Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ARF and a Nice Story

I haven't been cooking, because it's Cranky's birthday today — a very big, special birthday — and we've been going to restaurants.
So, for Antioxidant-Rich Food day, I'm posting a photo of something I haven't cooked. I washed it and trimmed it, but it's still in the fridge. It's a double-whammy in one single vegetable: Red Chard. Deep, dark green leaves and brilliant red stalks — it's just swimming in beta-carotene!
As an aside, here's a nice story. Cranky and I enjoyed a fantastic birthday-eve lunch at a "fine" Marin restaurant yesterday. There wasn't much of a crowd, so we were lucky to be well attended-to. (And in my experience, sometimes a less-crowded restaurant results in less-attentive service.)
The first person who approached our table looked — again, this is from experience — like he might be the guy who delivers the water and bread and clears away dishes. But Cranky put a question to him: "We're going to be ordering oysters, so is there a wine you'd recommend?"
This superb fellow, with the heavy South-of-the-border accent, did have suggestions, good ones. Apparently he was our server, not a busboy.
He disappeared into the kitchen and returned to tell us there were no oysters on the half-shell, only fried. We knew that; that's what the menu said. But he had taken it upon himself to, well, take a guess as to our desires, and to go find out if he could accommodate us.
Long story short: He dazzled us throughout our whole meal with knowledge, attention, decorum and warmth. He understands food; no, he loves it. He paced delivery of dishes in an incredibly intuitive way; after a particularly rich course, he held off on bringing the next so we could savor and digest for a while (it's true, we asked him about it). He told us interesting inside stories about the kitchen staff. He revealed "secret" ingredients and techniques.
We flipped for him.
And so when we asked how long he'd been with the restaurant, there was a slight hesitation on his part... And then he confirmed our best guess: He's been there seven years. But he's only been a server for the past six months.
We didn't ask him what his previous position was, but I think we were looking at the American Success Story: Smart, ambitious young man comes to this country, learns the language, toils at entry-level job, acquires a love for restaurants, kitchens, and — customers. He proved himself.
And he got promoted.
Bravo to the restaurant's powers-that-be for giving him a chance.
I don't think we've ever had lovelier service, and he's only been at it for six months.


Kalyn said...

Very fun. I grow red chard in my garden. My favorite way to cook it is to slice crosswise into thin ribbons (cut out the stem if it's big), saute in olive oil for a few minutes, add a little garlic after chard cooks for a few minutes, then serve with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. The garlic is optional, it's good without it too. Lots of fresh ground black pepper.

Sam said...

Happy Birthday Cranky!
A Big Birthday for A Well-behaved Boy, right?

Jamie said...

Happy birthday to Cranky!

I mentioned your paper cheffery to the s.o. and he revealed to me that he loves quinoa. I've never had it. So I bought some and will try to figure out something to do with it. A new adventure!

shuna fish lydon said...

another year for Cranky, yeah!

I loved the Nice Story. This story, and many others I've seen and been part of are reasons why I stay in my peculiar industry.

cookiecrumb said...

Kalyn: If you cut out the stems, save them, and you can then cut them crosswise (like celery) and saute them or something. Add them back to the chard, in fact. Garlic, yes!
Sam, Jamie, and Shuna: Cranky asks me to thank you for the good wishes. How sweet.

b'gina said...

Happy B'day to Cranky from me, too.

I loved that story. Things like that so seldom happen. He'll always be an asset to that restaurant, because he's been appreciated and treated right, which makes for happy diners. ;+)

CC's Mom said...

Happy Big six oh to Cranky from Cookie Mom and Cookie Dad

cookiecrumb said...

C-Mom and C-Dad! Woo-hoo! Thanks.
(C-Mom is feeling better.)

Cate said...

Good, now that Cookie Crumb's Mom is feeling better (yay!), tell her I WANT her grape picture! :)

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, Sweetnicks... Wait till you see the *next* grape picture! Coming soon.

lisa--in a nutshell said...

Wow--cool story. Nice you're not bitchin' about them coming up here and taking our jobs. Or some such. Silliest complaint I've ever heard...

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks, Lisa. I keep wondering if I should send this tribute to the restaurant... We *did* learn his name.