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?