Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hoity Toity Dining

A little while ago I ended up in a little restaurant in an even littler town called Inverness.  It started with a horseback riding trip with OF (Old Friend of undesirable snackage fame) and two other women, Shey and Jan.  I knew Shey, but I didn't know Jan.  It makes me uncomfortable to go away with someone I don't know.  What if I hate them...or worse, what if they hate me?  At least I didn't have to share a room with them.  And as it turned out, my worries were for nothing.  Jan turned out to be a really nice lady.

When this little adventure was in the planning stages, OF and I thought we'd just take stuff to eat...bread, cheese, wine, M&M's.  The usual stuff.  We were staying at a little B&B that had stables for our horses so breakfast was taken care of and we figured we could just live on snackage.  The day before we leave after a trek to Costco to buy copious amounts of said snackage I get a call from OF.

"Shey called and said she made dinner reservations for Saturday at an Italian restaurant and Sunday at a seafood place."  "She said we don't have to go if we don't want to."

I don't really remember my reply but it probably had a four letter word in it starting with "f" and ending with "k".  We decided it'd be rude not to go since Shey went to the trouble of making plans. Huge mistake.

The Italian restaurant on Saturday night wasn't bad.  We showed up and Shey told the hostess we had a reservation...but it wasn't in the book.  Hostess looks again...nope, not there.  But, never fear...the extremely detail oriented Shey was able to tell the hostess the name of the young man who took her reservation, and that said young man told her their computer was down but he would take her information and when the computer came back up, would make sure to enter the reservation.  I plan on using this line if I ever have reservation problems.  I'm sure it'll come in handy at the McDonalds counter.  Way to go Shey.

I'm not a big pasta eater but I don't hate it.  Although I do kind of resent using the term pasta...when I grew up pasta was called noodles.   I ended up with a bowl of noodles topped with lamb ragout.  It was okay.

The worst part for me was before they brought our food, they brought a basket of sliced bread which usually comes hand in hand with  a bowl of butter...preferably soft butter so I don't rip the bread to shreds trying to spread it.  But instead of the butter, they brought a bowl of plain olive oil and placed it next to the bread like it was some kind of delicacy.  No kidding...no butter.  Plain old olive oil...no balsamic vinegar to mix it with, nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

Okay, I think, maybe this is how the other half lives...so I give it a try.  I tear off a little piece of bread & dip it in the olive oil, pop it in my mouth...and in spite of the fact that I wanted to barf, I'm very proud of the fact that I managed enough self control to suppress the nearly overpowering gag reflex that immediately took hold of me.

I can't believe I was stoopid enough to do it...not stoopid enough to suppress the gag reflex, stoopid enough to think bread dipped in olive oil would be anywhere near edible.  A bowl of plain olive oil...a bowl of grease....and I ate it.   Who knew it'd taste so gross.  Like eating Crisco when I was a kid.  Have I learned nothing from my childhood?  Crisco does look good in the can, doesn't it?  Like frosting.  Sure doesn't taste like frosting though, does it?  If there'd been paper napkins on the table I probably would've spit it out, but it just seemed wrong to spit out a mouthful of semi chewed grease dipped bread into a cloth napkin.  Why didn't I just ask for butter?  I mean, it's not like it was a soup kitchen and they were feeding me for free...I was paying.  I paid to eat grease dipped bread.  How stoopid is that?

I have considered the fact that we may have been on some candid camera type show and that the olive oil wasn't for eating at all...just placed innocently on the table to see how many goobers would actually dip chunks of bread into it and shove it into their mouths in a vain attempt to show culinary sophistication.  I think this paranoia stems from the "People of WalMart" emails that show up in my inbox.

The next night after riding, we went to the seafood place...highly recommended by the kid who forgot to make Shey's reservation the night before.  I was looking forward to any kind of adult beverage containing vodka.  I figured it would be okay.  The only kind of fish I really don't like is salmon...unless it's smoked.  I hoped they'd have swordfish 'cause it's my fave.

The place was nice and I immediately focused on the bar along one wall...lots of wine, lots of beer, but  nary a bottle of hard liquor anywhere in sight.  I hate beer and can't tell the difference between good and bad wine.  The gals I was with are big beer and wine drinkers.  Not size wise big or lush wise big (although OF did buy two, count 'em, two giant cases of "special" beer at our last trip to a shopping warehouse...not that that says anything about her drinking habits or anything...just a casual observation)...no, more of a "connoisseur" wise big.  Some might say snob wise, but not me, I would never say that...

Our server brought us a small half sheet of paper which was the menu.  We had no idea what the first three items were...they had unpronounceable names.  When the server came back, she gave us the good news.  All three unpronounceable names were different types of raw oysters.  Now I know there are people everywhere who think raw oysters are fabulous.  I'm just not one of them...so, I look down to the next item...salmon...seriously???   Things aren't looking too bright for me.  I'm almost to the end of the menu which is the size of a large Post It pad...printed daily because the selections change daily don't ya know...very upscale.  Nowhere on the minuscule menu is there a burger, or fries, or grilled cheese sandwich, or even a kids section.  The only other things are sweet potato soup, pork belly with tonnato sauce (which I found out is tuna sauce...), and a Boudin meat pie.  Things were looking kinda dim for OF & I.  The other two liked salmon so they were happy.

While we were trying to decide, OF and I see a waiter carrying a pizza out to the patio.  There was no pizza on the menu.  We ask the server if we can get a pizza.

"Oh, no"  she says...as...I kid you not...she sets down a plate of bread accompanied by, yet again, a bowl of plain olive oil.   Is this some kind of butter free fucking twilight zone I'm trapped in???  I can't believe my eyes...and then my ear holes start burning from the rest of her little speech... "The chef only makes a cheese pizza for kids, he won't make it for adults...he's very strict about that." Ohhhh well la di fuckin' da......

WTF???  Everything on the menu sounds repulsive.  If I were a kid, I could have something I like...cheese pizza.  Since I'm old I have to eat repulsive food?  What happened to "the customer is always right"?  If Shey hadn't gone out of her way to make reservations, I would've left.  Talk about snobbery...

OF ordered a glass of wine for me since she's the wine connoisseur.   Then she waited until I'd drained half the glass before tasting it, making a scrunchy face, and pronouncing it "terrible" giving me this "how could you drink that stuff" look.  Like I would know...heck, I didn't know wine in a box was less than desirable until just recently...tastes like wine to me!

I was actually hoping the alcohol would dull the desire for some kind of normal food that was conspicuously absent from the teeny weenie menu.  You couldn't even get a steak. What kind of restaurant doesn't have some kind of steak?  I'll tell you what kind. Hoity Toity places that's what kind.  The kind of places that cater to food snobs.  Places with chefs who think they're the Kings of Fabulosity when it comes to food preparation.  Chefs who forget that "some" of their clientele are going to be regular white trash folk like me...unable to appreciate their desire to create culinary masterpieces...unable to appreciate the time spent on perfect plating techniques...and unable to pronounce items on the fucking menu.

I ended up ordering pork belly...which is basically a thick slice of bacon.  Don't get me wrong...I love bacon...but this had a little tuna sauce on top.  Not like the creamed tuna on toast my mom used to make, this was like a puree of canned tuna. Very fishy and not something I would ever think to eat on top of bacon.  I tried to scrape it off but the taste was still there.  So my "deck of cards" sized slab of of pork belly was cut in half by the nasty tuna sauce.

The whole thing was presented very artfully on a bed of fried polenta.  Fried polenta?  Isn't that like Cream of Wheat only made with corn meal?  Who thinks up this shit?  Why would it occur to anyone to fry something like Cream of Wheat? Maybe because we were in the Mecca of  marijuana growing country the chef was some grown up Spicoli with a serious case of the munchies who just thought it would be "far out" to fry a little polenta and stick a little piece of fried pork belly on...and top it with pureed tuna.  All the while smokin' a reefer (do they still say that?) and admiring his handiwork.  I'm guessing he probably got a participation trophy for creativity at the Acme Culinary Institute after dropping out of high school because they just didn't understand him.  I would've given pretty much anything for a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

OF didn't fare much better.  Her Boudin meat pie was slightly, just barely... larger than a golf ball.  I don't know what I thought it would be...I mean, it didn't have to be the giant Marie Callender sized pot pie, but it could have been at least been Swanson sized.  Even Hostess fruit pie size would've been a huge improvement. Lucky for her that she had the foresight to order sweet potato soup.

We left the cute little over priced gourmet restaurant and headed back to the B&B, stopping at the store for a bag of chips.  When I got to our room I broke open the giant Costco bag of Peanut M&M's and inhaled about half a pound...and washed them down with a swig of Diet Pepsi.  Life was white trash good again...

It's the stoopidist thing.