Thursday, August 13, 2009

Uncle Hank's BIG Collection

(Chuck): We (the two of us and my cousin, Barbara) headed to the Antioch Fairgrounds to meet Delilah and Moses.

Our guide for this unique tour was my uncle Hank. "Unique" in that his collection of John Deere tractors was the subject of the tour. At our first stop, Hank "introduced" us to "Delilah" (my aunt, Phyllis, had named some of the tractors). I believe this is a 1946 model.

Hank worked for Caterpillar for several years, and his interest in making the machines run smoothly extended beyond the responsibilities of his job. Five other tractors are shown, but several others were not on display.

For example, parts from two other models went into the restoration of "Moses" here. Regretably, my knowledge of these machines is pretty limited, even though I thought I was listening closely to Hank as he talked about the tractors and their uses.

Another vehicle on display at the Antioch (CA) Fairgrounds was this 1909 McIntyre. This two-cylinder car was a chain drive. It was also described as having a "total loss oiling system," meaning that oil constantly dripped from the engine when the car was driven.

I thought this tire was quite unusual. I hope you can see the holes through the solid rubber tire. This was supposed to absorb some of the jolts from the road and provide a smoother ride.

Finally, there was this Model T truck. I hadn't seen a truck like this before, and it was a beauty.

Looking at the pedals in the truck revealed some differences compared to today's trucks. Depressing the pedal on the left will move the truck forward, and depressing the pedal in the middle puts the truck in reverse. The pedal on the right is the brake.

We saw some older and, unfortunately, rusted tractors before ending our tour. Then it was on to lunch.

(Kate): When not wearing his El Campanil Managing Director and Executive Director hats, Rich Carraher and his wife Janis operate Rick’s on Second, a small luncheon restaurant located directly across the street from the theater (see yesterday’s blog). Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Rick’s is so popular that reservations for lunch are strongly recommended. Chuck’s uncle Hank and his wife Phyllis are regulars and knew enough to make reservations for the four of us and Chuck’s cousin (well, actually second cousin and someone I consider to be a dear friend) Barbara Pauly.

The menu is not long and consists of soups, salads, and sandwiches, but everything sounded so delicious that I had a difficult time making a decision. Would I have the Stewartville sandwich – cream cheese, black olives, spinach, tomato, cucumber, jack cheese and diced walnuts on wheat bread? Or would it be the Chicken Pasta Salad – rotini pasta marinated in creamy Italian dressing with jack, cheddar and parmesan cheeses, green onions, bell pepper, garbanzo beans, sliced black olives, and tomatoes on a bed of local mixed greens with strips of grilled chicken? How about the Spinach Salad – spinach, sliced eggs and mushrooms with a hot bacon dressing? Are you hungry yet?

I finally chose the Prewett Ranch (all sandwiches are named for local areas/attractions), which was a piece of focaccia topped with pesto, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, red onions, jack cheese, Roma tomatoes, roasted red peppers, parmesan cheese, and chopped green onions and broiled open-face until the cheese is melted and the veggies warmed. This was an inspired sandwich. The pesto, which served as a base for the veggies, was used with discretion and gave an underlying taste of basil without being overwhelming. And let me tell you about the bread. This was perfect focaccia and is delivered daily to the restaurant by Maggiora Bakery in Richmond, CA (their website indicates they make twenty-three different focaccias). The bread is rich with olive oil, and the oil made a crisp bottom crust that was almost like the bread had been lightly fried.

Chuck’s choice was the Arlington Hotel, a meatball sandwich served on an excellent crusty roll that held up to the rich tomato sauce that covered the lightly seasoned (and filler-free) meatballs. The sandwich was topped with the same good shredded parmesan cheese that topped mine.

Barbara had the Empire Mine chicken salad sandwich on a croissant which contained good sized chunks of chicken with celery, onion, olives, and apples.

Hank and Phyllis each had a half Stewartville and it looked as good as it sounded on the menu.

Both Chuck and I started with soup. His was the clam chowder which was medium thick and full of clams, potatoes, onions, and celery and was better than many we tasted along the Oregon coast. My soup was the Mediterranean Lentil which was a cumin-laced broth full of lentils, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.

All of our sandwiches came with an oatmeal cookie and grapes. Now I must admit that oatmeal cookies are not my favorite. Too often they are hard and dry with an almost chalky or dusty mouth feel. But these were the queen of oatmeal cookies. Moist, chewy, not too sweet, and full of dried cranberries and nuts. A truly exceptional cookie.

I had only one complaint. Bentwood chairs. Can I tell you how much I hate bentwood chairs? They say to me “Don’t get too comfortable.” Still, I will give Rick’s on Second a 4.5 Addie rating for an imaginative luncheon menu that is well-executed.

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