Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Here's my completely biased, unscientific selections of some food, people and events about town that make this place called Bako home

 * ... THIS AND THAT: I will be off for a few days and I will leave you with my entirely unscientific views on some of the "best bets" about town. Enjoy.

 * ... BEST SOUNDS: There are two sounds that greet you if you work or live downtown: the beautiful hourly chimes from the First Presbyterian Church, and the frequent wail of a train horn that serves as the soundtrack of where you live.

 * ... BEST  SANDWICH: The only problem with Sequoia Sandwich Co. is its popularity, particularly the downtown store that serves as a magnet for jurors and other folks who work in the downtown courthouses. There isn't a bad sandwich in the place, and my favorite: the Sequoia tuna melt with a side of cole slaw.

 * ... BEST COMEBACK: When Rod and Julie Crawford bought the Pyrenees Cafe and Saloon, the best days for the east Bakersfield landmark were behind it. But they gave the old girl a makeover, introduced live music and now Pyrenees is one of "the" hot spots in town for Basque food and weekend cocktails. Check out its new outdoor seating area and new music venue.

 * ... CORNER BAR: There are few restaurants in town that match Uricchio's Trattoria in  terms of service and food. Hard day at work? Stop in at Uricchio's happy hour and catch up with your friends at its long bar, and don't forget the fabulous appetizers (fried clams being one of my favorites). This is one of the places I always take out of town guests to treat them to warm, friendly service and meals that never disappoint. The late Nick Uricchio would be proud of how his daughter Claire has carried on the family tradition.

 * ... BEST NEWCOMER: This is a tough category because of the explosion of new eateries about town, but newcomer Jin Sushi on 19th Street is off to a fast start with healthy and fresh offerings and friendly service. Today's tip: they occasionally have blue fin tuna on the menu. It is a can't miss selection.

 * ... BURGERS: There are too many to choose from that pass my taste test, but here are my local favorites: the 'Hudson' burger at Muertos, the 'Sonny' burger at Mexicali downtown, virtually any burger from Eureka!, and the bacon, cheese and mushroom burger from Pyrenees Cafe. (file photo of a Muertos burger)

 * ... FUND RAISERS: Our town lives and breathes fund raisers, but there are a few that stand out above the rest: West Rotary's annual Cioppino Feed is at the top of my list, followed by St. Francis Parish's Crabfest, and virtually anywhere where Gary Icardo is cooking Harris Ranch steaks (like this week's St. Vincent de Paul Center event).

 * ... HIKING: We take Hart Park for granted, but the undeveloped hills above the park provide a beautiful venue for weekend hikes and mountain bike rides. There are only a few things standing between you and enjoying these hills: a sturdy paid of hiking shoes and you own will.

 * ... PIE RUN: And finally, the annual Thanksgiving 'Pie Run' has always ranked among my favorite early morning activities. It all starts on Thanksgiving morning at Hart Park where a hundred or so walkers, hikers (with their dogs) show up in this annual pot luck event to kick off the long Thanksgiving Day feed. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rep. Kevin McCarthy returns home in style, giving up his seat to a World War II veteran, and it was a weekend of events in Bakersfield

 * ... MCCARTHY: After a bruising week both politically and personally on Capitol Hill, Rep. Kevin McCarthy returned home in the style which has made him so popular: he flew
home with World War II members of the latest "Honor Flight." McCarthy, along with wife Judy and daughter Mehgan, gave up their first class seats to sit in coach with the veterans, yet another reminder that despite checking his own political ambitions, he remains deeply rooted in his community. And how nice it must be to return home without worrying about engaging in the weekly dance of the Sunday political talk shows.

 * ... OUR TOWN: So who said there's nothing to do in this town? This was a whirlwind of a weekend, starting with the Friday evening event downtown featuring Mento Buru and sponsored by the Bakersfield Young Professionals, as well as another Rick Kreiser sponsored "Guitar Series" concert. On Saturday there were a slew of events, beginning in the morning with Via Arte out at the Marketplace, an antique roadshow, the huge 99 Music Fest at CSUB, the Kern County Farm Bureau's annual sold-out dinner and class reunions for Shafter, Garces Memorial and Wasco high schools in various venues.

* ... MUSIC FEST: And speaking of the 99 Music Fest, is there a more beautiful venue in town than the Cal State Bakersfield amphi-theater? Despite the heat, the area is blessed with small groves of trees, a smartly terraced lawn and enough space for two stages, food vendors and a VIP area. Hats off to Imbibe Wine and Spirits, Advance Beverage and other vendors including Cafe Med (they featured an incredible pita sandwich), Pyrenees Cafe (the lamb pops were delicious), Hungry Hunter, Michaelanglo Pizza, Curbside Kitchen,  Johnny Rockets, Champs BBQ, Brookside Deli and Market, Iron Horse Saloon and of course Advance Beverage.

* ... ROUGH DAY: I spotted this email circulating at The Californian: "Rough day for Bakersfield media darlings Kevin McCarthy and Cody Kessler. McCarthy pulls out of the race for Speaker of the House, throwing the COP into turmoil and Kessler's Heisman dreams are all but gone with his performance in USC's loss to unranked Washington. Let's hope they both get back on their feet and have better days!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket."

 * ... ANIMAL CONTROL: John and Teresa McKiearnan sent me this note that speaks for itself: "I called Bakersfield animal control during the work week to report a deceased dog on Union Avenue. After a day and a half and three phone calls a very friendly control officer called me back and informed me it was not in the city's jurisdiction. The real problem I have is when the officer told me she was the only officer on duty that day, Really! A city with 370,000 people and you have only one animal control officer on call. That is unacceptable Mr. Tandy."

* ... OLD TIMER: This note from reader Michael Clark: "If I may, I think one would be considered an "old timer" should they have dined (likely with their folks) at Ewing's (Jack and Hazel) Tam O' Shanter. Iceberg lettuce with real Roquefort cheese.