Why Dogs and Food?

Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer in the Fall and Henry Takes a Shower

"A dog is not "almost human" and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such." ~ John Holmes

After five straight months of cloud cover over La Jolla, we finally had some real summer weather! I was determined to get out into the sunshine and enjoy as much of it as I was able. And that is just what I did.

Saturday was spent with Brian and the boys down on the grassy bluffs overlooking the magnificent Pacific Ocean on Coast Blvd. We brought our little chairs, an umbrella, our books and plenty of water. Brian walked the boys down to Childrens Pool and I relaxed with my book. When they were ready for some more exercise, I walked them one at a time. This time we headed down the stairs to the beach where we walked on the sand and waded in the surf. Walter and I even climbed on the rocks and hiked up the steep side of the bluff to where Brian and Henry were waiting. We saw a wedding, lots of tourists with cameras and a woman who had set up a small living room on the grass. Lots of activity for all of us to enjoy! After a couple of hours we were ready to go home. It was a great day.

Sunday promised to be sunny and hot and my plan was to take the boys to Fiesta Island where they could swim. Because we woke up late and were moving a little slow, I changed the plans. Instead we walked through the neighborhood and ended up down on Marine Street Beach. Luckily, the lifeguards are scarce at this time of year and we didn’t get booted. We were sans umbrella today and the sun was hot so we didn't stay too long on the beach. It was refreshing, though, just to walk along the shore and get our feet wet. When we got home, I gave my very hot and pooped-out boys a Freezy Bone to help cool them off. Then, we all sat out on the backyard patio in the shade for the rest of the afternoon - while I read my Charlotte Perkins Gilman short stories and listened to the hoots and hollers from the very enthusiastic neighboring Charger fans. It was another really good day.

After dinner, I decided to take a shower. I often talk to Henry and Walter as if they are human companions. As I got up to head to the shower, I casually said to Henry: “Mommy is going to take a shower, do you want to join me?” (Henry likes to lie on the cool tile floor in the bathroom.) He followed behind me down the hall and into the bathroom and plopped himself down on the floor. Very soon after I stepped into the shower and turned on the water, Henry’s cute little face peeked around the curtain. Next thing I knew, he very nonchalantly stepped into the shower! (We have a big walk-in type of shower). Appearing to be very relaxed, he sat down and let the water soak him down. He hung out in there with me for the duration of my shower as if this was a natural and common event. He even waited until I toweled him off before he stepped out. I marveled at this because in the past when Brian and I have bathed the dogs in the shower, they have always tried to bolt the very first chance they got!

Perhaps Henry decided to take a shower because of the heat but I think he actually took me up on my invitation when I asked him if he would like to join me!

These glorious creatures never cease to both amuse and amaze me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How much is too much?

How much would you pay to dine by the sea?

"Numbers written on restaurant checks within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe." ~ Douglas Adams

How much money is a fine dining experience really worth? Should we pay double or triple the price to sit on the highest roof in the city or next to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the sea with a bird's view eye of the breakers at the shore?

Labor Day weekend was great because my dear friend Susan came for a visit. Although she got stuck in heavy traffic between L.A. and La Jolla and arrived almost 4 hours after her departure, it was so nice when she finally got here! We had dinner reservations at The Marine Room - a La Jolla restaurant by the sea. We were looking forward to a nice, relaxing dinner with delicious food.

When we arrived and handed over our car to the valet parkers, we entered the restaurant and were seated by a big window that provided us a great, up close and personal view of the ocean and the surf. It was lovely. Our waitress was a little over-solicitous but that seems to be the culture at this restaurant. I have eaten brunch here before with some girlfriends and our waiter literally stood by our table, hovering so much that we felt like inviting him to sit down. It didn’t allow us too much private conversation.

Anyway, back to the dinner. There were three of us – Susan, Brian and me. We decided to order a bottle of red wine and when we looked at the wine list, the least expensive bottle of wine was about $64. In reality, we knew it was about a $10 bottle of wine. Now we all know how much restaurants mark up the wine, but seriously - $64 for a bottle of $10 wine? Okay, now on to the salad. We ordered a Caesar salad made Gueridon style which we all agreed was one of the best Caesar salads we ever had and the man who prepared the salad at our tableside was delightful. Then, we ordered our entrees. Brian ordered the Sesame crusted Ruby Red Ahi Tuna served with Thai rice, mango daikon salad, crispy avocado and pomegranate hibiscus sauce. It was prepared very rare and was tasty but was not as spectacular as was anticipated with that fancy menu description. Susan ordered the Filet Mignon, medium rare which was served with hazelnut potato timbale, cremini mushrooms with a mustard seed garnacha reduction. I ordered the a leek-coated Halibut which was served over 3 very small fingerling potato wedges and topped with some prosciutto and a paper-thin slice of heirloom melon with a white port chervril emulsion. Susan and I each split our dish in half and shared. The presentation was beautiful - including the mini trees made from sprigs of rosemary and thyme. The food was good but again, was not as good as the menu descriptions. We ordered an after-dinner drink and even though Susan exchanged hers for another, they still charged us for the one she didn’t drink. Huh. That was not very accommodating. But then, they did give a slice of key lime pie au gratis in the end.

All told, the meal was $300. Outrageous? Maybe not for some. But for us – well, we were not that impressed with the dinner. And then we still had to leave the tip and the pay the valet parking charges.

Let’s just say that next time I want to take one of my guests to a dinner ala surf and sand, I will cook it myself or grab some yummy takeout and carry it down to the beach!