Forgive me while I’m busy laughing at myself and this photo assignment from WordPress:
This week, focus on dinnertime: share a meal with us, or shoot during your dinner hour. Blogger’s choice!
So the reason I find this completely hilarious is trifold… First, one of my most favorite hobbies is photography. I’m admittedly an amateur, but I’ve been at it for a good thirty years or so because my folks felt it was okay to put their Canon A-1 in our hands when we were wee tykes. I learned to focus manually, because “autofocus” wasn’t invented yet, when I was nine or ten.
Second, I graduated from culinary school. I adore food. I’m one of the pickiest eaters you’ve ever met, though. If I don’t like it, I won’t eat it. I’m a grown-up. I’m allowed to have dessert first, if I choose, and to avoid any food I don’t like. The best I can figure, I have a highly sensitive palette and about 95% of the time I either love or hate a flavor. There really is no middle ground for me. But if I hate it, I loathe it. I find the food completely repulsive. Don’t try to slip any onions in my food. I can smell them long before I get the fork in my mouth and I will pick them out and eat around them.
Third and lastly, I hardly ever photograph food. I’m a hobbyist photographer who knows my way around a kitchen and appreciates a fine meal, but I never photograph my meals. The thought of photographing my food doesn’t even enter my mind, to be honest. I’m too excited to eat the beautiful, tasty meal than to stare at it! But… this week had a mild exception to that rule and the novelty of the first picture was the impetus for the breach in my routine.
You see, I turned forty. (No, this is not a maudlin post wherein I whine about how old I’m getting–because I believe none of that rubbish. I know my birth certificate says I was born in 1976, but I’m pretty certain I’ve been lied to. I feel and look like I’m closer to 32, or so I’m told.)
My fortieth birthday was Thursday. As previously discussed, I have birthday rules. The first rule of birthdays is, Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday. That would’ve been enforced Thursday (and possibly Friday), but my boss flew in from Dallas and scheduled meetings. Let me tell you, I had ZERO motivation to work. ZE-RO. But W told me to pick the restaurant for dinner because it was my birthday (he also sang me a very comical version of the birthday song) and I chose Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I’d never eaten there, I’ve eaten at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak five or six times now and I wanted to try something new. Everything else is too far from the office, so Ruth’s Chris it was.
Midday, the restaurant called to confirm our reservation, which I did. The young lady asked if it was a “special occasion” for anyone in the party. I am not a convincing liar so I just opted for the humor of the moment, “You’re going to make me rat myself out, huh?” and confirmed it was my birthday.
Here’s the thing with fine dining… Ruth’s is by no means the upper crust, but it’s a far cry from In-N-Out. Fine dining, by its own admission, strives to excel at every aspect of the meal. It’s an event. The devil’s in the details. It’s “fine”…
When we arrived, there was a menu prepared especially for me. Our server asked whose birthday we were celebrating and confirmed my name. She referred to me by name for the remainder of the evening. I’ve never seen that done in a restaurant and it’s an excellent touch. It’s an attention to detail. And it enhances the engagement of the patron, and in this case, me.
When it came time to order dessert, I chose the banana cream pie with caramelized bananas. I was thinking it would be a slice of pie, not a pie large enough to feed four people. I literally ate a quarter of it and brought the rest home. It was marvelously delicious, but after a 10-oz. bone-in filet to die for with sides of lobster mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, steamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato casserole, I was pretty darn full. It was all incredible and you are looking at the total number of photos from the occasion. I wouldn’t have taken any photos, but I had to text a picture of the menu to my family. And when they wrote my name on the plate–most restaurants just stick with the tried and true, “Happy Birthday” and move on–it had to be memorialized as well.
All in all, if I couldn’t celebrate my birthday with family or the friends of my choosing, this wasn’t too shabby. (Don’t worry, the parental units are flying in from out of state next weekend and we’re celebrating Rosie’s first birthday and my fortieth, so it’s all good. Birthday breakfast for the baby and then fancy family dinner for me.)