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The Last Supper

When Ms. Wise's passing was announced by Ed Bedford, I, like many, was in shock. Naomi-Joan and I exchanged emails several times, and we found we had several things in common (I had sent her a tongue-in-cheek "application" for a substitute position on the Posse.) Beyond our love of food and restaurants, we also shared a love of travel, music, cookbooks, movies--and we were in the same age group (I was born two years after she was), so we had a shared remembered history of American culture. Each week's Reader was special for me because--until her work load was trimmed down--I knew there would be a Naomi review. (I should say that I always looked forward to Bedford's reviews, as well.) Eventually, NW-Joan did call me to ask me to sub on the Posse. Alas! I was out of town. That happened again...I so wish I had met her! In her emails, she was smart, funny, generous... I hate to ask this question, because I don't want to invade NW's privacy, but WHY was she in the hospital? The UT article said she died of an infection she got IN the hospital: "clostridium dificile" (or something similar.) but why was she in the hospital in the first place? If anyone knows the answer and does not find it indelicate to divulge this information, please let us know (I know she had back problems, for example.) Maybe we San Diegans, fans of Naomi Joan Wise Goodwin, could have an annual tribute to her? Or maybe have a larger memorial dinner/tribute sometime soon? I am sure many many readers of the Reader would attend an event--maybe a fundraiser for a charity or a Naomi Wise scholarship at the local Culinary Arts Institute? Just an idea. Thanks to the Posse members for inviting the rest of us to partake of the tribute dinner at A.R. Valentien. And my condolences to Naomi's family and friends.
— January 18, 2012 4:58 p.m.

Ryan's Good at Gyros

I tried Ryan's on Saturday afternoon at around 3 PM. I went there specifically because I was in a Greek salad plus gyros mood. I just wanted take-out. The space is pleasant enough but was deserted, and I didn't want to be the sole diner. I ordered a gyros plate. Unlike most restaurants offering such a plate, this one did not come with pilaf. It consisted of a salad with slices of gyros on top. A small plastic cup of balsamic dressing came along for the salad, and a similar sized cup of yogurt sauce was served for the gyros meat. The meal was accompanied by quartered pita bread. Unfortunately, almost everything was disappointing. For $8.79, I received an ample portion of chopped romaine, 3 or 4 thin slices of tomatoes, strings of sliced red onions, a smattering of sliced California black olives, and about a tablespoon of crumbled feta. Atop this salad were several very dry slices of gyros meat. First, the salad. Where were the cucumbers? Why was a balsamic vinaigrette served instead of an olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and garlic dressing? And no kalamatas? The gyros meat was flavorful, but dry. (Perhaps it had been sitting too long--I should have shown up during lunch hour when people would be ordering gyros sandwiches, and the meat would be carved often) Well, the yogurt sauce moistened the meat, but it had no seasoning--in fact, it seemed like plain yogurt instead of what in Greek restaurants is called "tzatziki." Maybe the all-day breakfast specials are terrific or the burger that Bedford described. But avoid the Greek salad--there's nothing Greek about it! (How I was longing for the commingled flavors of kalamatas and feta!) For a really good version of what I was looking for, try Apollonia, near UTC. Fresh, chilled veggies, large chunks of creamy feta, delicious dressing, moist, tender gyros, large purple kalamatas. And the price a mere buck more.
— July 16, 2011 5:24 p.m.

Miniaturized Antica

Regarding both comments above: Restaurants critics ALWAYS need to know what the inner-circle has to say. Restaurant critics are DETECTIVES. A good restaurant critic (and there have been many mediocre critics among SD "critics" who have seemed to be paid advertisers--unlike Ms Wise) experiences the cuisine, the ambiance, the service, the accessibility, and so forth-and reports her findings. That critic ALSO does research! Where did this chef come from? What are his/her credentials? The comment above that implies that Ms. Wise has invaded "the chef's personal life", but The FACT was that Chef. F WAS actually attending a family funeral in Italy. He, ergo, was not on site during Ms. Wise's visit. And that was what she reported. Regarding the detective work: Ms. Wise (as far as I can tell--after reading her reviews for several years) does not rely on rumor; she does the research. I see it in every review. BTW,I am not a personal friend of Ms Wise. We have infrequently exchanged emails about restaurants (both being foodies.) And I believe both of the above posts came as counter-attacks from Francesco Basile fans. BUT I am also a FAN! BECAUSE I LOVE OSTERIA ORIGANO! And I LOVE ANTICA TRATTORIA! (and have taken friends to both--often!) I wish Chef Francesco Basile and his team much success! My complaint is about people who comment on Ms. Wise's expertise as a critic: Comment #1 refers to "rumors" of a chef's personal life (in this case, a family death). I know for a fact that Ms Wise's account was accurate. Comment #2 seems to complain mostly about the "liberty" Ms. Wise took with the names of the owners of Osteria Origano. To refer to them as "Frank" and "Vinnie" is not out of the question when one has dined in the restaurants of both chef/owners. Furthermore, The Reader is not some uppity, white gloves and pearls weekly. Gimme a break. Neither of the two above discuss AT ALL the cuisine, the decor, the atmosphere, the service, the locale, the accessibility of Osteria Origano. Thy only attack was aimed at the esteemed restaurant critic of The Reader. So, let's keep the real focus on the restaurant, the cuisine, the wine, the comfort-level (for ex.I found the stools at OO rather uncomfortable--and there were no alternatives--aka "chairs."), and the service. IMHO, Ms Wise gave an objective review of her experience at OO-and that of her "posse." (If you object to the idea of a "posse", well, that's another story--but why wouldn't you want to hear what others with different palates had to say?) I wish all success to Osteria Origano! And I appreciate the reviews of Ms. Wise.
— February 24, 2011 7:51 p.m.

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