Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chicken and egg question

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new Amador (or Amador County) Business Council, a group that seems to be newly active in the general plan update.

As I noted in that post, the group is led by a gentleman named Jim Conklin, who's from Stockton. Best I can figure, he goes around to different counties setting up these "business councils." Local business people evidently pay him to represent them in the public arena.

A quick online search shows that Conklin has headed groups like this in Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Joaquin and most recently, Calaveras. And now he's here, too.

I nearly crashed a meeting of the group earlier this month, but decided to go upcountry that afternoon instead. Better to enjoy the mountains and flowers than show up where you're not expected and probably not too welcome.

But I'm still curious. Did the folks involved in Amador contact Conklin and ask for help, or did he approach them? And if they're really concerned about the big picture for our county's future, why not form a group like Sacramento's diverse Valley Vision instead of another "business" organization?

Twice now, I've sent e-mails to Amador Ledger Dispatch Publisher Jack Mitchell asking the Conklin chicken-and-egg question and mentioning Valley Vision.

He hasn't responded.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dining out locally -- two recent experiences

I've eaten out twice in Amador County in the last two weeks. One evening was very disappointing. But last night I had a delicious supper, with good service at a decent price. You can't ask for much more than that.

That meal was at Oko Sushi, a locally owned sushi bar and Japanese restaurant in the Martell Sales Tax Sacrifice Zone. It's an attractive restaurant with a diverse menu and good food.

Everyone gets a steaming bowl of miso soup shortly after arrival. I ate most, but not all of a huge bowl of chicken and egg donburi (chicken, egg and green onion cooked and served on rice -- homey Japanese fare). It was as good as any I've ever had, and served quickly enough that I easily made my 7 pm meeting. The vibe of the restaurant is friendly and welcoming. I'll be going back soon.

Two weekends ago was a different story. It was our wedding anniversary, so we went to a pricey, fancier restaurant in Sutter Creek for supper. The food was mediocre and the service was terrible. We waited more than 10 minutes for water and a record-setting 25 minutes for bread. And we paid quite a bit for the privilege. It was the first time we'd been to this incarnation of the restaurant -- and it's likely the last. So much for building local clientele.

If only someone could recreate the food and ambience of the old Caffe Via D'Oro, especially in its earlier years. Jerry and Deborah -- we miss you!