Monday, December 1, 2008

An Evening with Michael Jordan

No, I’m not talking about the Michael Jordan of Chicago Bulls or Hanes underwear fame! Better than that, I’m talking about Michael A. Jordan, host extraordinaire of Napa Rose, the premier restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

Darrell, Nicki and I were at Disneyland to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend with Mickey Mouse and all of his friends. Daytime activities were all about Nicki, from roller coasters to cotton candy and silly stuffed animals with mouse ears. But evenings were a treat for Darrell and me, with the amazing cuisine of Napa Rose right in our hotel.

Our old friend Michael Jordan is the general manager and master sommelier of Napa Rose, which was voted “Most Popular Restaurant” in Orange County in Zagat’s 2008 survey. Many people will remember Michael from Matteo’s restaurant, which his family owned. We enjoyed an incredible Thanksgiving feast at Napa Rose, and Michael invited us back on Friday, this time to be a part of his weekly live radio broadcast, which he does right out of Napa Rose to inspire people about wine.

On Friday evening we walked in, and I was totally shocked when someone yelled, “Is that Cathy Lee?”

Lo and behold, it was Clint Schroeder, advertising guru for the Honolulu Advertiser, having some Disney fun with his friends! We got a kick talking about what a small world we live in. Then I joined Michael at a broadcast table covered with microphones, headsets and bottles of wine.

Michael’s guests included Tony Lombardi of Ascentia Wine Estates and Michael Horn, president and CEO of CRN Digital Talk Radio. When he told me they reach 25 million households in 250 markets in the U.S., I had to have a gulp of one of the wines to start the interview.

It was lots of fun. Michael interviewed me about our new Starter Set coming out in bookstores and what we do at RSVPstyle, so I tied it into their wine show and said hey, just as Michael educates people so they can expand their palates, we inspire and educate people so they feel more confident when they’re out there looking for furniture, finishes and accessories.

Phew! The show ended with high fives and we headed to the dining room. Joining us was Tracy Rafter, principal of the Rafter Group, former publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News and a really fun gal to talk to. Mike, being the incredible host that he is, arranged an unforgettable dinner that began with sautéed, hand-harvested scallops made with a sauce of lemon, lobster and Tahitian vanilla. Oh my God, it just melted in your mouth! I think we licked the plate clean.

Then we had the duck meatballs with pumpkin fettuccine and roasted shallots in a sage duck sauce. Duck meatballs? Dare I saw they tasted like chicken? Just kidding—they were delicious! I don’t know that I really tasted duck, all I know is they were exquisite!

We had to have the steak (because of all the amazing red wine, more coming right up)—a grilled petite fillet mignon of Angus beef. And finally, for dessert, a warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, and yes, it tasted even better than it looked.

As only a master sommelier could, Michael introduced us to some absolutely fantastic wines, like the 2000 Domaine de la Romanee Conti St. Vivant, which is a mouthful! It’s a pinot noir. We also had a ‘96 Chateau Petrus and an ‘82 Leoville las Cases. They were refined, elegant yet complex—just a few of the words I heard around the table. My words? Absolutely delish!

We just about had to be rolled out of that restaurant. It was a wonderful evening with an old friend and meeting new ones. Nicki was an angel throughout. After that feast she still wanted a snack, and only Mickey Mouse would do! Boy, did this night live up to Disneyland’s billing—this really is the happiest place on earth!