Ladyface Ale Company update

Since I posted a review of Ladyface Ale Company here, I felt an update was deserved and fair.

My wife, sister-in-law and I ventured out Saturday night and since sis hadn’t yet been exposed to the joys of Ladyface ales, we took her there. The place was packed. We walked in the door to maybe 5 or so tables left and by the time we ordered, every table was full. I despaired of the possibility of getting lost in the shuffle, new restaurant, service glitches and lots of people.

I need not have worried. Michael is the new manager and Serena made an excellent choice. He was on the scene and had the place humming along like a….OK, no cliches, like a symphony orchestra. Everyone knew their part. Everyone rolled through their tables, took their orders, delivered their food. And the updated flatbread was spectacular, by the way. Sue had it and it was white bean hummus with tomatoes and arugula. You know, I don’t think I need to add any more to that. It stands alone. Perfect and simple.

Ladyface is now officially the coolest spot for true beer culture in this part of the state, I’m convinced. On tap last night was a Belgian Trippel ale made beautifully by Dave and so good, we filled up one of the growlers we have with it and brought it home for this evening’s homemade burrito fest.

Let the word go out on the land–if you want to really experience beer the way it was meant to be paired with food, to pair the two exquisitely with fresh ingredients in the one, careful, select craftsmanship in the other, then Ladyface Ale Company is the place.

Sauntering

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.”
-Henry David Thoreau

The green hills that roll above Agoura Hills in northwest Los Angeles County are alive this time of year. They roll off into the west toward the ocean and hide paths among 200 year old oak trees, thriving yucca plants and jutting rock formations reaching for the sky.

Sue and Peanut, Scoop the wonderdog and I found ourselves sauntering above Paramount Ranch off Kanan and Cornell Roads. The ranch was the site of dozens, even hundreds of movie and television shows dating back to the 1930’s. From MASH to Little House on the Prairie to 1937’s Wells Fargo, the place is steeped in Hollywood Western History.

We arrived amid a crush of cars and trucks and trailers. Horses were being offloaded and guided up paths and a ranger gave us permission to pull in alongside them and make our way to the trails. The mass of people were quiet, purposeful and headed in one direction. They were there for a memorial service, apparently of a man who was unique and good, who was a mounted police officer and who was well loved.

We kept clear to allow the grieving their time and we headed for the trail. Scoop led the way as soon as we got off the beaten paths. I took off his leash and he became young again, running through brush, stopping at each tree and watching the horses with a disinterested gaze.

Peanut didn’t want to go at first, but as we moved along the trail, cool breeze in our faces and sky-blue overhead, she began talking the words of an excited 8-year old and her imagination took hold. She was dreaming and talking, running and laughing and she grew tired as we walked endless path after endless path leading back into the green hills, across dry creek beds, up rambling hills and over hoof-prints in the rain-soft dirt.

Sue had a smile on nearly the whole time and she, good wife and mother that she is, brought a backpack with water bottles keeping all hydrated, including the dog. Each time the water bottles came out, Scoop would prance back over the hills, out of the brush and lick his chops until we poured him a mouthful.

I breathed deeply, hummed softly, prayed gently and found myself feeling better than I’ve felt in weeks-even months. All for the cost of driving up to the ranch and a quick bite of lunch on the way home. The next time, the backpack will have sandwiches in it and a small blanket.

Saturday Sauntering may well become our new habit. I surely hope so.

Light from Other Sources

Too easy to pick on the President. The man can speak, I’ll give him that. But, the jury is in–and while he’s a fine speaker, he’s a piss poor Executive and his governance is…well….bad.

So, on to cooler climes. Peanut had a brilliant 24 hours. She has shown a kind of maturity and responsibility that I have never noticed before. She is affable and friendly, attempts to overcome odds and today, she conquered a nervousness and fear she had.

Today was her first ever bona-fide field trip on a school bus, out of town without mom or dad coming along. What a treat. We built her up for it, but she couldn’t seem to conquer the little worry demon about this new experience. So, with my new found approach to being a dad, I simply acknowledged her fears and nervousness and said they were normal and asked her not to let those things run her life.

And she didn’t. She rose to the occasion and she handled it so well-and, of course, she had fun seeing the New West Symphony play a special concert just for third graders in our area. That was a pretty cool thing. Not much of a symphony guy, or at least I have not been, but I am a fan of music-and a musician (or at least a recovering one) and I was so excited for her to sit in a seat with her friends and classmates and have an internal experience of listening to music, not being told what to think about it or whether to like it. It must have felt so free to her, like her brain counted and in fact, at that moment, it was the only thing that did.

When she got home, I met her and after her homework, I took her to Rocket Fizz which is a candy and soda shop that started right here in town (there are now 6 of them-including one in Lincoln, NE). It was a reward for behavior that met and exceeded expectations and it is the best part of being a parent-the part that is not only responsible for the discipline of a child, but of appropriately rewarding the child when she makes choices that are so right, so correct and in accordance with how I’ve raised her, that I burst with pride.

It’s days like this where all else melts away and what’s left is the essence of who I am, now. I’m a husband and a dad and for all of my own cloudy worries and preoccupations, I have an obligation to make sure that my child-and someday soon, my children, have a clear and honest acceptance of life. That’s a big charge and I find that it is the one thing that dwarfs job and money and appointments.

The days are striving for length, now, as February approaches. To be sure, it’s still winter and the cold, even in So. Cal, is heavy around us at times. But the sun is angling to come closer and brighten our days. While it’s working toward that end, I’ve learned that it’s important to me that I allow light to come from other sources. Today, it did just that.

Paging Mr. Gore…Mr. Al Gore–Your planet is calling.

I’m on a political roll, so I have decided to continue. What I’ve become increasingly interested in, though, is the facts behind the issues. This is not to say that I was only interested in opinions before, but that I spent a lot of time on commentary, and less time on showing the facts. That changed when I started writing and citing here on the hoax that is Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Now that it has been thoroughly de-bunked, much of the attention turned to “studies” that glaciers in the Himalayas were disappearing rapidly and by 2035 would be gone.

Of course, I had to be honest, all I knew was what the local rags reported and what they reported was that “scientists have concluded….” etc. Well, not so fast. Again. This story reveals yet again that the hoax being perpetrated in the name of science is breath-taking in its scope.
The glaciers in the Himalayas are, in fact, not melting faster in any way and claims that they are is nothing more than a simple lie.

Dr. Pachauri, the Indian scientist who headed the IPCC and made the claims on their behalf, turns out to be, like his cohorts, simply collecting cash from the UN who wanted a certain outcome. One can only assume that the outcome they wanted was to gather more control, more power, more legislative decision making, for the world.

It has always been true that one should follow the money in politics. Why so few journalists saw that when it came to AGW is beyond me. I cannot believe that there weren’t some journalists at mainstream news rooms who were thinking to themselves, “this is really quite a story–these people are getting vast fortunes from the UN’s IPCC to “prove” that people are at fault for the planet’s warming. I think we should investigate.” Yet, if that did happen, it certainly didn’t break until some brave soul released the e-mails from East Anglia.

Let’s see-Al Gore sells carbon credits to offset his own “carbon emissions” to a company owned by….Al Gore. Dr. Pachauri, head of the UN’s IPCC, is head of a company called TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) which collected grants from the Carnegie Foundation for nearly half a million dollars US and the European Union for nearly 3 million Euros to do this research.

I’m not sure it requires comment, does it? If leftys were so concerned about Haliburton, you’d think they might be concerned about Dr. Pachauri’s and Mr. Gore’s connections, yes?

Turns out–Senator James Inhofe was right. And for anyone to dispute that AGW is at very least a hoax perpetrated by the UN, is an exercise in belief, opinion and faith–not fact. The facts are clear: Glaciers are not melting at an advanced pace at all and the planet has not warmed in the past 10 years.

Case closed.

Pick, Pick, Pick

I read James Lileks incessantly. He’s a personal inspiration to me and a fine writer. Courtesy of his Bleat tonight, James provides what he calls The Best Cheese Commercial Ever. I’m inclined to agree–and in keeping with the rest of my post, think metaphorically of the trap as Massachusetts Democrats and the mouse as Scott Brown. Enjoy:

OK-Politics ahead:

Elsewhere, I am having a good time watching the Dems squirm in their seats as they think of new ways to spin how a Republican won a senate seat in Massachusetts. And not just any Senate seat, but Ted Kennedy’s former job. The battle lines are clearly drawn and it looks as though the President, who in this political discussion is the worthy opponent, is ready to fight. I don’t think he should–but I’m glad he is. Why?

Well, it’s like this. If he learned his lesson and began to get some religion like Bill Clinton did, then he too could survive an impeachment attempt when Republicans fail to find a way to stop him. As it is, it looks like the impeachment attempt will come from his own party if he’s not careful and the Republicans won’t have to do much to simply let the President fade away, become a lame duck in his first term and ride the wave of voter discontent at the liberal over-reach into office. The unfortunate thing about the constant media cycle is spin is much easier because memories are so short. Most people, left or right, don’t really have a grasp at what a huge deal last night’s election really was.

Witness my pal Adam who, on his facebook page, replied to my snarky and insufferable gloating, “41 isn’t a majority…keep looking.” He’s right in fact, of course, 41 is not a majority. And if it was only about that, then he’d have a valid point. But it’s not just about the 41. First, it’s about the Dems losing the 60–in one year. It took one year for the President to lose the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy who the President called his “partner” in health care reform. If the seat were in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas or even in Michigan or Ohio, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal.

But this Senate seat was in Massachusetts, a state that voted for President Obama by some 27 points. One writer, a lefty from Salon magazine, opined that since most Massachusetts residents still support the President, this was “obviously not about health care.” Hey, whatever gets you through the night, babe…

The facts on the ground, without too much spin, need to be examined. Let’s look at those, at least in my feeble brain’s attempt to present them. Call me on it where I am wrong:

Massachusetts is a predictably “blue” state. They have not sent a Republican to Washington since 1972. They have indeed had Republican governors like Mitt Romney and Bill Weld, among others. Those governors, however, do not always have the most conservative of roots and Romney, for example, has gone to great pains to change some of his positions since leaving the Boston Statehouse and running for Federal office. I’m not criticizing, I’m just stating facts.

Scott Brown’s victory by the numbers cannot be correctly discussed unless one looks at two very important things: 1) Only about 12% of Massachusetts voters are registered Republicans. 2) Independents, who make up a large plurality of Massachusetts voters, broke for Brown decisively. But there was another factor in play and that is that many Democrats voted for Brown. Anecdotally, interviews of these people revealed their discontent with the President in particular and with the Democratic congress in general. It’s not just pretty clear–it’s perfectly clear that Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts was directed at the President’s policies and his agenda as manifest through the congress in the health care bill, the Cap and Tax (trade) bill, TARP and runaway spending.

It’s also clear that Mr. Brown focused very specifically on national security issues and again, following facts, not spin, if you look at when the election in Massachusetts turned into a horse race, it happened after Christmas and the attempt by an Al-Qaeda bomber to bring down another American airliner. Brown was very clear that he did not believe terrorists should be treated like American citizens. His speeches included specific references that the war should be a top priority of the Federal Government and that terrorists who are captured should be placed in military confinement and answer to military tribunals. Mrs. Coakley, by the same token, made it clear that she believed terrorists should be remanded to the civil courts in America and given the rights of American citizens. I believe her words were that this was “the best course.”

And I could go on, but I won’t. Those are the facts. I write them here because as facts, they stand without comment. If I am wrong in the facts, let the evidence be submitted. Now, my simple commentary:

The American people, by and large, are not center-left, they are center-right. Obama won the Presidency because of how he campaigned and what he campaigned on. So far, he’s broken so many of his promises and added to those an attempt to take over one-sixth of the American economy while allowing unemployment to fester in the double-digits and spending our money like a drunken sailor, that most people are disenchanted with him.

To be sure, he remains “personally” popular. He’s a likable bloke and that’s ducky. It’s also dangerous for Republicans because it means that if things do turn his way, his approval rating will go up fast.

But let’s not lose sight of the big picture. This President cares more about his image than about his party and that’s why he will push forward with health care–and it will fail and he will look bad failing. He doesn’t really seem to have a “plan b,” though I am guessing that Emmanuel and Axelrod must have something up their sleeve in case the boss doesn’t quite get that conservative Democrats who want to keep their seats in the November election might just vote against health care reform now.

It’s fine with me. Comparisons abound and I won’t disappoint–Barack Obama is more akin to Jimmy Carter than he is to Bill Clinton. And Jimmy Carter did more for the conservative movement in America than any Democrat in history with the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson.

So…there’s that.

Let the Gloating Begin

Yes, and so I shall. The link I will provide is here. Only one, yes. For the political earthquake that hit Massachusetts this evening will indeed fall on deaf ears in the White House. The Senate cannot be so abrasive, of course. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, among others (dare I mention Barbara Boxer of California?), know that the earth has indeed shifted under their feet. The bottom line is that if Dems want to keep any semblance of power in Washington, they are going to have to make some changes to their policies.

That’s what this election was about, too. This is about policies. The President campaigned on change, but so far the only change he’s delivered is to try to raise everyone’s taxes, to attempt a government takeover of health care that will blow the deficit into orbit and to seem “cool and detached” when there is an attempt to blow up Americans on an airliner on Christmas Day.

The President believed that his personal aura would carry over and that he could just simply will us into believing him. I will reiterate that I made the prediction before the President took office that my worst fear was that he would over-reach as a true Chicago Liberal and that would mean Republicans would not have to work hard to get back into power, which isn’t necessarily good. I stand by that for the most part. After all, how else do you explain a seat that for 50 years was in Democratic hands going to a Republican in a fairly decisive victory (nearly as decisive as Mr. Obama’s a year ago)?

The one shining light of hope is that Mr. Brown, now the Massachusetts Senator, is a bit more independent than the rank and file Republicans. He is very conservative in some areas and not so conservative in others (I believe he is still pro-choice, for example). Regardless, he campaigned specifically against the President’s agenda. He campaigned against Cap and Tax, against government health care, against tax hikes, against the awful TARP plan (rolled out admittedly by President Bush) and he campaigned for lower taxes, more liberty, more free markets, more job creation, etc. That was a winning ticket in a state that has not sent a Republican to Washington since 1972.

It’s a winning ticket later this year, too. And it’s a winning ticket in 2012 as well.

Word on the street is that the President is going to double down, not back off. This is his right, of course. But it will be his downfall. President Clinton’s high approval rating came, after all, because he listened to the will of the people. President Obama is not encumbered by such provincial ideas, it seems. He apparently believes he knows best how you and I should spend our money, what health care we need and how to take our money and what to do with it. The problem is, he also believes that we’ll catch on and join in his parade.

More fool him.

Update: Jay Cost has this about right. I maintain that if this President doubles down and misses out on the lessons of Massachusetts, then he will not only pay the political price, he will drag his party down the drain with him and the country, those of us poor saps living out here in America, will simply shake our heads. Those of you who voted for him will chastise yourselves wondering what went wrong. Those of us who didn’t vote for him will not say, “I told you so…” At least, not most of us. What we will do, though, is shake our heads at the extraordinary hubris of a young President who refused to be tempered by the very people who elected him to work on their behalf.

Ladyface Alehouse

Thought I’d take a break from the usual and post a kind of review. Before I do though–it’s good to know that by this time tomorrow night, I will be hopefully gloating about the election in Massachusetts. Until then…

I’ve dreamed of opening a true brewpub for years. Many friends of mine have flirted with it and I’ve come close on a couple of occasions. But I tend to agree with Gordon Ramsey on this that if you’re opening a restaurant to make money, and that’s your goal—don’t do it. I’ve added an American caveat to it, which is if you simply want to open a restaurant to make money, go open a TGI Friday’s franchise and be done with it. Be done with flavor and fresh ingredients and unique fare. Just serve your Jack Daniels Monterey Jack Sirloin Blue Cheese Burger and go away.

That, of course, is what happened to the once promising BJ’s “Brew Pub.” I put brewpub in quotes because BJ’s really should remove it from their name. Their flirtation with quality beer, brewed in their facilities, is now simply over. Oh, they claim to do it and in one or two places they do. But they may as well just pour in the ingredients from the bag that says, “Red beer” and turn on the machine and start frothing. Because the beer, while not quite sucking, is rather….well….mundane.

And it was this fact that drove the hero of our story, Dave, to look elsewhere. A former BJ’s brewer, he was distraught by the corporate wing-dinginess of BJ’s and he went forth in search of adventurous and more beer-a-licious climes. He found them with the lovely and gracious Serena and together, they took an old Chuy’s Mexican restaurant and turned it into The Ladyface Ale Company in Agoura Hills off Kanan Road.

An adventurously lean menu kicks off the experience and fresh, local ingredients are used to create mouthwatering dishes like the seasonal and ever-changing flatbreads. I had eggplant, sun-dried tomato, onions and arugula on mine and it was so very satisfying. All the components fit together. The burgers, with grass-fed beef and balsamic marinated onions, the Belgian Pomme Frites served with aioli or ale-infused ketchup, the sausage plate-all of it is captivating and interesting and tasty.

Dave’s beers are works of art. They really are—and it’s not that they’re gorgeous and elegant and simple and finessed, though they are those things. It’s that the brewer takes his time to create limited batches of beer with quality hops and malts, choosing his ingredients, his fermentations, his mash, oh so very carefully and producing unique, flavorful ales, lagers and lambics, among others, that deserve your undivided attention. I won’t do a taste test here—go there, see what’s pouring and taste for yourself. They do a tasting menu which is helpful and if you don’t like what Dave and Serena have concocted, you can order from their “cellar.” And you won’t find Bud, Coors, Coors Light, Pyramid or Sam Adams (allow me to note that Sam Adams does not even belong in that league. Sam Adams beer is a Godly and fine creation. The others are posers and fakers. Sort of—but that’s another article).

Sitting at the foot of Ladyface Mountain in Agoura Hills, nestled next to my very own Westlake Lutheran Church-which makes me happy every Sunday-and now, makes me even happier-Ladyface Alehouse is a wonderful addition to the 101 corridor. They still have some service hiccups to work out. Serena is finding that waiters and waitresses flake once in a while and if it gets busy, you end up with two servers running the show—it can be slow and maddening. I imagine that they’ll work that out over time, but you should know it before you go. The place is tremendous and the food is tremendous-er and the beer is tremendous-er-er.
Ladyface makes me happy. I think it will make you happy, too.

One More Thing…

It’s not a normal evening. Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday and so the public schools, of which I am a plebian inmate, are closed.

I’m not so far down the drain that holidays are nirvana to me. But I can see a time coming when they will be, I suppose. I still like teaching for the most part. This year’s pay cuts, furlough days and next year’s classroom size increase notwithstanding. Still, it’s an interesting job in which I make a living and spend a good deal of time with my family.

But yeah-it’s time for the count again as my pal Bill, who was here tonight for dinner with his kids, reminded me: Caught 7 plagiarizers during the second Huck Finn paper and I suspect quite a few more, but since I cannot prove it, I cannot play “J’accuse…”

And that is what’s happened this year. It’s a bad batch, you know? Who knows but that next year will be better? I’m OK with that. Sometimes you have to wait it out. But two of the plagiarizers simply downloaded an essay, pasted it to a Word document, printed it out and handed it in. Didn’t sound like them, so I typed in the sentences to Google and there was the paper–first one up. That’s not just plagiarism, that’s plain lazy and…well, stupid.

So, the bureaucracy I kind of accept as part of a huge government institution and I can put up with the nimrods who on occasion go overboard in their jobs, or even under-board. But when I end up having students who by and large don’t care a wit about what they’re doing and who question my frustration in finding them to be the useless slugs that they are, I get rather annoyed.

So, tonight, I’m just letting go. I’m quite literally going to turn that portion of it all over to God and ask Him to help me sort it out. Because it’s funny, to a point. And it’s annoying to a point. But in and of itself, it’s merely pointless and rather wheel-spinning. And wheel-spinning is a rather dangerous thing to concentrate on when you’re 44 years old. So, I think I’d rather not.

Good night, Gentles.

All in All

The occasion is that so much is happening that life is awake, alive with dreams and with commitments. Rendezvous and meetings, distances traveled and lessons learned.

In the midst of the grip, I was off to Santa Maria to meet with Dave Corey, he of Core Wine so that I could sign him on to biorganicwines. Dave and Becky’s wines are extraordinary, sustainable mostly Rhone blends that come from some fine vineyards on the Central Coast of CA. Dave leases vineyards at Alta Mesa near Cuyama in the hills above Santa Maria and his wines show off this warm climate with its cool nights. Beautiful stuff.

Left Dave to head down toward home in Ventura County to have lunch with a number of P.R. professionals as I move into the world of writing for clients–though, I confess, I do that with less heart right now as my professional life is very busy between teaching, writing for various publications and running biorganicwines.

Then on down to Bill and Greg where we did some more work on the biorganicwines site and made plans for the future. Then, home–to dream.

And that was Tuesday, but the dreams have held longer. With my family, I have begun to imagine our future together. We’re done looking at each day as an obstacle. Now, each day is a connection to a dream, a larger vision of who we can be and how we can be that. There are mountains to climb and pinnacles to summit. We have more in front of us than we do behind us.

That’s the realization that matters….