Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Going Fancy

I don't get out much. I don't say this grudgingly. It's just a fact. Circumstances don't allow it and for the most part, I am okay with that. It's the circumstances brought on by the choices we living in a small town, having kids and all that. So when I get to go out, it's very special and very memorable. The last Saturday was one of those. Very Special.

We celebrated two of our good friends' birthdays in Calgary at River Cafe. If you are familiar with Calgary, it is located in the Prince's Island Park. I've walked by there several times checking out the menu outside, but have never actually been there. It's pretty fancy and expensive. We left the children behind in care of some loving friends, put on some 'fancy' clothes to meet our friends. For me, sharing good food with people who know and appreciate it is one of the most satisfying experiences.

When I go to fancy places, I am reminded how un-fancy I am. I try to put on my best behavior but something always goes wrong to reveal my true color. I mean I was raised well, I think. When I meet my parents' friends and colleagues, I sometimes have to put on my fancy self. But maybe just maybe, it's okay to be who I really am. Actually, I am okay with my non-fancy self. It's real and it's way more fun to be real. No pretense. But it's funny how 'fancy occasions' make us think we should act differently. It's a trap I don't want to get caught in.

Once, some friends treated us to a night in a hotel. I don't own suitcases. I have some good travel bags, but honestly, since I don't travel on airplanes much, I prefer to travel with laundry baskets. When we got to the hotel, it was definitely fancier than I thought. Men in smart uniforms came to assist us to our room. " thanks. I can manage".

So, back at the River Cafe. We were greeted by a gal taking our coats and other courteous staff. Our friends are by the rustic fire place starting the evening with a glass of viognier. It went down nicely as our anticipation of the wonderful evening unfolded. We were there to catch their early bird special. Our appetizer was Red Lentil Hummus served with warm flat bread, preserved tomatoes and roasted garlic. I liked it almost better than the traditional hummus made with chickpeas. For our entree, we had the choice of Steelhead Trout with Roasted Heirloom carrots, purple potato Creme Fraiche Croquette, cider cured Salmon Caviar or Hanger Steak served with Walnut Spaetzle and parsnip Puree. I chose the trout, and the steak for Scott, so we can share. Our pleasant waiter, always serving the ladies first, of course, said to me, "ma'am, would you like still water or sparkling water this evening?" "ummm.....can I just have some plain water?" "Sure, ma'am. how about some still water then". After I exhaled the sigh of relief that I was able to order water, my friends nonchalantly told the waiter, "I will have still water please".....AS IF they have always called it "still water". ALL OF THEM! We laughed so hard about that.

The dinner was simply amazing. Great company. Good wine. Two and half hours of pure joy. Every bite was savored. I love eating with my 'foodie friends', because we eat good food and we talk about some other good food at the same time. I dream of traveling. Traveling just to discover good food all over the world. There is so much I have not seen or tasted. This evening gave me a little glimpse of what that might be like. Traveling with like-minded friends, savoring every bite, every moment, the conversation and the friendship. Sounds like it would make a good book, even a movie. We decided to call it, "Eat, Eat, Eat", instead of "Eat, Pray, Love".

Of course, I would like to insert a giant disclaimer here by saying good food does not have to be fancy. In fact, so much of the good food I have experienced thus far have been very simple. It was prepared with much thought and care, with fresh, good ingredients. Not complicated at all. Most importantly, good food must be enjoyed with good company. That is a must. Eating alone is almost never fun....for me, at least. I would rather share a glass of cheap wine with a good friend than eating a five-course gourmet meal alone. I have had some amazing food from humble food stands on street corners or on a patio at friends' backyard on a lazy summer evening.

As the evening went on, we saw more people filling the restaurant. Lots of fur coats and kisses on the cheeks to greet each other. Real fancy people. I wondered if they came here often. Probably so. I was happy and content. Not envious. I love my simple and not-so-fancy life. I don't want a fur coat. I have been in situations where I had to kiss people on cheeks to greet them. I was very awkward. I am okay with not knowing what "still water" is. The evening was epic, and I'd love to eat there again one day.....but I want to wait long enough so that every moment of the evening become memorable just like it was last Saturday.

If you are interested in seeing some photos and a different perspective of the evening, check out this post by my friend, Krista.


Anonymous said...

"Still Water" sounds like the title of an album. I have never heard of it called that. Cracked me up too. Sounds like a lovely evening. Don and I went "fancy" one evening long ago. When the Maitre D extended his hand...I shook it. He sneered at me and said "YOUR COAT". He was wanting to take my coat. I was embarassed and then a little angry. So I said "no, I'm keeping my coat, it's cold in here" like a child having a little snit. LOL

Carolyn said...

Traveling, we were taken aback when asked: "con gas or sin gas?" It sounds like a lovely dinner and I'm thinking of places we will go this summer with you. Definitely Blossoming Lotus this time!

Krista said...

You know we aren't that fancy right? And its true, good food is only good if enjoyed with good company! You made it divine! So glad you were able to come. Next time you come over I will ask you if you want still or sparkling and then you can answer oh-so-non-chalantly and feel fancy!

Di said...

It sounds like a wonderful evening out! I think the sort of events that don't happen very often are usually the best. I laughed when you said that you worried about acting properly in a restaurant like that - I would be exactly the same. My usual fear is the sort of thing that I say in meetings that just happen to slip out.

RootAndTwig said...

Kiko, you make me laugh! I'm just the same. At first I'm all self-conscious, but then I quickly think: All this pretentiousness is over-rated. We were at a posh place to eat a few weeks ago, and the waiter was giving a little speech about how they have a new 'water program' - they distill their own water IN HOUSE (oooh, ahhh). Out of curiosity, I asked the price (so not posh, I know). Then I laughed outright. Four dollars a glass? I think I'll stick with tap water. Still water, sparkling water, blah, blah, blah. Um-hey everybody! The emperor is naked!!!!