Service please! Pretty please?

Here’s an unfiltered picture of where we’ve been for a couple of days. Peaceful. Beautiful. Wide open beaches with no fighting for the best view…everyone gets a good view. We try and come to this little piece of heaven every year. It’s a fancy place but we come all unfancy. We stay with family. We avoid all the crazy crowded restaurants. We try to vacation like a local.

Except we’re not local. We know it. They know it.

A couple of years ago, my husband’s godmother took us to the most delicious little pizzeria in town. It was so unassuming and relaxed – but the food was no joke. The lines out the door proved it.

We began going every time we visited. It was always a sure thing.

You sit. You order a $20 dollar bottle of wine. If you’re my husband you order the seafood fra diavolo, and If you’re me, you get linguini with garlic and oil… because cheese is no longer my friend. And without fail… the food is good. Really good.

Is it slow? Sure. Is it the best service? No. It’s a pizzeria, we get it. I’m not looking for a concierge level experience. I’m looking for bare bones. I’m looking for some water. I’m looking to get the stuff we ordered getting to us. Maybe a quick, brief check-in to see if we need anything. Basic.

Tonight we got none of it. Nothing.

Let me back up.

Admittedly I’m a tough critic of restaurants – food and service. It’s my job. It’s what I worry about all the time. Service. Food. Experience. My husband is the opposite. By the burly looks of him you’d think he’d be the harder judge. But he’s a softie. His mom waitressed to make ends meet when he and his sister were little. He heard all the stories of crabby customers. It’s a hard job. Thankless. Under appreciated. He’s very very sensitive to that.

His idea of a tip for bad service is 18%. It’s his ultimate “gotcha”. If that man leaves you less than 20% you basically didn’t serve him at all. I’ve seen him overtip at every level. I’ve seen him go back to a restaurant where someone else has paid for our meal just to confirm the tip was good. He’s nuts! In a good way. I am mostly in agreement with this. Except when it’s bad service.

We’ve lived with this dichotomy for our entire relationship. I know he can’t take it if I ask the person waiting on us for more than 2 things,” excuse me, can I get some salt?”, “can we get some water?”. That’s it. That’s all I get. And I’m fine with that. Do I mentally make note of all the things that could have gone better? Ofcourse! Do I say anything? Almost never. Like practically never. Between my husband and my kids, the goal is always the same. Don’t make trouble. Just let it go. And I usually do. But not tonight.

Tonight was the worst service we’ve ever had. Worse than the time our waiter left his shift and never told anyone he still had a table. Worse than the time the woman waiting on us was having a full blown fight with the kitchen staff. This was… epic bad. I’m not going to go into detail. You can guess. I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

To clarify how bad it was, when I said to my husband at the end of our dinner,” wow, she’s getting zero tip. None.” I waited to hear what I thought he’d say, which is,”no freaking way”, instead he said,”yep”. I couldn’t believe it. No talk about how harsh I am. No talk about her having a bad day. Nothing. Just full agreement. She was worse than I thought.

So. For the very first time since I’ve known him – about 25 years – we left no tip. By the way, even though this was a very casual pizzeria type place, our bill was over a $100. That’s how this town rolls. And guess what? The food was worth every penny.

Even now, hours later, we are both guilt ridden. Justifying to ourselves why we left her no tip. Trying to validate our actions so we can sleep tonight. It’s no bueno.
We weren’t rude. We weren’t mean. But it still feels rotten. Have you ever done this? Please lie and tell me you have. Going to bed now. Full of regret, guilt and antacids.

Benign Masochism

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Most Sunday mornings start the same way for me. If we don’t have anywhere to go I wake up to the sounds of CBS Sunday Morning.  It’s usually my husband to my left and Charles Osgood and his bow tie to my right. Cozy.

It’s the perfect show. A little smart. A little silly. Lots of pictures. Perfect. I don’t remember a Sunday without it (or without 60 minutes for that matter).

This morning’s episode featured a Yale psychologist named Paul Bloom talking about a human’s need for pleasure.  Pleasure through all sorts of things. At the end of that segment they talked about people who love spicy foods. So spicy that the experience borders on pain. This need to push pleasure onto the realm of mild pain is called “benign masochism”.

I perked right up. My husband perked right up. You see, he’s been married to a benign masochist for a long time, and now we finally have a name to my disease. I love…no adore…no need super spicy food. If there’s a mild sweat developing while I have my penne arrabiata – awesome. If the name of the food has the word Habanero in it – it’s for me! Do you know how many times my daughter has said,” why? Mom, why?” This is why!

I blame my upbringing. I blame my Indian heritage. I blame….how delicious everything spicy really is.

My family and friends have been so supportive – they’ve always hidden their horror.

They don’t laugh when I order Chinese food (vegetable fried rice, no eggs, no mushrooms, extra spicy).

They didn’t laugh when I, at 6 months pregnant with my son, asked the cafeteria worker in our conservative financial firm to remove the jalapeno decorations during a Mexican themed lunch so I could actually eat them.  I had to.

They love me so much that when we go out for lunch or dinner or even breakfast, they never forget to ask for the crushed red pepper or hot sauce.

I’m surrounded by love. And hot peppers.

 

 

 

 

From Jersey, with love

We live about 40 minutes from the beach. More specifically, the Jersey Shore. You know, the place that gave birth to GTL, Snooki, and the Situation. But it’s also the place that gave us big old boardwalk slices of pizza, funnel cake, arcade games and oh yeah, the beach.

Because it was sunny. Because it was a perfect 65 degrees. Because I needed to extract myself away from the TV. We headed to the beach.

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This was also the place hit hard by Hurricane Sandy – and although they were still rebuilding parts of the boardwalk – doors were open.

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Here’s my babies playing an overpriced game that can’t possibly be worth the crappy stuffed toy that they will eventually win. Everything is back to normal.

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Our day ended with this.I love the shore.

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Something Fishy

Today’s post was going to be a mushy, gushy Valentine cooking post. A step by step of me making my husband’s all time favorite pasta –  fra diavolo.  Shrimp, bay scallops and squid. I was going to talk about my favorite shortcut. Rao’s tomato sauce. It’s $9 a jar – and yes, making real sauce is easy and it costs $2 – what’s your point? I was going to tell you not to be scared of shortcuts, or squid. That it’s no biggie. I’ve done it before. It cooks in a couple of seconds and people are impressed.  And I had pictures…tons of freaking pictures. I was going to show you how brave I am. Buying, cleaning, chopping squid like it was my business. I’ve done it before. No big thaang.  But then something happened.  (if you are my husband, for the love of god, stop reading this).

As I cleaned the squid…I found….gulp….a little baby fish inside!! 

Hold me.

After I stared at it for a few minutes and the nausea had worn off, I washed my hands and did what all smart people faced with oddities do – I YouTubed it, and googled it, and Wiki’d it, and Web MD’d it (just in case).  The people of the internet told me it’s normal. Happens all the time. Feed it to my cat, etc. But even now, hours later, I shiver when I think of it. Maybe the squid had a last meal and didn’t have time to finish, maybe it was the thing they used to lure the squid. Alls I know is, it ended up in my kitchen.

I’ve been changed people. Some sort of gross seafood cherry has been popped. I had to come to terms with it quickly. My kids or my hubby could not/should not ever see this.  You don’t understand. My husband, I love him, but he’s no adventurous foodie.  He gets really grossed out really quickly. And I couldn’t let my kids see it – the horror the horror!

So like every good mother and wife, I got rid of the evidence and pretended all was good.

Now, safe in my bed, I can finally come to terms with it.

Here’s what I went through folks. Happy f’ing Valentine’s day…

I’ll start with the harmless ones first.  Prepare yourselves. Here’s the shrimp/sauce/squid.  I forgot to take pictures of the scallops because – did I mention – I found food inside the food!! It’s like a bad M.Night Shyamalan plot twist. Back to my sordid story.

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Please note that my cutting board is…well..it’s all cut-up. These are not just props people. This stuff gets used!

Here’s the fresh squid. Yes, it looks slimy but there’s no smell and it handles easily. It also easily cuts into the calamari ringlets.

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And then, as I clean it. I notice this little guy or gal or it. Do you want to hurl like me?

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I want my mommy.

Reason number 8,222,329 to be a vegetarian: I’ve never found a carrot in the middle of my bagel. Or an almond in my banana. I’ll stop now.

 

 

 

It’s not your last meal.

I say this in my house once or 12 times a week. You don’t like dinner? You’ll be fine. Lunch isn’t up your ally? No worries, stick around for a few hours and another meal will appear. Why? Because we live in the first world, because food is over abundant and available 24/7 to us, and mostly because we’re lucky as shit – if you don’t like your food, get over it.

This past week there was a lot of buzz around a New York Times food review that tore apart a TV Chef owned restaurant in NYC.  The entire article was written in questions. At first, I loved the article. I laughed. I thought it was clever and sarcastic and biting.  And then I reread it a few days ago because it’s been on my mind. I was wrong. I don’t like the article at all. I know it’s a review, I get that. And I’m all for honesty in journalism. But this wasn’t that. This was written by a man-boy who basically had a hissy fit because he didn’t like the food. He scorched the concept, the people, the food, the location – everything. It was an all out teenage tantrum wrapped in sardonic writing, and he seemed very happy with himself.

I’m not sure why this is bothering me and I’ve never been to the place that was reviewed.  I believe it wasn’t/isn’t great. And I’m sure there were truths to what the writer said in the article. But please, calm down dude, it’s not your last meal.

Here’s the article I’m talking about.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html

Short but Sweet

Oh Sandy.

Right now, at this minute, we are supposed to be tucked away in Vermont. But instead we’re home, having cut our trip short. Doesn’t everyone drive 6 1/2 hours each way for a day and a half? I’m not bitter. It was a great little visit full of food and family and fun.

The East Coast of the country is a flutter – the perfect storm, a hybrid Frankenstorm is on its way! Save yourselves!

I’m not making light of it. I hope everyone is safe and sound.

So we headed home and bought a ton of crap and some booze to get us through. Isn’t that really what storm preparedness is all about?

Here’s some quick shots of our weekend.

All good times start with my munchkins -here they are on the farm.  We missed the foliage by about 2 weeks – typical.

So during that short time, we went on a cheese tasting and a maple syrup tasting. We were busy.  I liked the lightest and darkest versions of the syrup. All or nothing for me baby.

Cheese wise I’m not picky – except for anything “smoked” which is the devil.

 

And because I’m making a conscious effort to “stay in the picture” (read Allison Tate’s post on The Huffington Post called,”The Mom Stays in the Picture”).  Here’s me with my husband’s gorgeous cousin. She’s the hot blond on the right. That’s her hubby getting personal with a horse on the farm.

  

We went to Quechee Gorge which was really cool and funky. It also reminded me of what a chicken shit I am about heights, large falls, falling to my death, etc.

Here’s my girl and my sister-in-law – this is one of 40 photos I took titled “Gorge Glam”.  What?

As I posted this I noticed that my girl is a wee bit taller than her god mother! Then I cried about how fast time goes by and about how my sister-in-law was just holding her swaddled up in a rocking chair. Yesterday. Anyway. I digress.

non sequitur sunday

Everyone’s got some sort of sneezy, snorty, itchy-eyed allergy ridden cold

School’s in full swing, 2 back-to-school nights down, reading logs are already being ignored. Back to normal.

My blogging hasn’t gotten enough love from me, cause I’m tired! Sorry. No more excuses. Back to the everyday blog – starting tomorrow.

Did I tell you that I’m leaving for Paris at the end of the week. The trip of my dreams. A present from my man for my 40th.  Did I also tell you that I realized my passport was expired during a random conversation in bed the other night.  It’s been fun. The only thing that is sustaining me is traveling to a place where my completely black wardrobe will fit right in. Wine. Cheese. Bread. Black clothes. I may never come back.

Kim Kardashian is always eating on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”.

Boardwalk Empire starts tonight. I’m excited until I remember that Jimmy was killed off. What’s really left for me?

Am I the only one that gets bit by bugs the nano second I step outside?  I’ve been using more Calamine Lotion than moisturizer.

I have 22 almost rotten bananas in my freezer. I see my husband roll his eyes every time he opens the freezer.  How many more bananas will it take to drive him bananas? Which one will be the banana that broke his back? Is that a banana in your freezer or are you just nuts?

I saw the woman who does my pedicures in a shoe store – it was an awkward encounter, I don’t know why.

Tomorrow’s blog will be full of humor, intelligence and brilliance!  Just kiddin’ – it’ll be more of this shit.

 

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