Rick suggested we go out for Valentine’s Day. What a nice idea. Unfortunately, we were a bit late in thinking of it so available reservations were all well on into the evening. Deciding instead to wait until the day after and avoid the crush, we chose a restaurant we’d eaten at before downtown. Rather, I chose it. Where we live is not exactly a restaurant mecca. Though quite an assortment to choose from, definitely it’s a question of quantity rather than quality. It’s not that they’re bad, mind you, rather not memorably good either. Sorry.
I chose a restaurant we’d eaten in before. My experience had been great the first time we’d been there with friends, with Rick’s sort of a disaster. Ordering a rack of lamb, he’d gotten two chops, standing one against the other like a teepee, for $35. There wasn’t enough meat, according to him, to keep a hamster’s bones from protruding. I asked if he’d give the restaurant a second look remembering my well cooked filet. He agreed. When we arrived, we fell in line behind three other parties. After a while we asked the person in front of us what the hold up was. It appeared we were waiting for the hostess to arrive. Ah. We stood. We stood some more. Then, yes, wait for it, we stood some more. Finally, the bartender came out from behind the bar. Apologizing, she said she would retrieve the hostess who was in the kitchen on her break. As I’ve mentioned numerous times I’m sure, we owned a restaurant. A hostess is certainly entitled to a break but this doesn’t mean leaving customers to forage for themselves while you take one.
After some shuffling it was our turn. Seated in a small table next to a far wall bread, at least, showed up quickly. I hoped this would keep Rick’s mind off our slow start. The menu included their standard fare plus a Valentine’s Day insert. Finding scallops on the insert, I signed up for them starting off with a salad with blue cheese dressing. A holiday after all, I intended to throw caution to the wind. Both my salad and Rick’s cream of mushroom soup arrived in short order. Rick reported the soup was hot and flavorful while my delicious salad disappeared quickly. Yea.
Our entrees arrived. Served with hot pads, the waitress warned us of very hot plates. Arranged nicely on my plate, were ten plump scallops encircling a mound of garlic mashed potatoes topped with crunchy slaw. Titled “fire and ice scallops” one side was served in a spicy red sauce, while the other side was presented in a more delicate creamy white sauce. Looked good. Rick had ordered Cajun prawns served with a side of fettucine and seasonal veggies. We were on our way to a good time. “Not so fast”, you say. Oh, that would be me saying that. Turns out the plates were hot as indicated, but the food sitting on them was cold. Actually Rick’s veggies felt like they’d just been taken out of the bin.
Turning to my scallops, I cut one in half. Oh-oh. Shiny through and through. Nothing is tougher than an overcooked scallop, unless perhaps an overcooked shrimp, but raw seafood can make you sick. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well. The waitress was called to the table and both dishes returned to the kitchen. The couple next to us sent one of their meals back at the same time. More bread please. Truthfully you can’t do much to ruin bread, though I’ve seen it done on occasion.
The hot plates returned after a bit. I was on my second cup of coffee. If I continued I would be found swinging from the ceiling fan before dessert. My scallops were cooked perfectly for their encore performance. Rick’s fettucine, however, had been sauteed to heat it up leaving it enough tensile strength to safely wrap a bundle of steel. Amazingly, his vegetables were now stone cold. The prawns were hot and delicious he said. He almost enjoyed a bite before the plate once again was returned to the kitchen. Urged to eat before mine got cold, I reluctantly forged ahead without him.
On the third try the prawns were hot, and the fettucine recooked. The frigid vegetables had gone missing. Rick cautioned the waitress not to touch the plate. He was over the vegetables. Third try being the charm, his dinner was a success. Working on the last of my third cup of coffee I was talking at such a rate one would have thought I’d downed one of those energy packs from 7-11. I did that once. Already being a rather high energy being, I nearly wound myself up and bored through the ground to Asia. Never again.
Commenting on the preponderance of words flowing off my tongue, brought up a discussion of the two couples seated at the tables next to us. One couple, I’d say in their late forties, sat down, exchanged several words about the menu and never opened their mouths again for anything other than placing food in them. At different intervals each of them looked at the ceiling, the door, their shoes, the people around them, and the floor. Rarely did they exchange a glance. Wedding rings were evident on both hands so one would assume them to be a married couple. Apparently they’d already exhausted what they had to say to one another or perhaps had a fight before coming into the restaurant. The other couple, far older, didn’t make any pretense of having any interest in the other party simply ignoring one another through the entire meal.
Let me say, I would hate that. You might have noticed, if you read often, I am not one to be at a loss for words. A partner who didn’t communicate with me would leave me yawning I’m afraid. In spite of the fact we share a lot of time together, Rick and I always seem to be able to find subjects to discuss. Coming from opposite sides of the world and often opposite sides of a topic, leaves us open to lots of debates about what’s going on in the world, family, or whatever else is on our minds on any given day. I’m glad for that.
Hope your Valentine’s Day was filled with good times.
This salad is so light and delicious. Aside from peeling the lemons and oranges, it’s a no brainer to throw together.
Sicilian Lemon and Blood Orange Salad
4 blood oranges peeled and sliced in 1/2″ slices
3 ripe lemon, peeled and sliced in 1/2″ slices
1 small red onion, sliced thin
6 fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. EV olive oil
Arrange orange slice on a plate in a circle. Arrange lemon slices on top of orange slices. Top with red onion. Sprinkle with mint leaves and grind pepper as desired. Drizzle EV olive oil over top. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 2 hrs. prior to serving.