Tag Archives: dining

Adjusting One’s Life.

In the chapter which I will present today, the “future” mostly concerns this month of December 2021.

December becomes a month of parties and get-togethers and quiet evenings and quiet reflection, especially in my part of the countryside.  I enjoy both, though I mostly enjoy the serene solitude of low-key festivities.

The diner in my neck of the woods – the one in which I have written much about – is hosting several Holiday functions.  There are the Christmas menus and parties in the Great Hall with two seatings on Christmas Eve, and the lighting of the Christmas tree by Santa. Then, at the end of the month, there is the choice of a New Year’s Eve dinner, a New Year’s Eve dinner and celebration, and just the New Year’s Eve champaign celebration.

We, my best friend and I, are attending one of the above-mentioned festivities.  To attend all of them would break the bank, as it were.  For what the diner is charging, it does bring into question the cost of the catering company the management uses.  However, one celebratory event is enough for something close by.

While deciding upon which of these events to attend, my best friend and I decided that we will also go to other places around the town.  Mind as well spread the wealth.

We went out two nights ago for dinner.  It was a last-minute decision, but sometimes doing something on a whim is most delightful.  We found ourselves at a local, in-town Mexican restaurant.  One of us had a taco plate (two very small beef tacos with a small amount of frijoles and arroz), and the other had three small enchiladas con mole with the same small amount of frijoles and arroz.  Now, bear in mind that the amount of frijoles and arroz was no more than a quarter cup (two ounces) apiece.  All that was $14 a plate.

Our clue that the prices jumped as high as they did were the menus.  They felt newly laminated and stiff in the spine.  And, of course, initially reading the menu revealed that the items were no longer at the prices to which we had been accustomed.

We understand that everything – everything – is rising in price, and most exponentially.  While this is going to be impacting everyone’s lives over the next several years, my friend and I decided that we will be adjusting our spending to include more parties and dinners at home.

That makes for lovely, cozy evenings in front of the fireplace.

©2022, excerpt from “Passage to Paradise”

Catered In, or It’s All About the Salt.

My date and I headed to our local on-site diner for Thanksgiving dinner.  It promised to be a classy affair, with doting waitstaff, a sophisticated menu, and atmosphere.

We reserved a table for two days ahead of time.  We pulled out our holiday finery from our closets.  We polished our shoes.  And the day came.

We were seated on the tavern side, for it appeared that the fireplace dining room was filled.  The tables were covered with black tablecloths, salt and pepper shakers, and a small bowls of canned cranberries.  Hanging on the corners were television sets playing an endless loop of snowfalls.  Christmas carols played over the speakers.

Our first course was a starter of a shrimp and spinach stuffed portobello mushroom topped with a questionable white clump of what looked like cheese.  I think.

Next came the Tossed Thanksgiving Salad, a concoction of arugala and what looked like dandelion leaves.  On the side was a plastic container filled with Apple Cider Viniagrette, and a once-frozen baked bread roll.

My date and I decided to order an Old Fashioned cocktail.  After all, it was Thanksgiving, and a cocktail would fit the bill.

Then came what the diner touted as the accoutrements:  Traditional Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  Each to me was overly salted, as if the cook was hiding something.  I did not eat the Sweet Potato Casserole because of the (bleh) marshmallows in it, and the obviously ton of brown sugar mixed in.

On the same plate was what was called “The Feast.”  Roasted Free Range Turkey, and Brown Sugar and Bourbon Glazed Ham.  Again, both meats were heavily salted, and the turkey definitely was processed, pressed meat.

Dessert was Homemade Apple Cobbler, super sugary and topped with a squirt of canned whipped cream.  I ate a few of the apple slices that I could find under the whipped dairy product and sugar-flour crumb topping.

The funniest part of this event is that the diner touts a chef – a real live, honest-to-goodness chef who brings out all the guns on his menu-planning and originality.  I am convinced the diner uses a catering company and short order cook to warm it up, as I wrote about in “Chez Erstatz.”/

I do believe that next year we will either dine at a better restaurant, or just cook at home, which will give us a less processed, less salty, and less sugary dining encounter.

Happy Thanksgiving, and save me the wishbone!

©2022 excerpt from “A Turkey for Thanksgiving”

Dining at Chez Ersatz

One finds it amusing that the local diner touts a “chef.”

The powers-that-be promote that “chef” as working hard at developing menus and special holiday dinners, intimating that he is pouring over his collected notes and recipes from Le Cordon Bleu.  One gets the idea that “Chef” hand cuts his own sides of beef, pulls fresh green beans from the back garden, and uses his mandolin to prepare Potatoes Charlotte.

It is further amusing that when one discovers that other comparable restaurants and country clubs in the area have very similar everyday and holiday menus.

Is it really more of the truth that the “chef” at the diner is no more than a short order cook who orders from caterers and warms up most foods?

Hence, when “Chef” is swooned over and bragged about by the Saturday night diehard patrons, do those patrons know that they are really complimenting the food service company?  I further opine that Cookie Jowls at Camp Swampy is more of a chef than that diner’s kitchen.

Upon further ponderings, I then chuckle at the drooling going on for “Chef” by the Saturday Night Crowd.  I suppose with some people it doesn’t take much to fool them into thinking they moved up from a mundane, average existence to such a weak imitation of a lofty and pseudo sophisticated Camelot.

©2022, excerpt from “Letters from the Ridge”

Two Strikes

About two months ago, my best friend and I went to a local chain restaurant.  It was busy, but not unusual.  We eventually were seated in a booth in the back, and the hostess told us that someone would be with us shortly.

We sat down and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Twenty-five minutes later, after observing that another couple who came in after us was seated and their meal orders taken, and after still another party of four came in and was served, we walked out.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

We stopped in at the same restaurant, and everything went smoothly – orders taken, served, and at the end, the bill was put down on the table.

Except it wasn’t ours.  It was for a party of four for about fifty dollars.

Thank goodness we looked at the bill first.  This wasn’t a casual mistake; nay – it was colossal.

Given these two incidents, we are hoping there isn’t a third, because that is our rule with places with which we do business – three mess ups, and that’s it.  We’re done with them.

©2022, excerpt from a forthcoming book, yet untitled by this author

Wigged Out

At dinner the other evening, we sat at a table in the back of the restaurant.

A couple sat in the immediate table opposite.  He was a large older man, globular and with an equally bulbous nose, dressed in shorts and a nondescript T-shirt.  His hair was an obvious Just for Men “Darkest Red Brown.”  What made his look even funnier was it was even more obvious his “hair” was a thick and wavy wig.

Who knew Just for Men made wigs?