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Everything posted by MGC

  1. Hmmm, kitchen table... Usually my laptop computer, unless it is on the chair, whatever magazine my husband is reading at breakfast, a stack of placemats (some in front of the chairs we eat in, the rest in the middle of the table taking the place of a hot pad). Currently there are also a couple of statements from the insurance company and a bill that haven't been filed yet. We eat our meals on that table. The laptop will be moved to a chair, and depending on the number of magazines/bills, they may get moved to a chair also, but they'll end up back on the table by the next night. I hate having clutter on my table when I eat. The dining room table... Always has a butt-ugly plastic table cloth on it. And whatever board game my husband is currently testing or playing. It has to be a pretty special occassion for me to actually see the beautiful wood top on that table. The only table that is usually completely clear of clutter is the one on the screen porch. During the Spring, it is covered with pollen (which I don't even bother trying to clear off until pollen season is over, and then I start by vaccuuming it off folllowed by several wash/rinse cycles with soapy water and Windex). The rest of the time, it has a stack of outdoor placemats that get used when we can eat out there.
  2. How timely is this topic! We recently took relatives to dinner while we were on vacation - a restaurant in their town, 12 hours drive-time from where we live. I don't think the relatives go there often either - although I don't consider the place expensive (or really all that great) they consider it a treat. I'm talking $15 entrees on average. None of the 6 people in our party noticed the '18% service charge added for groups of 6 or more' statement on the menu. I discovered it when looking at the restaurant's website the next day. The bill was hand-written and messy, and my husband didn't recognize any additional charges on it, but also couldn't easily check each line item since some of our party had the daily special which was not priced on the menu. The waitress never mentioned the automatic charge. My husband took the check to the cashier to pay with a credit card, where he proceded to add his normal 20% tip to the total (the service was decent, and he generally gives that for a tip when he's at home). The cashier also didn't mention any automatically-added charges when she rang him out. Now, here's the question: The menu explicitly listed the 18% addition as a 'service charge'. If that's not the same as a gratuity, who gets that money? I am going to write to the restaurant voicing displeasure with the situation, but I don't really expect anything of it.
  3. In Virginia, we have Shad Planking.
  4. I'm still trying to understand the concept of excess jelly...
  5. What this thread seems to be pointing out is that bad service is everywhere, and a lot of us are really turned off by the cutesy overly-familiar stuff that is becoming more prevalent all the time. What we really want is professional service. My personal pet peeve is for a server to start pushing dessert before I'm done eating my entree. It's pretty much a guarantee I won't have any. (If the dessert is something that is made to order and takes a certain amount of prep time, I may forgive it.) This replaces my previous pet peeve of the giant pepper milll -- that's a trend that seems to either be going away or doesn't exist in the places I frequent any more. (Yes, I like fresh ground pepper and I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself. Just leave the pepper mill at my table.)
  6. MGC

    Office Aromas

    My office is close to the kitchen, too. I dislike it when someone makes microwave popcorn, but really hate it when some idiot puts a bag in, and burns the hell out of it. That smell just will not go away fast enough, worse is when they do it in the winter and open the door to air the kitchen out. Like my office isn't already cold enough. But then there was the consultant whose Indian wife used to make the most delicious-smelling lunches... I know what you mean about no one cleaning up thier own spills. After the way some people leave the kitchen, I'm really leary about eating the stuff they bring or the occasional pot-luck lunches. Who knows what the kitchen at home looks like?
  7. Reading a thread on another forum about why Reidel glasses make such a difference in tasting wine got me to thinking... Does the shape of my coffee cup affect how I taste the coffee? Is there an optimal shape, or different shapes based on the bean?
  8. I could have written that paragraph. DH and I tend to tip 20%, especially at places which we frequent. I do believe it pays off, especially when the wait staff is the same each night. The server has to really screw up to get much less than 15%. I also think that tipping gets a little out of hand, though -- I am especially irritated by tip cups on fast food counters. I place an order, they hand me the goods, I walk away -- shouldn't there be a tip cup at the auto parts store also?
  9. Any mail-order suggestions for good New Mexican chile? The last I bought came from the little store next to Sanctuario de Chimayo, packed in ziplock bags with a sticker on them indicating the heat level. I loved that stuff, had both a bag of ground and crushed. Now I need more of both and some dried posole to go with them.
  10. Many years ago there was an article in Gourmet about a man who kept pieces of fruitcake from one year to the next, and each year he'd take out his collection and savor a small slice of each one. The fruitcakes had been baked in different years, and he would reminisce about the particular year that one had been created, and the events that had happened, then would carefully fold each one back into its wrapper and store them for the next year. It was beautifully written, and I found the article fascinating, but I have always wondered... is this for real? Can you keep and age fruitcake the way you would a wine? (And please assume for this question, that you actually like fruitcake and would consider doing such a thing...) I know that, traditionally, a groom's fruitcake is eaten on the first wedding anniversary, but I'm thinking in terms of years. If a fruitcake is kept chilled and moist enough to not dry out, would it be safe to eat after several years?
  11. That pile of goo from Copeland's is precisely what I do NOT want for dessert. Most of the time, I'd be perfectly happy with a 1" square of very good chocolate. Or a small selection of small pastries. Something that I can linger over, carry on the conversation, nibble on between sips of coffee. One of the best desserts I ever had was a sampling of different flavors of pots de creme. Only a couple of bites of each, the perfect amount. Of course, cheesecakes, frozen key lime pies, etc., are easy to offer because they are so easy to get ready-made. And, because so many people are awed by quantity, they work well.
  12. When I was a kid, there were two times we ever had Tapioca Pudding (mmmm, pudding....). When we were sick. Because 'it was good for you'. Whenever my sister, brother and I had friends over, either for a campout or because school was closed because of snow. The object of making tapioca pudding then was to see who could make the prettiest / ugliest colored pudding with normal Red/Green/Blue/Yellow food coloring. I don't remember if anyone actually ate it after they were done playing with it. (I probably did - it takes a lot of food color to make pudding taste off-flavored, and I'm not about to waste pudding!) I no longer color my tapioca pudding now, nor do I wait until I'm sick to make it.
  13. We ran into a situation the other night at a restaurant we frequent regularly. The waitress (who is usually our server, it's not a big place), told us that it was her last night - she's moving to another city. Our service was very good (as it usually is with her), and our normal tip is 20%. When she brought the bill, she told us not to bother with a big tip because the owner always kept the tips anyway. Ok, so we left a substantially lower tip than normal on our credit card, and then tried to give her a cash tip separately. She turned that down. Here's our problem. Because she's quitting for geographical reasons (or so she said), and also because she turned down the discretely-offered cash tip, I don't think the whole line about the owner keeping the tip was necessarily "sour grapes" brought on by something between the waitress and the owner. We generally tip servers who do a good job well, and it really sits unwell to think that the servers aren't getting the money. Now we're debating whether to go back to this restaurant. I don't know of any way, other than asking another server at the restaurant next time we're there, to find out if this is true, but I also don't like the idea of patronizing a place that may be ripping off its servers. So, should we return? What would you do? If it makes any difference, it's in Virginia.
  14. I wasn't sure if they'd freeze ok or not, reason being that the Lebanese woman who ran my favorite restaurant until recently (rest her soul), told me that she wouldn't recommend it because they'd lose too much in texture. Maybe she just wanted to make sure I'd come back...which isn't a possibility any more . Thanks for the info. I'll try it -- and probably throw a Grapeleaf party too!
  15. I'd like to make a batch of stufffed grape leaves, but I know that the jar of leaves I have is going to make way more than the two of us will be able to eat (even over the course of a few days). Can they be frozen without losing too much quality?
  16. One of my absolute pet peeves with menus is when they are printed with a low-contrast ink, such as dark grey lettering on light grey paper. It's worse when printed in a small font. I try to remember to take my reading glasses with me when going to a new restaurant, because without them, a menu printed in low contrast with small font in a dim room is next to impossible to read.
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