Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: A Great Time Had By All

Our ebullient master of ceremonies Jim Millington enthralls the Friends of Gil with his sardonic wit
Our ebullient master of ceremonies Jim Millington enthralls the Friends of Gil with his wit  (Photo courtesy of Kassie Guzzardi)
If you really want to make a friend,
go to someone’s house and eat with him…
the people who give you their food give you their heart.
~ Cesar Chavez

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” For the fifteen foodies who gathered at Joe’s Pasta House on Saturday evening, February 22nd, the inaugural “Friends of Gil” dinner started off as a foodie summit, but would up as a celebration among new friends. it was a night of rich laughter, convivial gaiety and great food. It was a night we ended long after the restaurant’s closing hours and only after we noticed we were the only ones left at the restaurant.

Friends of Gil enjoying themselves Photo courtesy of Kassie Guzzardi
Friends of Gil enjoying themselves
Photo courtesy of Kassie Guzzardi

Joe and Kassie Guzzardi were the consummate hosts, making everyone feel like welcome guests at their home. They graced us with their warmth and hospitality, mingling with everyone at our table and earning several new devotees. The menu showcased some of the Pasta House’s most delicious dishes, meals fit for the most discerning of gastronomes.

Our hostess Kassie Guzzardi with Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate
Our hostess Kassie Guzzardi with Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate
Photo Courtesy of Kassie Guzzardi

The conclave of culinarians included some of the most prolific contributors of commentary on the New Mexico dining scene: Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (407 comments), the ebullient Jim Millington (226 comments), Larry McGoldrick (143 comments), Edward Sung (57 comments) and Foodie Star (50 comments). It also included Axel, a full-time university student who’s tally now includes a grand total of two comments. Michael Gonzales, the effusive operating partner of Cafe Bella was in attendance as was fellow blogger Eric Castillo whose work also graces the Alibi. If Suzie Queue was in attendance, she didn’t reveal herself.

Eggplant: Lightly breaded eggplant stuffed w/ ricotta cheese, prosciutto & sauteed spinach, topped w/ marinara sauce & mozzarella cheese
Eggplant, one of several outstanding dishes on the menu for the inaugural Friends of Gil gathering

The group of new friends all agreed that more Friends of Gil dinners need to happen. Stay tuned to this blog for more details.

37 thoughts on “Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: A Great Time Had By All

    Having been away from the blog for an extended period I missed your “photosynthesis” description of yourself. Not understanding that comment QI must say You epiphany failed. You post is still confusing but then again I’ve only read it three times.
    Is there a new FOG dinner in the planning stages yet?
    I do look foward to getting to the bottom of your opinion per the ACA although you again were off base for trying to sneak your political opinion into this blog. seems like you were taking a shot at me thinking I wouldn’t read it while vacationing…..
    Very unnecessary but that’s you, I guess.
    Are the junipers still wreaking havoc with allergies? That was my real reason for leaving the Duke City area, not your posts. Just trying to correct a misconception of yours.

  2. How did I miss it? Please tell me when you do this again. I would enjoy to break food and bread with every one.

  3. My only complaint about your latest addition to this post is that the photo somehow gives the illusion that I am very porkulant (fat). I believe there are some editing tricks which would fix this.

    1. It’s often been said that cameras add ten pounds, but cameras apparently discriminate because the camera only singled out the men in our party (save for Bob who spent the evening trying to convince the Child Bride that he was the construction worker in the Village People band).

  4. Bob,
    I have so much to be thankful for and that now includes my daughter’s engagement AND marriage when we get to CA.
    To think I am among a lowly 5% that survive cardiac arrest “off premise” like a tennis court leaves me as truly blessed.
    So I would gladly volunteer to be Poster Boy for both the American Heart Assn and do PSAs for the great work the Sandoval County FD did as EMTs.
    I literally owe my life to them.
    I’m even willing to act as translator of your comments into English.
    And of course I’ll be happy to see you at the next FOG dinner and give you an in person update on Hermosa.

  5. Ooopsy, for El Brute and his whining about having to reread my missives in order to understand them:
    After several months and bucks in psychoanalysis, I have had an epiphany 2/26!!!

    Sometimes I use Big Words I don’t always fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis!!!

    Yo! Deal with it!

  6. I can’t tell you all how much it meant to Joe & I to have the inaugural FOG dinner at our place. It was really great to meet everyone & be able to put some faces to names. Sorry to have bounced in & out of the function but alas, so goes the restaurant business. We are very happy to hear everyone enjoyed themselves… and now you are no longer complete strangers. As FOG grows, Joe & I are hoping to attend future events (if I can pull him away from the restaurant).

    So, here is to future FOG dinners (OK, it is a little early… I will cheer you all with a glass of wine over dinner when Joe comes home) – Bon Appetit everyone!

  7. I feel as though I missed something very special. Having had the distinct pleasure of meeting several of the FOGies previously I’m looking forward to the next dinner during which I’ll have the te to connect more familiar names to more faces.
    I figure if you enjoy food and like and admire Gil we are kindred spirits.
    Bob, sounds like you enjoyed yourself even after your dis of Jim, a charming and good looking man who deserves his Child Bride and vice sersa.
    I’ll be back to the Land of Enchantment toward the end of March and hopefully the end of allergy season so count Grayce and me in for the next FOG gathering and I’m willing to sit next to BOTVOLR as penance for being AWOL for missing the last one.

    1. Alas El Brute…if your absence includes Hermosa, hope you caught my reference to Lacey’s Comedy Club there and Y’all can make the CheeseCake Factory down in Redondo this time, let alone Philippe’s uptown or Farmer’s Market. Bravo being off to wherever: Y’all should be a Poster-Old-Buck for the Amer. Heart or Cardiovascular Assoc.!!!

  8. All, Sorry I missed out on such a special time as the FOG’s getting together to reminice where we have been and possible where we are going. I hope to be available next time. Sounds like Joe’s Pasta House was Awesome, a good time had by all. I wonder if any of the attendees have an abundance of culinary skills to join Joe in opening some real restaurants on this side of town?? Anyways, to you my good friend, to GIL, so glad it was a Success!!

  9. (Yo El Brute, Been pondering whether or not to send per ROATM (Running Off At The Mouth)! But seeing as you goaded me:)

    Hmmm….FOG dinner: a melange of Folks who, nevertheless, melded into a laid back group, who like food that many of Y’all missed, including El Brute who I hope is feeling better! Oh and no, by no means did we all sit around with charts n graphs comparing the nuances of table/rock/fleur de sel/pickling/Kosher/crystalline sea salts or the best range on the Scoville scale for Green Chile and the like, and most assuredly did NOT make any reference to “Cumin”!!! For those wondering if we had a banquet style chicken breast plate: Alas ‘No!’ we had 5 pasta choices of Joe’s fare which also included appetizing on fried calamari, zucchini, mushrooms, and mozzarella, followed by Greens, the entree of choice, and their indefatigable cannoli!

    We were discreetly hovered over by one of Joe’s usual competent waitstaff (dang, forget her name), with Joe keeping a watchful eye as well. Most importantly, I/we had a chance to meet his warmly, ebullient partner who Joe seems to keep, understandably, under wraps from us lechers!
    ~ Alas, per restrictions brought on by seating in such gatherings, didn’t quite get to ‘meet’ all. Whoa, had an op to sit knee-to-knee with The Larry who is indeed bigger-than-life in reality while not being imbued with a standoffish professorialness! Indeed, besides dining, he has a great ‘taste’ in acquaintances in terms of a mother/daughter duo who accompanied him. (PS: if any reader has a close tie to our budding film industry, please pass the name on to Larry.)
    ~ As per the recent meeting up at the Dog House, Jim Millington continued in his congenial forthright manner while this time showing off his fetish for bizarro neckties. In this case, t’was a pragmatic one of a map of NYC subway routes to Italian restaurants!!!! as he noted he’s on welfare and cannot afford a GPS unit!! On the other hand, it is beyond me how Jim managed to entice one of the most delightfully demure gals I’ve ever met to be his Child Bride! Be that as it may, she so smoothly shared when we did a go’around of intros and divulging a choice of a ‘last’ meal.

    (Ooops….sorry….got distracted with a commercial by Valerie Bertinelli!!!)

    ~ Bravo to a home-town entrepreneur attending….Mike of RR’s Cafe Bella for which his select-coffee is apparently a “front” for his hosting car meets, up n coming musical talents, poetry readings (akin to beatnik coffee houses of yore?), and art sales displays (tho he apparently has not yet run across Victoria de Almeida of SF, who recently was featured as Barnes & Nobles’ Hispanic Heritage Month artist A most interesting thing about Mike is how much he is tuned into the dynamics of Rio Rancho and his concern for how it might develop to prosper in light of some possible recent missteps. Can’t imagine Folks would ignore him lest he looked into…ahem…. a position of leadership in RR (let alone) State government.
    ~ Aaargh, missed out blabbing with the Foodie Star albeit we lamented being 2,000 miles from Woodmen’s in Essex for Fried Clams. FYI…with planting for Spring sooo rapidly coming on, check out his wife’s recent plant emporium adventure out on 2nd NW just a few blocks shy where it runs into 4th. Lest there aren’t enough ops to castigate me: it’s kinda juxstaposed being around the corner to 4th St. where one can try out El Pinto’s Red Chile Ribs I’m always blustering about that I do believe don’t exist elsewhere. On the other hand, with your Bib-overalls on on an early Saturday morning headed out to buy landscape there, you can always hit Murphy’s Mule Barn for some plain n simple, downhome vittles!
    ~Hannah and Edward rounded out the other end of the table, albeit my visit was brief lest if I had a chance to chat with Gil’s better half. Whoa, turns out per her work in child related judicial stuff, we had a mutual acquaintance! What’s that got to do with food? Well, it is only 1 versus 6 Degrees of Bacon Lo, I was regrettably remiss in forgetting to suggest she check out if Olive Garden will also accept, besides their own $4 off coupon, the same that come out for Red Lobster per it being offspring of Darden, the parent company, as well…inside joke!!! Overall, beyond being warmly welcoming, I sense she is a delightfully devilish foil to what some might say is Gil’s more staid (altho there’s nothing wrong with that!) persona ! LOL
    ~ Well, next time to Axel and Eric as well!
    ~ Oh, Oh! IMHO, Folks missed a great dining experience flavored with warm Camaraderie and I look forward to meeting many more of yaz down the road!

    1. Dear Mr Footlong,
      What do you mean, “it is beyond me how Jim managed to entice one of the most delightfully demure gals I’ve ever met to be his Child Bride!?” Have you noticed how damned good looking I am? Have you noticed how irresistibly smooth and charming I am?

  10. What a wonderful time! Thanks to Jim, Gil, and all who attended for a memorable event. We should do it a couple times a year! Cheers!

  11. Where’s Bob?
    Is he busy writing his review of the FOG dinner?
    Did he enjoy himself?
    I’m ready to hang on his every word.
    The evening won’t be complete without his words of wisdom.
    OR, or is he taking another vacation?
    Come on Bob, while we’re young!

    1. I am fairly certain that Bob felt abandoned by the absence of both his protagonist, El Brute, and his most ardent defender, La Gloria. He was at the end of the table with nobody to talk to but Larry, Barbara Chase and myself. Two of the three were charming and conversant but it was not the same as a sustained attack and a spirited defense. He seemed happy but I fear his heart was secretly mourning. Larry did an excellent job of trying to distract him from his sorrow, eliciting many smiles and verbal responses but it just was not the same.

      1. Perhaps Bob can take some consolation in the new nickname he acquired. After his revelation that he’s consumed 550 feet of hot dogs at The Dog House, I heard a couple of people refer to him as “Mr. Foot Long.”

  12. Jim, I second Larry’s thanks! Edward and I had a delightful evening!! I wish we had been able to chat with you and your lovely wife — I’m sure next time!

    I, too, am proud to be a FOG!

    1. It isn’t that I object to basking in undeserved glory. I relish it but the truth is that I really didn’t do much except make 2 or 3 phone calls to Joe’s,as well as list and count the people who responded on the blog or in email to Gil. I even lost count once (that takes brains). Gil put in much more than I did including writing and posting “Details on Upcoming Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner.” I too wish we had chatted but I looked up and realized that everybody at your end of the table was leaving because we were the last people in the restaurant.

  13. Well, this was a great little get-together. Easily the best meal I’ve had with 15 other complete strangers, ever! Though, I do love how we had two people who had no idea they were coming until they saw a table set for 16 instead of 3.

    1. Actually Axel no unexpected guests were there. Michael Gonzales and his guest had simply noticed several last minute cancellations on the blog and checked whether there would be room for them, even calling me at home the morning of the dinner. They did not show up on the blog list but were on my list of expected people. They did not just spot empty chairs.

      1. Not what I meant Jim. I was referring to the fact that they had no idea they were coming to a large group meal, until they saw the table. They didn’t take two empty chairs, but they had no idea any event was going to take place in their future. Anyway, it all ended well. They enjoyed being there, we enjoyed having them. Hopefully, they will join us on the blog and future events in the future.

  14. Oh no, folks…I’m sorry, but we can no longer attend! Please remove “Di & Guest”…thanks, and I’m so sorry. Wishing you all a fun night!


  15. I am letting everybody know that I must turn in our reservations by tomorrow. As of this pm my count is 18. The minimum to reserve the banquet room is 20. If we can’t achieve this number I will reserve a table in the main dining room which will have a larger menu selection but is not really ideal for stirring speeches due to the noise level.

    So please turn in your reservation by tomorrow morning if you will be attending, however please do not make a reservation if there is a significant chance that you will not attend as I must guarantee at least 20 for the banquet room. If we have several no-shows someone (think me) will have to pay for them and my charming bride has never called me kind or generous.

  16. I’ve been following and reading this blog for over a year now, and it has served me well (and tastily too). I’d be ecstatic to meet more connoisseurs. Sign me up!

    1. That is great. Will you be bringing a guest. We are thrilled either way but trying to get an accurate headcount.

  17. Aw, I hate that I will miss this. When I lived in Albuquerque, some friends and I had this wacky plan to try and get you to have dinner with us (our treat, of course). But, being the haphazard group of 30-somethings (and one 70-something) that we were, it never came to fruition. Alas.

    1. Hi Morgain

      It’s always so nice to hear from you. I hope you and Ren are doing fabulously well in Ruidoso. He’s almost a year now and no doubt, the apple of your eyes.

      I sure wish you had gone forward with your plan. Maybe one of these days I’ll make it to Ruidoso and can take you to dinner.



  18. Darn, I’m having surgery a couple of days later and my Doc has me on a liquid diet. No can go. Hope you do it again!

  19. As an old FOGie I am looking forward to what should be the First Annual FOG Dinner and it’s at one of my favorite restaurants, Joe’s Pasta House.
    Thanks to Jim M. for doing the heavy lifting and thanks to BOTVOLR for initiating these get togethers starting with the Dog House.

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