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 –

Note the way the toilet paper tapers, clearly suggestive of intelligent design.

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?

I’m frightened.

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…

Cornemal-Crusted Qualicum Bay Scallops with apple-truffle coleslaw, brisket, parsnip puree, and scallop just. The scallops were divine, marrying nicely with the tender brisket and sweet parsnip puree. The sour green apple crisps topping the scallops were a bizarre little addition that detracted from the whole. The coleslaw was fine.

For an additional charge, we were able to include an extra course - risotto with shaved black truffles. As much as I love the truffle, I found this dish underwhelming.

Slow Baked Arctic Char with Potato Lyonnaise, Leek Royale, and Beurre Rouge. Three for three on the fish and seafood. The char was perfectly prepared, the accompaniments terrific.

Duo of AAA Dry Aged Beef - red wine braised short rib with potato fondant & rosemary soubise, seared rib eye. I preferred the marbling of the short rib but the rib eye was well-seasoned and tasty. Nowhere near in the same league as Japanese beef but fine nevertheless. That rosemary soubise on the other hand was ghastly. Akemi and I both took a bite and set 'em aside. "Mazui!"as the Japanese would say.

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.

Chocolate fondant with homemade ice cream. A luxurious duo.

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!

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Thomas John Brown

Hey Spooky Mallozzi!!! Send that cleaning ghost to my house! Just tell him/her not to stand over my bed in the middle of the night, because that just creeps me out… And oh yeah, if this ghost could not look all nasty and gooey like the ones on the Sixth Sense, that would be great also.

Deni
Deni

Hey Joey, what’s with all the extra apostrophes tonight? Must be that tidy linen closet messing with your head wink

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

If Akemi should like to visit the mid-Atlantic region, I’ll be happy to find her some room. It would be well worth it to take her out fine dining for a week or so if it means those mysterious supernatural events follow her….you are a fortunate man to have such a considerate guest, and she is lucky to have such a convivial host.
Had to snicker at the foie gras, though I’m mystified why you were not offered the options of the ungrateful group beside you. And I share your outrage at the mandatory gratuity. I’m a more than reasonable tipster, but I tend to pass up places that try to attach such gratuities to individual bills. I accept it for larger groups, having seen how people will stiff the help, figuring others will pick up the slack. But if the place is so worried about their waiters, let them raise their wages instead.
Glad to see so many nominations from authors who have been spotlighted here. And just over a week till the next book discussion! So, what is the book after that? Anyways, thanks as always for some entertainment and enlightenment.

josephmallozzi
josephmallozzi

I’ve been thinking about it but haven’t come up with a title for the April Book of the Month Club.

Do you guys have any suggestions?

susan the tartan turtle

Linen cupboards – I just open the door, throw the item in and shut the door quickly. Frankie de Tom Cat loves opening doors – he has been attacked by a cascade of towels many a time.

Book of the month – “The birthing house” by Christopher Ransom. Get everybody to read it and then explain it to me. I was totally confused at the end of the book.

Deni
Deni

Well, any book? Does it have to be science fiction/fiction/fantasy or something we’ve enjoyed? If the latter is the case, just finished “Space” by James Michener, which I’m sure most everybody’s read, but still an excellent novel smile

Major D. Davis
Major D. Davis

@Joe

The air novilization. Really, it’s a good book and totally different from the pilot!!!!! smile

Narelle from Aus

I put forward my suggestion last week, one of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I wouldn’t say the 1st book is the best, but it’s still enjoyable.
Maybe too mainstream?

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

BEETS??! Didya pee red??? grin

das

AV eddy

Hi Joe!

Pausing while bidding on items from *cough* your shows *cough* on ebay. Gotta one cool (to me) piece so far!

USA 5, Canada 3 !!! (Men’s hockey) *happy dance with a sad movement for Canada*

I’d be very scared of your cleaning ghost as you might wake up one day and the bed has been made around you!!!

I’d be very annoyed with a mandatory 20% service charge too. We usually tip 20-25%, but that’s by choice. And to automatically add a service fee for two people is ridiculous and an insult to the restaurant’s patrons.

It’s like when the four of us left Fogo de Chao’s and the valet made a point of saying they “work for tips.” Our friend who was driving, who tips well, was very insulted. Give us a chance to be jerks before assuming we are, eh?!

Anyway, lovely food pics and nice spoooky blur effect on the ghosty pics.

eddy

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ Deni – I think the extra apostrophes are because of all the cocktails Joey had. wink

@ Joey – Soooo…this ghost is folding your undies? Does that mean you’re going steady now?? wink

das

Narelle from Aus

das – Now I have the line from Bye Bye Birdie stuck in my head, “Goin’ steady, goin’ steady, goin’ steady, steady for good.”

Michael A. Burstein

Thank you, Joe, and thanks to everyone who offered congratulations over the past few days. May we all win!

paloosa
paloosa

How sweet of Akemi to pick up after you. I’m betting it was because she’s very grateful for all of your wonderful Vancouver adventures, and not out of a sense of self survival.

Hey, I finally got through all my mail today, and found a letter from the “TV Writers Settlement Administrator”. Interesting. I got an “A” for a Starsky and Hutch episode in a writing class I took at CSUN once. I also wrote an outdoor play about the French and Indian history of Natchez (MS) that got partial National Endowment of the Arts funding, but was never produced in Natchez because the rest of the funding was from the local oil industry, which tanked at the time. These were both in the 80’s. Later I wrote a couple of film scripts that really sucked.

So why would they send this to me? I opened it. “If you are age 40 or over AND wrote or were interested writing for television, a proposed settlement may affect your rights.” Good grief, “…or were interested in writing for television…”? Well, that would be me and everyone else on the planet. So I tossed it. I was going to ask if you got one of these, but I doubt you’re old enough. Carl?

@PBMom Sending all sorts of positive thoughts your way. And hope you can find time to take care of yourself too.

SebiMeyer

You don’t need an exorcist. All you need to do is sit in your underwear on the couch, watch only football, fart a lot and gain 30 pounds. Also make sure to absolutely ignore all of the occurrences you mentioned.

It may take a few years, but they will definitely stop.

annie from Fremantle
annie from Fremantle

I’m getting to the point where I’d pay to watch you eat some KFC or shit like that… hahaha!!

annie from Fremantle
annie from Fremantle

Why do Australians call beets ‘beetroot’? Is it stating the obvious like when Americans call Tuna ‘Tuna fish’ ? (yes we all know it’s fish).

cherluvya

Hey Joe,

*giggles* So, you are being spoiled I take it. Trying to come up with a reasonable explanation of why or how she came up with the time to accomplish to organizational marvels. It is a woman’s charm. No further need for explanation. I am certain there was no need to organize the liquor…since it was perfect and already done by a woman.

Your dogs certainly are influenced easily. hheheehe I am sorry, but somehow that just makes me chuckle. You give them everything and a pretty woman comes along and …. boom..life changes. The truth will be told when you see how long they pout after she has left.

Love the food pics. Fun as always.

Best to you Joe,
Always,
Cheryl smile

Ganymede
Ganymede

First off, your closet scheme could do with some “colour”. Or, is this where you stash your collection of “liberated” international *souvenir* hotel linen…? Oh, BTW, you could use more “bath” size towels – especially if you continue to have house guests! And I’m not seeing [it’s really hard to tell in the photo] a lot of standard size wash cloths there either? — Really, what is it with guys living alone and only having just a couple [or no] wash cloths around? Also, [FYI] the higher ratio of [what looks like] “hand” towels doesn’t make up for the lack of the afore-mentioned and are [to me anyway] just a tad…[*cough!*]

..nevermind…

—-

Oh, hey, that “service charge”… did they charge GST on top of it too??!! If so, you should have Akemi write a “comment” to the local newspaper’s Food Editor!

crayonbaby
crayonbaby

Akemi or Fondy? The dogs? Hey, it’s gotta be the dogs who are folding towels in the dead of night. I wish my linen closet looked that neat.

I’ve not been to any restaurant where they’ve added a tip automatically unless you have a large group. Even some really pricey ones. That’s just a way to drive customers to never come back, especially if the meal was hit and miss.

Great. More books to add to my reading list. Not like I didn’t have a million right now. Well, probably enough to reach the ceiling and back at my house. Still, that’s a lot.

GenericWhiteGuy
GenericWhiteGuy

Yes. Clearly no human would stack towels like this.

Andrew Thornton

I came into a little free time and binged myself on a marathon of seasons 9 and 10 of SG1 and the SG1 movies, (and the first half of SGU on DVD). Curiosity led me to your blog, trying to track down information on if any more movies were in the works.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed reading your posts… especially the food posts.

The occurrences of late remind me of the first time I met up for lunch with one of my Japanese friends in art school. We rendezvoused in the park and pulled our lunches from our bags. She had a glossy bento box neatly wrapped in a decorative cloth with maple leaves and sakura blossoms. I had a beat-up tupperware container that had seen better days. She unfolded the cloth and produced a neat little lunch, with all the vegetables cut into cute shapes and even an anime character’s face pressed into the sandwich. I had the remnants of leftovers from the night before hastily thrown together. Now, whenever we meet up, I feel the obligation to impress her with my own fancy cut vegetables.

Back to the shows… keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see what develops on SGU and hope that the new movies happen!

Luis
Luis

Who folds their underwear????

duneknight
duneknight

yes yes i remember now, it was not too long ago that we were forced to deal with this level of supernatural elements. Quick, gather the following items: a guitar string, Chinese mustard, keyboard buttons R and F, Barry White CD, ink from a Reynolds pen and an old calender of the year 2000.
meanwhile, all i have to do is solve the Goldbach Conjecture in time and finally beat this thing!

btw, those pics make me hungry. oh and USA! USA! USA!

Debra
Debra

LOL share the ghost! Glad you have company, empty house is hard.