The Bright Side Of A Soggy Day

TODAY’S WEATHER: Unsettled with a chance of rainbows. Now doesn’t that sound better than mostly cloudy with periods of heavy rain? If we’re going to be soggier than Seattle, we’ve got to put a better face on our forecasts.

I’d like to see a waterfall report with the flash flood warnings. Maybe a horticulture update with the rainfall totals. After all, April showers bring May flowers and we all know what May flowers bring: allergies.

GETTING AWAY: La Taza de Café is getting rave reviews in its new place at 3909 Grand Ave. (formerly Autumn Moon). The location has the kind of vibe that owner Daniel Brajkovich has been looking for in Oakland. Sure, the old spot on Thornhill was fine, but La Taza needed room to grow and a place to showcase the music and the menu. With a bigger kitchen, Chef Diego Escobar has created more than 30 different tapas that bring home the flavor of Cuba. And like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, Escobar suffers for his food.

“Look at this tamale,” he said lovingly as he brought his masterpiece to our table — a symphony of vegetables in a hand-rolled plantain. “There’s a lot of love that goes into this.” And that’s why we come here. We can feel the love.

COFFEE KLATCH: Not everyone needs a double decaf latte or a half cap to go. Some folks are content with just regular coffee, as long as it comes with conversation. That’s why the big round table at the Montclair Donut Shop is so popular. In the morning, the Irish boys hold court — Mark Dunn and the gang. But when they go to work, the “dandy dozen” come in — a group of retirees who met at the doughnut shop years ago, and still meet today. They swap stories and talk about the news. They even exchange movie reviews.

They have so much fun, working guy Ray Fry joined the group. He owns Bay Area Reverse Mortgage across the street and tries out his marketing material on the group. It’s a sweet deal when you find your own little coffee klatch.

Almost as sweet as a doughnut, drizzled with icing and topped with chocolate sprinkles.

WINDOW DRESSING: How much is that doggy in the window? If it’s at Montclair Hardware, the cost is free to have Fido photographed and displayed by the front door. Employee Mike Fox (who’s been working on and off there since 1979) has his camera ready to snap a shot of whatever four-legged critter wanders in. He’s already got about 75 dogs on display and a story to tell about most of them. But there’s no truth to the rumor that Mike starred in the Disney movie “The Fox and the Hound.”

PET POWER: Speaking of pets, April 30 is the deadline for nominations for Montclair’s annual “Doggie Mayor” competition. Reader Terese Drabec says her Sparky has what it takes to be top dog. “He just loves the village,” she says, adding the Sparkmeister really works the crowd, shaking paws and kissing babies. That’s all well and good, but in my opinion, a cat would make a better mayor. They’re cleaner and more refined, with much better social graces. Besides, cats don’t vote along party lines. They’re fiercely independent.


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