Friday, September 18, 2009

Deeper-in-debt Dining

A blog that I link to,, recently gushed over a meal at restaurant outside of Barcelona, Spain called El Bulli. El Bulli has been designated the #1 restaurant in the world for the past three years. Reservations are nearly impossible at this 50-seat gem. The Amateur Gourmet tried for years and finally scored this summer.

Once there, he and his partner ate and drank their way through the menu and wine list, forking over $1,000 for the evening.

PJ and I will not be dining there soon.

Before the advent of the green economy (having less of the green) we used to eat out once a month. The tabs kept inflating, even if our waistlines didn’t.

In a recent blog I wrote about eating in on our anniversaries lately. Still, I read Irene Virbila every week in the LA Times. Irene is their restaurant reviewer. I like to stay informed in case one of our ships lost at sea finds land.

When Irene gives a restaurant three-stars I take notice. This week she lauded Studio, the restaurant at the Montage Laguna Beach Resort. The Montage sits of a bluff overlooking the Pacific. After diving for my Food Lover’s Companion bible several times while reading her review, I got to the meat and potatoes part—the prices.
Appetizers $23 to $29
Main Courses $43 to $53 (only $53? Must not be using Kobe beef)
Desserts $15

Writing of the wine list she opined, “ …there are enough good wines under $100 to keep anybody happy.” That’s a relief.

Speaking of diving for my foodie dictionary, ever wonder why it’s more and more difficult to translate fine dinning menus—even the ones in English? Guys don’t like looking menu-challenged, or sporting that deer-in-the-headlights look at a high-end restaurant, or the prices. And it’s a bit tacky to bring your Food Lover’s Companion with you.

Just when you think you understand menus, they change, not just the recipes, but also the terminology. Chefs need you to feel intimidated. That way it’s easier to get away with gouge prices if they call a puree, coulis; a dumpling, quenelles; or cake, gateau.

Stay on task, guys. Once you earn your BS in domestic engineering (and one of your ships docks), and you venture back to Le Glitzy Brasserie, you will be able to parle with the best of them.

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