Published on: May 7, 2010
Remember that scene in Broadcast News
when the really smart Albert Brooks character feeds information and questions to the dumb news anchor played by William Hurt, and then muses, “I say it here and it comes out there.”
It isn’t exactly the same thing, but that is sort of how we felt last weekend when President Obama spoke at University of Michigan commencement ceremonies, and expressed a sentiment that we’ve been pushing here on MNB for years:
"If you're someone who only reads the editorial page of the New York Times
, try glancing at the page of the Wall Street Journal
once in awhile. If you're a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post
website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not often be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. So too is the practice of engaging in different experiences with different kinds of people.
“For four years at Michigan, you have been exposed to diverse thinkers and scholars; professors and students. Do not narrow that broad intellectual exposure just because you're leaving here. Instead, seek to expand it. If you grew up in a big city, spend some time with some who grew up in a rural town. If you find yourself only hanging around with people of your race or your ethnicity or your religion, broaden your circle to include people who've had different backgrounds and life experiences. You'll learn what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, and in the process, you'll help make this democracy work.”
However one feels about the President and his policies, it is hard to argue with these sentiments. They can be expanded from the political arena to the business and cultural worlds - we become better business people, even better people, by exposing ourselves to different opinions and people, by expanding rather than narrowing our horizons.
Last week, I mentioned in this space that on Saturday Mrs. Content Guy and I would be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary, and dozens of you were kind enough to send emails a) congratulating us and b) urging me to take her someplace nice because she has to put up with me.
Well, just to reassure you, I did take her someplace nice. A wonderful restaurant on the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, New York, called Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This was, far more than I even expected, an extraordinary dining experience, because it is not just a place to eat. Blue Hill also is a working farm, has a greenhouse, and is the labor of love of a chef named Dan Barber, who is an almost obsessive believer in local sourcing.
I’ve never been to a restaurant before where the menu only has two choices - a five course meal and a seven course meal. No other options. Essentially, they ask you if there are any foods you are allergic to or hate or cannot eat for medical or religious reasons. (I told them Brussels sprouts fit into the last category, something that won’t surprise longtime MNB readers.) And then, thus informed, they start bringing food - seven courses, mostly foods and combinations I cannot begin to remember (I was concentrating more on Mrs. Content Guy), with flavors and textures that seemed like I was having them for the first time.
At one point, we had this ostrich egg mousse thing, and the waiter brought over an actual egg, which was almost the size of a bowling ball, and explained where the egg had come from (a nearby farm) and how it had been prepared (I can’t honestly replicate the explanation). This was a great example of how information about the product enhanced the eating experience.
The food kept coming. Asparagus wrapped in sesame seeds. Incredible pasta. Ingredients that included melt-in-your-mouth baby lamb, Honeycap mushrooms, and Fiddlehead ferns. Small dishes, but filling, challenging and delightful.
To be sure, this was not an inexpensive evening. It was the most expensive dinner for two that I’ve ever had in my life. But worth it - a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gave us a tangible sense of the potential of great food.
BTW...my wine of the week is the one served with the Blue Hill meal - a 2007 Andre Perret Condrieu, which wasn’t exactly local to New York State, but went perfectly with the various foods - rich and smooth and just wonderful.
Quite a weekend.
Talk about going where few men have gone before.
It was reported this week that when William Shatner became a spokesman for Priceline.com about a decade ago, he asked to be paid largely in stock rather than cash money.
When he started, Priceline stock was going for less than two bucks a share. Yesterday, it closed at more than $233 a share. Shatner’s earnings have been in the area of $600 million.
That’s what I call a successful enterprise.
I love the new Jimmy Buffett album, “Encores,” which is made up of a series of last songs that Buffett performed during his 2008 and 2009 concert tours. Recorded live, mostly acoustic, these songs are sometimes familiar (“Last Mango in Paris”) and often less so (“Big Old Goofy World,” “Growing Older But Not Up”). It is his best album in years - there is something about the energy of a live Buffett album that gives it extra punch. Besides, I went to concerts during both those tours, and so they brought back great memories.
If you are going to be at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) show in Las Vegas, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi - I’ll be at the MyWebGrocer booth (#2243) on Tuesday afternoon from 2-3:30 pm, and Michael will be there on Wednesday at the same time. Plus, we’ll be wandering the floor both together and separately...Michael will be wearing a suit, and I’ll be in jeans, sneakers and a Hawaiian shirt. As always, we love putting faces and voices with the names and opinions that we exchange on the site and via email, and we hope to see you.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday from Las Vegas.