The plan was to get together with the boys this afternoon and continue our Game of Thrones season 2 marathon (this is how guys spend Sunday afternoon’s during the NFL off-season), but schedules didn’t line up (Ivon has a meeting with his parole officer, while Lawren’s girlfriend is hosting her Oprah’s book club meeting and he promised he’d stay home and bake scones) so I ended up working instead. As a result, I ended up completing the eighth act of the miniseries Paul and I are writing. That’s two hours, eight acts, and 106 pages down – and roughly the same amount to go. I’m only at the halfway mark!
Between these fairly intense and exhausting writing sessions, I’ve taken the occasional break to head out with the dogs, do some readings, and go out for the occasional meal. There was a time in my life I would eat out every night. Now, the majority of my meals are enjoyed at home, and my last few dinners out haven’t exactly made me nostalgic for the old days. It’s been disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. Not even the food offerings of the annual Summer Night Market were able to live up to my relatively low expectations.
Last night, Ivon joined Akemi and me in checking out the annual Summer Night Market (not to be confused with the very similar Richmond Night Market we’ll be checking out next weekend, now with even lower expectations). No one goes to these things for the flea market sales. They go for the food. And the food on this night was mostly unmemorable or downright disappointing. I’m not why the organizers felt they needed half a dozen food stands all serving the same fried potato sticks. On the other hand, I felt bad for the sushi vendor who, despite the crowds, was seeing no business at all. I felt sorry for them, but not sorry enough to buy and eat night market sushi.
Another disappointing dinner took place the other day when we checked out a new(ish) seafood restaurant in Gastown. Among the lowlights: a bland lobster salad containing nominal lobster, some overdone tagliatelle with crab, some terribly underdone brussel sprouts, and a couple of desserts I actually felt sad eating because they looked like they’d commanded a fair amount of effort but the results had been so disastrous.
And then there was dinner the other night at an old (sort of) favorite. Following a salad that tasted like it should be good for you (and I mean that in the not nicest way possible), we followed with three pasta dishes we shared. The first, a spaghetti, was perfectly al dente and the accompanying sauce was simple and flavorful, if not a little less thick than on our last visit. The second, a rigatoni, was also nicely cooked, but the accompanying sauce was unremarkable. The third, a tagliatelle special (what is with tagliatelle?) was an overcooked mash that inevitably clumped together. We decided to take the pastas to go, figuring Akemi might enjoy them the next day, if not the last two then certainly the spaghetti. Moments later, our waitress returned with two boxes and informed us that one of the other servers who’d helped clear our table had mistakenly tossed our leftover spaghetti in the trash. The guilty server swung by our table to offer a half-hearted apology, then suggested our lack of leftovers should prove ample motivation for us to return and try the dish again. I was…surprised, especially given the fact that they know me. Granted, I didn’t expect them to go through the trouble of eating the $3 cost of the plate and making me a fresh serving, but it would have been nice to have been comped a dessert. Anyway, we left and I vowed it would be a long time before we made a return visit.
And those were just our last three dinner outings. Equally underwhelming were past visits to other restaurants, a few of which had always consistently in the past: three Italian, one Vietnamese, and Caribbean place (What was I thinking? This is Vancouver!). The only luck I’ve had in the past month has been with lunches. The porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread and the tacos at Tacqueria never fail to impress.
Ultimately, a disappointing dinner outing stings on many levels. There’s the waste of time, the waste of money and, perhaps most maddening, the waste of calories. I could’ve just stayed home and braised a lamb shank.