A few months ago, my family and I took a weekend trip to Bodega bay, California. While there, we encountered a restaurant name Russia House #1. I imagined a group of Russians sitting at a table, sampling foods from different parts of their vast homeland, vodka glasses in hand, saying nyet to many of the samples presented before them. Towards the end of this exhausting exercise, their flavor-weary tongues perked up at the delicious flavors of a particular sample, and a chorus of Da was heard all around the table, vodka glasses raised in the air as they universally announced the winner as Russia House #1. No telling how Russia House #2 and #3 took the news. I don’t know what the real story behind the restaurant’s name is, but I like my version better. Za Zdarovje!
Upon entering Russia House #1, I immediately noticed the very new-agey signage posted on the walls. A ‘help wanted’ sign was phrased as ‘looking for students’- who would be offered work, and a loving community. I wondered what the pay structure was, but upon reading the fine print, that really was it. Fulfillment through the work of your hands in a close-knit community. So, if you or someone you know is willing to work for a sense of community and has a hankering for the simple life, drive on up to Russia House #1. If the work does not fulfill you, the stunning view of the Russian river surely will. Tucked in one corner of the restaurant are a grand piano and a harp. A gentleman played the piano beautifully, but left soon after because he lived in the mountains and as we all know, mountain roads are treacherous in the dark.
Food is served buffet style, no menu is available. The food was amazing. As a neophyte to Slavic cuisine, I liberally sampled the Shchi, a delicious soup, and kasha, a millet cardamom-flavored meal. Now, I believe that beets are an abomination. A blight upon this earth. But the borscht, a.k.a beet soup, was divine. So, the only good beet is in borscht. Even the dishes with raisins in them were delicious. This, in my book, makes this place #1. You see, I abhor raisins. Raisins are failed grapes. In the grape world, the elite grapes are used to make the best wines, and the semi-pro grapes are served at meals. But what happens to the grapes that could never bring themselves to rise to the level of their wine and table grape caliber peers? They become raisins. The insidious fruit then sneaks into cookies, fooling innocent pastry lovers into thinking they are chocolate chips, and the cookie craving clients don’t realize their mistake until it is too late and they already purchased what appeared to be a delicious chocolate chip cookie. (I see you oatmeal raisin cookies).
What stood out the most was that there was no bill at this restaurant. A sign by the door read “Pay according to your wisdom”. Huh? Now that’s just brilliant. You see, if a customer pays a small amount of money, does it mean that they are unwise? Am I wise? How wise am I? How is said wisdom measured? Will the restaurateur look at my payment and agree that I am wise? So many questions!
Having thoroughly examined ourselves and unanimously agreed that we are indeed wise, we left some money on the table and departed. I have often thought of that phrase “according to your wisdom”, it applies to every aspect of our lives.
Here’s to a great life, lived according to your wisdom!