Monday, September 21, 2009

Food for thought - Chart House Phila.

Last night, GeekBoy and I accompanied 6 friends for dinner at the Chart House, by Penn's Landing, in town.

I will NOT be recommending that anyone ever eat at this restaurant again. If I did at any point after 1997 (the last time I ate there), I apologize profusely - let me offer you a gift certificate to any restaurant of your choice to make up for it.

It was, by far, the worst dining experience I've had in, probably, the last 10 years.

To start off with, it took 30 minutes after we were seated for our server to come to our table, and then, he only filled the water glasses. (let me preface all of this by saying that at no point while we were there was the restaurant even close to half full)

About 15 minutes later, he came back to find out if anyone needed drinks or wanted to order a starter. We advised him that we were ordering from the prix-fixe menu, which consisted of a set salad and dessert, with 3 choices for entrees (lobster francaise, halibut with a lobster cream sauce and a rib-eye). Several people order the lobster and our server says he'll have to find out if the kitchen has enough to fulfill the orders, as they were running low earlier. I, and 2 other folks opted to try the lobster bisque - in addition to the fixed meal, and everyone ordered their entrees. 15 minutes later, we got bread and told that the kitchen can, indeed, fulfill the lobster orders. At this point, we've been at the table for an hour.

While ordering, my friend V. advised the server that in addition to being lactose intolerant, she also cannot eat shellfish. When she ordered her halibut, she asked for it plain, no sauce, due to her dietary limitations - the lobster cream sauce would send her system into an uproar.

10 minutes later, our server comes out to inform us that the kitchen dropped one of the lobster dishes and now someone will have to order something else from the 2 other entrees, because they do not have any extra. My thinking is that that person should have had the option to substitute an entree off of the regular menu, due to the restaurant's mistake, but that was not offered. So J. ordered the halibut.

Meanwhile we get our soups, and then our salads arrive. The bisque was good, the salad - meh. Chopped salad is fine with me, but when it is nothing but iceberg lettuce and garlic, drenched in olive oil - well, it loses a little something. But, whatever, I deal with it.

A half-hour later, our entrees come out. Our giant salad plates are still sitting in front of us. Really? You're not even going to clear the salad plates before bringing out the entrees? I can snark, because I was a waitress; but also, I am extremely easy to please in restaurants. It does not take much to make me happy. Bring me bread and drinks within 10 minutes of my sitting down and you can disappear for another 30 minutes before I will start to get annoyed. Keep the table clean and make sure my food is hot and timely - I am the happiest person you've ever seen and will tip upwards of 20-25%.

V.'s halibut comes out drenched in the lobster cream sauce. She reminds the server that she ordered it plain and that she cannot eat what he's brought her. Terry (our server) apologizes and takes it away. Meanwhile the rest of us have our food and are sitting there, waiting for hers to come before we dig in. She tells us to just go ahead and eat, don't worry about it. OK.

I tuck into my halibut and first bite, pull 4 bones out of my mouth. OK, I'm done. I'll be goddamned if I'm going to choke to death in THIS place. Put my fork down and wait for the server to come back to ask for a box (GeekBoy is good with leftovers). At this point GeekBoy points out to me that the lobster cream sauce very closely resembles the lobster bisque. Huh - well, what do you know - it IS the lobster bisque. Way to cut corners, Chart House.

20 minutes later, Terry brings her the replacement fish. This time, it's drenched in a butter cream sauce, because he could not believe that she really meant that she wanted it plain, with no sauce. Are. You. Kidding. Me. He sends the manager over. This little man tells V. that there is nothing that the kitchen can make that will be out in short order and the only thing he can offer her is their 'help yourself' salad bar. WE JUST HAD SALAD YOU TWIT.

V. and I head up to the salad bar to see if there is anything she wants. Not really. At this point it all looks like shit.

While we are standing up there, the manager stops by to apologize again. We explain that V. was very clear when ordering that she could not have shellfish or dairy and twice was brought food that she could not eat. He then proceeds to offer her a SHRIMP dish or CRABCAKES. Now they've GOT to be playing with us. This can't really be happening. Is everyone in this restaurant learning impaired?

Meanwhile, GeekBoy visits the men's room and finds that there are no towels - he alerts the host to this and brings his wet hands back to the table to dry off on his napkin.

On his way back to the table, I let him know that our desserts will be boxed and we are out of there. I manage to grab Terry walking past and let him know that I need a box for my fish and I want our desserts to go as well. V. asks for her dessert to be boxed too.

20 minutes later, I get our boxed food. 30 seconds after we get the boxes we are out the door and retrieving our car from the valet.

The worst 2.5 hours of my life, foodwise, that I can remember. I mean, I didn't have this bad of a time when we were in France trying to cobble together enough words from my phrasebook to make sure I wasn't ordering organ meats.

Our reservation was for 6 PM. At 9:48 PM, I got a text from V. saying that she was home and eating cereal (with soy milk) for dinner.

At no point during our time at the table did anyone from the restaurant try to make things right, in a way that I found anywhere near acceptable. When we were leaving, the host could see that there was something wrong, and asked us - we told him that we had already spoken to the manager. At that point, what would they be able to do? There is no chance in hell that I will go back there, so gift certificates and/or gratis meals mean zero to me.

Thanks for nothing, Chart House.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buy me something! (not you guys - GeekBoy)

My birthday is coming up next month and GeekBoy has been asking for some ideas of what to get for me. So I am gleaping an idea from The Missus over at On Common Ground, and I am posting some things that I'd like to have (for him) here - it's a good way to get him to read my musings, so he knows what we're up to.

Without further ado, a selection:
A new watch

Sandals (I realize it's a little late in the season, but we're going to Mexico over Thanksgiving and my Bonnanos make my feet hurt)

Funky jewelry. We found this artist at the Somerville Open Studios in May. Loved her glasswork. I picked up a couple of her pieces, but I fell in love with the spun sugar necklace. I would love it in color or black and white.

A new iPod. The one I have now is a first generation mini. I think I'm ready to upgrade.

This print. Again, I found the artist at the Somerville Open Studios in May. I'd really like this for my office.

Bracelet. It's casual, but stylish. I could wear it with a lot of things.
There you go sweetie! I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just a little of the old jibber-jabber

Got some random items today, in no particular order....

A gratuitious kitteh picture! (they are Q and M's babies, not mine)
Next up is an interesting fungus that we found sprouting out of a ground-flush stump in the back yard:
It seemed quite photogenic and not entirely unlike a piece of coral. I'm not sure what we're going to do with it, I don't particularly like fungus, but it seems harmless enough. So, for the time being, I think we'll just let it be, unless someone knows of a pressing reason why we should remove it.
Which brings us to my next dilemma. Somehow, I misplaced the lid to one of the birdfeeders, when I removed it to clean out the giant chunk of slowly decaying seed in the bottom. When I refilled it, I figured that I would just leave it off until I located the lid, but remembering that it's supposed to start raining tomorrow afternoon, I realized that wasn't an option. So I came up with a work-around: Classy. Nothing says 'White Trash' better than a Hefty bag lid.

GeekBoy rooted around the greenery at the base of the feeders for a little bit, but came up empty-handed. I know it's around here somewhere. This is why I'm glad my gas cap is attached to my car with a tether. I spent a fortune replacing them on cars that they weren't.

Last, but certainly not least. We have our wedding date set. 10/10/10. Going binary seemed appropriate and it's right up GeekBoy's alley. We'll be doing the dirty deed in Vegas; and yes, Elvis will be there. I think I've got GeekBoy convinced to grow some mutton-chop sideburns and I'm considering a bouffant hair-do and elbow length gloves, or possibly a poodle skirt and saddle shoes.

Viva Las Vegas!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They're not just for yoga anymore

I tend to be a fairly concrete thinker. Not terribly abstract, it's hard for me to get my head around things in the imaginary realm. Stuff like.....Klein bottles are difficult for me to just roll with. (theoretical physics? WTF) GeekBoy was a physics major in college - he's tried to explain a bunch of these things to me and even with his dumbing it WAY down and his infinite patience, I still can't get right with it in my head.

This trait flows into much of my personal life. It's difficult for me to see new and varied uses for my things. Especially clothing. I have clothes for work and clothes for not-work and clothes for going out and clothes for working out. They rarely, if ever, make appearances in each other's worlds, except for my jeans - I wear them to work every day and also for not-work and for going out. They transcend the boundaries I've established. Magic.

When traveling by air, I try to dress as comfortably as possible, while maintaining some semblance of a halfway decent appearance. I'm always checking out other women's shoes and commenting to GeekBoy - 'Do you think she can run from the burning fuselage in THOSE? I hope to hell she's not in front of me. I'll go all George Costanza on her ass, and then stab her with that high heel sandal.' I marvel at the get-ups that some of our society will take to the skies in - it's not your living room couch or a nightclub, people, please don't treat it as such.

You see, when I first started flying; at all of 8 weeks old, air travel wasn't what it is today. It was a treat, not a taxi ride. When we flew, my mom would dress me up and once we got to the airport I had to behave just like I was a guest in someone's house. While I am thrilled that flying has become so accessible to so many folks, myself included, I do wish that it was still regarded as something special, and that we'd act in accordance.

How did I get sidelined into the whole 'stop dressing like skanks/lazy slobs at the airport' tirade?


Normally, I wear jeans and a nice shirt, usually black (with a wrap of some sort), and sturdy shoes to fly. Easy peasy. This last trip, though, I got an idea. I love my yoga pants, and have a pair that are a touch too large for me to wear to practice (but not so big as to be ridiculous) that I've relegated to the not-work section of my wardrobe; I bum around the house in them. They are so comfortable and most importantly, black. Easy to wash and not too slovenly looking score points for them too. Could I?

Yes. I could. And I did. And I loved it. Who knew? And why didn't they ever tell me? Can I get on that mailing list?

This could be the start of me thinking outside the box.

Bring on the Mobius Strips and that Schrodinger's Cat thing. I can handle it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NC and the Terrace Project

We're back from our Labor Day weekend away. We visited Q. and M. down in NC, as well as Q's SigO (L. ), and new roomie J.

Q. and I met in '97-'98 when I up and moved across the country to SF. We worked together at the Evil Empire (it's so funny that many people refer to their workplaces, usually former workplaces, by this name) in the Financial District. She left their employ before I did, but we've stayed in touch ever since. Q. was definitely the best part about that place, at least as far as I am concerned. I moved back east at the end of '99, but have visited the left coast as much as possible since returning to PA. (I'm still determined to move back out there someday) Anyway, she and M. up and moved across the country to the east coast just about a year ago. So now we get to be in the same time zone and only a one hour flight away from each other!

A good time was had by all this weekend. There was much chatting, drinking, eating and some African drumming and dance thrown in. Next we work on getting them up to our neck of the woods for a visit.

Now, back to the hostas!

I know I've been a little light on the plants lately. Thing is, around this time of the season, when it starts to get a little cooler out and the greenies start to get kind of sad looking; I get the shits of working outside. It's just a matter of weeks until the leaves start to fall and then the really hard work starts. Picking them all up and moving them out to the street for removal, lather, rinse, repeat. For 2 months straight. Autumn is my absolute most favorite time of year, and I love being outside when it's passing through, so I guess the leaves give me an excuse to spend lots of time enjoying the season. Can you tell I'm trying hard to make a negative into a positive? Go me.
In 2007, GeekBoy and I puchased a house on what could be called a 'difficult' piece of property. It's wooded and slope-y and clay soil and wasn't very well maintained (the landscape, not the house part) by the previous owners. We've managed to clean up a fair amount of it and we are always making improvements where we can.

One such challenging section was the slope leading down to the side yard. It's covered in ivy and pachysandra and part of it looked like someone had, at some point, tossed a bunch of railroad timbers down it and just left them there to rot. The plants had grown over most of them, but the ends were sticking out in a few places. We were worried about a possible erosion problem and it just wasn't very nice to look at - not that we see it - but a lot of people walk around our neighborhood and it was kind of an eyesore for them. In addition to that fun, the lawn in the side yard (ha! I use the word 'lawn' when I really mean 'weed patch') was looking a little beat, and there was a clear line of demarcation where our yard ended and the neighbor's lush, green grass began. The previous owners had had some trees removed and the stumps ground out, so we had a pile of sawdust and some big divot-holes and uneven patches, it was always hard for GeekBoy to mow the weeds.

We decided to get some terraces built into the slope to control any erosion and to clean the view up a bit and also to have the ground in front of them graded and grass seed put down, so it looked a little less like suppose nobody cared about it.

An aside; the words in italics are a saying of my mother's, from when I was a little kid. 'If I let you go out in THAT people are going to think that 'suppose nobody cared' about you.' I have no children and no plans for them, and still, I find myself repeating the things my mom said to me when I was young.

Here's the offending spot as viewed from our driveway:From the street:It looks shitty. I know it. You can say it. I won't be hurt.

I made GeekBoy take pictures of the workers in action: It's a good thing that we were getting the yard graded and seeded as well - they made an absolute mess of it with the rocks and equipment. Here's how it looked when they finished:Better. Now the terraces just need some plants to fill them.

Oh hey! There's my little red wagon! It was a Christmas gift from GeekBoy last year. I truck all over our property with it filled with plants and soil amendments and tools. It's so much nicer than hand carrying everything and making 5 trips. Remember all those plants on my deck table? That's all of them down there. Waiting for holes to be dug. Plus more that I bought later. I was a little worried that I didn't have enough to properly fill the terrace beds. You can see GeekBoy putting in some rock steps to make it easier to access the terraces. That was something that we didn't think about, and didn't ask for when we booked the job. Here we are in the midst of my planting. It took me all day to plant the 3 terraces. I started at the top and made my way down. It was a long day. Then we mulched everything and watered it and the grass seed. And continued watering the grass seed, hoping that some of it would catch on and grow. And here it is a month and a half later:

Way better. Can't wait to see how everything comes in next year.

I hope the neighbors like it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

GeekBoy and I will (with luck) be boarding a plane this evening around 8:30 PM bound to North Carolina to visit friends we haven't seen in a couple of years.

Hopefully I've got everything I need for the flight and the weekend away.

See you when we get back! Have a great holiday weekend.

I'm having a coronary just looking at it

Has it really come to this?

I mean, I thought that I had the market cornered on shit-eating habits with my rummaging around for leftover chocolate chips from my Christmas baking and then getting the brilliant idea that 'Hey, I bet this'd even be better if I stirred them into the jar of peanut butter'. (this only happens sometimes) Apparently, this behavior has been inherited from my mom. (Hi Mom!)

The woman can go through a 2 pound box of See's Nuts and Chews in a weekend. I have not yet worked my way up to that level of sport eating. It's amazing though, that we aren't both morbidly obese. Although I think the smoking is what keeps her at least 20 pounds lighter than me. She's got herself on a steady diet of coffee, cheese, cigarettes and candy. Almost like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. But Patsy hasn't eaten solid food since 1973 (except for that crisp).

I digress.

This guy takes the cake. Deep fried butter.

I don't even want to think about the nutritional content of those little fried butter pillows.

That is all.

*My mother (who does not yet know how to leave comments) let me know that I left out 'doughnuts' from her food staples. Sorry Mom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's a girl to do?

First off, Hi. How are you? Been a while. Sorry about that. I don't have a good excuse for not posting, I wasn't off gallavanting around the world doing anything exciting or something like that, I am very sorry to report.

But I'm back now, and I will do my best to post more regularly. Lord knows, I've got plenty of stuff to blabber on about.

Like this.

I have a pair of Bonanno sandals that I'm having a bit of trouble with. They are the Emma Classic Monograms and I bought them last year. I love them - that's not the issue.

Look how cute they are!

Yes, I am well aware that I have pontoon boat feet. Thanks for noticing. On occasion, I see trannies shopping in my size aisle of shoe stores.

The issue is that when I wear them, they hurt my feet. Well, my foot. The left one. My big toe rubs and gets a blister on its' pad. Owie. And the heel part of the sole (on both) is a little irritating. Now, I've only worn them a handful of times, as I am a bit of a shoe whore and I have a tendency to not rotate my inventory as well as I should, because I can't see all of it. (hint to GeekBoy - let's fix up the closets like we've been wanting to for the last 2.5 years - shall we?) This rubbing thing has happened each time though. They fit well, and my foot doesn't slide around them very much, so I'm starting to wonder if it's just that we have a compatibility problem and there is no fixing it.

Has anyone else out there had this problem with theirs? Did it fix itself? Or did you have to do something? I really like these shoes and I don't want to have to stop wearing them if I can help it.

Next issue (told you I have tons of stuff to go on about).

I came home yesterday to the latest Burberry mailer, notifying me that the Autumn/Winter collection is now ready for my perusal. Yay! Burberry is one of my absolute favorite designers (mainly for outerwear/accessories/bags), and plaid is my favorite color. :)

Lately, I've been thinking of getting a nice tote to carry when I've got my laptop and other large items to transport - it would be more fashionable, and decidedly more practical than the nearly useless computer bag that work supplied me with. I'm figuring that I could interchange it with my daily handbag, which, although quite large, wouldn't fit my computer and the Kindle that I hope to get at some point and a jacket and various and sundry other things that I must have with me at times.


This was on the cover of the card:
(yes, that's Emma Watson from the Harry Potter movies)

But look at the bag she's carrying. It's fabulous. It's exactly what I was looking for. How did they know? The folks at Burberry must be on the same wavelength as me. All I could think was that I must have THIS BAG, and I must have it soon.

I'll give you a second to click the link and have a look.

Did you? Have you put your eyeballs back in your head?

Yeah, I'm thinking that I will just have to find a suitable alternative. Now I am not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I own several (a few more than several?) higher end designer handbags. They are one of my habits. But I cannot cotton to spending $7500.00 (yes, the decimal point is in the correct place) on a tote. It's really too bad, because it was love at first sight for me. What a bummer.

So I took a look around the site and found a few others that will do.


I think I'm going to look around a little more and maybe visit the KOP mall and see some bags in person to get a better feel about what will work best for me.

Thanks for listening.