Many of you know I set and maintain the highest standards possible. I have strict rules for social engagements — including dining out with other people, being served in restaurants, and engaging in casual conversation.
Now, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve right around the corner, it occurred to me that most of my dedicated readers and followers might not be aware of my rigorous holiday protocols. Should you invite me to grace your merry occasion make it truly special for you and your guests, that means certain qualifications must be met. Note that depending on how important you are, and the prospects that you can either help me financially or with my career, some of these conditions may be flexible. However, the rest of you will be required to meet my demands in full and without question, or risk me blowing you off. Should you wish for me attend, adding significantly to the chances of your holiday gathering being successful, listen up and take careful notes.
Here are my ten demands for attending public holiday festivities:
I’m demanding an immediate investigation.
Someone’s been pilfering my rainbow trouts. I intend to find out who’s the thief. Make that thieves.
At Buzio’s, which is the seafood restaurant at the Rio in Las Vegas, the general manager is a sweet lady named Diane. Right before the start of this year’s series, Diane assured me she’d order a private stock of 50 fresh-water rainbow trouts. Just for me. They were to be put aside and offered as a special option for me and my privileged guests. The quantity “50” seemed adequate enough. Since I’d be expected to consume 27.5 of them (that’s my O/U based on dining at Buzio’s every other night during the World Series of Poker), that would leave 20 or so stray trouts for those V.I.P.s who I thought were deserving enough to enjoy the delicacy. The rest of the people can be left to fight over the frozen catfish, or whatever.
I get to dine out with some really amazing people. Names that you would certainly recognize. Even the names you don’t know are often just as interesting, if not more so.
This is all taken for granted, of course. Every night is a potential feast, not only for the food and drink — but for the fresher garnishment of fond memories, provocative ideas, good fun, and plenty of laughs.
Still, I must say this. My favorite dinner companion remains the one person I never getting tried of being with, or listening to. She’s full of more memories, ideas, fun, and laughs than anyone I know, or could hope to know. Of course, I’m talking about Marieta.
Lst night’s dinner was truly special as I was joined by two special close freinds.
On my left is Dr. Arthur Reber, a former professor of psychology at Brooklyn College, in New York. He now lives on an island off the coast of Washington State (seriously). Check out his website, which has a lot of interesting perspectives about poker, politics, and life. CLICK HERE.
On my right is Mark Napolitano, who is perhaps best known for founding PokerPages.com. CLICK HERE Mark is originally from London and now lives in Austin.
Part 1 — A Visit to Pittsburgh’s Famous Penn Brewery
Part 2 — Dining With the Weinstocks (Grand Concourse Restaurant)
This week, I’m visiting Pittsburgh.
This city was pretty much a hellhole a century ago. Once cloistered with gritty steel mills and coal depots, giant smokestacks barreled out a toxic blanket of blackness, gradually turning day into night, transforming any human lung within breathing distance into something that resembled a charred Brillo pad.
Today, Pittsburgh is a very different city. A much cleaner city. A city completely transformed. Virtually unrecognizable in many ways from its early heyday as a buckle on the rust belt, what once was an industrial junction of steel, coal, and railroads is now a major center for banking, medicine, and higher education.
Yet even now Pittsburgh retains a core toughness about it, rooted in the rocky cliffs towering over the city’s three rivers and picturesque downtown, capped with fresh snow in early December. It’s a city of contrasts — of tradition and innovation, of rivers and bridges, of long drives and short walks.
Pittsburgh’s also home to countless local breweries. One of the oldest is the famous Penn Brewery, perched atop a hill in the historic working-class district of Deutschtown, once the home to thousands of struggling steel mill workers which ultimately helped spark the formation and eventual power of trade unions in America.