Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Best Beach Guest

Current read: "Conversations with Katherine Anne Porter" by Enrique Hank Lopez/1981
Best song randomly heard: "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)" by Bob Schneider/2009

Good beach guests come in all shapes and sexes, but it's difficult to find one who provides everything I want in one person.

It's a bonus to have someone who wants to walk on the beach with me in the mornings. It's great to have someone who starts thinking "happy hour" around the same time I do.

But it's almost impossible to find someone who wants to hear about, much less discuss, what I'm reading.

Every year, I bring down a year's worth of accumulated reading, hoping to get to most of it. And I usually do given the amount of free time I have here.

And, inevitably, the most interesting thing happens as I plow through my stack of unrelated books. Connections begin to show themselves.

Totally random people or events show up in multiple reads and I find myself eager to share this information with someone who might find it as fascinating as I do.

Yesterday's book "Bad Girls" contained a chapter about a concubine who made herself invaluable to the explorer Cortes as a translator and accomplice.

Today's book about the writer Katherine Anne Porter mentioned her friendship with the erratic Hart Crane, who, pre-suicide, planned to write an epic poem about the conquest of Mexico and dramatically feature Cortes.

Frankly, I hadn't thought about Cortes since sixth grade Social Studies, when we learned about all the great explorers (Ponce de Leon! Amerigo Vespucci! Vasco de Gama!), so seeing Cortes mentioned twice struck me as conversation-worthy. But with whom?

Don't get me wrong. My current guests have been great fun, but they wouldn't be interested in such a geeky topic.

I did finally get them motivated to go out to eat, though, and we chose a place new to us all, the Bad Bean Tacqueria barely three miles away.

What I had heard was that they made everything themselves and, as it turned out, quite well.

There were five different house made salsas to choose from, they made their own guacamole, the fish was locally caught, the beef brisket done in house, the pork and chicken smoked out back. You get the idea.

And while Mexi-Cali restaurants are not usually known for their wine choices, we were more than pleased with the Acrobat Pinot Gris from the oh-so-green King Estate Winery in Oregon.

Tasting of apples with a hint of pepper, it was to be an ideal choice for the fish in my future.

All that sunning and reading had given us an appetite, so we started with a plate of black bean nachos which got high points for its use of queso blanco instead of cheese and the addition of pickled onions, which added an unexpected and delicious sweetness to a traditionally salty dish.

For dinner, I had fish tacos in flour tortillas made with local mahi mahi and dressed with my choice, the salsa of the day, a smoked tomatillo/pepper with medium heat. The fish's fresh taste was matched only by how well-seasoned it was.

One guest had the enormous sweet pepper and bean burrito, as heavy as a brick, and she chose the mild salsa fresca. The big eater had the beef brisket tacos with the killer tomato/habanero sauce. I was impressed with the brisket after only one bite.

Our server tried to talk us into dessert, but beer and wine won out over sweets as we discussed whether or not to go out for music tonight.

I thought I made a good argument for seeing Hoots and Hellmouth, but they voted me down.

Like I said, they're fun guests, but not my ideal match. But then, what are the chances there's a beach guest who'll listen to me geeking out over what I'm reading and be interested in seeing a late music show?

To quote my Richmond grandmother, "Slim to none and Slim just left town."

A girl can dream, can't she? And where better to do so than on a porch swing overlooking the ocean?

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