Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Penny wise and pound foolish

I had dinner with a good friend tonight who wishes to remain anonymous—you’ll see why in a minute. Whereas I’ll order a chardonnay label that I like, she will often choose whatever is on the happy hour menu—often not a chardonnay. Tonight she asked the wait person what the house wine was and ordered that. Thinking I wouldn’t be a complete pain about it I agreed. She took one sip, looked at me, and said, “This isn’t very good chardonnay.” I told her I was never trusting her about the house wine again. When the bill came, we found out why it was the house choice: $3.75 a glass.

Reminded me of another friend who travels frequently and extensively, domestically and abroad. When we met for dinner recently, she insisted we had to go early enough for happy hour prices. And when we asked where everyone had parked, she revealed that she had refused a place almost in front of the restaurant because you had to pay there—so she walked a couple of blocks.

Excuse me, folks. I’m not rich, but I am old enough that I want a good glass of chardonnay and a convenient parking place. Call me extravagant if you want.

This has been a quiet week. Last week was full of social occasions—dinners out, guests at the cottage. This week, I have been home for four days, and for three of them Jordan’s sporadic appearances provided my only adult company. It’s okay because I have worked—my neighborhood newsletter took a lot of time!—and read and kept up with the unbelievable politics of our country. Enough to keep anyone occupied, but I was glad to go to supper tonight with someone whose company I really enjoy (bad wine or not).

Speaking of restaurants, my food-loving friends in Fort Worth will be sad to know that Terra on Crockett closed, a longtime Mediterranean restaurant. The couple of times I had dinner there were okay but not great, but at lunch they had an outstanding Mediterranean buffet—pricey, but really good. The turnover of restaurants on Crockett is amazing—and includes Patrizio’s which I still mourn though it’s been gone a while.

On the home front, Sophie had a spa day today. Bless WhiskerWashers who bring their portable salon to the house. Sophie’s special groomer is a man I know as Bobo. When I once told him we had to be careful because she’ll run given the chance, he—a large man and not young—said, “Then we’ll have to be really careful, because I can’t chase her.” Sophie is always excited to see him, and I have to say his kind manner brightens my day. As for Sophie running, yeah, she’d take a clear chance if she got it, but she’s less interested and less devious these days. Maybe as she ages, she realizes she has a darn good deal here. Tonight, her coat is soft, and she smells clean and wonderful. Won’t last, but it’s nice now.

I am having a great time on the NYTimes Cooking Community Facebook page—recipes, queries, comments, even such odd questions as “What’s your guilty pleasure in food?” See my Gourmet on a Hot Plate blog tomorrow for my answer to that. But I am delighted that I feel comfortable enough on the Facebook page to contribute—like the woman who asked what she could do with several tins of anchovies. My answer: make spaghetti sauce, make Caesar salad, put them in everything you can think of—they add an earthy flavor, and no one says, “Yuck! They’re anchovies in this.” They can’t tell.

My takeaway line from that page today: Bay leaves are the dryer sheets of the kitchen. Seriously, have you ever left them out of a stew? And did you notice a difference? I doubt it. I think they’re often so stale they do little for flavor. My anonymous dinner companion tonight pointed out that they do keep bugs out of your flour if you tape them inside the container.

Rain tomorrow. What joy! I hope it really happens.

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