Growing up, my siblings and I set the table each night while my mother cooked. Now, sadly, the habit is just to grab your own silverware and napkin before you down your grub. Is the table still set at your house? By whom?Source
Yesterday I came across a hilarious and poignant column in Slate discussing the drawbacks of the dreaded birthday dinner. "I hereby propose that the birthday dinner go the way of the $4 cup of coffee, the liar's mortgage, and the midsize banking institution," its author proclaims.
The truthful description of his birthday dinner nightmare includes awkward small-talk, excessively-ordered appetizers and drinks, and inequity when it comes to paying the hefty tab. Not to mention that since everyone celebrates once a year, birthday dinners can be frequent and repetitive. For this reason alone, I can't say I attend every birthday dinner I get invited to, and I never hold my own.
Still, it can be nice every now and then to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. What about you? Are you a fan of the birthday dinner? Have you been subjected to your (unfair) share of disastrous birthday dinners?
The City of Brotherly Love is also the city with the most-tipping love. Based on Zagat's newly released Philadelphia survey, the city's residents leave a generous 19.6 percent tip on average, compared to the countrywide average of 19 percent. Diners in New York — long considered the most expensive place to live in the US — only tip equal to the countrywide average, while those in Los Angeles tip below average at 18.4 percent.
Do Philadelphians really possess more love for their fellow citymen? Or is it because of Philadelphia's large number of BYO restaurants? I'm most surprised by the fact that New Yorkers tip such a meager amount. When I lived in Manhattan more than five years ago, it was considered standard to tip 20 percent due to the high cost of living there, and the fact that so many New Yorkers make a living in the service industry. Do these numbers surprise you? Are they in line with what you would normally tip, given decent service?
I love taking North along for a coffee or snack at a sidewalk café. It's the perfect way for me to get some yums, and for my pooch to enjoy the fresh air.A couple things to keep in mind when heading out:
- Before You Leave: Although many pet-friendly establishments offer to-go dishes for a pets' water, it can't hurt to bring along your own portable bowls. Also, make sure I've got a non-Flexi leash and a bag (if your pet's small) to be able to secure him. I like to loop the leash around the leg of my chair 'cause I know my weight will keep him down. Remember to pack some to-go treats to prevent the temptation to give your dog any inappropriate human food.
- Before You Enter: Check with a hostess or server before you sit down! Just because it's outside, doesn't mean it's automatically OK. Be mindful of other diners – if it's a crowded patio, it may be better to go elsewhere.
Time to be seated! Learn what to do to help ensure a pleasant meal when you read more
Last week I was out to sushi with a large group of people. When my friend suggested that we share a bunch of rolls and equally split the bill at the end of the meal, I hungrily agreed. The majority of the table was in, but the lovely couple seated to my right preferred to order on a separate bill. While this can lead to an awkward meal, the duo knew exactly how to handle the situation. To check out their advice to elegantly get out of the group order, read more
The other day I was eating out with a vegetarian girlfriend. While she doesn't mind my consumption of meat, I ordered vegetarian dishes so we could share everything. This wasn't the first time I avoided eating meat while dining with a vegetarian. How about you?
After spending the long weekend running around planning the Sex and the City screening after party, I decided to treat myself to a delicious dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Most of my friends were out of town, so I went alone. I have no problem with eating dinner by myself, but was wondering how you feel about it, do you ever dine alone?
It's happened to me more than once: After work I'll be waiting at the bus stop and think, man I could use a beer. It looks like I'm not the only one who had this idea: An entire town in the UK has turned a bus stop — complete with "open" sign and landlord — into a makeshift pub. As the price of food and eating out has become increasingly expensive, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to get together and enjoy a beer or meal. From bus stops to the middle of the sea to pubs on wheels, creative thinkers are pushing the envelope on when and where one can eat.
Why not host a dinner in a subway? After all, if there's fabulous food, good company, and plenty of drink, it doesn't matter where you are — a fun time will be had. My eyes are peeled for this type of unconventional roaming restaurant, and I'm dying to host my own dinner party in an unheard of location. How about you, got any suggestions? Have you been to a makeshift eatery of this sort?
The other day, CasaSugar tipped me off to a really cool organization called Outstanding in the Field. Their whole purpose is to dine at the source, right on the fields that deliver the harvest. Back in 1999, chef Jim Denevan — who also happens to be a well-respected artist — began staging dinners at organic farms around Santa Cruz, Calif. He said:
Senses are heightened in the fresh air. And it's not every day you get to sit next to the person who planted the beans, raised the lamb, and shaped the cheese on your plate.
Once word started to spread about these dinners, everyone in the food community — including many well-respected Bay Area chefs — wanted in. Soon, there were outdoor dinners at many of the areas local farms. However, that wasn't enough. Now the folks at Outstanding in the Field take their mission on tour. They're currently working on their 2008 farm dinner schedule, but they've got the cities in place already. Dinners will be held from California to New York and at many places in between. Tickets range between $150-$200, but it includes a five course meal with wine pairings, as well as a tour of the host farm. I don't know about you, but I know I want to go to one of these!
If dinner time is a juggling act with bowls and plates flying across the room and sippy cups slipping to the floor, Napfnapf might make table time a bit more tolerable. The double sided silicon suction cups help keep kids' plates firmly fixed to the table so you can spend meal time enjoying the food and each other's company rather than cleaning up messes. Napfnapfs come in sets of three —blue, orange and green for $30. And, if you're using the suctions there's no reason the entire family can't eat off of the same dishes.