Saturday night, my husband and I hit local restaurant Club Paradisio in Redding. We’ve been trying to get there since last October when I first discovered it and ate there one cold, October night. I found this treasure after the hospital cafeteria closed during my mom’s late night emergency surgery. There are not very many places to eat in old town past 6:00, and I was out prowling much later than that. A charming chef in a white hat and apron named Steven greeted me at the door, then made me the best Chicken Marsala and Creamy Asparagus soup I wouldn’t soon forget.
I had been bragging to my husband about it for months. I spoke of the ability the chef had with mixing ingredients. We had made an attempt over Thanksgiving weekend to dine, but the cafe was closed. So for something different (and in my mind a pre-birthday celebration for me), we went and ate full course. We enjoyed a nice Cab from Horse Haven in Washington. We didn’t dare pass up the clam chowder, as the asparagus soup made such an impression. (Steven had actually mentioned he has a special list of people he calls when he makes creamy asparagus. That’s how good it is!)
The wine and soup were both delicious. We ate and discussed our date night movie, “The Kingsman,” a spy flick with Colin Firth I liked more than I thought I would. The walls of Club Paradisio are filled with featured artists which creates an intimate feel. Art on the tables, art on the walls kinda thing. As we finished our soup, the main course came. My husband ordered the Chicken Marsala with pasta shells. I chose the special, lamb chops with fresh asparagus and roasted red potatoes. Mike took one of my potatoes.
“How are they?” I asked.
“Pretty spicy. Be warned,” he said, taking a sip of water. Since he can take more spice than me, I was a little worried.
I had a bite of lamb (perfect) then tasted the potato. My lips started to burn. Hunh, I thought. Strange choice. My water was gone in about 60 seconds flat and the Cab wasn’t cutting the spice. I started looking around for the water lady.
Meanwhile, a lady two tables over called out to Steven as walked around the room. “Steven, these are fabulous. Very tasty.” She was talking about the potatoes.
As the water lady filled my glass, I said something like, “Thanks. The potatoes are pretty spicy! Don’t go far.” She smiled and walked away. A few minutes later Steven’s wife appeared at our table.
“The potatoes too spicy?” she asked.
“Well, yes…ummmm…they’re okay… I,” Maybe I was missing something that would kick in a a few minutes…
“There is a reason,” she said, coming clean. “One of the guys in the kitchen grabbed the cayenne instead of the paprika! Would you like another side order?”
We laughed. Well, that explains that. “No thanks,” I said. “I only wanted a few anyway.”
Steven came by later and I told him the funniest part was that I had been bragging to my husband about the mixing of ingredients and how perfect they were. Then we got these really spicy potatoes. He thought the funniest part was how another patron found them absolutely delicious.
One man’s flower is another man’s weeds. (In So California, we used to argue with our gardeners about Cosmos because in Mexico they were weeds. Even though we told them we wanted them, had in fact planted them, they insisted on pulling them up.) And here we were again with one woman’s too-spicy potatoes being another woman’s perfect side dish.
It reminded me of Emma Curtis Hopkins, famous philosopher and metaphysician, who spoke to the importance of “naming your good.” Don’t hesitate. Be specific. Don’t compare–your good may be wholly different than someone else’s good. Because each person is unique, it completely follows that it would be. The important part is to name your good and know your good is there for you. That’s no small potatoes. What better place to be reminded of this then in a place named paradise.