Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day, "Not so Much"

Valentine's may be my least favourite night of the year to work. I should qualify that by saying that if I had to work on Mother's Day there would be a challenger but my status as a parent, plus the fact that Sunday is my regular day off, have precluded my working Mother's day for many years.

Valentine's Day is the "Mother of All Made-up Occasions", and is a night fraught with peril. Too many guys out trying way too hard to impress their significant others for two hours rather than taking care of them all year long. At one of my former gigs we had to call the police on two separate Valentine's to stop "lovers" from killing each other. At another restaurant we used to set an "over/under" line for crying women on Valentine's (always take the over).

The problem is too much pressure to have that one night be so special, my advice:

Take your lover out earlier in the week, have a great dinner, buy flowers on "The Day", rent a movie order a pizza and crack a very good bottle and enjoy the evening in the comfort of your own home.

That being said this year was a breeze at work. Rather than take chances we underbooked, then turned away walk-ins so the night was slow paced and easy, if not particularly great for the wallet.

Some notes of interest:

My first table was a 4 top, unusual on Valentine's, and when I commented "You don't look Mormon" they actually got it and laughed.

My second to last table was a guy celebrating the occasion by dining out with 2 hookers, I had to admire his ingenuity.

An Australian tipped me 25% ........ I'm assuming he was just unfamiliar with the currency.

But I save the best for last. At 10:30 or so a gentleman approached the hostess asking if we had a table available for two, when advised that we did he dashed back to his car and returned with his female companion. The couple were seated in my section, and after a minute I approached, greeted them and asked them if they would care for something from the bar.

The gentleman replied "No, we don't drink alcohol, just some ice water please", I turned to leave and he grabbed my arm "Please. I'm starving and I know what I want" he says.

"Great" I reply "what would you like sir"

"I'll have the steak thing" he says, I probe with a couple of questions before determining that he wants the Beef Tenderloin.

"And how would you like your steak done, sir?" I ask.

"Not so much" he replies

"Not so much?" I enquire "Do you mean rare sir?"

"Mmm, No just Not so Much" he answers, with a hand wiggle.

"Medium?" I ask

"Yes,yes medium"

"And for the lady" I query

The lady hasn't opened her menu, and appears to be unaware that she is on planet Earth.

"She doesn't know yet" says the guest "Can you wait here while she reads the menu ?"

No, I cannot.

I return with water and a bread basket and the gentleman says "She'd like something light", I suggest a couple of lighter appetizers or a salad.

They converse in Taluvian and he says "Do you have Calamari ?", (why yes I do, it's right there on the menu, in fact Madam's finger is on it).

"Yes, sir" I reply, and point it out. They jabber away in Alpha Centauri before the woman looks up at me and asks, "Is there any pork in the Calamari?".......... "No, Madam" I reply..........."What about in the sauces ?" she asks.......biting down on my tongue I assure her that the sauces with the Calamari are pork free, which meets with her approval.

I swear the next time I go out for Dinner I'm ordering my steak "Not so Much" just to see the look on the server's face.

On a final note, I served 12 tables (27 guests) on Valentine's Night and did not use my corkscrew the entire evening, Enough said.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Couple of Beverage notes

I did the "second bottle" test on the Marquisat la Perousse the other night and the test came back positive, had it with Roast Chicken, so it's definitely a best buy.

Had a nice winter brew, Black Sheep's Riggwelter Strong Yorkshire Ale, these are the same guys who bring us Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale but the Riggwelter is better for me. Nice full body, 5.7% alcohol, with bitter notes and spicy flavours. The Riggwelter is a little scarce but can be found at Broadway and Maple as well as at the "mothership" (39th & Cambie), $3.25 for 500ml., CSPC#890871.

In the beer vein, insert joke here ................, one of my regular rotation of Pilsners is on sale this month, Radeberger Pils, the pride of (Former) East Germany is discounted to $1.99 for a 500ml. snappy black can (CSPC#123257) it is in good supply and available pretty much everywhere. While not as good as Urquell, Radeberger at $1.99 is a very good deal my friends.

Bartender asked me last night for Pinot Noir recommendations, "Wow, there's a loaded question" - the search for reasonably priced Pinot is Dan Brown's next book topic I'm sure, but here are a few for under $15.

Pinot Noir D'oc (France)- Moillard - "Hugues le Juste" - varietally true and consistent, good value, $12.99, CSPC#363523. Widely Available.

Pinot Noir (Chile) - Casa Viva - bad package, decent juice though not as consistent as the Moillard. Good value $13.49 CSPC#207670. Widely Available.

Proprietor's Reserve Pinot Noir (B.C.) - Jackson Triggs - for my money the most reliable "value " producer in the Okanagan, this Pinot is a little light but is consistent and good value $13.49 CSPC#543868 - available everywhere.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekly Ramblings: Superbowl, Zip Monkey 2.6 and a couple of decent Reds

Well I promised to blog once a week, not once every seven days, so here I am:

It's 2007 and my neighbour's cat has a blog, yet spellcheck still doesn't recognize the word.

Superbowl - what can I say: well we learned that Rex Grossman is terrible, that Peyton can win "the big one" and that Prince is a trooper (no way Janet and Justin go on in those conditions).

Other SuperBowl highlights include the "mystery meat" sausage (Caribou) and two bootie shakes by guys who should know better, plus the inclusion of chickpeas and blackbeans in this year's Chili.

The other day someone at work observed, correctly or not, that there was more computing power in today's Blackberry than in the first space launches.

Maybe so but where can you fit the monkeys in the Blackberry ?
The answer, my friend, is ZipMonkey 2.6 - all the modern technology plus the Monkeys. I'm sure this is part of the new Mac operating system.

The Canucks have far exceeded my expectations, and their own I'm sure, but I still hate them.

Don is in Cuba to watch the Cuban Baseball League All Star game.
A couple of thoughts about this:
Doesn't the idea of an All Star game fly in the face of Marxist theory ?
Does the MVP get a raft and a two hour head start ?

I had a couple of good value bottles in the last week or so:

First off is Castillo de Monseran a nice little Garnacha from the Carinena district of Spain. It's high altitude fruit and has a nice touch of acidity to counter balance the inherent sweetness of the grape variety (Garnacha), it's widely available for $9.99 , CSPC #197806, and is a good match with pizza, burgers etc.

Secondly is a nice little Bordeaux Chateau Le Marquisat La Perouse 2003 a tasty little piece of Merlot based red, with some Cab Franc unless my palate deceives me, from a great vintage. This wine suffers from eye appeal, as the label is among the ugliest I've seen in a while - wife described it as "menopausal lavender" in colour - but inside is a good example of what the French have to do to get back their market share.

This is not strictly "old school" Bordeaux but there's enough lead in the pencil to know that you aren't drinking something with an Emu on the label, nice fruit, very good acidity and a long finish made it a great companion to Rib steaks - all for $9.99. Widely available, CSPC #871103 this is highly recommended.