Dinner was half an hour late. I was frustrated, hungry, and ready to get up and go try my luck elsewhere. But eating somewhere else wasn’t an option on this night. No. Plans had been made, the meal already prepared, and, oh yeah, I happened to be eating at home. “What time is it?”I asked Fondy, knowing full well what time it was. “Seven,”she replied. Beat. “What time did you tell them to come for?”I inquired, well aware of what time she’d asked them to come for. “Six thirty,”she informed me. Beat. “Hunh,”I remarked. Translation: Well, isn’t that interesting.
I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Our guests were notorious late-arrivers, always oh-so-leisurely popping in long after the RTA (Requested Time of Arrival) armed with apologies, excuses and, on this night, ceviche. This was the couple that arrived an hour late to their own engagement party. At the time, I’d just gone ahead and ordered dinner and then, on their grand entrance, feigned obvious distress: “Are you guys okay? We were worried that something had happened! I was about to go out looking for you!”
At about 7:15 p.m., we finally settled down to a dinner of ribs, garlic stir-fried egg plant, salad, and, ceviche. Okay, last things first. I’m a fairly adventurous eater and will try pretty much anything. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy everything I try. Like ceviche for instance. I just don’t get it. It’s always struck me as more a weird high school experiment than an actual culinary creation, not quite sashimi yet not quite sole en papillote either, encompassing the worst of both possible worlds with the added unpleasantness of concentrated citric acid. Bon appetit.
As much as I applauded the chef for the effort, I wasn’t blown away by our main course – the ribs. Although the experimental marinade was excellent, the meat itself was somewhat tough owing perhaps to the extra time it spent backstage awaiting its grand entrance. The eggplant was undercooked. The fresh green salad, on the other hand, was surprisingly good.
Dessert took the form of a coconut cream pie compliments of the fine folks at Costco. Now I say “took the form of” because, while it certainly looked like coconut cream pie and tasted somewhat like coconut cream pie, I didn’t recognize many of the ingredients listed. Well thank God for the internet which helped me make some sense of what, exactly, I was putting into my body. For example:
Glucono-Delta-Lacone: I didn’t really need the internet for this one. As any true fan of scifi will tell you, this is a sector of space on the far side of the Pegasus Galaxy.
Flavor: Rrrright. I suppose they mean “artificial flavor“.
Artificial flavor: No, wait. I thought this was covered under “flavor”. Unless “flavor” and “artificial flavor” are two completely different things. Am I to assume then that “flavor” is natural as opposed to artificial and, if it is natural, why the need to list it in the ingredients? Isn’t that like saying: “This Snickers bar contains peanuts and the taste of peanuts?”
Polysorbate 60: Presumably after their first 59 tries, they got it right with the new and improved version 60!
Vanillin: Not, under any circumstances, to be confused with vanilla.
Esters of fatty acid: Not even the internet was able to help me out on this one. All I hope is that Ester isn’t the name of a person.
Propylene glycol aliginate: Not sure but I suspect that while explosive in its liquid state, in its solid state it proves both inert AND tasty.
Maltol: Here’s what wikipedia has to say about this delectable little addition – “Maltol is natural organic compound used primarily as a flavor enhancer. It is found in the bark of larch tree, in pine needles, and in roasted malt.” (I’m praying for malt over pine needles and larch bark. But wait! There’s more!) “Harold D. Foster, PhD, notes research that suggests that maltol, especially as an aluminum-maltolate complex, damages the blood-brain barrier and so increases the ease with which aluminum, mercury and other toxins reach the brain. Aluminum neurotoxicity has been implicated, somewhat controversially, in the genesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” – I couldn’t help but share this interesting little tidbit with my fellow diners, after which everyone mysteriously lost their appetites and the remaining two-thirds of leftover cake was set aside for later consideration. And by later consideration, I mean disposal.
Sodium alginate: Wikipedia says – “when extracted from the cell walls of brown algae, is used by the foods industry to increase viscosity and as an emulsifier.” – Brown algae. ’Nuff said.
Agar: Again, I defer to wikipedia – “Agar is a gelatinous substance chiefly used as a culture medium for microbiological work. It is an unbranched polysaccharide obtained from the cell walls of some species of red algae or seaweed.” YUM! Oh, and – “It can be used as a laxative…” Hopefully not in this case.
Methylcellulose: Apparently, like cellulose, it’s not toxic, not allergenic, and not digestible. I could say the same for the pie as a whole.
Finally, a warning on the label alerts the unwary to the possibility that the pie “may contain milk, egg, fish oil, nuts, peanuts and sesame.” Fish oil?!
So, a big thumbs down on the coconut cream pie although it did prove an almost spot-on replica of the real thing. Plus, whatever lab technicians assembled this baby did a really nice job in blending together the flavor AND artificial flavor. You could really taste the microcrystalline cellulose!
Overall, a disappointing dining experience although I wouldn’t dismiss this place entirely. I have eaten here before and enjoyed some excellent meals in the past.
Apologies. No mailbag today as I have to humor Fondy by accompanying her to Conquitlam to check out some pug puppies. Also, I have to gear up for the series finale of The Sopranos. So to tide you over, here are pics of the meal in addition to select art department designs for some upcoming season four eppies.