Hidden away in the Town & Country Plaza at the entrance to Stanford University in Palo Alto is a little gem of a cafe called Douce France. The type of place which to me embodies everything best about Palo Alto - quality without pretense, sophistication so subtle that you'll never see it, yet it's in the relaxed air all around you. At first, it may look like any other cafe, until you sit down, relax, watch and listen. You start hearing French, Italian, Spanish... you are in Europe. A perfect savory crepe arrives, and a panini, and a latte so good you've never had it this good within 6000 miles of here. Chef Donato stops here every morning on his way to Donato Enoteca for that perfect cup of espresso. From behind the counter comes Victor, his pale face tired of sleepless nights - he just had a baby. A face of an immigrant who escaped, a face of an angel who has seen hell, and is here now to give the rest of the world a little piece of the sunshine emanating from his soul through his dark, deep eyes.
My wine tennis posse stop here almost every Saturday after tennis to wind down and reflect on the week gone by. Oh yes, my tennis posse - a tennis group I run where only wine friends are allowed, most of us techies too! I created my own little nexus of food, wine, tennis, and tech utopia - however unlikely a combo, it is in fact yet another reason why I so love Palo Alto. Hours go by leisurely, life slows down, Victor keeps our plates full, stories flow, fantasies about things we'll never really have the gumption to do, and we savor our blessings.