Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rotating Plates

Last night I needed a well deserved timeout. I went for a drive with no destination in mind. Thinking I would hit the interstate and just d-r-i-v-e, I started the car and drove down Magazine Street towards Downtown. I made it 6 blocks, stopped at a red light, turned my head to the right to see Sake Café and pulled right in.

As I pulled in, I thought, never mind to the long drive. All I need is a couple of cocktails, some sushi and an outdoor patio. While I was enjoying my cocktail out on the patio, which overlooks Magazine Street, I overheard a group of ladies at a nearby table.

The ladies were in their mid twenties, and had just arrived to the city for graduate school. They began to talk about how they were making their budgets work while still enjoying all the distractions New Orleans has to offer.

Since I have recently begun my wedding diet and have committed myself to more clean eating lifestyle, I began to tune into their conversation. I was partly curious to their dinner out because I have really been missing my best friends in Washington DC lately. Oh how I miss them, I would have done anything to have had a ladies night out with them last night!

Ok, back to dinner.

One young woman stated that she had some friends visiting last weekend, and were dining out every night. Since she was really pinching pennies, she talked it over with her guests and decided that they would in fact dine at the cities best restaurants. But they had a plan…to order 1 appetizer, 2 entrees and 1 dessert for 4 people.

Not only would they be ordering a fraction of the amount of food most people would normally order for 4, but they would be rotating their plates throughout their entire meal.

Now, obviously the restaurant waiter was not too thrilled about this table. The waiter seemed upset because this would mean he would make half of his normal tip on a table of 4, but still doing the same amount of work. The young woman stated that their particular waiter clearly seemed irritated by them.

Coming from a background in restaurants, serving, cooking, and managing I can relate to this disgruntled waiter. But, there is always a ‘but’…the dining guests have a right to choose what and how much they wish to order, and there should never be a discrimination against that.

The young woman went on to explain how much fun they had! She said they would have normally over indulged and left stuffed to the brim. And that is not to mention the fact that they would have also spent a fortune on the bill.

I congratulate this group of diners! I think what they are doing is a fantastic idea. They are collectively using their financial situation not only as a way to limit their portions and spend less, but are still getting out there and enjoying the cities great restaurants!

I am also beginning to feel like a lot of area restaurants are forgetting to market to this particular clientele. The possibilities are endless here, and I will save those for another blog….

Monday, May 17, 2010

Simple Indulgences: My 3-day vacation at HOME.

My FABULOUS other half and I have been literally exhausted with life lately. Planning our wedding, renovating our house and shopping for a new one, adjusting to both of us living in the same city again, and I just started my new company, ‘officially.’

This post is for him. Through all of life’s curve balls, he is always in the background saying to me things like ‘Emily, I want you to write today, I miss reading your words’ or ‘Don’t forget, to do at least one thing for your business today’.

You know…he prints out my writings and blogs and passes them out to his clients and friends all the time. I run into friends in the grocery store and they tell me that they loved the article that Tyson had given them. One time, a lady pulled it out of her purse! I was shocked. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I can almost see him running around with little papers folded up in his pocket and when he sees a fellow foodie he whips it out like a piece of candy. Probably the most encouraging thing, anyone has ever done for me.

I am sure you have noticed, it has been six months since my last post to Feed Me Eat Pretty.

This past weekend, we decided to have some quiet time, just us.

Tyson is usually the one that plans all of our date nights, so I decided to surprise him- for 3 straight days, filled with all sorts of simple things that mean the world to us.

Friday I called a restaurant that is walking distance from our house, Coquette. I spoke to the hostess who was very happy to appease me in my requests. They don’t normally take reservations for the outside tables but made an exception for me.

When we arrived, the sun hadn’t quite set yet. Tyson’s initial reaction to sitting outside was well…an interesting one. He has the body temperature of a furnace (really why I am marrying him- that and the fact that we share a shellfish allergy). We were seated at our table; the waiter delivered our fresh handmade cocktails and appetizers. As we were sipping and nibbling under the stars, for hours if I may add, he declared that he was having the perfect evening. This is one of the best restaurants for a well developed palate by far!

When the waiter delivered the dessert menu, I gave him the option to stay for dessert or go somewhere else. But, the ‘somewhere else’ had already been decided on and it wasn’t up for discussion. Oh, and I wasn’t telling him where that ‘somewhere else’ may be. He chose of course, ‘somewhere else.’

I decided to drive so that he wouldn’t know where we were going until we arrived. Although the bright big red sign for The Creole Creamery gave us away since you can see it for a good ¼ of a mile while driving on Prytania.

Now, The Creole Creamery is a serious thing, not just for Tyson, but for all New Orleanians. I let him pick his flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and Oatmeal Raisin Molasses. I opted for a milk shake, which he later finished for me as I was letting him flavor indulge tonight.

Saturday, after Tyson returned from his office we had the afternoon to waste away. We decided to do a little furniture shopping in the French Quarter. We stopped for candles and popped into our favorite furniture spot, then decided to grab a cocktail.

Despite my first hesitation to patronize Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on a Saturday evening, we went with it. It is my favorite bar in this city, a tourist trap by far, but one of the coolest experiences you will have here. The building itself in the evening is worth it- the ambiance is incomparable. We scored a prime table, right next to an open window that was candlelit. With the gorgeous weather and the breeze it was perfection at its best. We had a few cocktails and moved on.

One of our friends had opened a new restaurant this past weekend, so we decided to pop in to try a few items on and off the menu. Since she was doing a soft open, we were her fifth table. We will definitely be back! She brought chefs straight from Chinatown and they are really great! She is offering a regular American Chinese Menu and a special Chinese Menu. Can you guess which one I’m excited about?

Sunday morning we committed ourselves to the couch and a handful of movies to waste away our day with. I made my special breakfast burritos and we enjoyed the morning.

After a few hours we began to get hungry so we decided to hit up Whole Foods.

In the produce section, I looked over at Tyson and his eyes were sparkling. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said ‘Oh man, this is going to be great! I am excited about this!’ That man really makes me giggle.

In our basket: blackberries, mangoes, watermelon, pate (2 flavors), 3 cheeses, crackers and fresh still hot from the oven Italian bread, prosciutto, salami, and 2 bottles of champagne.

When we arrived at home we lit all the candles around the house. I pureed the watermelon, and picked a bunch of flowers and mint from the garden for garnishes. I poured the champagne and mixed our watermelon-mint cocktails. I put together our fruit, cheese, and charcuterie plates.

We turned on another movie and relaxed for hours enjoying the simple elegances of our food choices.

I was surprised when Tyson asked me if we (together) could make cookies for dessert. I happily obliged him and we ventured into the kitchen to see what we could make. Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip was the finished product. I think these are the best cookies I have ever made, and we made them together.

Last night, sometime during our second movie Tyson leaned over and said, ‘I really wish you would write a blog about this. We have had an amazing weekend!’

Today, I drove thirty minutes to my secret writing spot in the Bywater, New Orleans most eclectic and cultural neighborhoods. If I ever have a restaurant, I would want it to be like the place I call my secret writing spot. It is truly inspirational. I just feel really great when I am here.

So, Thank you Tyson…for pushing me, and pushing me constantly. You really are my best friend who loves the simple pleasures in life, especially the simple pleasures of food! What I am most looking forward to in our life together is that we get to experience these types of weekends any time we want.