I fear my house has become a massive cold spot for bizarre, inexplicable occurrences clearly supernatural in nature. It began a few days ago in the form of random manifestations in the various bathrooms that, like crop circles, seemed to contain some sort of otherworldly messages in their design. I provide photo documentation of the initial phenomen –
The next incident was even more of a shock. I opened up the linen closet to retrieve a bath towel and discovered its once disorganized contents had been transformed into THIS ordered state –
Equally mystifying developments have followed. The dishwasher runs without my loading it or turning it on. The washer and dryer also seem to operate of their own volition. And my dog Maximus has started answering to Makka-chan. What the hell is going on?
Erring on the side of caution, I hired an exorcist to come in and rid my home of the underwear-folding spirit while Akemi and I headed out to what is purported by many to be one the city’s top dining destination: Lumiere. The last time I visited was over a year ago, shortly after then-owner Rob Feenie had left/been forced out (?) of his own kitchen. On the night I dined there with Bob Picardo, the place was almost empty – but the quality of the dishes was excellent. We enjoyed a multi-course meal (I believe we were served seven or eight plates) with nary a misstep in the bunch (with the exception of the venison with chocolate sauce).
Well, last night, I was back to a transformed dining room and menu. Gone were the elaborate multi-course menu’s that offered anywhere from seven to twelve dishes. We had a choice of a three or five courses. Despite Akemi’s protests, I decided to go with the latter. In addition to a couple of glasses of Riesling (Akemi) and a few cocktails (me), we enjoyed a silky sweet and smooth pumpkin soup with parmesan foam as an amuse-bouche and our first course: Beet & Vodka-Cured Hamachi with sturgeon caviar, baby beets, and horseradish cream. Delightfully delicate and delicious. Akemi was very impressed with the quality of the fish.
Akemi was less impressed with the quality of the butter served with dinner, however, a whipped run-of-the-mill Fraser Valley offering that paled in comparison to what we were served at Bishop’s only night’s earlier. A minor quibble, especially considering I don’t usually partake, but it’s the small things that make a difference – especially when you’re dining at a place with the fine-dining cachet of a Lumiere. Next up…
To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the menu offerings – and even more disappointed when I witnessed the table beside us being served items that hadn’t been made available to us including a fantastic looking pork duo that I would have much preferred over my beef. At one point, our neighbors were served foie gras. “It’s like eating a piece of fat,”sniffed one woman at the table and, with that, all four set their forks aside and waited for their dishes to be cleared. What a waste.
The dessert was followed by a little surprise in the form some lovely warm madeleines and passable petits fours.
Then, THAT dessert was followed by a second little surprise in the form of a 20% service charge added to our bill. Not a reasonable 10% or even 15%. 20%! Okay, while I understand that the concept of tipping is foreign to many tourists and that restaurants may feel the need to protect their staff (although of the seven restaurants I’ve taken Akemi to since her arrival, only one – Lumiere – has taken this step), I still bristle at being slammed with a 20% service charge – and this from a guy who tends to tip between 20-25%. It really left a bad taste in my mouth. But, in all fairness, it could have been that rosemary soubise.
Well, the Nebula nominations have been announced and some familiar names made the list. Congratulations go out to blog regular Michael A. Burstein whose “I Remember the Future” (one of several wonderful tales collected in his I Remember the Future anthology, a former Book of the Month Club pick) gets the nod in the Short Story category. Well done, Michael! Congrats also go out to the immensely talented, always entertaining – and, oh by the way, SGU Creative Consultant – John Scalzi whose The God Engines received a nomination in the Novella category. John has also been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy for Zoe’s Tale, alongside two other Book of the Month Club guest authors: the late great Kage Baker for Hotel Under the Sun, and Catherynne M. Valente for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (which you can check out here: http://www.catherynnemvalente.com/fairyland/). Kage Baker’s The Women of Nell Gwynne’s is also in the running for Best Novella as is “Act One” by SF veteran – and yet another Book of the Month Club guest author – Nancy Kress. Another past guest author, the weird and wonderful Jeff Vandermeer, gets the nod in the Best Novel category for Finch, while a future guest author – Cherie Priest – receives the nod in the same category for Boneshaker, March’s Book of the Month Club pick. Hope you’re all making your way through your copies and will be ready for the upcoming discussion!