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Posts Tagged ‘alex hampo’

Our First Date….A Hot Springs History Lesson

alex and me (2)Alex and I met in 1991 or 92.  I’d just started The Springs Magazine and he was a hot shot young chef in Hot Springs. I turned him down a couple of times cause he was a player then finally relented.

Back then Alex was a stud, lean (he’d been a swimmer at Michigan State) long curly black hair and lots of black chest hair. He was swarthy and smooth.

I relented and said yes to date.  I remember I was wearing a short black gauzy dress, it was mid-summer and so hot.  We went to Brewskies on Ouachita Avenue first. Mike Stanley was playing with Danny Smith and I realized Hot Springs had amazing blues.

Then we drove in separate cars to the restaurant cause I was being cautious.We met at The Majestic, an old restaurant, not really cool, but he was a chef and seemed to know what he was doing. We sat in the first booth, closest to the door, under the thick floral curtains.

majesticI thought it was incredibly cool when Alex left me and walked right into the kitchen to talk to his friend Butch, who was running things that night.

He ordered some kind of smoked trout dip as an appetizer. I don’t remember the rest of the meal. but our waitress knew Alex and was obviously flirting. He was really handsome.

After dinner we walked out and he stood in front of me looking so hot. I thought he was going to kiss me. Instead he reached into his jacket pocket and handed me something wrapped in a napkin.

It was a quartz crystal, three points and incredibly clear.

He said, “I collect them. I found that one in Mt. Ida.”

Oooookay.

Then I waited, smiling, thinking he would lean in and kiss me.

But he didn’t. Instead he walked around and opened the door of my Toyota. I climbed in, waited, then drove away thinking. ‘Either he doesn’t dig me or he’s a total weirdo.”

Twenty something years latter we’re sitting here watching The Big Bang Theory waiting to pick up child number four from Taekwondo. We’re good.

So next time you drive past the burned out remains of the Majestic Hotel remember some great romances were born there with reasonable women and handsome weirdos.

 

How to Pick A Husband…. Part II

alex christmasLast Sunday was horribly cold and raining. Sandor and I went to Walmart, then sprinted back to the car, splashing in nearly freezing puddles. After putting the fifteen bags of groceries into the car we jumped in, soaked, shivering and laughing.

I was so cold my fingers shook as I turned the key. And there was that horrible silence. Sandor and I looked at each other as I tried again.  I’d left the lights on and the battery was dead.

I took a deep breath before calling my husband, Alex.  I knew he’d just gotten home from a miserable nightmare of a day at work. He’d gone in at 4:30 am, to face frozen boilers, employees who didn’t show up, and a flooded kitchen.

When I explained  what had happened he sighed heavily and my heart broke just a little. Then he said, “I’ll be there in fifteen.”

Sandor and I managed to save the parking spot directly in front of my car so he could pull his truck right up to my bumper.  He arrived, jumped out, raised the hood then I saw him shake his head and wince.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

He looked down and so did I. He’d left the house in his slippers, no socks, and was standing in a puddle of nearly frozen water. “Oh Lord, I’m so sorry,” I said.

And that’s when he laughed a little and made a joke. He and Sandor hooked up the cables as the rain turned to freezing rain. He kept shaking his hands, trying to get them warm. Briefly he explained the positive and negative terminals to Sandor who is eleven, before he signaled for me to crank the engine.

Here’s what Alex never did. He never griped or yelled at me. He didn’t try to make me feel any worse than I already did. He didn’t complain once though it was a horrid and painful situation.

Instead he saved his wife and set a good example for his son. I don’t want Sandor to grow up to be the kind of man who gets mad at his wife for being human. He can follow his dad’s example.

There are times Alex screws up big time.  Last week I bought a new skirt for an event we had to attend. I got dressed and he casually said, “That outfit makes you look really boxy.”

I was mad and sad and crushed and he was standing on paper thin ice about to fall into the frigid waters of “Lake Pissed-Off Wife”.

But when I really needed him he was there. And  he almost smiled.

Spooning, Bacon and Husbands

alexI was eating bacon this morning with a friend who has a miserable situation at home right now.  Bacon is the only thing that might help.

As we were leaving she said, “Has Alex finished your kitchen?”

“Hell no,” I laughed.

“Oh no, it’s almost Thanksgiving.”  She sounded genuinely alarmed.

“He still has to put the trim around all the flooring.  And all the countertops are still plywood.” I realized how bad that sounded after I opened my car door. “Hey, it could be a lot worse, one year he decided he could build a deck out of the big wooden pallets.”  Turned out that was a very bad idea. And ten years ago he thought it would be a great idea to upholster our bar with all our old Taekwondo belts. Lexie was eight at the time and thought it was so pretty.

I was trying to make her feel better by telling her about some of Alex’s silly ideas. But once I got in the car I remembered there’s some other stuff he does that’s not so silly.   He resets the alarm every morning and gets dressed in the dark, so he won’t wake me up. He does math homework with Sandor because I’m not very good at it. Secretly he cuddles the cat when nobody is around.  He never gripes when the kids and I have to run off to a Taekwondo tournament or I need a new dress so I can announce an MMA event, and last night when I absolutely insisted on spooning for five or ten minutes he just laughed and let me have my way. “We’re gonna spoon and you’re gonna like it, damn it.”

Alex doesn’t send me flowers, call me “sweetheart” or “beautiful” he never buys me  extravagant jewelry (he would if he could I think)  but when I have an emotional break down and cry for two days because we’re broke he doesn’t get mad or make fun of me. Instead, he puts up with me, day after day and that’s a pretty big deal.

 

How to Win Your Woman’s Heart…Trick Her

usDriving through Hot Springs this morning I started thinking about my husband, Alex….and the night he won me over. Most men have an opening line they use to pick up women. But Alex’s was so ridiculously sincere and immature that it worked.

Twenty years ago Alex was the chef at a Mexican restaurant in a cool old building on Ouachita Avenue.  He was always flirting and asking me out but I ignored him. At that time he was pretty hot,  (that’s sounds bad, he’s still ha handsome man) he had a swimmers body and long black ringlets. Lots of women in town were after him so I figured he was a player and just laughed him off.

One night I was on a date with a landscape architect from North Carolina. Of course we went to Alex’s restaurant, Acapulco’s. My date was sweet but boring and hopelessly in love with me. So he was trying way too hard. Yuck.

When he got up to go to the bathroom Alex blew out of the kitchen, walked right up to my table and said, “What the hell? I saw you first.”

He was so adorable I had to laugh. And we talked until my date came back. He made the mistake of asking Alex where we should go for an after dinner drink.

Alex told him we had to go to “Edelweiss “. It’s now the Brau Haus (and sadly about to close) . The restaurant is in Spencer’s Corner a wonderful historic brick building in Hot Springs. (It used to house a brothel called The Piggly).

Of course by the time we got to Edelweiss Alex was already there, waiting for us. Smiling smugly. It was over for the landscape architect.

So men, this Valentines day be creative, be persistent, manipulative, cunning, deceptive and immature. You’ll win her heart for sure.

My Husbands A Chef So I Cook All The Time

Alex, my husband of almost twenty years is the  Executive Chef at Oaklawn Jockey Club, a historic throughbred racetrack.  On a good day he feeds five hundred day, on a bad day he has to process 7,000 pounds of corn beef and feed 20 thousand people.

Yesterday I called him, just to check up and say something encouraging. “Hey honey, what did you do today?”

“Luncheon for seventy five.” He sounds very grumpy.

“What did you fix?”

“Bourbon pecan chicken. They cleaned their plates”

“Hey, you’ve never fixed that for me.” He sighs. “So how do I make that?”

Bourbon, brown sugar,  beef stock, pecans, worcester, salt and pepper.”

“Ok, I got that, how much bourbon?”

“I used a fifth.”

“Damn, ok, how much am I gonna use, for six chicken breasts?”

“Ummm, half a cup will work, and the same about of brown sugar, two cups of beef broth.”

“What do I do with the chicken.”

He sighs again and I’m pretty sure I hear him roll his eyes, over the phone. “Season the hell out of it and grill.”

I kind of know what “season the hell out of it” means. Salt, pepper, cavenders and sage.

“Ok, I won’t fix it tonight, but maybe later in the week. Ok?”

“Sure, thanks. I love you honey. I’ve gotta go. It’s inventory week.”

So there you have it a fool proof and delicious Bourbon Pecan Chicken recipe from Chef Alex Hampo.

My husband is a chef, he’s been in the kitchen since he was seventeen.  the first question folks ask me when they hear I’m married to a chef is, “does he cook at home?”

“Hell no!” The last thing he wants to do when he gets home is cook. He barely wants to eat. He’ll cut the grass, maybe event fold laundry but don’t ask a chef to cook after a nine hour in the kitchen

When we were dating Alex wooed me with food. He cooked all the time, trying to impress me. But, like a woman who stops wearing make up and goes grocery shopping in sweats after she lands a husband, Alex knows he’s got me, so he doesn’t have to entrap me with his magical Cream of mushroom soup with brandy or Chicken Escoffier.

That’s alright thou, because I’m married to a chef I basically have a voice activated cook book.  I can ask him any question about food and he’s got an answer. Yeah, my husbands a chef so I cook all the time. You’re welcome to come over for dinner!

*Comment or write to me at hampoland@gmail.com. Thanks!