worked behind our front desk for close to a year now, about her schedule is a bit troubling at first. I spent the first few minutes of our conversation thinking that I should probably try to get her fired, hard working and friendly though she may be, because if she’s not going to take care of herself, then someone else should try to. I know that sounds mean, but listen to this: She works three jobs, one full-time, two part-time. Her full-time job is supervisor at a kid’s camp. Her other part time job is doing promotions for the San Jose Earthquakes. She’s in school. She writes for the school paper. And she’s on a soccer team. I couldn’t even find a pattern and it sounded like compulsion to me. Which only exposes my own lack of imagination because actually Iris has got it all figured out.
It turns out she’s preparing herself for a career in sports journalism. Hence the newspaper work, the job with the Earthquakes (our local professional soccer team), and the AA she just received in communications. In the fall she’ll start at San Jose State with a major in TV journalism. The soccer team she plays for even fits this story. She took a job at the hotel so that she could ease her way out of the kid’s camp job. She’s working hard, it’s true, but her goal is very clear, she’s laid out a pretty solid path for herself and she’s not afraid of the hard work it’s all going to take. I’m sorry I thought of getting her fired because, truly, our ability to get motivated, strong people like Iris to spend a few years with us, as they work their way toward their dreams, is maybe our biggest secret weapon.
I feel like every year at this time I write some version of this same thing: The weather in the Silicon Valley is close to ideal, most especially in these weeks just before it’s officially summer. We are, right now, in the sweet spot of the bright, easy California sun. Sitting outside is a carefree experience; there’s never a chill in the wind, we know nothing about humidity, the temperature stays just short of hot, we don’t even have mosquitoes. Why, then, is it so impossible to find a nice place to sit outside and eat?
And, as every other time I’ve complained about this aggravating cultural paradox, it’s because I’ve got my current favorite solution to recommend to you! This year it’s a place in Los Gatos called The Wine Cellar. Don’t let the word cellar throw you off, this is one of the nicest places to enjoy both the temperate clime and the sometimes overlooked fact that the word valley in Silicon Valley means that we’re surrounded by mountains. Plus, as you might have guessed from the name, their wine list is even more impressive than our own bar’s, though you will have to pay. This is the place to go for the California experience that so many movies have promised you.
Writing about Vidovich wines, as I’m about to do now, makes me nervous. I’ve avoided it for all of these years, but it seems that the time has finally come and, so, here I go. Why, you ask, should I be so anxious? Well, you see, the maker of Vidovich wines also made this here humble little hotel that has, thus far, allowed me to write more or less whatever I want about whatever seems like the most fun to me. I’m in a pretty sweet spot, to be honest, and I’d sure like to continue. But if ever there was a time to tread lightly this is it, and I just hope I know how!
Lucky for me the owner of this fine establishment, my boss’ boss that is to say, makes a pretty fine red wine. And what’s great for you about it being here is that our hotel is one of the only places you can find it. The thing is, it’s not available for retail sale, so your choice, now that I’ve got you at least just a little bit curious, is to try to seek it out in one of the handful of Silicon Valley restaurants that serve it, or to come to our bar, where our supply is nearly endless, and even complimentary between 5 and 7 each night, and try a glass. The only problem is that once you see just how nice it is, still can’t buy a bottle in any store anywhere and realize that you’re only reliable access is here with us, you’ll find that your need to come stay in our little hotel is deeper than ever before. Which isn’t really such a problem!