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June 12, 2011 - 6:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, parade, Resurrection Parish, St. Joe's, Lawn Fete.

The summer doesn't officially begin in Batavia until the Resurrection Parish Lawn Fete and Parade.  The weather was near perfect yesterday and a large crowd turned out for the fun and the food.

Another 50 or so pictures after the jump.


June 12, 2011 - 6:52am
posted by Robin Walters in batavia, Care-A-Van Ministries.




June 11, 2011 - 8:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The video is of Marissa Diescher, pitcher for Livingston Manor, a Gatorade Player of the Year with a full-ride scholarship to Penn State. 

Her fastball can clock at 67 mph, which she mixes with a change up, rise and drop.

After taking a semi-finals game 16-0 earlier today against a pitcher who threw 15 to 20 mph slower, Notre Dame Coach Rick Mancuso said his Fighting Irish team was a little out of rhythm to start the game.

He also he made a mistake in the first inning, calling the wrong pitch, which led to a home run for Livingston Manor and a 2-0 deficit. 

It was all up hill from there, with Notre Dame only getting two base runners on no hits and dropping the final 8-0.

"It was a great trip and I couldn't be prouder of the girls," Mancuso said. "We had a great time down here. It was awesome."

He said even in being no hit, the Notre Dame girls were pleased to get a chance to compete against a player of Diescher's caliber.

June 11, 2011 - 4:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The Notre Dame girls softball team won its semi-final championship game in Glens Falls today by a score of 16-0.

The team will begin a game within the hour to decide the state champion in its class.

June 11, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street, Valle Jewelers.

Valle Jewelers is celebrating its 60th year in business today with sales, prize drawings and refreshments. There was a good number of people in the store this morning when we stopped by.

Previously: Three generations and 60 years later, Valle family business still sparkles

June 10, 2011 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Kennedy School, schools, education.

The cafeteria at John Kennedy School was transported back in time today to the 1950s, when Beatniks ruled the poetry world.

The second grade class dressed in tie-die and berets for poetry readings and multi-media presentations for an audience of parents and teachers.

Not all of the poets represented in the readings were Beats, but the list included Shel Silverstein, Langston Hughes, John Gardner, Vachel Lindsay and Jeff Foxworthy.

Guest readers included Superintendent Margaret Puzio and school Principle Mr. Kesler.

The annual event was organized by second-grade teachers Ms. Mancuso, Mrs. Hallman and Mrs. Calandra. 

Pictured above are five of the students who participated, Juan Martinez, James Cooley, Ben Skalny, Haylee Thornley and Clair Griffith.

June 10, 2011 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

UPDATED 3:26 p.m., with clarification of a quote.

In the interest of justice, the aggravated harassment in the second-degree charges filed against political activist Chris Charvella should be dropped, Charvella's attorney argued in Town of Batavia Court this morning.

The hearing was prompted by the defense's motion to dismiss the case.

"If you allow this case to go forward, what is the public going to think?" Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, told Justice Mike Cleveland. "Are they going to trust a system where a politician is allowed to call the police and have a political opponent silenced?"

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini, representing the people, argued that the case against Charvella is neither political nor does it conflict with the First Amendment.

The case is entirely about Charvella's conduct, Cianfrini argued. The key question is whether that conduct violates the harassment, 2nd, statute against making phone calls with no legitimate purpose.

Charvella is accused of placing a phone call to Legislator Jay Grasso and leaving a message on his answering machine. The message said, "Thank you for reading my blog."

Cianfrini argued that the message had no legitimate purpose and taken within the context of comments made by Charvella on The Batavian and on his own blog, constitutes an attempt to threaten and intimidate Grasso.

"What Mr. Charvella did was serious," Cianfrini said. "It wasn't a light moment. He wasn't trying to be funny. It was serious and if you look at the whole body of conduct, it is serious."

In order for the case to be considered serious, Fussell argued, the conduct of Charvella would have to be seen by a reasonable person as intimidating. Just because the alleged victim, he argued, felt alarmed doesn't mean the conduct is in fact harassing.

"Mr. Grasso is either an exceptionally sensitive person who is easily frightened, or he is acting to shut out Mr. Charvella from the political process," Fussell said. 

A key fact disputed during the hearing was the timing of the phone message in relation to a post Charvella did with a picture of an Ewok with the caption, "Prepare your anus."

Cianfrini said the posting of the picture followed by the phone message was clear evidence that Charvella intended to intimidate Grasso.

Fussell countered that the Ewok picture was posted after the phone call, so Grasso could not have seen the picture before getting the phone message.  

To which Cianfrini replied that if that's the case, Charvella's conduct potentially constituted a threat.

Fussell quickly replied that Charvella hadn't been charged with such a crime.

"If those are the facts that come out at trial, the people reserve the right to file that charge," Cianfrini said. "He's on notice."

A few times during the oral arguments, Cianfrini made the point that Grasso wasn't acting in his capacity as a sitting legislator, so the First Amendment didn't apply to the case.

The events around the case were entirely personal, Cianfrini argued, and not about politics or anything Grasso did as a government official.

"That’s what the First Amendment deals with, the government not politics  the placement of a political sign or personal conflicts," Cianfrini said.*

And even if it is a political issue, Cianfrini said, the case isn't about the content of any postings or messages. It's about Charvella's conduct, which Cianfrini argued, was clearly intended to intimidate and harass Grasso, causing him to feel alarmed.

One key piece of evidence not available in the case, Fussell complained, is the phone message itself. The recording was not preserved.

Fussell said the recording would provide important context to the message -- what was Charvella's tone of voice? Was it threatening? Was it humorous? 

It's hard to believe, Fussell said, given Grasso's background in law enforcement, that he didn't know to preserve the evidence.

Cianfrini said Grasso's law enforcement training is irrelevant to the case and that the recording is not needed since Charvella doesn't dispute the fact that he left the message.

As the oral arguments before Justice Cleveland wore down, the tensions between the attorneys intensified.

A couple of times near the close, Fussell made the point that if the case goes forward, Charvella will incur significant legal expenses (Charvella has already spent $7,000 on the case) while Grasso is getting the services of Cianfrini for free.

"That's not accurate, you're honor," Cianfrini said. "I take exception to that remark, I represent the people of the State of New York and I can't stand here and let that go on the record."

*NOTE: Quote clarified after further discussion with Melissa Cianfrini. 

June 10, 2011 - 12:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, Robert Morris School.

It's Studio Day at Robert Morris School -- a day when community members come into the school to share what they know with students, whether it be about fire fighting, skating, mask making, tennis or just having fun.

Teacher Liz Mundell said the day exposes students to career options, different kinds of hobbies or a chance for a little extra play.

"It's a different way for them to learn rather than just what they would find in a book," Mundell said.

June 10, 2011 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The Notre Dame girls softball team has a chance to play for the state championship this saturday and students and faculty gathered in the school's gym this morning to give the girls a rousing send-off.

The team plays in a state championship semi-finals game at 11:30 a.m. in Glens Falls on Saturday. If they win that game, they'll play in the finals at 4:30 p.m.

The team is coached by Rick Mancuso.

June 9, 2011 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Larry's Steakhouse.

It's always fun to take pictures of musicians playing live and so with Kay McMahon, Jim Catino and Bill MacDonald laying down some countrified grooves on the patio of Larry's Steakhouse this evening, I thought I should stop by.

The trio plays an acoustic set at Larry's each Thursday through the summer.

And Bill wanted me to remind everybody that the Ramble Music and Arts Fest is coming. Mark your calendars for July 2.

June 9, 2011 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Valle Jewelers.

As a third-generation Valle working in the family business, Stephen Valle says he's really come to understand what time and jewelry mean to each other.

Valle helps many first-time customers select the perfect diamond ring, a ring that may get passed down from mother to daughter, as well provide the service needed to preserve memories for customers who bought what has become a family heirloom from Stephen's grandfather, Dominic Valle.

"I see the sentimental value of a piece of jewelry and it gives me a respect for the business, maybe one I didn’t have when I first started," Stephen said. "You might have an older lady who received an engagement ring from grandpa in 1967 or 1958 and she’s bringing in her grandson to buy a ring. Slowly and surely I've come to appreciate how long the business has been around."

Dominic Valle first opened the doors of Valle Jewelers May 3, 1951, in what was once the Carey Mansion (now torn down, but used to be across the street from City Church on East Main Street).

At one time or another, pretty much every member of the Valle family has worked in Valle Jewelers over the past 60 years, and it was the birth of a new generation of Valles that kept the family from celebrating the store's 60th anniversary in May, so they're doing it this month.

Though all of June, there is a storewide sale -- with some items discounted as much as 60 percent. But the big celebration is Saturday when store guests can register for prize drawings (no purchase necessary on many of the prizes), with refreshments thoughout the day, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and a live broadcast from the store by WBTA from 10 a.m. to noon.

"I think most importantly the anniversary is a tribute to my father-in-law and my family and how a family can survive through difficult financial times," Mary Valle said. "We’ve been so blessed, but it’s because of the community. We’ve been trusted and patronized by customers and friends."

Mary's husband Dom Valle, Dominic's son, said his dad, who passed away in 2005, was probably attracted to the jewelry business because he always liked the finer things in life. As a soldier stationed in Cairo during World War II, while his comrades sent home war souvenirs, Dominic Valle was buying things like Persian rugs and sending them back to Batavia.

"We still have a few of those rugs in the family," Dom said.

After the war, Dominic went to work for Reed Jewelers in Niagara Falls. A couple of years later, he returned to Batavia to work for Ways Jewelry. He then worked for local jeweler Herb Brenner about a month before deciding to open his own store.

The store has been in several locations through the years -- 90 E. Main St., 122 E. Main St., the Genesee Country Mall and starting in 2000, its current location at 19 Jackson St., Batavia.

At each step of the way, the business has grown, Dom said.

"For as much as a white elephant the mall turned out to be, our business did really good there," Dom said. "The mall has always had its drawbacks from day one to the present. But strangely enough, our business improved every year we were there. Not by leaps and bounds, but we were blessed to say that we had even just a little increase every year."

In 1999, when the building on Jackson Street came up at auction, the Valles decided to put in a bid, and it was a good thing they got the building at a good price, Dom said, because they've put "a ton of money" into its restoration.

But it's proven to be a good business move, Dom said, and Valle Jewelers has continued to prosper on Jackson Street.

"There was nothing pushing us out of the mall," Dom said. "We just wanted a change of scenery."

With the move to Jackson Street, Mary Valle, who had a 26-year career as a registered nurse, started working in the store.

In 2003, Stephen Valle decided to enter the business. Like his father, he went to school to learn goldsmithing and diamond setting, and to become a GIA certified diamond grader. He then returned to assume a spot on the repair bench right next to Dom.

"My father got to see the third genration come in and that made him happy," Dom said. "Futurewise, what I would hope for Stephen is that some day he'll have a son and a fourth generation will go into the business. That would be pretty nice."

Like father like son -- both Dom and Stephen were attracted to the business because they were around it and saw what their fathers' did.

For Dom, it was coming in after school and helping out by sweeping the floor or cleaning windows.

But when his father needed heart surgery when he was in eighth grade, it was really impressed upon him that Valles was a whole family business. While Dominic recovered, Dom's sisters pitched in and his uncle ran the store.

As he grew older, there was just no question Dom would follow Dominic into the jewelry trade.

"I've always been happy to be in the business," Dom said.

Even though it hasn't always been easy -- especially with the long hours required in retail and the demands of raising a family -- Dom said, he found a way to make it work.

"I always say I broke the cardinal rule of retailing to take Saturdays off to go to Stephen's hockey games," Dom said. "I always said I wasn’t going to let these times pass me by, so I didn’t work on Saturdays."

Over the years, Stephen has worked with aunts, cousins and sisters. And with each family member getting a say in how the business is run, there isn't always total agreement, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"At end of the day, we have lot of family and sometimes it’s a little too many chiefs, but we all have the same goal," Stephen said. "We may not always see things the same way every day, but at the end of every month it seems to work out."

The future of the business is in the hands of Stephan and his sister, Carrie Lawrence, and Mary feels pretty good about that.

“I actually feel that he is capable of taking it to even a higher level than we have,” Mary said. “I believe that his motivation and passion, and with the help of his sister, with her business background, her good taste, organization skills and leadership, the two of them can make it even a better place than it’s been through all of these years.” 

Photos of Stephen Valle working at the bench by Howard Owens. Bottom photo submitted by Valle Jewelers. Pictured are Carrie Lawrence, left, staff member Adam Luckenbach, Mary Valle, Dom Valle Jr., office manager Mary Louise Fridmann and Stephen Valle.

June 9, 2011 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Georgia resident who is accused of running from law enforcement on June 2 appeared for the first time with his attorney in city court today.

Derick Barker, 25, remains in jail without bail and he's schedule to appear in city court again on July 5.

He maintained his option to have a pre-trial hearing or have his case submitted to a grand jury, according to attorney Thomas Burns.

Justin Barker, 22, of Oakfield, was also in court today. He was Derick Barker at the Days Inn before Derick Barker allegedly ran from a Batavia police officer, He waived his pre-trial hearing and his case will be sent to a grand jury.

Derick Barker is charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia.

Justin Barker was charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia.

The case started with Officer Dan Coffey responding to the Days Inn on a complaint of guests allegedly staying in a room they hadn't paid for. While Coffey did a wants and warrants check, Derick Barker allegedly ran from the scene.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene to search for Barker, who was reportedly found trying to hide in a farm field on the north side of the Thruway.

A third person allegedly involved in the situation, Benjamin Santiago, appeared in court earlier in the week but we don't have information on his case.

Santiago was charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.

June 9, 2011 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, South Beach Restaurant.

Crews have been working yesterday and today to remove the concrete and plants that once made a little park between the HSBC building and South Beach Restaurant.

South Beach owner Ken Mistler acquired the strip of land from the city in order to create a BBQ pit and outdoor dining area for his restaurant.  

The new space will also contain a greenway with a walking path and bricks inlayed as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club (the park was formerly known as Kiwanis Park).

June 8, 2011 - 4:16pm

As part of the Richmond Memorial Library's regular series, "Books Sandwiched In," the publisher of the Batavia Daily News spoke today about his assigned book: "The Death and Life of American Journalism," by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols.

As Turnbull explained, the book examines why commercial journalism has declined in the United States and what might be done about it.

The authors take the position that robust journalism is essential to a functioning democracy, and if there are fewer reporters and fewer media outlets, the public will be less informed and more susceptible to be misled by the government.

The book opens with some sobering statistics about circulation declines for newspapers (broadcast news is hardly mentioned in the book) and correctly notes that the declines started well before the advent of the web.

While the authors place some blame on free online news and loss of revenue to sites such as Craigslist, the real problem, according to McChesney and Nichols, is corporate journalism.  

Conglomerates, not merely chains, that owe a greater allegiance to shareholders than readers, started depending on higher and higher profit margins in the 1990s, leading to cuts in news rooms and a decline in journalistic quality at many newspapers.

Not satisfied with the 15 percent profit margins many family owned newspapers maintained throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, shareholders and CEOs beholden to them upped the ante to 30 and 35 percent profit margins.

The explosion of the Internet only added to the woes of newspapers with an abundance of free content -- most of it supplied by newspapers -- and competitors that robbed newspapers of vital classified advertising revenue. The recession made things worse, and in 2009 more than 15,000 newspaper employees lost their jobs.

If journalism is going to be saved, according to McChesney and Nichols, it won't come from a free-market approach with Internet entrepreneurs inventing a new news industry, and it won't come from the government allowing newspapers to form a cartel to protect their interests.

Instead, the authors argue that the solution is some form of government subsidy -- from vouchers for readers to direct handouts -- and the ability of newspaper ownership groups to more easily form nonprofit entities.

As Turnbull notes, even the authors acknowledge none of these solutions are perfect. They're all expensive, and Turnbull indicated he didn't see politicians -- or the public -- supporting subsidy solutions.

"The authors make a really strong argument at the end of the book that subsidies are not only necessary, but worth it," Turnbull said. "I think when you look at this book, it's not really a blueprint for the future of journalism, but a series of talking points."

While Turnbull didn't offer up his own version of what the future of journalism will look like, he did express concern that it isn't possible yet for a news operation the size of the Daily News to generate enough revenue online from advertising sales.

Turnbull is also skeptical that readers will pay for their news online. While there are various experiments in "pay walls" being conducted by newspapers around the country, Turnbull noted that none have yet proven successful.

Meanwhile, Turnbull said, subscription fees for the print newspaper are an important part of the Daily's revenue pie.

"Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that."

In an audience of mostly retirees, they all indicated they are avid Daily News readers.

"You're my favorite group (to speak to)," Turnbull said with a smile, and one audience member piped up with, "The day’s not complete without a good solid reading of the Batavia Daily News."

UPDATE: Tom Turnbull sends along a couple of clarifications. Regarding the quote "Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that." 

Turnbull said to be clear we should note that comment was in response to somebody in the audience talking about the media habits of the "younger generation." Also, " we can't find a way to make money on that yet."

June 8, 2011 - 2:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia.

The stoplight at the intersection of Lewiston Road and Veterans Memorial Drive (Route 63 and southwest end of Park Road) in the Town of Batavia is apparently malfunctioning. The state Department of Transportation is being notified so it can be fixed.

"It's holding red way too long and people are starting to go around it," a man tells dispatch.

June 8, 2011 - 9:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD, crime.

From May 23 through June 4, Batavia Police participated in a statewide Buckle-Up New York campaign and issued 105 citations during that period.

Citations were issued for seat belt violations as well as talking on mobile phones and equipment violations.

In all, officers logged 140 hours working the buckle-up detail.

Police officials said the goal of the campaign was to address the dangers of seat belt and mobile phone violations through aggressive enforcement.

June 8, 2011 - 1:10am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, east pembroke.

An electrical fire was reported at the Batavia Mobile Home Park, Lot #26, at 3322 W. Main St. Road. The trailer has been evacuated and the electical breakers shut off. The fire is now out.

"Everybody's out. The trailer is filled with smoke. I'm checking the panel box," says a Sheriff's deputy at the scene.

East Pembroke and Town of Batavia fire departments responded.

June 8, 2011 - 12:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, land use, Gardner Estates.

The developers of a proposed housing development off Stringham Drive have been given an 11-page document by the Town of Batavia Planning Board and asked to respond within 60 days to issues and questions the board still has about the project.

The "scoping document" is an essential part of the environmental review process and the project, known as the Gardner Estate Subdivision, cannot go forward without passing the environmental review.

"Scoping involves looking at what they need to do to meet (the environmental review guidelines)," Board Chairwoman Kathy Jasinski said.

The scoping document asks for information on such things as the purpose and need of the project, type of ownership and compliance with current zoning as well as impacts on traffic and water.

Gardner Estates is being proposed by Rochester-based Nathaniel Development Corp.

Originally, the company was proposing apartment complexes, then, when that met with resistance from the community and the board, Nathaniel proposed condominiums. After that proposal was rejected, they developed a plan for single-family homes, which is under review now.

From the start, Nathaniel has seemed intent on building low-income housing in the area, which neighboring residents oppose and doesn't necessarily fit into the town's master plan.

The town needs more middle-income housing, and the Stringham Drive area was intended to provide parcels to accomodate that type of growth -- especially if the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park proves successful.

However, Jasinski noted that Nathaniel has been willing to mold its plans all along to address board concerns, so Nathaniel might very well turn in a satisfactory scoping document.

If the developer meets the requirements of the environmental review process, there will be little the board can do to block the project.

"We have to abide by rules of zoning," Board Member Paul McCullough said.  "We can’t look at it and say 'In my heart of hearts, we don’t want X.' If it doesn't say that in the book of rules, tough. We have to abide by the rules."

June 7, 2011 - 11:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, land use.

It's back to the drawing board for the parcel subdivision of the proposed Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Because the first confirmed tenant for the park -- Bogata, Colombia-based Alpina Products -- has set its sights on a different plot of land than originally thought, the subdivision boundaries need to be reset.

Tuesday night, the Town of Batavia Planning Board set 7:30 p.m., June 21, as the time and date for a public hearing on the revised boundaries.

Members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center will also make a presentation about the project to the board that night.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Bruce Gerould also told the board that the revised parcel plan will include a two-acre plot right on Route 5 for an office complex for an advertising agency.

Because the agency specializes in marketing for agricultural businesses, it apparently fits the requirements of the agri-business park, Gerould said.

June 7, 2011 - 6:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, tapas.242.

Earlier this spring, Howard and I, accompanied by Elba residents Bill and Lucine Kaufmann, sat down to a special dinner. We were ready for delectable fare and we got it.

It was prepared in the home of two chefs, Kristine Gallop and Ronnie Odessa, who live in Batavia and share a lifelong passion for food. Together these “foodies” have created a new “adventure dining” enterprise called Tapas.242.

You choose from their elaborate menu. They prepare the food using the freshest ingredients in your kitchen, serve it and attend to your table, clean up everything and bid adieu.

On the night we tried Tapas.242, the chefs wore clean, crisp black chef jackets and hats and greeted us cordially. They were gracious and the table was beautifully set. The atmosphere was casual, modern and relaxing.

We had chosen our menu days before. We supped by soft light, enhanced by candles, with the distinctive vocals of Dean Martin for music.

Our first treat was an appetizer of small, red-orange peppadews stuffed with lemon-infused cream cheese. Divine.

“Oh, these are so good,” Lucine said, who daintily cut hers in two while I plopped the whole thing in my mouth, indulgent creature that I am.

Our soup of choice was crab and shrimp sherry bisque. We were served bowls containing a neat mound of seafood, then Kristine went around the table and gingerly poured scalded cream bisque over them. You could taste each ingredient. Howard loves seafood bisque and this one pleased him greatly.

Then we had a simple salad of cucumber and onion with a subtle sour cream vinaigrette. Our main course was chicken in roasted red pepper cream sauce with toast points. It appealed to all the senses.

All the while, the chefs came and went, from kitchen to dining room. They spoke quietly, worked efficiently, were pleasant and unobtrusive.

Dessert was a cold, smooth creme brulee, with the wisp of sugar crust created table side by chef Ronnie.

There were no leftovers.

“I love it when people enjoy my cooking,” Kristine said. “It gives me a lot of pleasure.”

The 42-year-old entrepreneur (owner of The Spa at Artemus on Main Street) has always enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Ronnie, 38, was a chef at a pizzeria. Clearly, they relish what they do and it is evident in their attention to taste, freshness, detail and stylish presentation.

“They say that you enjoy food with your eyes first,” says Kristine, who also devours books and magazines about cuisine – its finer points and its evolution.

A big part of her delight comes from scanning cookbooks, testing recipes and, of course, tinkering with the alchemy of spices.

“Vanilla beans in the store are sooo expensive,” she says afterward. “I found this place online where I can get them in bulk much cheaper.”

She shows me a new bottle of truffle oil and a container of delicate saffron threads. This kind of stuff is exciting for her and it shows.

Ronnie admits that she's had a big influence on his thinking about food.

Before, he says didn’t take the time to really appreciate the nuances of taste and the subtle textures, etc., which make dining different from eating. Now he does.

Believe it or not, this new mindset has helped him lose almost 30 pounds in about a year, without doing anything different – except being mindful of what he’s eating and all the sensory input that goes with it.

I guess you could say he’s eating consciously, more interested in the overall experience than merely extinguishing his appetite. That sounds plausible, because there’s nothing on the menu to suggest “dieting.”

Here’s a sampling of some other offerings.

An appetizer of carpaccio tenderloin with mixed greens & truffle oil. Orzo lemon chicken soup. A salad of arugula with blackened carrots & goat cheese. A main course of panko-encrusted, ricotta-stuffed pork with bing cherry sauce or perhaps catfish wrapped in wilted romaine.

Tapas.242 works like this. After viewing the menu days before your reservation, you select one kind of appetizer, soup, salad and main course to be shared by all. Just as you would serve guests in your home.

You provide the beverages. Desserts are available upon request. And if there’s something you would like that’s not on the menu, just ask, and they will try to accommodate you.

We brought some California pinot noir and Dr. Frank Konstantin Frank's gewurztraminer. "And a good time was had by all!"

“Tasting boards” are also available, each typically serves four. For example, the olive board -- with stuffed olives, cream cheese stuffed peppadews, Portuguese toast point and olive tapenade. Total price for this board is $20.

There are three price points in each category (appetizer, soup, salad, main course) and you can choose among them, say a less expensive appetizer, but a more expensive entrée, if you wish.

For the soup, if you’d like to sample all three options, you order “flights,” within a given price-point, which are 2-ounce servings of each three (per person).

Pricing, per person, ranges from: $6 to $12 for appetizers; $4 to $8 for soups (flights are extra); $4 to $9 for salads; and $18 to $26 for main courses.

By the time we were ready to go, the table had been cleared, the dishes, pots and pans washed. And off we went quite satisfied, with Dean still crooning away… “that’s amore…”

To find out more about the moveable feast that is Tapas.242, and/or to book a dinner party, call Kristine at 356-0729 or Ronnie at 356-5195.

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