G'Day Mate from beautiful Melbourne, Australia. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and were able to sit back and relax with your friends and family. The month of November was a great one. I enjoyed seeing my friend Rich Riesenbeck, who is the owner and operator of Golden Eagle Distributing, at the Carpenters Hall Charity Event. Great to see Rich after a full healthy recovery, shaking hands and cracking jokes; of course he did a great job contributing at this charity event. I also headed down to Arkansas and had a blast with an excellent hunter and friend, Billy Bond; they certainly have some big deer down in that part of the country. This also got me really excited about the new venison dish that our Chef, Nick Zotos, has put on the menu for the fall. He and Sous Chef Mario Giacalone have brought in some dry-aged venison from Iowa and paired it with a wild mushroom bread pudding, you have to try it!
I spent my Thanksgiving in the Dominican Republic at the beautiful Secrets Cap Cana Resort. This is a top notch resort, which is hands down one of the finest places you can travel to. In fact, this is the same resort where David Ortiz holds his annual charity golf tournament and fundraising activities. Big Poppy will have an amazing roster of celebrities and athletes in attendance; I wish him and his family the best of luck raising money for their foundations. I also played golf at the Cap Cana Golf Club which was probably one of the most beautiful courses I have ever played; a strikingly scenic course designed by one of the best - Jack Nicklaus.
Although I'm in a different hemisphere, I am keeping a close eye on the St. Louis Cardinals. We have been talking about filling the gap in the middle infield and strengthening the bullpen since the Cardinals' season ended. I'm happy to see the Cardinals are on the right track by signing middle infielder Ryan Theriot and the lefty free agent Brian Tallet. Theriot will give LaRussa flexibility and depth; he can play both second base and shortstop. Good luck to Blake Hawksworth, who was traded to the Dodgers for Theriot. Brian Tallet will be a key situational left-handed bullpen pitcher and hopefully is the left-handed arm we have been waiting for. These two players won the 2000 College World Series with Louisiana State University; let's hope they can help bring home number 11 to the Cardinals. Also, don't forget to put the Cardinals' Winter Warm-up on your calendars for January 15-17th at the Hyatt in downtown St. Louis.
While in Melbourne, I look forward to spending time with one of my grandsons, Justin "Judd" VanMatre. Judd is down here playing professional soccer and is really enjoying the competitive soccer and the culture of Australia. I look forward to teeing off at one of the finest golf clubs in Australia, Kingston Heath Club. Today I'm off to scouting out some prospective fishing locations for this weekend and look forward to checking out the land for hunting Stag Deer sometime next year.
With all this travel, it's hard to imagine the big Panama Canal Cruise is approaching on February 8th, which I'm really looking forward to This 15-day excursion through Destination Travel departs in Los Angeles and ends in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - leading right into spring training. Now that's what I call a homerun.
I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. I hope to see you down at the restaurant during the Holiday Season. So long from the beautiful land down under.