One of my favorite rants is about the fact that one of my favorite restaurants, Le Parisien, closed its doors five years or so ago. I miss it.

Three of my friends’ daughters recently took a trip to Europe on a school sponsored expedition, which included Paris, France. One of the girls commented that people were eating snails with a shudder.

Now, I love escargot. It is wonderfully yummy and the only place in Salt Lake City that I know of that ever served it was the aforementioned Le Parisien. Her dad asked if I knew of any other place around that served it (none that I know of) and then dropped the bombshell that he’d read Max Mercier’s obituary in the paper.

I still haven’t come to grips with this yet. I literally have known Max all of my life. My dad is the same age as Max and my dad worked downtown from the mid 1960s until he closed the door to his recording studio a couple of years ago. When I was eight or nine months old, my dad likes to tell of taking me with them to dinner at Le Parisien and letting me gum the dressing off of the lettuce leaves. We lived in the south end of the valley but we’d take the drive on occasion to have dinner downtown – the waiters knew our names, treated my parents as friends and made us feel like it was our place too.

My favorite dish at Le Parisien was the Boeuf Bourguignon. Delicious and wonderful, the few dates that I had in high school ended up there if I really liked the person. It wasn’t expensive but it was oooooh so good.

Dad knew the menu and the daily specials – he’d plan his lunch around them. I’m not sure which day it was, but they served an Eggs Benedict which was quite good and he’d have it each week. When Utah passed some restrictive liquor laws Max added on a private club so Dad could have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner and not have to smuggle it in.

The tables were wood, dark stained, covered with red and white checkered table cloths. Each table also had a bottle filled with colored sugar crystals that as kids we delighted in pouring a few out and licking a finger to pick them up and let them dissolve.

Oh, and the bread! Wonderful hot bread, served with foil wrapped servings of real butter. The bread had a thick, crunchy crust and we always made sure to save a piece to sop up the extras from dinner ’cause they were yummy.

I’ve missed Le Parisien and Max Mercier – when Le Parisien closed I didn’t have much opportunity to run into him. My dad knew him more socially but for me he was like a special, favorite uncle that made wonderful food.

Good bye, Max.

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Growing up, whenever we’d visit Park City, Utah, we made a point to stop and have pizza at the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor. We had to eat there at least once; preferably more. They served a wonderful soda mixture of Orange, Root Beer, Sprite and I think Coca Cola – the menu called that wonderful concoction a ‘Suicide’. We found that the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor in Park City served it, along with wonderful pizza (with a lemon wedge on top), a vintage jukebox and a dark and dreary, almost dismal, atmosphere.

It wasn’t unclean, but it had very high ceilings as vintage building do and the retrofitted electric lights didn’t have the umph to illuminate every nook and cranny. There was a long bar on one side of the room with a cash register dating back long before electricity gave the world something else to worry about. Along the wall behind the bar were various bottles, some labeled, some in use, with a mirror running the length of the wall. At the end of the bar was a doorway into the kitchen and if you walked around the wall back into the dining room you could look through the large picture window and try to figure out which pizza was going to be yours.

Over the years, the Red Banjo opened up the downstairs as an arcade to draw in the kids (and their parents) which seemed to work for a while. I remember that there was usually two people working – a waitress and a cook and we’d never see the cook. The waitress was always bustling about though.

This was before Park City became the popular winter and summer destination for the Hollywood flora and fauna. It was becoming famous as a ski resort though and we thought that the 26$US price for an all day lift ticket was outrageous! My parents owned part of an apartment at the top of Main Street and the different owners traded off who was staying there. At least once each winter and usually more we’d spend a week there, skiing and getting into trouble roaming the halls. When I stopped skiing lift tickets at Park City were up to 50$US or so and I’m sure the price went up from there.

Alas, time changes everything. We visited the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor recently on a vacation to Park City and it was still there! The pizza was fine, but the salad dressing isn’t the same (but close) and they no longer serve Suicides. The two kids running the restaurant were ready to go out to play so they closed the place down early, turning away customers. The jukebox now plays CD albums or single tracks and lists many of the more recent titles. It just wasn’t quite the same though – the lights were too bright, the waitress too bored.

On the plus side, while David and I were finding something on the Jukebox we played a Queen song, a Jack Johnson song from the Curious George soundtrack and a Grateful Dead track! David saw the cover with the skeleton and had to play at least one song.

It was a pleasant evening, but I don’t think we will be going back as an ongoing tradition. I will always be comparing it to my memories and as it wanes I’d prefer to remember it in the glory in my head. I’m not imagining its decline though; the missus and I would go for pizza when we were first married and she thought it wasn’t “quite right” either.

If you look at my books you would find a couple of shelves devoted to comic collections – not the comic books but anthologies of different comic strips like Foxtrot, Bloom County, Doonesbury and Dilbert. Dilbert far outnumbers the others; Foxtrot comes closest of the rest. I’ve got all of Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, books, a digital book and the audio book of one of the paper ones. I’ve got stuffed figurines that Scott Adams has signed and I’ve eaten at the restaurant that he owns part of in Pleasanton, California (Stacey’s Cafe).

I think Scott Adams is a very, very funny man.

With that introduction, here are two recent blog posts by Mr. Adams which had me laughing so hard I could barely read.

A Tail By Any Other Name

13 Inch Tail

Enjoy.

P.S. These are a bit on the crude side – if you are easily offended you might want to get some counseling and not read these.

*nudge* *nudge*

June 26, 2006

Well, Bill reminded me that I haven’t posted in over a month. Sorry about that.

We went on a camping trip to Payson Lakes which was cold and then got snowed on. The missus didn’t much care for that and didn’t care for the boy getting all muddy and wet so we packed up a day early and went home. I found out later from some friends that stayed that it was rather… cold… that night.

Anyway, on top of that, we went on vacation, the boy and the missus went to Oregon for a weekend, a family reunion and relatives vacationing here from Texas… I haven’t posted much.

I’ve thought about you all though – I’ve got to figure out a way to post with the Pocket PC offline and upload them later that is easy and bulletproof. I have great ideas and comments while I’m out and about but when I get back to the PC I have too much to do to post. I’ve mastered Sudoku as much as the Pocket PC version can give me so I need something else to waste time with.

Someday.

Oh, I also modded my XBox and put XBox Media Center on it. SWEET! Seriously, this turns the XBox from a games platform into an entertainment platform to play music, video, photos, games – whatever you want to do.

So, watch the slideshow above since I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up there and I’ll make an attempt to post on a more regular basis. Perhaps I’ll bore you with the drudgery that is my existence – especially as I enjoy reading so much about all of your lives (except for Bill who is still holding the high ground and won’t blog).

Chow!