May 5, 2010 - 11:18 am
A couple of weeks ago I was in Portland for the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference, an event that’s a highlight of my year and has been for nearly two decades. I joined nearly 60 of my author-colleages at a public book signing event on the Friday afternoon of the conference, we each had our 4 or 5 feet of table space to do with what we wanted to showcase the book we were signing. Many brought food samples, some had props relating to their topic. A couple were even serving cocktails! By my tablemate to the right (Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice) said she was sure I was having more fun than any of the authors there that day (and this coming from one of those who was shaking up a cocktail, hers with tequila, blood orange juice and jalapeno! YUMMMM).
I’d brought along my Slamwichcards to just show people one fun kid-oriented game with a foodie theme. And I had a bag of Bananagramstiles, working on an ever-expanding freestyle crossword of food-related terms. I was particularly enchanted when beloved writer and writing coach Crescent Dragonwagon spent a few minutes at my table lost in the joyful challenge of filling out the wordscape with a number of other food-related words, from “horehound” (an old-school herb traditionally used to make a hard sugar candy, or used in cough drops) to “love” (which, she pointed out, is often at the core of why we cook). That was a wonderful moment! Words and games bringing folks together. This example here is from a book signing I did this past weekend at Metropolitan Markets. Can tell you how many folks too one look at what I was doing and said “I love Bananagrams!!”
All that to lead into the fact that I’ll be having yet more fun on the road with Gourmet Game Night on May 13. The folks at Tom Douglas headquarters are all avid game-players and have dreamed up a fun evening at Palace Kitchen. We’ll be playing dominoes, sampling a few recipes from the book(Green Pea and Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta, Herb Marinated Shrimp, and Lamb and Olive Kebabs) and generally celebrating the release of the book in a fun and dynamic fashion.
Plus they’ll be stirring up one of the cocktails from the book too, yummy Orange Negronis, available at the bar that night. Come join in the fun!! Tickets are $10 to cover the snacks, and books will be available that night as well, all the info you need is here. Of course, I’ll be happy to sign those books that night too. It’s going to be a really fun evening.
Many thanks to the folks from Blue Highway Games who will be on hand to run the domino tournament and provide their general game-playing expertise. That shop at the top of Queen Anne was part of the inspiration behind the book. I figured that if a couple guys who used to be in the electronic gaming industry were turning their attention to retail of old-school board games, there had to be something to this trend of unwinding with friends and family around the table, not electronics required. Hope to see you next week!
March 2, 2010 - 11:30 am
It’s funny that it took this long. But for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that my husband and I played in our first poker tournament. We go to Vegas pretty frequently and have been invited to join in poker tournaments down there now and then, but have always found the prospect just too intimidating. After all, we never even play casually at home (for whatever reason our game-playing crowd doesn’t include many poker players….). Sitting down to a poker table in Vegas without knowing the ropes could be pretty distressing. (I did, however, accept an invitation to play in a blackjack tournament at the Rio once. Didn’t go too badly! I had top chip count at my table halfway through the first round, but busted out before the second round.)
But my husband in particular has a pretty strong affinity for poker. He’s got a wonderfully analytical mind and has been casually studying the rhythm of play, pro habits and percentages while watching World Series of Poker and other poker programs on TV. He’s quiet and thoughtful and just mysterious enough to not let on to players what he’s got up his sleeves (so to speak).
Bob, Dick Stein, me, the lovely Paige Hansen
So in early February when I got the email reminder of the upcoming KPLU
poker tournament, I followed a whim and got us a couple of seats. The “buy-in” for the tournament was a donation to the station, the tournament the dreamchild of KPLU jazz host Dick Stein, himself an avid and serious poker player during his off-air time. This was the third year of the tournament, with about 70 players signed up. Stein and a couple of his KPLU cohorts–Kevin Kniestedt and Paige Hansen–played along, and all three had “bounties” on their heads. The player who busted them out of the tournament earned a T-shirt: “I busted out Dick Stein.” I had a bounty, too, the player at my table to bust me out got a copy of my new Gourmet Game Night
The tournament was held in the busy poker room of Muckleshoot Casino down in Auburn, with their professional dealers and all the trappings of pro play. So it was kind of best-of-both-worlds. A little taste of a real-world poker tournament experience, but with an easy-going public radio crowd for challengers. I had a great time, and like that blackjack tournament in Vegas, was just thrilled to not embarrass myself with terrible play. I made it nearly to the halfway point, about the 30th player to bust out. Got those dreaded pocket aces, with a short stack of chips. Nothing to do but go all in. And just to prove that being dealt two of the top cards in the deck is no guarantee of a winning hand, my tablemate drew three kings. Bye-bye Cynthia!
I had a great time following the rest of the players, particularly seeing my husband doing so well. Can’t say how proud I am that he kept at it so well over those four-plus hours of play. And busting with pride that he won the whole tournament!!! Santa Barbara, here we come. The prize included tickets on Amtrak Coast Starlight and a couple nights down there. Can’t wait. Here are some shots from the tournament, toward the end you’ll see Bob playing the final table.
What’s next for Bob? He always laughs when people ask. No big plans to make weekly trips to Muckleshoot or hone his game for the circuit. But I think we’d both enjoy working a little more poker into our game routine here at home. And maybe one of these days we’ll actually sit down to one of those tables in Vegas.