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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mon Dieu, It's Fish!

That would be Catering Manager Richard Jones and Chef Nico Romo showing me a GIANT grouper yesterday (no, not served at last night's event).

Thanks to everyone who made last night's Sustainable Seafood Dinner such a phenomenal success. 46 attendees, one fantastic fisherman, the South Carolina Aquarium and a team of culinary and service experts made for one heck of an evening. You know you're doing well when the woman who runs the Sustainable Seafood Initiative sends you love emails!

"My compliments on an absolutely wonderful sustainable seafood dinner last night! The attendance was outstanding, one of the highest attended dinners we’ve had, and the food was purely amazing. Obviously Nico had great product to work with, but the preparations complemented the seafood perfectly. I know there were people there that have never been to Fish, but now have a new favorite restaurant."

So sweet. I am now verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

Okay, now that I've gathered myself: here's a funny thing. Someone called today to inquire about tonight's Mercy of the Chef promotion. The deal, in case you haven't heard, is this. For $40, you get three courses and three wine pairings. The twist is that you don't know what any of it until it's sitting before you in all of its anonymous deliciousness. The man who called today seemed a little edgy about that part. Get it? You're at the Mercy of the Chef. Probably not ideal for the control freaks out there, but if you can um, LET GO just a tad and trust in Nico, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Uncle Carl is #1...and loves Sustainable Seafood.

That's my friend Mary's drawing of her Uncle Carl, her favorite uncle as you might have guessed. At least he was back in the early 1980s when she drew this very lovely sketch. And I'm quite positive he loves sustainable seafood. Trust me on this. I know Uncle Carl.

Spent some time in the kitchen with Nico this morning as he and the Fish team cleaned and fileted their way through 300 pounds of fish (b-liners, triggerfish and a monster of a grouper, photos tomorrow) in preparation for tonight's Sustainable Seafood Dinner which kicks off in about two hours.

Now, totally unrelated to sustainable seafood is this little gem. Read a crazy story in The New York Times today about a time-honored, little known, gluttonous though rather affordable rite of passage.

Picture 350 guys hunkered down of over seemingly endless plates of beef with their bare hands at say, a VFW Hall in the middle of New Jersey. Somewhat frightening, I realize however, these meaty free-for-alls, called BEEFSTEAKS (I'm not making this up.) are becoming increasingly popular in the New York and New Jersey area for political meetings, fundraisers and corporate get-togethers. It's like an all-you-can-eat for say $40 or so.

As funny/disturbing as this is to me on a variety of levels, what I dig about these protein-laden utensiless feats is the sense of community they build. The article quotes Tommy Mason, a 75-year old real estate appraiser,“You can’t be courteous at a beefsteak, and you can’t be shy...But it’s all in good fellowship, and nobody gets out of hand. I’ll do it till the day I die.”

I'm not recommending you dive headfirst into plates full of beef by any means, but I'll support gathering a group of fine folks at a table over great food and conversation any day of the week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Don't Disappoint Me. Call 843.722.FISH.

Did you happen to see that dashing French chef on Lowcountry Live last week? (Did I mention he's also a FIERCE goalkeeper?) That was Nico, if you didn't already guess, cooking up a little taste of what's to come at Wednesday's Sustainable Seafood Dinner here at Fish. Our friends at the South Carolina Aquarium are partnering with us for this fantasticly delicious event. They like us because we're all about promoting wise seafood choices and the consumption of environmentally friendly, locally harvested seafood. Does this sound familiar? Because I've mentioned it before.

This is your last chance to make a reservation. I mean it. Please don't make me come over there.

Four courses, four wine pairings, $55 per person, prepared by our very own Chef Nico.

6:30 pm: Welcome & handcrafted, infused cocktail

7:00 pm: Dinner

1st Course: Tuna tartare cannelloni and micro green salad
Wine pairing: Anton Bauer Gruner Veltliner, Donauland, Austria 2006

2nd Course: Local trigger fish, daikon noodle with coconut cashews and millet grits
Wine: Babcock Chardonnay, Rita’s Earth Cuvee, Santa Rita Hills, CA 2005

3rd Course: Local b-liners with sautéed sea bean asparagus and snow peas, cream curry and fried noodles
Wine: Richter Piesporter Riesling, Mosel, Germany 2006

4th Course: Sweet potato pancake with apple ice cream on toasted rice crispy, covered in hot chocolate
Wine: Marquis De La Tour, Sparkling, France NV

I've said all I can say. It's now in your hands. 843.722.FISH. Now scoot.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Post-Party Report

Seriously. We threw a fantastic party last night. Just a few of the emails we've received today...

"Thank you for hosting quite possibly the BEST Travel Council meeting we've ever had! We had a great attendance and I can't thank you both enough for taking such great care of our group."

"We all had such a great time at Travel Council and William Aiken last night. You all did an amazing job! The food was great, especially the little cakes, and the house looks fantastic!"

Man, we gotta talk about the aforementioned "little cakes," because things got crazy last night. So, last night, our Managing Partner Randall Goldman gave a speech about the amazing Lowndes Grove renovation (The speech included an interesting anecdote about a Yugoslavian businessman who owns a manufacturing company in China whose employees speak Mongolian. I'll just leave it at that.) Anywho, the other part of the evening was spent showcasing some of our newest catering stations, including our Asian station (sushi beautifully displayed on an ice sculpture), a crepe station and a paella station that's roughly the size of a hybrid car but way more tasty.

To top it all off, Pastry Chef Susie Ieronemo put together an array of wedding cakes that left even the most jaded event planners oohing and aahhing. And I'm not kidding, you did NOT want to get in the way of anyone on their way to get one of the aforementioned cakes. Because if you did, THEY WOULD KNOCK YOU DOWN. So, Susie Ieronemo definitely gets named Belle of the Ball. Mad props to the entire PP team (especially Nico, Kris and Richard) as everyone gave it their all to make last night a smashing success.

The cool mood lighting at the house, courtesy of PDA Lighting & Sound, was lovely. Also, thanks to Other Brother Entertainment for the great music.As for stories, I really did not see any true debauchery. (A bit disappointing, I know.) There was some general silliness, possibly due to the fact that each catering station came equipped with its own signature cocktail pairing. Check out the photos.

*Late breaking news!* The Charleston Business District banded together to protest a bill proposed by Representative Bale. In essence, the bill would mandate that all parking meters within a quarter mile of an institution of higher learning or government building would charge only $.25 per hour and the maximum fine for a violation would be $2.00 per day. Can you say encouraging meter feeding? Anywho, thanks to the combined efforts of the business district and Chip Limehouse, the bill has been stalled. Hooray for grassroots efforts! Our own Managing Partner Randall Goldman talks about the bill tonight on WCBD t.v.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Local t.v., sore muscles, party.

Big day. Chef Nico and Megan from the South Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Program were on Lowcountry Live this morning to promote the upcoming Sustainable Seafood Dinner next Wednesday. Nico cooked two courses (triggerfish and b-liners) and as usual, was his delightful, sweet French self.

I will not regale you with the dismal story of my poor performance at our soccer game last night. Rough.

Now, off to the Appreciation Party. Stories tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Party Tomorrow & Other Cause Celebre!

Just another exciting day here at PP. Tomorrow evening is the Patrick Properties Events Appreciation Party. The party, which we're cohosting with the Charleston Convention & Visitor's Bureau, is two-fold: one, a "special" CVB Travel Council Meeting and a big thank you to all of our clients. We're also showcasing our newest property, Lowndes Grove, our newest catering stations and the MAD WEDDING CAKE SKILLS of our Pastry Chef, Susie Ieronemo, who is, at this moment, up to neck in pastry. I promise a full report of the antics, I mean festivities, on Friday. Of course there will be photos.

Other random notes: Bill Clinton sighting on Upper King: lunching at Huger's up the street. And, CNN scouted The William Aiken House this afternoon for a possible t.v. shoot here tomorrow evening. Cross your fingers!

Now. I'm off to play arena soccer with members of the PP team, including Executive Chef Nico Romo. GOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Certified South Carolina Grown (not me personally)

Nico, Randall and I attended a fantastic meeting this morning held at the USDA Vegetable Laboratory out on Highway 17. Lowcountry Local First and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture have teamed up to ensure the production of local food through the SCDA's programs: Certifed South Carolina Grown and their farm/restaurant initiative "Fresh on the Menu." What we saw today was an array of local farmers, producers, wholesalers, chefs and restaurant owners wholeheartedly committed to locally grown food and products.

For me, it was really fascinating to learn how eager everyone was to share ideas and hear what was most important to each group: be they chef, farmer or wholesaler. And, we got to meet some fantastic folks and see some friends. Rita Bachmann, an organic farmer on Wadamalaw Island; Michael & Becky Worrell of Mibek Farms in Barnwell; Keegan-Filion Farm & Annie's Organic Market in Walterboro; Kennerty Farms on Wadamalaw Island and Bill Livingston of Livington's Bull Bay Seafood in McClellanville are just a few of the great farmers we met. Also said hi to some of the local chefs in attendance, like FIG's Mike Lata and Charleston Grill's Bob Waggoner.

The SCDA had some compelling statistics about the public's preference for local food. In a 2007 statewide consumer survey, 92% of the respondents said they would choose fruits and vegetables grown in South Carolina over those grown out-of-state. I just love that.

One of the most interesting parts of the meeting was the realization of how truly connected agriculture is to everything else. For instance, shortening the distance food travels to get to the consumer is great and is part of what locally grown food is all about. But as fuel prices continue to rise, even shortened trips become a financial burden for some producers. And, what about the effects of a recession on agriculture and the food and beverage industry? At one point, I leaned over to our Managing Partner and said, "You know, the presidential candidates should really be here." Seriously.

One other cool thing. Check out this South Carolina produce availability guide. It tells you what grows when. Isn't it crazy to think how far removed from the earth we've become? Anyway, here's a way to dig right back in. Buy local. Eat local.

Monday, January 21, 2008


The photo was taken by Camilo José Vergara at 219 E. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Los Angeles, 2006.

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, I watched the MLK parade make its way down King Street. I'm happy to say that the bitter cold did not seem to affect any of the parade participants or parade-goers. The music was fantastic, and the air was charged with energy.

I'm awaiting a report on this weekend's VIP visits. I received a text from our Managing Partner at approximately 12:48 am Saturday morning describing his time with VIP Samantha Power & Company as "unforgettable." (I'm trying not to be jealous.)

Unfortunately, I also missed meeting the Al-Jazeera t.v. folks as I was learning how to disassemble and reassemble my toilet. (Um, yeah. I also learned when it's time to call in the professionals. A long, long day.)

I did get a fantastic email from Sarah, one of our Event Managers, who said the t.v. shoot went perfectly (interviewees included the College of Charleston student body President, a COC professor, a retiree and several others) and that everyone was wowed with the beauty of The William Aiken House. Hooray!

Friday night, as you may remember, was "Governor Night" at Fish Restaurant with former SC Governor Jim Hodges, former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick all dining with us. Our own Massachusetts natives, General Manager Jodie Battles and Manager Evan Powell spent some quality time with Governor Patrick talking about stuff that's "wicked cool" and where to "pahk the caw." (Kidding. I do that. I kid.)

That's Managing Partner Randall Goldman (who's still on the ticket for VP by the by) with the Governors on Friday night. L to R: Hodges, Mabus, Goldman and Patrick.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Power Dinners, T.V. Shoots & Kissin' Babies

On the heels of Ms. Johnson's event last night, we're gearing up for an even busier weekend. It's just nuts. And I don't even have a palm pilot.

Tonight: our good friend Samantha Power (I say that because both our Managing Partner and I have a crush on her.) who appeared previously in this blog and in our restaurant, returns, with pals! Joining her this evening: Cass Sunstein, Chicago law professor and author of "Republic.com 2.0," an update of "Republic.com." Sunstein was an attorney in the Justice Department's Office of the Legal Counsel, an advisor to both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and clerked for the Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Currently, he teaches at the University of Chicago and advises Barack Obama.

Also dining with Ms. Power: John Prendergrast, an American human rights activist focused on bringing international attention to the genocide in Sudan and the atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Armyin Northern Uganda. An adviser to the White House and the State Department in the mid-1990s, he later served as a Senior Adviser at the International Crisis Group. He currently works for the ENOUGH Project. He also co-authored a book with actor Don Cheadle, "Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond."

Saturday at Fish: CBS is shooting an interview with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges and former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus. No details on when it will be airing, but we'll keep you posted.

Sunday at The William Aiken House: Al Jazeera T.V. shoots interviews with 5 South Carolina voters.

And, in the interest of equal representation, see above for a photo of another presidential candidate. Check out John Edwards holding my friend's baby girl. (I love the look on the baby's face more than anything. Um, Mom?)
Oh, and funniest thing I heard today. What female fans of Barack call him. Barack OBOYFRIEND.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Get this.

Right now, Sheila Johnson, pictured at left, is dining at Fish before her speaking engagement at The William Aiken House. (I recommend the tuna tartare to start and the fried banana cheesecake spring rolls for dessert.)

New thought: Several members of the PP staff have joined an arena soccer league that plays on Wednesdays. This includes our very own Chef, proud Frenchman and soccer freak, Nico Romo.

And scene: Oh, and we think there might be a wee bit of supernatural activity at Lowndes Grove. See photo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some o' dis, some o' dat

A while back I wrote about the not-so-mindful eating habits of the presidential candidates. Today, I read an article in The Washington Post about the Green the Capitol Project which has given me a glimmer of hope about our leaders. Green the Capitol was intiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and according to the Post article, "aims to make the House carbon neutral by the end of the session. The dining service was a prime target, and not only because of the 1950s-era food. Cafeteria waste accounted for half of the estimated 250 metric tons of trash the House sends to landfills annually." Now, basically all the paper products, cups, plates, cutlery in the revamped eatery are compostable. They also serve fair-trade coffee, certified sustainable seafood and local, organic produce. Nice, Nancy!

In other PP news, tomorrow evening from 6 to 7 pm, Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and the nation's first African American billionaire (I mentioned her in yesterday's post) is speaking in support of Barack Obama at The William Aiken House. If you're interested in attending, please contact Alaina Beverly at (803) 727-5665 or email abeverly@barackobama.com. I personally can't wait.

And now for Lowndes Grove. Our roving photographer was out at the stunning waterfront estate today where crews of workmen and women are hard at work painting trim and rooms. Check out some of the pics.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Al Jazeera T.V. at The William Aiken House

Know what's fun about Patrick Properties? There is no typical day.

Yesterday, I received a call from Camille Elhassani, Deputy Program Editor at Al Jazeera English in DC. They’re interviewing 5 voters about the election and wanted to film in an historic Charleston building. And who did our friends at The Historic Charleston Foundation recommend? Yes, us. The shoot takes place this Sunday at The William Aiken House.

If you've been reading the blog, you know we’ve been playing host to some fascinating guests lately. Last week at The William Aiken House, Ann M. Fudge, former CEO of Young & Rubicam and President at Kraft, spoke in support of Barack Obama. (She was also named by FORTUNE as one of the 50 most powerful women in American business.)

This Thursday, Sheila Johnson, the first African American female billionaire, former owner of BET and owner of the Washington Mystics (WNBA), will be joining us to host an Obama event.

And, back in December, Samantha Power, Obama’s foreign policy advisor, joined us for lunch at Fish. And, Congressman Brad Carson and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour held a press conference at The William Aiken House announcing their support for Obama.

All this AND we throw great parties, preserve historic properties and make delicious food. Yeah, it's a living.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guess who's coming over?

Oh, just a wine legend, that's all. Yes, Dr. Dirk Richter, renowned winemaker of the Richter Riesling family of wines is coming to Charleston for one of only two U.S. appearances (the other is in Chicago).

Guess what else? He's sharing wines from his private library at an exclusive dinner at Fish on Friday, February 8. I am so not kidding. This is epic. Historic even. Because Dr. Richter doesn't travel much. He doesn't do many appearances. So we are feeling super cool. And you should too.

We decided to create a menu completely inspired by Dr. Richter's wines. Four courses prepared by our own French whiz kid Nico Romo. The evening begins at 6:30 pm with dinner at 7.

You wine whores, pardon me, wine enthusiasts will be all dreamy-eyed with Dr. Richter's course-by-course description of the wines. Fun fact: his family has been producing award-winning wines for more than 300 years. I think that's what we call a groove, no?

Cost is $65 per person (includes wine pairings and welcome cocktail).

Here's the the menu: lovely as always, with the rock-star wines:

1st Course: Richter Mulheimer Sonnenlay Zeppelin QBA 2006
Sashimi Tuna pizza, crispy bread, lime-jalapeno sirasha, pickled red onions

2nd: Richter Zeltliner Kabinett 1988 (considered one of the best of the century) Spicy Bouillabaisse with scallops, local shrimp, mussel, fingerling potatoes, bok choy, fennel, mushroom in Thai coconut broth

3rd: Richter Erdener Trepphen Spatlese 1990
Local Triggerfish with fried noodles, sea bean asparagus and snow peas in a green curry sauce

4th: Richter Veldinzer Auslese 1988
Fried banana cheesecake spring roll with chocolate plum sauce

Truth be told, you will not find a wine event like this again in Charleston for a long, long time. Maybe ever. If you dig on wine, call 843.722.FISH for reservations.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vote for what really matters. Fish!

As things continue to heat up on the political front, we here at PP ask you to cast a vote that really matters. A vote for delicious, local, sustainable food. A vote for what one guest calls “…much MORE than a restaurant; Fish is truly a family who loves and cares for its customers...” A vote for hope, change. Oh wait, sorry, I got carried away.

Please take a few moments to vote for Fish in The Charleston City Paper Best of 2008 and The Post & Courier’s Best of 2008.



By the way, we really are thankful for the votes, because the City Paper's Best Of might be the longest best of in the history of the world.
In 2008, we promise you more delicious, sustainable, local food. More special events like The Sustainable Seafood Dinner on Wednesday, January 30 and the Richter Riesling Wine Event on Friday, February 8. More great music from The Charlton SingletonTrio. More reasons to make Fish your favorite Charleston restaurant. Like the repetition and momentum I was building there? Nice, right? Goldman isn't the only PP staffer who can make a run for a office.

But honestly, thank you for voting and for your continued support.

So have a great weekend, campers and be careful driving. Don't hit any presidential candidates!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Charleston Overrun by Democrats!

You don't know how fun it was to write that. I know it's been pretty political here at the PP blog lately, but hey, it's South Carolina's turn for the political melee. Barack Obama spoke today at the College of Charleston, and several PP staffers were in attendance. They were positively giddy upon their return to the office, effervescent with enthusiasm. Quite a day in our little city. Check out the pics.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Inspiring Guests

Guess who's speaking at The William Aiken House in mere minutes? Her name is Ann Fudge. Who is she, you ask? You mean besides being the former President of Young & Rubicam and one of Fortune magazine's 50 most powerful women in business? Besides that, she was also President (Desserts & Beverages, how fun!) at Kraft Foods. She's also on the Board of Directors of GE and the Boys & Girls Club of America. Two more quick things: she has awards from the Minneapolis and New York City YWCA and an Alumni Achievement Award from Harvard Business School. So, no slouch, right? Anywho, Ms. Fudge is speaking tonight about someone else quite inspiring: Barack Obama.

Oh, what a political season it is! What can I say? Iowa and New Hampshire got me all psyched. Welcome to Charleston, Ann.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Best New Year's Present Ever

"What can I say. You and your staff have been more than generous to me and my friends...Never in all of my 69 years have I received such care and service from a business. I truly mean that. I have observed with delight the steady increase of patronage of Charlestonians and visitors alike. I hope to be able to continue in the years ahead to spread the word that Fish as represented by its staff is much MORE than a restaurant; it is truly a family who loves and cares for its customers. Happy New Year!"

-Bob Townsend, Charleston

Monday, January 7, 2008

4 courses. 4 wine pairings. $55. Yes, really.

In case you didn't already know, we're proud supporters of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Basically, that means we are all about promoting wise seafood choices and the consumption of environmentally friendly, locally harvested seafood.

Every now and again, we get an itch to celebrate our commitment to sustainability with the good folks at the South Carolina Aquarium. So, on Wednesday, January 30, we're playing host to a Sustainable Seafood Dinner. That's right. Four courses, four wine pairings, $55 per person, prepared by our very own Chef Nico. The menu features an impressive array of local, fresh seafood. It all kicks off at 6:30 pm for (a welcome and a homemade, infused cocktail.) Dinner is served at 7. I can promise you are not going to find this caliber of food AND wine AND cocktails for this price anywhere else. Oh, and space is extremely limited. Go on. Punch in those numbers: 843.722.FISH.

Menu & Recap (for those not paying attention):
Wednesday, January 30
6:30 – 7:00 pm: Welcome & handcrafted, infused cocktail
7:00 pm: Dinner

1st Course: Tuna tartare cannelloni and micro green salad
Wine pairing: Anton Bauer Gruner Veltliner, Donauland, Austria 2006

2nd Course: Local trigger fish, daikon noodle with coconut cashews and millet grits
Wine: Babcock Chardonnay, Rita’s Earth Cuvee, Santa Rita Hills, CA 2005

3rd Course: Local b-liners with sautéed sea bean asparagus and snow peas, cream curry and fried noodles
Wine: Richter Piesporter Riesling, Mosel, Germany 2006

4th Course: Sweet potato pancake with apple ice cream on toasted rice crispy, covered in hot chocolate (I KNOW!)
Wine: Marquis De La Tour, Sparkling, France NV

Bring your appetite. Bring your bib. For the love of the land, get ready to hunker down on some sustainable seafood already! (I'm kidding about the bib.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

This Old (And Fabulous) House

No, not the PBS show. It's the Lowndes Grove renovation in full effect! Progress is being made daily, and it's quite something to see. Take a peek.

This used to be a shower in a closet. Um, yeah. That's what we thought, too.

Goodbye forever, heart-shaped shrubberies! (Fountain's going too.)
Neither was original to the property.

The River House gets some framing for the...ooh,
you'll just have to wait and see.

It's good to have a plan. In fact, we have many.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Very Tasty & Sounds Great Too!

It's very cool to be recognized by the folks over The Post & Courier's Preview who included our Wine Wednesdays, half-priced select bottles from 6 to 9 pm and jazz by the fabulous Charleton Singleton Trio in their club listings. We really enjoy being a venue that gives you fresh local tastes and sounds.

Sea Urchins & Other New Year's Resolutions

Hi, hope you had a fun New Year's. Mine was spent playing in the sunshine at a local park (hurray!) and then watching the Alvin & The Chipmunks movie (nearly two hours of my life I will never, ever get back). Yes, children were involved.

It's okay. As I mentioned before, New Year's and me? Not so much.

For the past few days, I've been perusing the online world's lists of resolutions. In fact, my head is spinning from them. I've culled together a few that spoke to me for your enjoyment. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Ruth Riechl wants me to eat more sea urchin in 2008 because "it's the sexiest flavor on earth." How did I miss this all my life?

2. Food + Wine, in its Best New Ingredients posting, says mackerel is making a comeback (as tartare for instance) and poulardes (roasting chickens) should be milk powder-fed.

3. Maggie Mason, writer, blogger, mother, world traveler, has a husband with a penchant for adventurous meat-eating. He and she recommend matambre: an Argentinian beef dish. It's like a flank steak filled with vegetables, eggs and herbs that can be boiled or oven-roasted. Matambre can be served warm as a dish, or cold as deli meat. Ponderous.

4. Sarah Hepola resolves to stop crying in restaurants. Sort of.

5. And finally, my friend and publisher, David at the Wooster Book Company, resolves to use fewer abstract nouns. I just love that.