Break from Fiore for a trip to Santa Cruz

This weekend James, Anne and I took Patrick to UC Santa Cruz. He starts school on Thursday. It’s his freshman year. We’ve had a great weekend, but it was a little sad dropping him off yesterday. We had all but 30 minutes to get him settled. He was unfazed when Anne and I said goodbye, but we were crying. His brother James was  sweet. He took pictures with Patrick and even hugged him goodbye. I still can’t believe that.

We had a bit of a problem with our hotel. I had thought I booked two nights, but when we got back from dropping off Patrick, the door was locked and the keys wouldn’t work. They were sold out for the night and we had to move on. They weren’t as cold as that sounds. They did help us find a room across town in one of their sister motels. Turns out we like the sister motel better and will probably stay there the next time we come to town.

Last night the 3 of us had dinner at a place call La Posta. When the hostess greeted us I said we had a reservation  for 4. Yikes. I wonder how many times I’ll do that.

I liked the place from the moment we pulled into the parking lot. Off to the side behind the parking stalls was a chicken coop. Here is a picture.

Over the two days we found great coffee at Lulu Carpenter’s

Great fig leaf ice cream and melon sorbet at the Penny Ice Creamery

Fiore Foto

Times are moving along

Sliders from a few weeks ago

It’s been a few days, but lots of stuff is happening. After two weeks of pestering Don the plumber  I finally got some results. Don went to Vegas to gamble and sent Mike his main man to do his dirty work. Mike reluctantly showed up to inspect and instead of returning another day he  connected the grease trap the same day. He was a little surly. When Don’s in Vegas Mike ends up doing the work of two people. He said to me “Why didn’t you call me before, I could have done this a  week ago.” Little did he know I called Don about 7-8 times. Next time I call Mike.

This has been one of my biggest health department worries. So I am pretty grateful to have it done.

The deli showcase was delivered Thursday around noon, but we learned upon it’s arrival that it was too damn wide.. Yikes. I guess we should have thought to measure.  They don’t call me the “Brain” for nothing. Well the deliver guy spent about 30 minutes thinking and pondering the dilemma . He said he was just a delivery man not a mover. He didn’t know how to handle these type of situations.

After the 30 minutes were up he began to dismantle all the glass pieces on the case. He was diligent and extremely careful. I stored them in the kitchen where I wedged between the stove and the counter so they wouldn’t fall. Everything was done. He wheeled  the show case to the door. My son and I were on the  receiving end inside the restaurant. He was standing on the the other side of the door. He leaned the showcase up. We pulled down on it. Within seconds a large piece of something shifted from the top of the case. It moved quickly and slid down the case in between Patrick and I. It hit the ground with force. The piece shattered into thousands of fragments and spread out on the floor like sand falling from a beach towel. Come to find out it was a large piece of colored glass  fitted to serve as a small  counter on top of the case. It was perfectly secure for it’s intended purpose, but when the case was tilted on it’s side well that was a completely different thing entirely. The look on the driver’s  face was one of disbelief. He looked at me and waited for my reaction. I said nothing. It was all of our faults, not just the driver. Remember what he said when he arrived. I am only a driver.

We finished the last of the painting in the dining room today. Marcos, Patrick and Gary did the wood trim outside yesterday. We fastened some new molding to the walls bordering the alcove. I sanded the wood today and painted it with 2 coats of primer and one coat of the cotton linen. It looks pretty good. I missed a few spots with the sanding, but I need to remember to look at the forest and not the individual trees. When I do that it looks damn good.

Patrick and I hooked up the espresso machine tonight. Eaton, the  espresso guy will calibrate the machine on Wednesday. He’ll also create our own custom espresso blend that you can only get at Fiore. I really like that. We’re going to bag it and sell it.

Well that’s all for today. Here are a few pictures. Some of them have been taken with film.


Old is really cool

At least I think so. I have always associated quality with age. Things were built better in the old days. They lasted longer. The materials were superior. Things just had more substance to them. Maybe I have this weird attraction to old stuff because of some unresolved issue from a past life. I don’t know. All I know is the older the better.

Yesterday, Anne and I purchased a buffet to be used as a counter for our pastries. It’s old and worn and really cool. It needs a bit of work. A newbie or someone who loves brand new things will probably be  put off by something like this, but for us it makes us happy.

Perfecto and I placed it in the restaurant today. It’s the first piece of furniture to arrive. It fits squarely in the middle of the restaurant, exactly were it’s meant to be. Cluttered around it are a painting ladder, folding tables and a dining room table with upholstered chairs that we are using for our meals while we work in the restaurant. It’s a little large and takes up too much space for what we have planned, but for now it’s perfect for the afternoon sit down.

We plan to top the buffet with a piece of marble. I found a tile shop around the corner that sells “remnants”. I asked the girl if these were mistakes and she and the guy next to her said no they are “remnants”. Well, after walking the lot and looking at crate after crate of pieces of marble in very strange shapes and sizes, I knew what they were “mistakes”

I have a good feeling that I can get a really good price on a “remnant that will fit nicely on the buffet. I also need one to go under the espresso machine.

Tomorrow I paint the wood work outside. Today Patrick and I and a good friend Mark painted the wood work inside. Bravo.


There is something about a wood table in a kitchen that gets me excited. It can’t just be any wood table. It needs to be really old with lots of scratches and wear and tear. A table that looks like it’s been through kitchen wars is what I like. Even better if the wood surface is  literally worn away by a baker’s weight pushing down on the surface while kneading dough.

Today I found such a table. It”s 8 feet by 30 inches and old, really old. The surface is scratched. The edges are nibbled away and the wood is very dark. When I got it in the restaurant it appeared larger than life. It took up most of the space. My first inclination is that it’s too big, but I am going to let it grow on me. I placed it next to the stove.

I cleaned it with a green scouring pad. There was a very tough layer of grease on the surface that fought me good. I can’t say I prevailed. I did alright. The wood is still sticky and if you lean against it the bottom of your shirt sticks. Tomorrow is round two.

I love how it looks in the kitchen. It is exactly what I imagined.

I also purchased a screen for the back door. There’s something comforting and inviting about an old screen door. It reminds me of the country, of big open fields of tall grass and of farm life. The door to the kitchen will always be open. I’m hoping neighbors knock on the door for an espresso or cappuccino kinda like people used to knock on their neighbor’s doors to borrow a pint of milk.  There’s something homey about it.

So once we open please knock on the the back screen door.

Check out the grain of that wood

Day 10 of Fiore Market Cafe

A little over a week has passed. We are moving along nicely. The last of the wall was removed today. We pulled out two small 4 by 4 beams and took out the final 2 by 4’s that held the wall up. The space seems to have grown over night.

This morning I wrapped up the last of the painting. The walls are now covered in cotton linen. What a name for paint. It looks white to me. Afterward I spent 2 hours cleaning up after myself and most of the time was devoted to scraping up paint that dripped from my leaky brush. It is amazing how resilient dried paint can be.

I had a few visitors from the old place. I’m hoping they’ll join us at Fiore. They’re really strong employees with terrific attitudes. I showed them around and then made sandwiches with mixed cold cuts that I bought at Rosies. Rosie stacked thinly sliced capicola, mortadella, salami and provoletti cheese on red parchment paper for me. I bought a large ciabatta for the sandwiches. These guys are light eaters. They ate the sandwiches, but I know they were too big for them.

This is Rosie.

Anne brought some chocolate sables that she baked. They were really sweet and looked great in the packaging. She delivered some to our new neighbors in the building. They oohed ahhed like school kids. All her packaged cookies are sealed and tied with one of her famous tags. I posted one below.

In the afternoon my friend Brian dropped by. He hosed down the front entry shaking down the cobwebs and dust that lingered in the corners for the last few year. We removed the iron bars on the four kitchen windows. The bars were installed by the previous owners for reasons unbeknowest to the landlord. It was not for security reason because the rest of the windows were unadorned. Once down the view of the kitchen was unhindered.  I could see my reflection in the glass dressed in my dirty painting clothes. I thought for a moment. In a few weeks I’ll be on the other side of the window and that reflection will be me leaning over a stove .

Anne baked red velvet cupcakes. I brought them in a glass cake stand and set them on the  table in the dining room. My friend Arturo came in with his brother to help out so I gave each of them a cupcake. Sean and Tracy dropped in and they each devoured a red velvet cupcake. While we were outside hosing down the patio tiles a nice couple stopped to say hello. Yes, you bet I gave them a red velvet cupcake. They took one to share. They seemed very pleased with the cupcake.

I love passing out food especially great treats. People can’t say no except for the young girl at the hair salon in the back. I gave her some of Anne’s chocolate sables and she only took a nibble. She said she had to watch what she ate.

Here are Anne’s red velvet cupcakes.

Examples of Fiore.  In Italian more than one Fiore is Fiori

Fiore Market Cafe

Heirloom Tomatoes

Today I received a box of heirloom tomatoes. They are huge, multicolored strange looking tomatoes. A friends 82 year old neighbor grows them in her yard. I had the opportunity to see the plants the other night.  The plants rise about 8 feet from the ground. The leaves are vibrant green and the tomatoes pop from the branches. The tomatoes are so large and the plants are so tall that it feels like a garden for the Jolly Green giant.

I did not get a chance to meet the 82 year old gardening legend, but I was fortunateenough to get some our her priced jewels. My friend said that when he went to her house to pick up the tomatoes she had 100 of them spread out on the table that she was dividing up for her friends and neighbors.

Lucky me and lucky everyone who is the recipient of one of my tomato sandwiches today.

Day 8 The Wall Comes Down

Toward the back of the restaurant the previous owners built an alcove consisting of 2 walls. They hid stuff behind these walls, stuff that you don’t want the general public to see like to-go containers, cash register tape, cleaning supplies and a whole lot of other restaurant stuff. The wall monopolized the room. For our concept we need space and Anne and I decided that the wall must go. Today Patrick and I took it down. We used a crowbar, a hammer and a very long screwdriver. Patrick did most of the work. He climbed up the ladder and chiseled away at the corners using the hammer and the long screwdriver. The corners and ends of each wall were held together with those metal dry wall bands that tie two pieces of dry wall together. Once he peeled them off, the drywall practically lifted right off the studs. We had fun breaking the pieces in more manageable sizes that we dragged on a cart to the trash bin.  The trash bin was across the street about a block away . We swerved in and out of traffic. The pieces stayed on the cart because we wrapped them together with masking tape. MacGyver would have been proud.

A friend’s 82 year old neighbor grew these

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