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The Ladies Who Lunch (Part 1)


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#1 Kerry Beal

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 06:26 PM

For the past few years Anna N and I have met once a week - usually on a Wednesday - for a few hours away from home duties. We might check out a restaurant supply store, a few charity stores, a new supermarket or a fine foods store. Almost always we aim for food/cooking related activities. But the highlight of this outing is LUNCH! We have had some fantastic lunches and some appalling ones but no matter, we always come away feeling that we had a great time.

We thought it would be fun to start a thread for THE ONES WHO LUNCH. This is not a place to do formal reviews of eating places but just to share the experience.

Our choices are most often ethnic - last week we found an interesting south Indian place. We get lost fairly often in our travels (at which point Anna teases me mercilessly) - but that is often where we find the most interesting places.

Today we decided to check out a place that we had driven by last week. Anna noticed the restaurant and said it was one that a Korean acquaintance had recommended so today we dropped in for lunch.

Miga – Korean and Japanese BBQ is located on Dundas Street in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

According to a review from The Toronto Star in 2007, Miga means “tasty house”. The tables are all set up with butane-powered BBQs with individual exhaust hoods and fire suppression and so we felt the need to have the “BBQ for 2” option. A server brought a beautiful selection of pickles, bowls of rice, a salad, some interesting vegetables and two bowls of miso soup. She then lit the BBQ and left a couple of pieces of beef fat to lubricate it before returning with the meats. These were generous servings of 2 spicy marinated meats (chicken and beef) and two plain meats (thinly sliced beef and beef short ribs). The server put the first plain meat on the BBQ and left us to determine when it was ready. We wanted to do our own thing but at the point where the BBQ got hot enough to grill rather than steam the meat the server seemed a bit agitated. As soon as we took our meat from the grill she whipped the grilling plate out and replaced it with a clean one! I must admit that it looked like the plate might never come clean again! We were the only ones having the BBQ so I guess that it is not normally ordered at lunch time. After we convinced her that we would be capable of grilling the rest of the meat ourselves - we were able to put on just a few pieces and get a little char on it - much better than the first steamed bits.

Of course half the fun in a new restaurant is checking out what other folks are ordering. We've uncovered a lot of interesting dishes to try when we revisit a place by simply asking the people at the other tables what it is they are eating. We've noticed that most people are quite willing to wax poetic about their favourite dish at their local restaurant. If we've managed to snatch a takeout menu - we'll mark the dishes for future trial. At Miga there were some very interesting 'stone bowl' creations which I am sure we will sample some time in the future.

After lunch we roamed through Starsky’s, a fairly new supermarket specializing in European foods. Anna bought some Hungarian paprika and some Esrom cheese and I found a bag of European milk powder. The variety of cured meats was phenomenal - there were women walking around with plates of samples to try - unfortunately we were still full up from lunch. Next stop was a charity store but we came up empty handed as far as cooking utensils or cookbooks were concerned.

So who else lunches? Share your adventures.

#2 maggiethecat

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 08:19 PM

What a swell topic, Kerry! Oh, how I wish I could hang over lunch with you and Anna. Just once.

One of my favorite places to lunch with my bff Kat is the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus. You get the free demitasse of chicken broth with a side of popovers--beats beer nuts. I usually, though not always, choose the chicken salad sandwich with bacon. The offal-loving fam members swear by the sherried chicken livers.

Next week I'm going to the local Two Brothers Brewery with two neighbor girlfriends. The fish and chips is the best I've eaten on this side of the Atlantic, the beef for the burgers is organic, and they serve up a mean mac and cheese. Then there's the beer...

Does it count if you're lunching with a gent? I'm meeting eG member Alex for lunch tomorrow at Fabulous Noodles.

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#3 Kerry Beal

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 05:31 AM

Does it count if you're lunching with a gent? I'm meeting eG member Alex for lunch tomorrow at Fabulous Noodles.

Just needed a catchy title - lunch with ladies, gents or anything in the middle is fair game!

#4 jenc

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:33 AM

My lunches sound so less exciting...
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#5 Kerry Beal

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:36 AM

My lunches sound so less exciting...

Hey - your restaurant recommendations are often the ones we go looking for!

#6 MelissaH

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:16 PM

I guess you could sort of call me a luncher. Except that we usually clear out by lunchtime.

There's a group of us, 6 when everyone's in town and available. One of us is currently a professor. Two of us have taught in the past. One is currently a student. Four of us have husbands who are professors. One of us has a husband who is not a professor. Four of us have dogs. Three of us have cats. One of us has a hamster. One of us is allergic to furry pets. Three of us have kids, and one of us has grandkids. Three of us work as sports officials. Two of us are currently in physical therapy. Two of us have been to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, making the other four jealous. Three of us knit, and we're holding out for the other three to bring some kind of needlecraft at some point. We come from all over, big cities and small towns, east and west and Europe. No topic is off-limits. We, too, get together on Wednesdays for a couple of hours, usually mid-morning till about lunchtime.

Our favorite meeting place is a coffeehouse downtown, one known for their pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads. They're in the midst of an expansion into the building next door, where they plan to install a pizza oven and stretch their repertoire. And unfortunately, at the moment the construction noise makes discussion a little difficult...not to mention the thought of sawdust near the kitchen!

This is a small town, with limited options, but we're ready to explore them for the immediate future. We're also discussing an opportunity to expand our horizons by staging a group party-dinner at one of the Korean restaurants in the city, accompanied by another friend/professor and his family---who are Korean. (Spring Break is coming up!)

I wish we were closer to you and Anna, Kerry. Any chance you two might feel like a road trip sometime after the snow's done for a while?

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#7 Kerry Beal

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 05:29 PM

I wish we were closer to you and Anna, Kerry. Any chance you two might feel like a road trip sometime after the snow's done for a while?

MelissaH

I'm a little more peripatetic than Anna at this point - but anytime you are visiting Ikea you are welcome to join us on our lunch jaunts.

One of our favourites, close to Ikea, is 'Pane Fresco' - a wonderful bakery that does breads and pastries, as well as pizzas and soups etc for lunch. Their pizza fungi is amazing.

Here is a link to their site.

#8 Lior

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 05:48 AM

Melissa! I liked reading your post! I also thought now to add this to mine (I am in edit mode now) Chocolate sister is from where I am from, lives now where I live, was a teacher, and then got into chocolate therefore she is a "sister"! The second luncher is a glass artist. The third is also a teacher...

I have some lady friends that I lunch with. None of them know each other and so it is me with one of them. Cannot do that once a week so it turns out that every once in a bit I do it! A favorite is my chocolate (!) sister as we call each other. We meet somewhere, also to look at different shops or neat places and then lunch. We never stop chatting for a second while together! We look for odd stores to visit. Research places And then meet at some MIDPOINT. Then with her GPS get wherever we need to. Another friend of mine meets for brunch and we recipe swop and chat about the last recipe.
She gave me the hamentuschen one I demo-ed on pastry on confections. The third lady is a high school teacher like me and we love to complain together... :hmmm:
great topic, Kerry!

Edited by Lior, 06 March 2010 - 05:54 AM.


#9 suzilightning

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 08:30 AM

ohhh.... my favorite topic. i try to go out to local places for lunch once a week. last week on wednesday i called up my neighbor, Carol, and invited her to go with me for some last minute errands before we got clobbered with snow. i threw lunch into the deal and off we went to Lafayette Village for cheese and lunch. i had teh fun of introducing her to Maria and Everything Homemade. we both had the same thing: chicken pot pie with a crust that was incredibly flaky. menu here: http://www.everythin...unch_menu.html.

then off to the cheese store where i picked up some roquefort, cheddar with carmelized onion and some lambchopper cypress as well as a bottle of Westfall Nebbiolo wine.
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#10 Anna N

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 09:09 AM

ohhh.... my favorite topic. i try to go out to local places for lunch once a week. last week on wednesday i called up my neighbor, Carol, and invited her to go with me for some last minute errands before we got clobbered with snow. i threw lunch into the deal and off we went to Lafayette Village for cheese and lunch. i had teh fun of introducing her to Maria and Everything Homemade. we both had the same thing: chicken pot pie with a crust that was incredibly flaky. menu here: http://www.everythin...unch_menu.html.

then off to the cheese store where i picked up some roquefort, cheddar with carmelized onion and some lambchopper cypress as well as a bottle of Westfall Nebbiolo wine.


Right on! That's the spirit. Lunch & food/wine shopping. Kerry has intoduced me to so many different foods and so many fine food stores on our weekly outings. They keep me sane in an insane world. :smile:
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#11 Darienne

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 12:56 PM

If you need a title for the lunching group...I used to belong to the "Laughing Ladies who Love to Lunch"/ aka "LaLaLoLu". And my late Mother, when she lived in San Diego, belonged to the "Ranch Branch Lunch Bunch" which I thought was fine.

What I really like are arranged / unarranged Pot Lucks.

DH and I were doing a presentation a couple of years ago at a horticultural society in a small town north of Peterborough and most of the attendees (about 100) there were even older than we are. A Pot Luck preceded our event. I felt as if I had stepped back into a previous existence...the food was incredible and not current to say the least. Pineapple upside down cake, brownies, meatballs a la 60s, chicken pot pie. But what made me laugh the most is that there were only two salads and they both had tiny marshmallows in them. :raz:
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#12 Kim Shook

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 09:54 PM

Oh, it sounds so wonderful. I need girlfriends! Before eG's Meredith married eG's zeemanb and moved away, she and I met for lunch a couple of times and had a blast. I'd give anything to have someone to lunch and shop and cook with! You are lucky folks to have eG folks close to you! I hope to hear lots about your gatherings on this thread.

#13 heidih

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 10:18 PM

This was a ladies lunch week.

Yesterday was just lunch with an elderly neighbor at a local Mexican restaurant. I tried one of their shrimp specials and it was classically wonderful. The main component of this one was lots of ice tea and talk along with well done food.

Today was a gathering of several ladies from high school (we are in our 50's). We tried a new local place (found out later the chef/owner was under suspicion for the disappearance of his wife a few months ago) :unsure: We each ordered what looked good to us, and with the ease of old friends picked food off each other's plates. We progressed to a local but renowned Japanese French bakery and shared a Kir Royale layered mousse-like item and an eggy fresh cream puff filled with whipped cream flavored with black sesame paste and according to a Jonathan Gold review, drizzled with mesquite honey and sweet carmelized soy powder. The coffee was excellent and "for the ladies" they provided linen lined baskets to hold our purses as opposed to plopping them on the bare ground. The place is not "fancy" inside, but the little touches were much appreciated by the girls.

My monthly girl outing involves the collectible swap meet and lunch at a classic diner. In between the set monthly date, the outings may be to thrift shops and off beat garden centers which yield many great kitchen finds; always punctuated by lunch at a non-chain mom and pop establishment. We keep our eyes and ears open for ones we have not tried.

#14 Lior

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 10:39 PM

Hey Kim! Maybe all of us lunch ladies (Darienne think of a good name for the egullet lunchers)can do an online lunch with you! It may end up being a midnight snack for me! We have no super amazing stores, or at least very few so perhaps you can bring a store to me! :laugh:

Boy, it must be nice to have high school friends live around you-wow. Little touches are from the heart-good intentions like that mean a lot!

Edited by Lior, 06 March 2010 - 10:39 PM.


#15 rena

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 01:04 AM

I like this thread. I too meet with ladies each week although it's more
for dinner than lunch. But two are retired, one is employed and I'm the
one looking for work. We do manage to go to different places to eat.
Around Christmas we meet for lunch in a little antique town called Niles
in CA. The place was called 'A Tyme for Tea' and it's a fabulous place
to have wonderful teas with little tea sandwichs. They start you off
with your tea then a tasty scone with honey butter and then the tea
sandwiches. It's nestled in a store that sells antiques and other things.
Quite a nice little place. They even have hats there if you want to wera
them while you are sipping your tea.....

Rena

#16 llc45

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 08:35 AM

If you need a title for the lunching group...I used to belong to the "Laughing Ladies who Love to Lunch"/ aka "LaLaLoLu". And my late Mother, when she lived in San Diego, belonged to the "Ranch Branch Lunch Bunch" which I thought was fine.


OK Darienne - I am definitely stealing that title - my friends will love LALALOLU!. We always joke that we are the YAYA sisterhood but I think that lalalolu's is even better.

#17 Darienne

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 09:09 AM

OK Darienne - I am definitely stealing that title - my friends will love LALALOLU!. We always joke that we are the YAYA sisterhood but I think that lalalolu's is even better.

Steal away. I'll tell the Laughing Ladies. :smile:
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#18 Anna N

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 09:55 AM

. . . .

They even have hats there if you want to wera
them while you are sipping your tea.....

Rena


Now that would be fabulous! I'm of an age when I remember that ladies who lunched wore hats! My husband's uncle who was well into his dotage would look quizzically at me and ask gently, "But my dear, where's your hat?" as though dealing with someone who really, really needed etiquette lessons. Food shopping, lunch and hats - how perfect! Thanks for sharing.

Edited to fix spelling.

Edited by Anna N, 07 March 2010 - 09:56 AM.

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#19 teagal

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 06:01 PM

My Mom and I used to go to a nice restaurant for wonderful monte cristos and pineapple guava white tea for lunch pretty regularly. That restaurant closed and we really miss it. I wish I had girlfriends that were into food like me and all of you- love the lunch. Its usually such a relaxing time.
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#20 Lilija

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 09:19 AM

I'm about to head out for a ladies (snort) lunching type of day, only I've taken to calling them "Michele Mondays".

My bestest girly Michele, is off on Mondays, and I get off early, so we go on an adventure, always interesting, mostly food-centric. Or, at least if it isn't, we make sure we plan for a good lunch somewhere. Some of our more memorable "lunches" involved driving to the next state over to buy new leather jackets, and specifically to get beer battered onion rings at a bar in the same town, or getting piercings and (astonishing) Vietnamese food in the same little divey strip mall. Sometimes we just get in the car and drive, talking, catching up, and realize we've been riding around for an hour, only to start looking around that neighborhood for food. This has resulted in some excellent (and dreadful) meals. We've been doing this since high school, for awhile it was "Michele Fridays" and for a brief but strange time it was "Michele Wednesdays". Never chain places, that's our main rule (ok, except for the occasional Chipotle, but that's the exception that proves the rule.)Sometimes we just go to our favorite luncheonette and sit there for 3 hours reading tarot cards, and drinking all the coffee in the place.

I've never considered us Ladies, but, I wonder, do we count?

Edited by Lilija, 08 March 2010 - 09:23 AM.


#21 MelissaH

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 01:47 PM

I need girlfriends!


That's one of the reasons I treasure my meet-ups so much, and work hard to make an opening in my schedule each week. We moved here about 6.5 years ago, and like many other small college towns, this isn't the easiest place to make friends outside the university community. Add to that the fact that I work in a largely male field, and for whatever reason many of my hobbies seem to be favored more by men than by women, and I was having a hard time finding girlfriends. I love the diversity which I lack in other parts of my life.) I just wish we had more options for places to go, although we always seem to spend a lot of time comparing restaurants we've visited!

I've never considered us Ladies, but, I wonder, do we count?

Of course you count, as long as you aren't wiping your nose on your sleeve. :blink: That would truly be unladylike. (Of course, I say this only because we spend a lot of our time talking about decidedly unladylike subjects, such as cute (human, not pork) butts, and whether we care more about butts, legs, or something else!)

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#22 Kerry Beal

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 03:59 PM

Beth Wilson - another eG'er is down from up north - and today Beth, her sister and I went out to pick up some chocolate, visit the McCall's Baker's Warehouse (place to get certain chocolate making supplies and equipment) - and of course 'to do lunch'.

Anna and I had discovered a place called the Paramount several weeks back on the recommendation of one of the women who works at the Baker's Warehouse. It was previously a coffee and nut roasting company and supplier of spices that seems to have morphed into a restaurant and bakery for middle eastern products. Click here for website.

The first time Anna and I went - we ordered the manakeesh - essentially a middle eastern pizza - with a couple of different toppings that we enjoyed very much. We hadn't even noticed all the grilled meats over on the other side of the restaurant.

Today - I enjoyed the falafel plate - the perfect combination of crunch and center - Beth the falafel in a pita, and her sister the chicken shawarma. We also enjoyed a nice minty tabouleh and a wonderfully smooth hummus.

This place has a huge variety of baklava and other desserts and we left with a couple of boxes to enjoy with our tea when we arrived home.

On the way home we stopped at a little clearance center that is just down from the Baker's warehouse - chock a block full of things like cream siphons, electrical kitchen appliances, big screen TV's and other reconditioned items.

#23 Anna N

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 06:36 PM

. . . .

The first time Anna and I went - we ordered the manakeesh - essentially a middle eastern pizza - with a couple of different toppings that we enjoyed very much. We hadn't even noticed all the grilled meats over on the other side of the restaurant.

. . . .

I have to relate a funny story about the time Kerry and I went. I asked what kind of cheese was on the manakeesh and the server said, "Cowy". I asked him to repeat and again he said, "Cowy". So I did a quick mental assessment and decided we had a small language issue going on here and concluded that "cowy" meant not "sheepy" or "goaty". A little later Kerry and I visited a Middle Eastern grocery store and as I checked out the cheeses I realized my mistake! He was saying very clearly "Akawi"! Blush blush blush.
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#24 Kerry Beal

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 06:39 PM



. . . .

The first time Anna and I went - we ordered the manakeesh - essentially a middle eastern pizza - with a couple of different toppings that we enjoyed very much. We hadn't even noticed all the grilled meats over on the other side of the restaurant.

. . . .

I have to relate a funny story about the time Kerry and I went. I asked what kind of cheese was on the manakeesh and the server said, "Cowy". I asked him to repeat and again he said, "Cowy". So I did a quick mental assessment and decided we had a small language issue going on here and concluded that "cowy" meant not "sheepy" or "goaty". A little later Kerry and I visited a Middle Eastern grocery store and as I checked out the cheeses I realized my mistake! He was saying very clearly "Akawi"! Blush blush blush.

Lunching with Anna provides hours of entertainment and laughter!!!

#25 Toliver

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 11:01 AM

Once a month, my 80 year old mother lunches with her lady friends at a local restaurant chain called "Jimmy's" that serves a mean broasted chicken. My mom has dreams about that chicken. :laugh: After they lunch they move to the back room and play Skip Bo. Though not quite the adventures everyone else in this discussion seem to be having, their group is growing as there seem to be a lot of Skip Bo fans out there. Go figure.

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#26 Anna N

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 03:16 PM

So Wednesday rolled around again and Kerry and I planned a tour of the charity shops in the Burlington area in search of unique kitchen items, cookbooks and gadgets before checking out a new restaurant that Kerry had spotted in her travels. In one of the charity shops we tried on hats but while she looked suave and sophisticated in a hat I resembled the Mad Hatter on a bad day so we nixed the idea of showing up for lunch properly attired. However Kerry did snag a copy of The Good Cook: Eggs and Cheese which we managed to get off the bookshelf by reaching around a strange chap who was sitting on the floor examining old copies of Consumer Reports with a magnifying glass and pretty much blocking all access to the books.

I then got a tour of Kerry’s new chocolate room which is quite impressive.

The place Kerry had spotted was Pomelo, a recently opened Thai and Vietnamese restaurant on Fairview Street in Burlington, Ontario. We were immediately and pleasantly greeted and shown to our seats. As you can see from the photo the décor was sparse and ultramodern. We sat in a booth so I can’t comment on how comfortable or uncomfortable those chairs were!

At the moment Burlington is promoting its restaurants with A Taste of Burlington but the $20 per person menu for this promotion really didn’t appeal all that much so we ordered from the menu. We opted for Thai Lemongrass Soup (Tom Yum) for me and Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kah) for Kerry. To this we added two appetizers – the deep fried calamari and beef satay skewers. Kerry requested two small bowls so that we could share our soups and the server obliged quite willingly even bringing additional spoons. The coconut soup was lacking any hint of the curry paste expected but the lemon grass soup had a nice spicy kick to it. The calamari was about as good as it gets – crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the satays were tasty and satisfying. Kerry enjoyed a pot of ginger tea and I stuck with ice water. Overall a very satisfying lunch in a nice atmosphere. I was a bit put off by the server pacing back and forth on the far side of the restaurant keeping a watchful eye on the booths but other than that the service was fine.

After lunch and a brief stop off at the home of Kerry’s 90 something-year-old father (he was tending a pot of baked beans when we arrived!) we hit the Re-Use centre where Kerry spotted an almost-new Magic Bullet for $10. I snagged it as I can’t live without mine and it’s showing signs of imminent morbidity. I also snagged a pasta bowl and some books on low carb eating (I need to drop a few tons!). All in all a very satisfying day for these Ladies who Lunch.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog
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#27 Marlene

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 03:39 PM

Ahem. Now that my son can drive himself to music lessons, this lady could lunch with you now and then! Those chairs don't really look all that comfortable do they? But the food looks really good!
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#28 Kouign Aman

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 04:11 PM

Our department at work is making a favorite of Opera Cafe, down the road.
This is the second site of this patisserie, and they do a nice job.
The standard menu includes sandwiches, crepes, a very nice house side-salad, and specialty salads.
They also have weekly specials, and a pastry case of terribly beautiful sweets including boxes of macarons to go.
Usually, we sit outdoors at the lacy wrought-iron tables, under the umbrellas.
Yesterday it was very windy so we stayed inside - most of us in chairs, and two on a small couch upholstered in black and white chintz. It gets very loud inside. Other than the chairs, its all hard surfaces.
The special was lobster crepe with the side salad, and 4 of us had that. I had the pecan/pear/bluecheese/tomato & greens salad, my neighbor had a steak and brie hot sandwich.

For dessert we split a bi-layer chocolate mousse, a cherry chocolate bombe, two layered creations - one pistachio/passion fruit, one of berries, a tiramisu-ish thing, and a creme-brulee-ish thing. It was very tough to choose a winner.
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#29 Kerry Beal

Kerry Beal
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Posted 10 March 2010 - 07:39 PM

Ahem. Now that my son can drive himself to music lessons, this lady could lunch with you now and then! Those chairs don't really look all that comfortable do they? But the food looks really good!

It's so nice to be a free agent sometimes, eh? Next week my rug rat is off school and so will likely join us for lunch - may limit the sort of places we hit.

Anyway you are certainly welcome along now and then! Got a camera?

Edited by Kerry Beal, 10 March 2010 - 07:39 PM.


#30 plum tart

plum tart
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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:17 PM

I am a slightly different species of the Ladies Who Lunch. I am a Lady who Lunches". Sometimes I lunch with my friends and colleagues but not everyday. Everyday I lunch in a restaurant on my own.

I could pretend to blame the God-awful food in our cafeteria but even if it improved I doubt if I could change my habit for I love restaurants and I love eating in them, often, every day in fact. I enjoy eating alone as much as I enjoy eating with friends. I have been carrying on this way for at least 10 years and fully intend to carry on this way to the end, whatever that might be. I won't be able to afford this habit when I retire.

Near where I work in Toronto, there are several small inexpensive restaurants of many different ethnic descriptions - thai, vietnamese, malaysiam, italian, Indian,Japanese etc. I go to a different one each day of the week. The staff all know me; they greet me warmly. I sit at the same table if I can get it. They all know my favourites although they do understand that they have to wait for me to decide. Sometimes the newer staff have to be reminded such as the time the waitress in the Japanese restaurant raced to my table and loudly whispered "Sapporo" and I have to remind her that I will order my Sapporo when I order my food and that I want it WITH my meal.

The owner of the thai restaurant calls me "The Regular" which I have been for six years. Before that she insulted me one day by saying that I was too fat for the Asian style chairs and that I should be sitting in a banquette which would be more accommodating to my girth. I gave that restaurant a wide berth for many years but after a while I returned and all was forgotten. She greeted me warmly and calls me The Regular. They also give me a special little mango salad for free with my lunch - a reward for my regularity I like to think.

I have my rituals. I peruse the menu despite having already decided on the bus ride there what I will order, and then I order. I read my novel until the meal arrives and then I dine and observe the other customers. There are countless"ladies who lunch", in twos and fours and more.They aren't all that regular, they haven't seen each other in ages and they always order pad thai.]

There are the six young mothers who bring their babies, and carriages and high chairs into the Japanese restaurant every now and thenand take over the entire restaurant except for the odd table. They feed the babies first with whatever they have brought. The babies eat and gurgle and spit and cry and the mothers have the sort of conversations that young mothers everywhere have - sleeping patterns, toilet habits, precociousness in the areas of language, or teething or crawling.

Once the babies have eaten they are placed in their carriages and the young mothers have sushi. By this time of course the restaurant is in shambles - food and baby toys on the floor, the table in ruins and the staff faces cracked from smiling while the other customers depart. I do hope the ladies tip well. I have never stayed long enough to find out.

Sometimes my bosses arrive with VP's from other organizations. I pretend not to see them and they pretend not to see me as well. Once I was sitting in a rather private seat in a restaurant. I was behind a small wall and no one could see me. I recognized the voices of several bosses who were doing the ladies who lunch thing. They were seated far away, near the window but there was a lot of shop talk which I heard. I felt trapped. I finished my lunch much before they finished theirs but I didn't want to reveal myself and cause embarrassment. So I explained to the waitress why I was staying and I waited until they had finished their lunches and left.The waitress enjoyed our conspiracy and told me when I was free to leave.

My lunch hours are always a good distraction from the trials of the office and I return to work restored and amused.