Monday, July 4, 2011

Breakfast at the Palomino Room

The old Palomino Room in Sacramento was a steak house. They served lunch to local businessmen, and, at night, they produced fine grilled steaks. True, they had other stuff on the menu, but what the regular crowd showed up for were the steaks. Dad liked the lion sized rib steak, grilled rare, with a baked potato on the side – Dad like his slavered with butter and nothing else.

Then, on Sunday mornings, there was something really special.  See, the Palomino Room was closed every Sunday, as used to be traditional in the restaurant industry.  But some Sunday mornings, Harry and Ray and their chef, Nick would be in the restaurant, cleaning things up, making necessary repairs, and preparing for the week to come.

Whether this custom started merely to feed the staff that was in house on Sunday morning or as a thank you to their regular customers, I do not know, but word got around to the regulars that, if they came by on Sunday morning, breakfast would be served. The bar was open, and Mon and Dad usually ordered Ramos Fizzes or Bloody Marys.

The star of the show, however, was the salty and succulent breakfast served up by Nicolas. He got tremendous quality city style hams that he cut into thick, ½” thick steaks, 10” around. He broiled them on the grill until they had crosshatched carbon grill marks, making the ham utterly delicious. As a garnish for the ham, he grilled a slice of fresh pineapple. It was magnificent in its simplicity. He served it with simple, coarsely cut spuds that were buttery and had a hint of onion, and a pair of eggs, cooked to order. In those days, mine were scrambled wet, Mom’s were poached, and Dad’s, over easy.

Early on a Sacramento summer Sunday, it was heaven. I cannot find ham that compares to that in quality and texture, nor can I find the ambition to fire up the Weber at that time of day, but I may try soon.  It will never be the same at home – it will never be the dear old Palomino Room.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Volcano Combo

When I was a wee lad, as the temperatures headed for the triple digits, my sainted mother would break out the backyard barbecue grill, a decidedly pre-Weber Kettle affair, and she would often serve dinner at a picnic table in our gargantuan back yard. To ease the dense Northern California heat, she would break out a variety of cool beverages, and one of the adult favorites was the Volcano Combo.

She credited its invention variously to a restaurant or a resort located in Volcano, California. Her version of it was, however, her own interpretation, and it was a classic. I remember Sally & Doc, Sully & Eddy, and numerous others sitting in the back yard, deep in grown-up conversation and drinking pitchers of these things. Here is the secret of ice-creamy, boozy deliciousness:

Volcano Combo


·         1 quart, good vanilla ice cream
·         1 pint, Cognac
·         1 pint, Dark Crème de Cacao
·         2 quarts coffee, room temperature


Put all in a big pitcher, allowing the ice cream to get soft and the liquids to get icy cold before serving. Serve in chimney glasses with long straws. Be sure to provide lounge chairs for all.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Hot Toddy

Grandma had elixirs that were surefire recipes to get you back on your feet in no time flat. These mysterious remedies included chicken soup and hot compresses and, of course, the hot toddy.

Personally, I do not know if the hot toddy is a cure for anything, but it sure makes living with a cold a lot easier! This is my grandmama’s recipe and it works every time.
  1. Brew a pot of black tea adding a cinnamon stick, some cloves and a few whole cardamom seeds
  2. Pour a mug of it. Add a liberal dose of honey or brown sugar
  3. Add a slug (approximately 2 oz.) of rye whiskey
  4. Stir until the honey is not gloppy anymore, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice (for the vitamin C)
Drink at regular intervals until you feel better.