The way I heard it, in the early days the gentleman would visit the sushi restaurant, a small place on Rodeo Drive, quite often. He would sit at the bar, and slowly, politely, ask for another piece, and then another. It was only later that he started to phone his orders in. Truth be told, Taisho, as we called the chef, vastly didn't like and usually wouldn't do take out orders, but - and this is true to this day - he would do anything for a regular. And this gentleman that we are talking about never winced at a large check. So take out would be allowed. For him.
It was after the first few visits that Taisho asked the man if he wasn't in movies? It was common for the Hollywood types to find their way to this little spot for a meal. Studio heads, usually, and their chosen favorites of the day. And so it wasn't implausible that this rather rotund, older gentleman might be involved with the motion picture industry. Wasn't he? Good movies? Taisho had emigrated from Japan as an adult ("to play golf," as he would explain), and was still unsure of his English. But aren't "You from Tennessee New Ohleen? Aren't you Mahwron Blando?"
No, No, a chuckle, and a small smile, the man was not Marlon Brando. But thank you, thank you. No, I am me, he said. And then he asked quietly if he might have the Negitoro roll.
It was the driver who gave him away, much later. Arriving for the latest takeout meal, "Is Mr. Brando's order ready?" he wanted to know. "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhh, So!!!!!!" Taisho says each time he gets to this part of story. "Bwando. He was plivate style - and then a pause for emphasis - plivate style."
It seemed like the highest compliment. Maybe it is: private style.
I'd like to take a moment to recognize Mr. Steve Edmunds, who in his own quiet way has year after year, bottling after bottling, turned out some of very favorite wines from the Golden State. Steve seems to know intuitively how to coax allusive flavors of the soil into his wines - which are sold under the Edmunds St. John label - and goes about doing so in a fashion that seems all too rare to me. It was Steve's Wylie-Fenaughty Syrah that first hailed me to look closer at what he was up to, and it is a bottling I have enjoyed greatly, in successive vintages. But his whole range of wines is tremendous, with a base line level of quality that is pretty astounding. AND they can be quite long lived, developing the kind of secondary flavors and nuance that some people seem to think is foresworn from the possible in California.
Thank you, Steve. You've never blared out of trumpets what you could say with more ease through your wines. Don't think it isn't noticed.