Kelly and I decided to go to New Orleans to celebrate our 15-yr wedding anniversary, for five days of relaxing and fine dining. This was our first vacation together since we moved out here a year ago, and we really needed it. The dogs stayed with their new "Auntie Rebecca" (Rebecca Wysock, dog trainer and owner of Sunnybrook Farm, who boarded them for the time we were gone, plus the extra two days I worked when after we got back. The chickens somehow managed to survive, leaving us with a couple dozen eggs and a mountain of fertilizer as a welcome home gift. Kelly put their house up on the sawhorses so they'd have an added level of protection by elevation, but there must have been a storm because it was half blown down. The Red Rooster is still jumping at Kelly a lot, although the critter doesn't bother me. I might have to make soup out of him. Kelly's in the middle of another two-week stint Los Angeles, and I'm sure he'd prefer his next encounter with the Rooster as Noodle Soup. Of course, i'm all talk right now :-P
We went to two really great restaurants and a few average ones, mercifully avoiding bad ones. We went for a lot of long walks, and spent one night drinking on bourbon street. Except for the post-bourbon-street migraine/hangover (which i earned after two Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle) it was a really nice getaway. We stayed at the Iberville Suites, which shared an entrance and various amenities with the Ritz Carlton. It rained a little the last couple of days, but we got to spend a lot of time outside and enjoyed good weather.
One of the great restaurants was named Stella. It got wonderful reviews, but it was just a fun coincidence that it's also our new address. There was a tasting menu, but it was heavy on shellfish and seafood, and frankly, kelly and I are just not fans. We instead opted to order a couple appetizers, share a "salad", and a couple entrées and our own desserts. It was marvelous. We really enjoyed the food, and picked up a few tricks that we might want to adapt to our restaurant when it gets going. (crossing our fingers, something will happen this spring!) Also, the chef came by and talked to us at our table for a few minutes. For all the high-end restaurants we've eaten at, I think that this might have been the first time that has happened.
The other was August. Just as spectacular but quite different. We both ordered the tasting menu this time. The manager was a young guy & he didn't have the stuffy maitre d' vibe at all. He was positively awesome, telling us the ingredients used, and exactly how each part of each item was prepared. Again, impeccable service, and it was lovely to be a part of that restaurant experience.
It was just so lovely to be able to go out somewhere nice and enjoy a couple of truly wonderful meals. It's exactly what I want our restaurant's guests to feel when they're at our place: an experience where the food is perfect & the ambiance is comfortable, and the calm assurance that everything is being taken care of.
Today I learned: a smile and eye contact with someone out here is a commitment to a 15+ minute conversation. It's not something I'm consciously avoiding, but it's also not something I'm trying to instigate. I am okay with letting these happen once in a while, but 15 mins at the bank, 15 mins at the library, 15 mins in the grocery store, it adds up. I'm learning how to be more comfortable with this. It's hard, after so many years of similar innocuously struck-up conversations with strangers resulting in the person asking for money.