You Sold Me a Short Rib with a Hair Around it!


Okay, remember when I told you that I went to Napa a few weeks ago with some friends – you know, when the idiots at the TSA stole $30 worth of duxelles from me and threw them in the garbage?  Well, I have another Napa story to share with you.

My friends and I wanted to “splurge” one night while we were there at a really fabulous restaurant, so we picked one of Thomas Keller’s and made our reservations months in advance.  So, our big night comes and we are excited to see what’s on the menu that night: a braised beef short rib over homemade pappardelle – yum! Considering that every one of us in our group has some sort of silly food issue, this is a positive sign that this is something that we all like.

The first course comes, and it’s a fresh heirloom tomato/mozzarella salad with some sort of crack-sauce.  Oops – I mean sherry vinaigrette… it was probably one of the most perfect Caprese salads I have ever had.  I could have eaten five pounds of it and gone home right then and been perfectly happy.

Then, the short rib.  Everything here is served family style, so it’s a hearty helping of boned short ribs that, the waiter tells us, has been braised for 48 hours.  So, we dig in and it is truly sublime.  These short ribs were amazing as they were as thick as a steak, and hardly had any fat on them.  We are all ooohing and ahhhing and I had just  mentioned that I thought there was a very small amount of tarragon in the dish, when suddenly I realize my friend next to me is freaking out.

Yes, there was a hair on her short rib.  A little short black one. And it ain’t hers or mine, that’s for damn sure!  (And, no – it’s not what you’re thinking – it wasn’t a pube or anything like that – I can’t take you guys anywhere…)  Anyway, my friend is totally grossed out and is done with that portion of her meal, even though she only had a few bites.  This starts a discussion around the table about what we should do.  In the end, we don’t say anything to anyone, and we enjoyed the next two courses (which were unbelievably fabulous, BTW) with no problems.

What we discovered was that all four of us would have handled the situation in four different ways.  One of my friends would have asked for a new plate and would have been okay with that.  Another said she wouldn’t have cared if she had to floss with it!  One would have alerted the waiter because we are in a nice restaurant, the rest of us wouldn’t have.

I fell somewhere in the middle.  A stray hair doesn’t bother me so much, (as long as it’s from your head!) I mean, it happens – hairs are falling out of your head right now!  If I had seen it on my short rib, I would have flicked it off and continued eating.  Do I want to pull it out of my mouth?  No.  Do I want to swallow it?  No.  Have I eaten hairs I don’t know about?  Probably many more than I care to think about.  I wouldn’t really say anything to the waitstaff, either.  I never really say anything unless something is really really wrong.  A hair on my short rib?  Phsaw.

Anyway, the whole episode reminded me of the Seinfeld when Elaine gets a Cinnamon Babka for a dinner party and discovers a hair and gets a new one by yelling, “You sold me a cake with a hair around it!”  It kind of became our mantra for the rest of the weekend.

What would you do?

Bravo Gets Me Again: Flipping Out

What is going on with Bravo?  It seems that they have caught me up in their bevy of fun programming.  First, they got me hooked on Real Housewives of NYC, now it’s Flipping Out.  It seems I am a 29 year-old gay person when it comes to my ideal programming demographic.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Flipping Out follows the daily trials and tribulations of Jeff Lewis, a real estate speculator in Los Angeles, and his calvalcade of employees and subcontractors.  I know, sounds kind of boring, right?  Not if the main guy is certifiably nuts.  He readily admits to having OCD, freaks out at the slightest provocation, goes to scream therapy, hires psychics and mediums to clear houses and make decisions for him, and obsesses over the smallest detail.  All this adds up to great television and absolutely gorgeous house renovations.  I just love Jeff  – he’s like the gay best friend I’ve always wanted.

Do yourself a favor if you haven’t tuned in and check it out.  It won’t be hard to find, as Bravo likes to play reruns about 100,000 x a day.  Hell, tune in over a weekend and watch the whole season in one sitting!  You won’t be sorry.

Bennigan’s Out of Business?

There’s a rumor going around this morning that the restaurant chain Bennigan’s is out of business. What a sad day for Corporate Restaurant Chain America! Bennigan’s was kind of the first big sit-down restaurant chain that I remember – it used to be the place to go when I was in college.  We did a lot of 21st birthdays there.  With the cray-zee decor (Bicycles on the wall!  Goofy signs! Musical instruments!) and innovative menu (The first place I remember having Mozzarella Sticks and the Monte Cristo sandwich!) Bennigan’s paved the way for all the mediocre chains behind them:  Friday’s, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, etc.  Plus, I think they made up the Singing the Birthday Song bullshit to anyone that pretends it’s their birthday.  Another corporate innovation!

My favorite Bennigan’s memory was when I worked at the Olive Garden back in 1990.  We weren’t allowed to drink at the Olive Garden bar even if we were off work and out of uniform, and Bennigan’s had the same rule for them.  Our restaurants were right next to each other, so we worked out a little secret criss/cross system where they would give us free drinks at their bar, and we would give them free drinks in ours.  After awhile, we all kind of knew one another and at one point we figured out that if we were working and took an order, turned it in to the kitchen, jumped in our car (yes, our car) raced over to Bennigans in time to have a shot at the bar and race back just in time for the order to be up.  One time I did this a few too many times in one night and one of my tables walked out on me.  Ahhhhh…. memories!

Farewell, Bennigan’s! Viva the Monte Cristo Sandwich!

I Have to Learn French in a Month

Yes,  I’m turning 40 this fall – –  so to try and forget about the crippling depression that accompanies this unsavory fact, I’ve spent the last two years planning a month-long trip to La Belle France for September 2008.  I planned the whole itinerary myself, and this entailed making numerous hotel reservations, rental car reservations, airline tickets, train reservations, not to mention figuring out where to eat, where to go, where to stay, etc. etc.  It seems I forgot one tiny detail: learning to speak French.

Well, I should say re-learn how to speak French. I took French from 7-12 grade and then 3 out of 4 years in college.  You would think this would mean that I could kind of figure some stuff out just from having studied it for so long, but as they say, if you don’t use it you lose it.  And, boy – do you!  My French is just plain sad.

Considering that I have known we were going on this trip for two years I would have prepared a little better, but alas that did not happen.  I did buy a couple of CDs, including the ubiquitous Rosetta Stone, but realized after about 1/3 the way through that I was trying to memorize silly things that not only will I not need on my trip, I don’t think I’ve ever needed in English:

  • The milk is white.
  • Smell the cake. (?)
  • He stole my pocket watch!
  • I am very interested in art history.
  • I would like a black and white TV (?)
Really, what I need are a few key phrases that will allow me to get what is really important to me:
  • Keep ’em comin!
  • Is that the brother-in-law price?
  • Don’t take that tone with me, mister!
  • I am really not interested in art history.
  • No kidneys for me, thanks.
I finally broke down a few weeks ago and bought a CD that is French for Travel.  I did download it on my iPhone, but I haven’t really started to study it yet.  Hopefully I’ll get it together enough to not embarrass myself, and not have what happened to us in Guadaloupe a few years ago where I ordered and entire meal for my husband and I in French, and then watched as not one thing that came out of the kitchen was what I thought I ordered. I think I ate a goat that day, my friends.

Wish me luck!

Airport Bars of the World: DIA

DENVER , Colorado, USA – Denver International Airport
Aviator Club Smoking Lounge
Located in Terminal B, Upper Level

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a real smoking lounge in an airport.  This isn’t one of those “Smoking Zoos” where you go into a sad little glass room and puff away while everyone looks at you from the outside.  This is an honest-to-goodness bar, complete with hazy interior and neon signs.  And, yes, you can actually smoke in here.  Now, I am not a smoker, but if I was , this has got to be an oasis unlike any other.

It’s located upstairs in Terminal B, kind of hidden away in a corner like the dirty little secret it is.  The sign says “Purchase Required” which means you have to buy a drink to smoke inside.  Hey, I don’t need to be asked twice to purchase a drink!  The waitresses all have that old-school smokers hack, cause you know to be able to work there, you have to like cigarettes since you’re smoking them whether you want to or not.

No food available, but that it probably a good thing.

Plusses: You can smoke
Minuses: You can smoke

A T-RATING® of 3 out of 5

Why Yes, I am Going to Blow Up the Plane with Mushrooms.

What you are seeing above is a threat to national security according to the dumb-asses at the TSA.  Yes, it is a bottle of duxelles, otherwise known as chopped mushrooms.  I bought some in Napa over the weekend while “celebrating”(?) turning 40 with some friends.  I was thinking about making a Beef Wellington for Christmas Eve this year, and these duxelles were really good.  So, when it came time to go to the airport, we were packing stuff for the checked bags and I thought to myself:

Let’s see… the ever-changing Rules are no liquids or gels over 3 oz.  

Is this a gel?  No.  

Is this a liquid?  No – it’s mushrooms.  

And, it’s sealed and wrapped.  No problem, right?

Uh, wrong.

The screener asked me what was in the bag in my purse and I told him mushrooms.  He looked puzzled and then said, “I don’t think you can take that on board.”  I pointed out that it was chopped mushrooms, not liquid as you can’t drink chopped mushrooms.  You eat chopped mushrooms.  He still looked confused and then takes them out of the bag.  “I thought you said these were mushrooms,” He says, “This says Duxelles!” – – like the word “duxelles” is French for “bomb material” – –  and he’s caught me in my web of lies. 

I try to explain that duxelles are just chopped mushrooms with spices and shallots, etc., but he is getting disinterested with my cooking lesson in the middle of the screening line.  I continue to press my case that this is not a liquid and should be allowed on board.  He eventually kind of half-agrees with me and calls over his Supervisor, who can give me a waiver.  He takes one look at the jars and says “nope” and walks away without even looking at them.

Now I’m kind of getting pissed, but I know there is nothing I can do.  The supervisor was the only guy that could save my duxelles and so they throw them into the garbage right in front of me.  The original screener looks sheepish as he hands me the empty bag.  “It’s the rules,” He says, “Anything that you can smear is considered a liquid.”  

Huh?  WTF?????

This is such bullshit!  These so-called “rules” are based in absolute randomness that make no fucking sense, and everyone knows it.   They know it, we know it.  But, we all play along with the idiocy because it makes us feel “safe.”  Ha!  What a fucking joke.

Well – rest assured – they confiscated my mushrooms, so we are a safe society once again!  Long live the TSA and their totally ridiculous bullshit!


Mark Ronson vs. The Smiths

Click here to see the video – no embedding allowed.

It seems there was a bit of a controversy over the Mark Ronson-produced/Daniel Meriweather version of The Smiths, Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before, one of my favorite Smiths songs.  Ronson, producer of that funk-hop sound from the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lilly Allen, released an album last year of remakes ranging from Coldplay to The Jam.  After he chose Stop Me as the lead single from the album, he got death threats from angry Smiths fans for treading on sacred ground – namely one of the last Marr/Morrissey collaborations.  Death threats from Smiths fans?  Now, that’s not very Morrissey-like, now is it?

Frankly, I think the Ronson song is fantastic, but then again, I love the Amy Winehouse sound, too.  I have been a rabid Smiths fan for going on 23 years now, and I don’t see why someone else can’t interpret what is a great song in their own way.  The music is still the music, no matter how it sounds.  The notes are still there and the lyrics haven’t changed.  (Well, only slightly, only slightly…)

You be the judge – above is the Ronson version – below the original Smiths version.  Both videos suck, BTW (although I like the nod to the Morrissey version with the bikers) and I’ll still take Morrissey over Daniel Merriweather – even now!


Punched Before Eating

Okay, frankly I haven’t found anything funny on Saturday Night Live in ages, but then again I am mere months away from being “middle aged.”  (*sob)

 This weekend I saw this rerun from October and I have to admit even though it is completely stupid, random and a little too long –  I laughed like an idiot.  Maybe it’s just Andy Samberg – he’s like Will Ferrell where he cracks me up in pretty much anything he’s doing.

Click here to see the video – Fucking HULU keeps taking it off YouTube.

(Am I cool again, now, kidz?)