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Ahrrr! This and That

For some reason, people kept feeling urges to take me out to expensive restaurants this weekend.

Thursday was my mother’s birthday, so on Friday we went to the Duling Kurtz House and sat in the private room and were served by our favorite waiter (he tells bad jokes and waxes poetic about the beauty of Ireland so far north that it pretends it’s really part of Scotland). Now as my parents have gotten older, eating with them has become stranger. My mother has half the appetite she used to, and my father could be a supermodel for all he can eat – So I’ll order an appetizer and a salad and completely stuff myself by the end of the meal because I eat their leftovers… actually, I managed to completely stuff myself and still take a bag home.

So the food – I had grilled scallops with horseradish cream and black caviar to start… and it was amazingly well put together. All the flavors and textures worked together to make it a soothing and tasty dish. And then I had a Caesar salad (with extra anchovies on the side) – which they make tableside the proper way. My father had french onion soup and a flambe steak au poivre – much fun. And my mother had the crab cakes, which she swore were nothing but crab.

Sunday, my parents were in town for a conference, so I met them at their hotel for a meal at Shula’s, the hotel restaurant. At this meal, again, I just ordered a meal of two side dishes and I walked away stuffed and with leftovers. The asparagus side order was a little disappointing – the asparagus was a touch overcooked and the sauces (I tried both hollandaise and bearnaise) were thin. The creamed spinach, however, was most excellent. And I still got a plate with mushrooms and bell pepper as I would have if I had ordered meat, and both of those were exceedingly tasty. Both my parents ordered the filet mignon, and it was like butter – only even tastier.

Then last night, a friend from Minnesota and I met up for dinner around 16th & Chestnut and wandered around looking for somewhere to eat. She mentioned that she had passed a cute looking french restaurant on her way to meet me, so I (correctly) guessed she meant Brasserie Perrier, which would mean no chance of getting a seating. So we tried Alma de Cuba right next door, instead. It was pricey, but not unreasonably so and worth every penny! This restaurant has finally convinced me that Stephen Starr is not a complete hack and can actually own a restaurant worthy of its reputation. We started off with tempura avocado halves over watercress. My dinner was crisp roasted pork with traditional sour orange mojo served with congri and sweet plantains. The crispy skin on the pork was so good. And my charming dining companion had Annato-Honey Grilled Swordfish, which was served with sweet pea mash, mushroom escabeche, devonshire chive cream and truffled pea greens. I completely forgot to steal taste some of her food because I was so impressed with my own, but it looked really good. She loved it. We giggled over the dessert selections, and after deciding to skip any dessert including espuma, we went for the ginger peach sorbet – which was about all we could handle and settled the meal quite well.

Oh, and there was alcohol. Between the alcohol and the wonderful conversation, I woke up this morning with my back feeling much more nearly normal.

Oh, right – my back. So it had been feeling slightly achy and complainy the past couple of weeks, so I had been being especially attentive to exercising and stretching it… only not good enough. That was part of why I had been so eager to get to the gym last week… and couldn’t.

So Saturday morning, I am just bending a little to tuck my heel into my sandals and I feel something twinge. In a bad way.

Luckily, while bad, it hasn’t been impossibly bad. I still got to the shoe store to buy shoes that will get me into the gym AND will not tear holes in my feet. And then I went to Freaks and Geeks, which I probably would have begged off if I hadn’t been driving [redacted]. It was great to see [bunch o’ people, redacted] – it had been way too long since I had last seen them.

We started off playing Linkety, which was a fun card game that took no time at all before we were having lots of silly fun, but man don’t ever start a run on animals or rivers. We went on to Zigity, which was not as much fun. the cards, while pretty, were a little hard to work with – the see-though cards were really cute, but (for example) you had to pull them off the stack to complete the puzzle or you’d get confused by the cards underneath.

Our first board game was Bean Trader, and I found it a lot of fun – but then, again, I kicked butt at it. The hard part was figuring out when the end of the game would come for an appropriate end game strategy. And then [redacted] was looking for a new game to buy, so we tried out Pirate’s Cove. The set up time was about on par with monopoly – with a bunch of fiddly bits and stuff. But once everything was laid out and the bleeping spinners assembled, the game was a lot of fun. The rules required a bit of experience with role playing games to figure out that each die rolled was its own cannon instead of adding the amounts on the dice, and it kept feeling as though there were situations not covered in the rules, but I think we ended up finding most of them and it was our fault for starting play after having read only half the rules rather than the game designers’ faults.