Sunday, December 21, 2014

If it is Christmas week it's time to look back on the year, to give some thanks for all the blessing we have, to call out some great service about town

 * … GIVING THANKS: As we wrap up 2014, there is a lot to be thankful for in this community of
ours. Here's to all those who volunteer their time for others, who give generously to the charity of their choice and who awake every day committed to making this a better place to live. In that spirit, here are some of the people, organizations, businesses and stories that caught my attention this year. Enjoy.

 * … HONOR FLIGHT: Hats off to all the volunteers, sponsors and escorts who have made Kern County's Honor Flight such a success this year. As the ranks of the Greatest Generation shrink, it's terrific to see these veterans given the respect they so richly deserve.

  * … TRENDS: And speaking of veterans, one of promising trends of the year has been the generosity of so many Bakersfield residents in picking up the tabs for veterans at local restaurants. Wear baseball cap identifying yourself as a veteran, and someone is likely to do something nice for you. This is surprisingly common and a touching way for one generation to say thanks to another.

 * … BAD NEWS: One of the biggest disappointments came late in the year when we learned plans for a "great park" in the canyons near Hart Park had fallen through over a dispute on mineral rights. The loss of a 800-acre park on some incredibly beautiful terrain is nothing less than heart breaking. This town needs more amenities like this.

 * … VIDEO: Was there a better video this year than the one showing a tabby cat named Tara saving a young boy from being mauled by a neighbor's dog? The video went viral and Tara the Hero Cat put Bakersfield on the map, this time in a good way.

 * … SERVICE: Few restaurants provide the kind of personal, white-gloved service as Uricchio's Trattoria, thanks to owner Claire Uricchio and her attentive staff. The food is always top notch, but it is the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff that sets this Italian eatery apart. As a friend said, "It's like Cheers in there. You always see someone you know."

 * … LUNCH: If there is a better place for lunch than Luigi's Delicatessan on a spring day, someone needs to take me there. It is the quintessential Bakersfield bistro to meet and greet, and I dare you to find more consistent food anywhere in town. I'll have the spinach salad with a scoop of tuna, please.

 * … GAS STATION: I have a fondness for the two partners who own the Ramco Express gas station downtown off 23rd Street. They offer competitive prices and they always greet you with a smile. And congratulations to co-owner Rami, whose wife just gave birth to twin boys.

 * … BURGERS: I am on a quest to find delicious new burgers in town, and we have plenty. Some of my new favorites include Eureka Burger, The Padre Hotel bar, Narducci's and Juicy Burger. New restaurants? Try Krush in the Northwest, Wiki's Wine Dive and Grill in the Southwest and Wall Street Cafe downtown.

 * … HEALTH CARE: Your health can't be in better hands than with Dr. Raj Patel and his incredible staff over at Preferred Family Care Physicians on Truxtun Avenue across from the lake. Patel and his crew provide the kind of old fashioned family doctor experience that is no longer common these days.

 * … BUTCHER: This one is easy: the Wood-Dale market is a modest little place off Stine Road, but you won't find better meat, chicken and sausage in town. And for Basque food? My favorite is Noriega's, perhaps my favorite since eating experience especially with a large group of friends.

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