The Ninth Annual Tim Baptista Memorial Crab Cioppino Dinner – The Ultimate!

8 Mar

This long anticipated annual feast happened on Tim’s 31st birthday, February 25, 2012.  It was tough for me to realize that within a few months, it would be 11 years since the Baptistas so generously  gave Bob the Gift of Life with Tim’s heart.  It doesn’t seem so long ago and yet seems like forever.  Difficult to explain.

I had planned on leaving home about 9 or 9:30, but got antsy and left too soon, traffic-wise.  It took a bit more than hour to traverse about 50 miles.  Oh well, such is life in Southern California.

My first pit stop was at Buttonwillow, a mile or so north of Route 58.  A few years ago, some shepherds had their sheep grazing next to the roadside rest.  It was very pleasant to hear the sheep contentedly baahing to each other.  A real pastoral scene.  This time, there were no sheep, but there were flocks of blackbirds, starlings and other birds chattering to each other.  A bit farther north, I did see a flock of sheep and off by themselves was a ewe with twin lambs that weren’t very old.  That made up for missing other sheep herds.  I also saw a beautiful male northern harrier (technically a kite bird and not a hawk) flying over a pasture.  I imagine he was looking for a mouse or something for lunch.  Once I got going on I-5, I made good time going north and then cutting off at Hwy. 152 to Gilroy.  Gas at the Gilroy Costco is a LOT cheaper than in San Francisco. I arrived at my Hotel Kabuki about 4 PM.

After checking in and getting settled, I walked a few blocks to Van Ness to catch a bus to Fisherman’s Wharf.  I had a craving for clam chowder in a bread bowl, which I bought to go and took it back to my hotel room.  For $6.24, it was probably the cheapest dinner I’ve ever had in San Francisco.  I love the SF bus system and so do many other folks, as it always seems to be crowded.  It only cost me 75¢ each way.  It would have cost at least $9 an hour to park at the Wharf.

The next morning, I walked over to Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep to help with the set up for the Cioppino feed.  About 450 people had signed up for the dinner compared to the 600 in 2011.  But the economy has affected many people and perhaps interest has waned for the dinner.  But that didn’t dampen the spirit during the day.  We put flowers in strategic spots, set the tables with bibs, plates, bowls, napkins, and other things and we were finished about 2 PM, I think.

Traditionally, Louise Upp organizes and decorates the dessert table, which consists of cookies and sometimes Hershey’s Kisses or some such candy.  She does such a good job that I just follow her instructions and together we place dozens of cookies in an attractive manner on the table.  This year, it was decided to serve the cookies family style after the cioppino has been eaten.  Although it took a bit of figuring to get equal amounts of cookies on the 58 plates, it worked out well.  The student servers brought them to the tables and that way, no one jumped the gun in getting dessert.  For a change, everyone had an equal opportunity to get dessert.

I went back to the hotel to rest a bit and await the family to arrive.  Jerri and Allan checked in a bit later and then the kids (Jolee, Jason, Dalan and Megan and Scott) arrived about 4 or so.  They toured Fisherman’s Wharf for a few hours, as they’d never been there.  They enjoyed it and looked forward to going back the next day to see more.

We all walked the few blocks to Sacred Heart Prep about 5 to begin the celebration, see old friends and feast on the cioppino.  In addition to the family, I had invited Anthony Robinson and his fiancé, La Monica, to join us.  Anthony is a heart transplant and is also a firefighter for San Francisco.  We became acquainted during the Rose Parade festivities and it just seemed right that he and La Monica join us.   We had a great time with them, lots of laughs and great conversation.  You can see they were pleased with their cioppino buckets.

We took Anthony and La Monica downstairs to see where and how the cioppino is prepared and we happened to time it just right so that they could see the crab and shrimp dumped into the multiple vats of sauce.  Oh boy!  Did it ever smell good!  They were quite impressed with what the Baptistas have done with the funds they have raised during the past 9 years. 

The dinner was superb as usual, beginning with traditional sourdough bread, salad, pasta with pesto sauce and the piece de resistance, the cioppino.   It was difficult not to eat too much of the first courses, but we sort of restrained ourselves.  Not!

It was a good thing that Dick tied on my bib for me or as he says, “We tied one on,” as you can see in the pictures below. Tying One On Eating cioppino is not for the faint of heart.  One just digs in and chows down. I tried to savor each bite and tried not to wolf it down like I usually do.   You can see how much food was in my bucket, which was just about all I could handle.  But Scott, Jason and Allan each had another bucket.  They were loving it!  They all told me that the next day, they could still smell the cioppino on their hands even though they had scrubbed their hands.  It was a good memory to have.

First Bite - No Mess

After digging in, a big mess

Jason's getting into the groove

We ate our fair share of cookies too.  The little kids liked some that were on some other tables, so they scrounged around and picked what they wanted.  No one came to complain, so I guess it was ok.  I think a lot of folks were too full after scarfing down all that good fare.

After dinner was the traditional auction but we didn’t score this year as we have in the past.  No cabin (the Baptistas sold it last year) and no cioppino pot (I got that last year).  They did auction off some of Colleen’s famous cookies ($350), some Giants tickets, some Sacred Heart gear, and a mystery box.  Dalan and I bid on the mystery but were glad when we didn’t get it.

Waving our bids

It turned out to be some more Giants tickets along with some gift certificates for local restaurants.  We struck out in the raffle, too.  Oh well, we contributed to the cause.

It was kind of a bittersweet dinner about halfway through it because Colleen made the announcement that the 9th Annual Tim Baptista Crab Cioppino Dinner would be the last.  There was a collective sigh from all over the audience…I think for different reasons.  People like us don’t want to give up the delicious vittles and they enjoy attending and helping the cause.  I like the camaraderie as well as eating the dinner.  The cioppino dinner is hard work, not only to cook, but, to organize, get prizes for, and a multitude of other things.  The Baptistas are tired and, as Colleen told me, “It’s time.”  Colleen also mentioned that the kids at Sacred Heart today didn’t know Tim and it’s just a different atmosphere.  The economy had an effect too.  So as she says, it’s time.  They plan on continuing their Memorial Golf Tournament in August that will help to perpetuate Tim’s fund.

I can certainly understand where they are coming from.  It’s been a long time and a lot of work for them.  They’ve created a lasting legacy in Tim’s name and he certainly won’t be forgotten with the two endowed scholarships to deserving seniors and a state-of-the-art fitness center.  I think that was one of their goals as well as helping Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep.  I’ll miss going north each February, but then I’ll have time to go other directions.   When one door closes, another opens, is my philosophy.

We hung around after dinner, kind of wanting to relish the evening and embed the memories in our little brain cells (at least I wanted to do that).  Dick took a nice family shot of us as well as some clowning shots.  I’ve included them on the next page.  I should add that Scott has a certain pose he likes to strike and we complimented him by imitating him.

Cora and Dick

Jan and Cora

The family - Allan, Jerri, Cora, Scott, Jason, Dalan, Megan, Jolee

The Pose

So endeth our festive evening at the Ninth Annual Tim Baptista Memorial Crab Cioppino Dinner.  It was a night to remember.

I would like to thank all those who have been great supporters of this event and of Bob and me.  It means a lot to me that you have traveled from far and wide throughout the years to attend and enjoy the food and fun.  Louise and Charlie, Dick, Jan, Mary Lou, Connie,  Allan and Jerri, Scott, Jason and Jolee, Dalan andMegan.  Your love, support and encouragement has been uplifting and I really appreciate it.  I also want to thank the Baptistas because without them, none of this would ever have happened.  Their generous Gift of Life and their desire to create a legacy for Tim while benefitting Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep have made them tops in my book.  Thank you Colleen, Rick and Kate!

One Response to “The Ninth Annual Tim Baptista Memorial Crab Cioppino Dinner – The Ultimate!”

  1. Mary Lou Mangold March 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    A great cast of characters, complete with excellent description and outstanding photos. I really felt like I was there with you all. Just wish I could have been as I learned that there won’t be a next time and I don’t play golf. Thanks Cora for hosting me in the past. Now wash your hands and clean up your act!

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