Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mixed week

Well, it was a mixed week for me, some good, some bad, but overall, okay.

My cellphone broke down early in the week, and due to the fact that I had to be out of town for a conference on Thursday, I was forced to get a new phone before leaving. Given that our contract with Verizon was up, it was time to renegotiate, and so on Wednesday, Jess and I met over lunch to try and resolve the issue. It took almost two hours in the store and we walked out with Blackberry phones to replace our Palm Treo 650s. The guy in the store had promised us that the Blackberry phones would synch with the data online from our Palm phones. Guess what? They didn't...and according to their 800 customer service, they wouldn't...which made us pretty unhappy. Fortunately, they have a 30-day love-it-or-return-it policy. But we were going to have to go back in and get new phones, which would require another two-hour visit. Grrrrr.

Knotty and T were in town to visit the city, and so we asked them if they'd be willing to visit for an evening. We had such fun hosting Knotty about three years ago that we wanted him to visit again, and we were hoping to meet T., his other half...and meet we did. They came out to the Island on Wednesday night and we had a great night. It was great to finally meet T.

For starters, cosmopolitans for everyone. I fixed an appetizer of chicken taquitos with a choice of homemade salsa or sour cream corn relish dip. They were tasty and different.

For the meal, I made crab cakes and broccoli with cheese sauce. The crab cakes were amazing, but just a bit salty...I will change up the recipe a little bit for next time, but they were excellent. And since they are broiled, not fried, they are healthier.

For dessert, I had prepared some Baked Chocolate Custard, as well as lemon curd with some raspberries and blueberries in case anyone didn't want chocolate. Both turned out well.

Iced cold-brewed coffee was served to cap it all off. Yum. But the most fun was the company! We clicked so well. The night was over before we knew it, and we took them back to the train station, where we bade them farewell. We had such a good time, boys! We want to come out to visit you sometime!

Thursday, I had a conference at West Point at the The Thayer Hotel. West Point is about a two-hour drive from here, and it was raining quite hard while I was driving there. The traffic was terrible, so it took longer, and I was exhausted by the time I got there. Because the hotel is actually on the West Point campus, you were subjected to a military search of your vehicle before being allowed onto the campus. I got there about 15 minutes before the first presentation was to begin. So tired was I from the drive that I nearly dozed off during the first two speakers. The chairs in the presentation room weren't comfortable, so I began having muscle spasms in my back within a couple of hours of sitting.

The Thayer has been around for about 100 years or more, and it looks it. It wasn't one of those hotels that was charmingly old, it was stodgy and staid. The beds were downright horrible, as stiff as boards, and they didn't give when you sat or laid on them. The heating/AC unit on the wall sounded as though it was installed in the 60s and was so noisy it made it difficult to sleep. Between the noise, my back pain and the stiff bed, there was virtually no sleep for me.

The second day of the conference, Friday, my back was hurting so bad that I couldn't stay all the way through that day's presentations, leaving during the next-to-the-last presenter. I drove home and napped briefly. Then it was off to the city for a dinner party that Jess' organization was putting on. Jess had planned the dinner and chosen much of the menu. It was held at Tavern on the Green. (Off on a tangent: As famous as TotG is, I have never liked it since I last visited it in 1987. I wasn't happy that Jess had chosen it for his party. In 1987, the service was horrible, and I felt the food was overpriced for the quality offered. I was with a party of 9 friends. We were seated in a dining room that had a defective fluorescent light that was indirectly lighting the room. We asked to be moved but were ignored and were finally told, only after three complaints to the waiter, that no other seating was available. Due to the strobing of the lights, I began having a twitching spell which was noticed by other diners, and my friends asked for the dining room manager, whom we explained our situation to. He had sympathy for me and moved us to another room, but the server whom we were assigned to had too many tables already, apparently, and there was a rather loud discussion over who would be responsible for our table. There was another server who was quite upset that she was not given the table because she would have been able to handle it, but the manager told her that it was necessary for that room's supervisor to serve us in order that the service be appropriately attentive because we had been mistreated. Well, she was quite unhappy that she didn't get the table and was even more unhappy that the supervisor who did serve us did a terrible job. The most memorable point of the evening came when we were leaving. We had left the proper amount for the bill on the table, but did not leave a tip, choosing instead to tip the waitress who hadn't been given our table. As each of us filed past her on our way out, we had our tips in hand, and the lead of our party explained to her that she deserved the tip because we had seen that she had been shorted our table and the supervisor who served us did a terrible job. As we filed by and each gave her cash, she thanked us each individually and was crying by the time the last of us left. I will never forget it.)

At any rate, it was 20 years ago, and I had never been back. I wasn't looking forward to it at all. But I was extremely surprised. The service was deftly attentive and the headwaiter was very interested in seeing that everything was perfect. He must have checked back with us no less than eight times. Granted, a party of 50 people is handled a bit differently, but I was nevertheless impressed. Jess had done a very nice job making the food selections, too. The appetizers were quesadillas, shrimp scampi on skewers, fried calamari, tomato and fresh mozzarella skewers, Thai spring rolls, and bruschetta. All were good, but the quesadillas, calamari and shrimp were outstanding. For dinner, there was a choice of salmon or filet mignon, served with a potato casserole and steamed asparagus. The filet was magnificent, and the asparagus was quite good. The potato casserole tasted strange with a mix of parmesan and nutmeg, and very few people ate it once they tasted it. But overall, the food was quite good. The dessert was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that was decadent and very dark, and had just barely enough sugar. It was wonderful; too bad the coffee they served with it wasn't. It was bitter and over-roasted. All in all, I'd give TotG a 3.5 out of 5. But the party was definitely a 5. The DJ was great and played a really fun variety of music, the service was impeccable, and the bartenders really knew how to mix a drink! Jess was presented with a lovely plaque for his work over the year, which was well-deserved. You throw a great party, honey!

Saturday was a mess...we went to the Verizon store to exchange our phones and had to spend another two hours getting that done. As we walked to the car with our new Motorola Q phones and began to work on getting the phones to synch, mine locked up and wouldn't do anything. I soft-booted it to no avail. Aggravated, I had to go back in and spend ANOTHER 30 minutes waiting on tech support to fix it. We left there and drove to Bloomfield, NJ so that Jess could photograph the rugby team's final game to determine the regional champions. The weather was horrible and traffic was slow. We got to Bloomfield and had to pee - bad - and we needed to grab something to eat, so we had to just drive around looking. We were already 20 minutes late for the game when we had arrived in town, and time was ticking. We spent more than 25 minutes trying to find a place to eat that had a bathroom. When we got back to the field, the game was well into the second half.

Unfortunately, our team lost, but Jess got some very good pictures which he will undoubtedly post on his blog later.

Sunday, we went with our friends John and Michelle on the Fall Foliage boat tour up the Hudson. It's a four-hour tour and is supposed to be spectacular with the fall colors, but this year, fall has been a dud. There was virtually nothing worthy of seeing in the way of leaves for the entire trip, and to top it off, we had to stand in the cold for more than an hour beforehand because the boat was late arriving to pick us up. Though the leaves were a bust, we still enjoyed the ride, and afterwards, we went to BLT Burger for some chow before heading home. I enjoyed a wonderful BLT Burger with their outrageously crispy and delicious fries and a strawberry-banana milkshake. I think that BLT is one of the best burgers in the city. We also had a side of their yummy beer-battered onion rings. Delicious!

So, some good, some bad, but overall, a nice week and weekend.

I'll share the recipes for my crab cakes and for my roasted red pepper and sundried tomato chicken with you later this week.

Have a great week!


At 10:14 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger pinknest said...

craziness! what with the phones and all. your meal sounds divine! broiled not fried?! *sigh*

At 5:36 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger knottyboy said...

Honey I can only say that if I had the greatest fortune to have stayed with y'all longer, I'm sure I'd have my own wing in the Betty Ford Clinic. Marc makes some heavenly Cosmos. Woo doggies!


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