Making Dining Out Fun

“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simple or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
― Julia Child
I love a good wine and have found many that I really like at reasonable prices (if you want to know which, just ask), usually at resturants.
And, more than once, having bought a couple of bottles of something I’ve really liked, found when looking to buy a couple more after running out, that that specific wine by the winery isn’t bottled anymore.
Like those wines, I have found several out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall eateries (as opposed to your unexciting cookie-cutter, chain-based, formulized bland food resturants), where I’ve been lucky to find some outstanding cuisine.
When my eldest son lived in Monterey County for several years, I’d go visit him one weekend every month or so and we’d go all over the peninsula looking for hidden gems, and we found several where we would sit for hours savoring our dinner, analyzing the ingredients and methods of cooking, discussing our experience and comparing it to other great dishes we’d found elsewhere. Always with several glasses of wine, which we’d do the same with.
Inevitably, the waitstaff would overhear our conversation, inform the manager or owner that it sounded like there might be a couple of unannounced food critics in the house, and we’d be visited by him at our table, solicitous of our experience.
We never saw any reason for dissuading him of his perception of who or what we were. In fact, it heightened our “game”.
We’d be honest in our praises or dislikes and, more times than not, we were comped a free bottle or two of fine wine and desserts.
Then he moved back here to his home town.
About six months later he had to go back there on business and I went with him as we planned on going to our favorate haunt in Pacific Grove, where we’d become friends of the manager (who would oversee our meal’s preparation and afterwards pull up a chair to our table and share a free glass, or bottle or two, of wine with us as we discussed our meal with him.)
Only thing was, the place (The Cellar Door) had closed, gone out of business.
And then, a few months later, another trip (to another favorite, The Penny Farthing Tavern, in Salinas – an honest-to-God English pub, owned by an Englisman who served a wicked lamb Shepherd’s Pie) and another closure.
Moral of the story: Whether it be a nice bottle of fine wine, a sumptuous and delicious meal (or anything else of exquisite beauty), savor the moment, revel in the experience while you can, because you never know if it might not happen again.
– Bill


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