Farmhouse Inn Fiction or Meat is Always on Our Menu
There’s a New Yorker cartoon where a bejeweled lady-about-town is on her cellphone in an upscale restaurant. The caption is, “You’ve got to get down here, Marge. The waiter is really a waiter.”
It is a time-honored cliché that all waiters have day jobs. This is true at the Farmhouse Inn also. Your Farmhouse Restaurant server tonight, during the day, was either a winemaker (Sonoma Wine Country is full of them), a veterinarian’s assistant (our resident healer), a master gardener(few of those on staff too) , or even a published writer.
I'm the writer.
Time-honored clichés also abound in the writing game, most prominently: Write what you know and, after working here for the last six years, I know the Farmhouse. So, of course the restaurant—barely disguised as The Green Frog Cafe—has appeared in my last two novels.
From Tantric Zoo:
Seven miles west of Santa Rosa, CA and two miles from the town of Forestville the Green Frog Café looked like a fresh-baked yellow-and-white layer cake someone had placed carefully in the middle of a redwood forest. “What an odd location,” thought Bud, “for a restaurant. No foot traffic. No discernible parking.” He maneuvered his car between two redwood trees and crunched through the leaf-litter to the front steps of the farmhouse-turned-restaurant. The white-trimmed, egg-yolk colored front door had a sign written in calligraphy:
The Green Frog Café
HOURS 6:30 – 8:30 Weds – Sun
All Misbehaved Children Will Be Given
a Double Espresso and a Puppy
Bud smiled and knocked.
He walked around the old, but adoringly maintained two-story farmhouse. A pea-gravel path led around the building through beds of veggies and herbs. Staked tomatoes looked wiry and wilted but held bright late season fruit: red, orange, yellow. Basil and rosemary; oregano and Italian parsley grew profusely, almost wild. Plants Bud didn’t recognize grew in raised beds and hung from baskets and window boxes. Bud weaved through the patchwork garden to the back of the restaurant and a concrete slab with multicolored recycling bins. He walked up three steps and knocked on a screendoor, “Hello?”
Bud opened the door and heard muted country music and the “snick snick” of someone chopping on a cutting board. He walked past a dishwashing station and marveled at how immaculate and orderly the dishracks, glasses, and plates were stacked. He entered an impossibly small kitchen and saw that the “snick snick” came from a woman chopping zucchini. Years in a kitchen had taught Bud never to approach anyone with a knife from behind so he walked through the kitchen and waved his right hand to get her attention. She finished dissecting the zucchini and said, “Yes?”
She wore faded blue jeans and dayglo green Adidas running shoes; a white tanktop and a black apron with red and green apple cores. Short, thick reddish-brown hair framed her face.
“Delivery?” she asked.
“Comically laconic, whenever possible,” said Bud.
The Farmhouse’s interior gets a bit more action in this year’s release Beautiful Lies:
“You’ll love this place,” said Darren.
“But it’s a vegetarian joint,” said Colin.
“It’s cool, we had our protein shakes. It’s time for some phyto-nutrients and roughage.” Darren bounded up the front steps of the aged yellow and white farmhouse-turned-restaurant. “Read that sign. It’s hilarious.”
Colin leaned over and read, in halting English, “The Green Frog Café. Vegetarian Cuisine. Reservations required. All misbehaved children will be given a double espresso and a puppy. That’s funny shit, dude.”
“The food is so freaking good.”
The boys devoured two salads each—one egg and escarole, the other pear and endive—then had two French onion soups, and two entrées each: polenta lasagna with roasted vegetables and a mushroom cassoulet for Colin; eggplant parmigiana and a spinach and cheese omelet for Darren. Both sipped iced green tea and were quiet, almost shyly reserved, throughout the leisurely and tasty lunch. Darren paid with his American Express card and scribbled in a twenty percent tip. Colin tucked two five-dollar bills beneath the signed charge receipt and said, “I’m sure you left her enough. I always tip extra big. Professional courtesy, you know.”
Not in the least offended, Darren nodded.
They were the last to leave the dining room which had been almost filled to capacity. The waitress—her flowered nametag read: Hilary—a nubile, fresh faced, local girl, approached the table and picked up the charge receipt. She pocketed the two fives before she noticed the other tip included in the American Express’ total. She nodded and smiled, then reiterated the question in English that the tractor driving cousin Ramon had articulated in Spanish, “I wonder if they’re gay?”
Fiction is, at least by me, either made up or stolen. I stole the sign about puppies and espresso—I’ve seen it various places—and The Farmhouse restaurant will be strictly vegetarian only over Farmhouse chef, Steve Litke’s cold dead body (copy of meat centric menu here). And, ironically that’s how my next murder mystery begins: With a cold dead body....But not Steve’s, I need my night job.
Tantric Zoo ( a Bud Warhol Mystery) at Amazon:
Beautiful Lies (the Wrath of Grapes Murder Series) at Amazon:
Rob Loughran began his life as a small child...
Now he's a writer and like most writers you've never heard of he has a fulltime job (that's at Farmhouse Inn) and a family (8 children and 12 grandchildren). But nothing matters to him quite as much as writing.
Rob has written and published two collections of short stories; mystery, young adult, and science fiction novels; three books on writing; 11 jokebooks; 200+ articles, and several screenplays. He teaches creative writing and when asked about how to become a writer he always quotes William Goldman, "There are no rules to writing, but if there were, caring would be right up there. Or, as we intellectuals are fond of saying, you had better give a (sorry- had to slip in an edit here) darn."
Avid runner, lives happily and quietly with his wife in Windsor, CA. - Rob submits columns for the Windsor Town section of the local Press Democrat occasionally and here's his latest from this last Sunday -
Park bench a seat for the soul
Enjoy life. Take a nice big Gulp of Sonoma County air.
(Image by Daniel Barba Almeida)