I attended a surprise birthday party last night for my friend Steve, a videogame producer and occasional dining companion. As per instructions, Fondy and I arrived at the Samba Brazilian Steak House at exactly 6:30 p.m., joining the other twenty or so guests. Many of you may be familiar with the concept: You pay a set price and enjoy an all-you-can-eat feast as meat-slinging gauchos wander about the room, carving out generous chunks of animal protein for your dining pleasure. Truth be told, this wasn’t the first time Fondy and I had been to Samba’s. We’d actually checked it out years ago, when it first opened – and hadn’t been back since. Far be it for me to pass judgment on the culinary practices of our South American neighbors but the experience struck me as less “All You Can Eat” and more “All You Can Eat Until You Get Fed Up Of Waiting Around For Those Guys With The Meat Sticks To Come By Your Table”.
Anyway, despite the fact that the restaurant smelled disquietingly like cheese (I prayed it was the nachos), we stuck around and were seated by the salad bar (Incidentally, I think this is a first for me. To the best of my knowledge, I have never in my life either said or written the words “we were seated by the salad bar”) that would have, if nothing else, serve as the perfect spot for all of us to hide behind and lie in wait for the birthday boy. Alas, there was no hiding. We were all out in the open when Steve and wife Jodi showed, but we did, nevertheless, yell “Surprise!”. And, to our credit, Steve did seem genuinely surprised.
They settled in and we hit the salad bar for some traditional Brazilian fare: mayo-slathered yams, couscous, sweet and sour pork, and some surprisingly tasty ox tail. Eventually, one of the meat gauchos came by and asked me if I’d like some prime roast. Would I? He sliced off a paper thin piece (the approximate table scrap size treat I tend to give my dogs after I’ve finished my meal) and moved in. Seared on the outside and medium-rare on the inside, it fell somewhere between not altogether great and not altogether terrible. The pork, on the other hand, was so dry that I cut the inside of my mouth trying to chew the first piece. The lamb had a peculiar aftertaste. One bite of the breakfast sausage was enough for me. I decided to stick with the oxtail – only to have them switch it out for a tray of room temperature cauliflower. And so, I redirected my focus back to the traveling meat and, pretty much like last time, grew tired of waiting for the gauchos to show.
Our dessert was birthday cake, appropriately enough, in the shape of a gaming console.
Well, today the production was on location so things were fairly quiet at The Bridge. Watched our very first set of dailies and the show looks awesome. Rush – Eli. Eli. Eli – Chloe. Brian (our Lieutenant Scott) dropped by the studio to send off a fax and discovered his very first piece of Stargate fan mail waiting for him. He was surprised and genuinely touched to receive such early support. I hesitate to say it only because it makes me sound like an old man, but he is a great kid. Carl predicts it will be the first of the many, MANY fan letters Brian will receive. He’s got a very likable presence both on and off-screen.
As we finished lunch, Kerry from post came by with an assortment of her own homemade truffles and madeleines. The truffles were great. The madeleines, while tasty, could have benefited from making their way over a little sooner. As with most gifts of this nature, I gave it a rating based on, among other things, taste, texture, presentation, difficulty, and sincerity on the part of the giver. A solid B+ for Kerry who lost marks for the somewhat stale madeleines and her admission that she didn’t actually make the pistachio filling in the white chocolate truffle, but delivered nicely on the truffles. For the next round, I suggested she go with a main course, something that would give me a better sense of her cooking prowess.
I think she thought I was kidding.