Eons ago, My Beloved's daughters gave us a gift certificate to use at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. We were thrilled, as I had never been there before and My Beloved only once or twice. Still, we had never found just the right occasion to use it until now.
When Sam and Naomi discovered the perfect apartment in which to spend the next couple of years while she finishes her studies and he builds his resume, there was some question about whether or not they would make acceptable tenants. They had to fill out paperwork describing their financial and educational status, prospects, habits, blood type, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, hair and eye color (I may be exaggerating a bit here) and even meet in person with their landladies. My Beloved and I wondered what in heaven's name the landladies might find to object to in these two but, needs must, so they dressed in their best, donned their helmets, and cycled off to meet the skeptical landladies.
They came back triumphant, having passed both written and oral exams. It seemed like a good excuse for another celebration so I stuffed our gift certificate into my purse and these two leggy youngsters into our car and off we went. First, we toured their new neighborhood, pointing out our recommendations for restaurants and shops close to the apartment. Then, we wound our way up the hill to the huge, pristine white frame building on the hill.
The Claremont is a marvelous place - kind of a throwback to an earlier time with wide porches, a splendid lobby and a balcony/bar with sweeping views across Oakland to San Francisco. The fog had melted back to the coast, framing San Francisco in soft light. The cars on the Bay Bridge sparkled in the setting sun, a necklace of light linking the two cities. Some day, perhaps for an important anniversary, I'd love to stay there and enjoy all the luxuries; as it was, we toasted each other with fancy cocktails and enjoyed some snacks along with the fairytale view.
My Beloved ordered lobster sliders, Sam and Naomi shared ahi tartar served with a tasty sauce in large, recurved taro chips, and I fell for the description of Dirty Potato Chips. What arrived was nothing like I imagined from the description but it was tangy and savory. It was also approximately three times the size of the other "snacks," so we shared that one around.
The potato chips were the crinkled kind, freshly fried and salted, then topped with chunky blue cheese dressing, crisp bacon lardons coated with a surprisingly spicy heat, and small chunks of well cooked chicken livers. A sprinkle of green onion for color and you have a substantial snack for four.
We drank our colorful cocktails and enjoyed our surroundings. I had a pleasant little buzz on by the time we left, strolling down the hill to our car in the warm evening air. Not only did Naomi and Sam pass muster, so did the Claremont.