C is for Cool. Really F#_@ing Cool.

Lillet blonde, on the rocks with a twist of orange at Cafe Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. It’s my new favorite cocktail and I love it dearly.

Dinner was good — and the prices at the cafe were reasonable for the birthplace of California cuisine — and the service was great. I showed up well after 8 pm and they parked me at the bar for less than the promised 45 minutes with the wholly distracting Lillet. When I was seated, I said thanks for squeezing me in. The bespectacled, betweeded hostess said, “It’s a pleasure to have you.” I was a late-coming one-top, the type of table that is often on the recieving end of a world-class stink-eye. I’ve never been to a place as famous as CP before and was so happy to find that the staff knows how a small meal can be a big deal to someone like me.

The appetizer (tomato soup) and entree (grilled polenta) were nice, but the alpha and omega of the meal were the aforementioned apperatif and the dessert, hazelnut creampuffs with dark chocolate and caramel sauce. The puffs arrived with coffee as dark and deep as a well. I usually take cream but not tonight. Even I know not to mess with a good thing.

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