Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More of the Valentine's Day Barbershop Quartet

I'm still in the glow of my Valentine's Day surprise serenade by my friend Mike's Barbershop Quartet.

Mike has filled me in on more details of who they are...

They are all part of the Devil Mountain Barbershop Chorus. The entire Chorus meets to practice once a week throughout the year. Throughout the year, the Chorus performs at several venues. Some performances are free; for some, there is an admission charge. They do a holiday concert each year and this past year, their performances included the Pleasant Hill City Hall 50th Anniversary celebration and the Walnut Festival in Walnut Creek.

It is not too soon to be planning for Valentine's Day next year. This is a national website where you can find a Valentine's Day quartet near you. Prices vary but most for this year seem to be about $50 for a live performance:

Valentines Quartets

Interestingly, those Chorus members who wish to sing as Quartets on Valentine's Day are not assigned their quartet until the week before Valentine's Day.

As it happened, Mike and his group had never sung together until yesterday. But they all knew the songs. I and everyone in the restaurant yesterday were under the impression that they had been singing together forever. They were terrific!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Best Valentine's Day Ever

Happy Valentine's Day!

For the past several years, probably since Jim retired, we've usually gone out for lunch on Valentine's's more relaxing, the restaurants are not as crowded, and most restaurants just serve their regular menu at lunch which suits me better as I can order just what I want rather than a multi-course meal that is sure to yield leftovers for days to follow.

So, off we went today to Va De Vi, one of our favorite Walnut Creek small plates restaurants and wine bars.

Jim started with a glass of Cava, an Italian sparkling wine.

I stuck with water, since I had to get back to work after lunch.

One of our dishes was the Slider Trio, three mini burgers on warm homemade buns: Spicy Duck Meatball, Ahi Tuna, and Lamb Kafta.

We also ordered Braised Chard with Garbanzos and Tomato Jam

and, Day Boat Scallops on Risotto Cakes.

To end our meal, we shared a selection of two cheeses.

While this wonderful lunch would have made for a perfect Valentine's Day in and of itself (plus a few gifts from Jim and Louie, of course), what made it the "Best Ever" was the surprise appearance of the Barbershop Quartet with whom our friend Mike sings. They arrived formally dressed in white and red, looking like a Valentine's Card themselves. They sang, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Heart of My Heart," and a Song with my name in it. They also presented me with a heart-shaped box of Chocolate Truffles and a single red rose.

I was totally surprised....more like shocked! And, of course, delighted, as were the other diners in the restaurant.

I was the Quartet's 5th gig of the day. Since Mike has a thriving business in San Francisco, he took the day off to sing. I don't know about the other three men, but they were excellent and will give info when I have it on how to hire them for a special event.

As they were leaving the restaurant, they stopped to serenade the hostess and as they walked out the door, another diner ran out after them to hire them on the spot to entertain his sweetheart!

Hope you all have had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Tea Culture" has a Little Sister!

Exciting news!

My book on tea in modern day culture, has just been published in a paperback version after enjoying nearly two years exclusively as a hardcover book.

I'm proud and excited about "Tea Culture's" little sister.

I know it will be showing up in bookstores and online soon, if not already. For the past several months, has been taking pre-orders on the paperback version. For now, Amazon is selling off its remaining inventory of hardcover books (4 copies left) at an amazingly low price of $6.82! This price is significantly lower than what I pay for the copies I buy from my publisher for my personal resale. The paperback copy retails for $12.95, $11.01 on

While the quality of the paperback version is excellent, I personally prefer the hardcover.

So, if you are looking for a Valentine's Gift, a coffee table book for yourself, an extra copy for your cookbook shelf (there are over 30 recipes) or just want to stock up on hostess gifts, I suggest ordering the hardcover from (this is the link to the book). This is a real deal!