Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What I Ate
I know that there is some rule written somewhere about blogging about what you've eaten, but I don't really care about rules (I'm just exactly that devil-may-care!). Also, I have been studiously and seriously trying to watch what I eat, opting for healthy and fresh and low calorie. But I made up for it this weekend, and my belly has taken over for my brain and is writing this post, apparently.
You need to know that I love to go out to eat. I used to love to dine out because I enjoyed tasting new things and trying to figure out what was in a dish in order to recreate it at home. I savored the ambiance just as much as the food, and swirled my wine in my glass like a true connoisseur (which would be an excellent spelling bee word, since my spell check made me try five times to get it right, and I had to actually go look it up). Now I like to eat out because someone else cooks it and someone else cleans up. If it tastes good, well, that's just a bonus. If there's alcohol, watch out.
You'd think, judging by looking at the size of my butt, that I might really enjoy a trip or eight through buffet lines, but truth be told, I don't generally enjoy buffets. The food seems dried out, or overcooked, or it just looks sad, if it's nearing the bottom of the dish. Lighting at buffets don't seem to help, either. Those warming lamps make the food look like it hurts. No, I'd rather have my food prepared for me and me alone, with all the love and care and attention that a temperamental chef can muster.
All this is compounded if it's brunch, because you know what brunch means: they've combined two meals so they get to charge you for both, all the while making you feel silly and happy because it's such a goofy word to say. So not only is your food tepid, it's expensive.
But yesterday, we decided to take Charley to brunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge. I figured we'd be paying for the scenery anyway, and it wouldn't matter if we just got some pancakes and went for hike, because it was his day and being somewhere new would be fun. We weren't disappointed by the scenery - the gorgeous falls, and the lush green trees were breathtaking. The lodge itself is very, well, lodge-y, with big stone walls and a large fireplace, and rustic dark wood. But they seated us off the patio in a very sunny, bright room. The day was overcast, so the lighting was perfection. And then came the coffee. Dark, rich and caffeinated to perfection.
Our waitress pointed us to the buffet line, and we were greeted by a long line of scrumptiousness: first there was salmon - tender and pink, and delicately whispering "eat me". It was followed by baked french toast, thick and gooey and meltinyourmouth delicious, fairy-light cheese blintzes covered with berry sauce, thick slabs of bacon, stout little hand-rolled sausages that looked so fat, so juicy, so perfectly seasoned there had to be room on the plate for more than just one. Now, take a left please and turn up the other side of the line for the gigantic bowls of shrimp, icy and pink; the asian noodle salad with chunks of raw tuna with some kind of crazy ginger sesame glaze, a penne slathered in some kind of decadent sauce so rich that I forbade my taste buds to recognize it lest I feel one frisson of guilt for how much I was enjoying it. There were pastries, all of them adorable and flaky and I managed, somehow to pass them by (I am, as I type this, plotting my next trip with my first and only stops being the pastry and dessert tables), and at the end of the line was the table with the crab legs - fresh and dangly, next to a bowl of shiny silver implements with which to tear them apart (in my case, I give you my solemn promise that I was VERY ladylike while decimating all my shellfish); and the prime rib, sliced by the handsome twentysomething in a chef's' toque. There was also a dessert table, laden with something for every taste bud: steamy apple cobbler, thick chocolate cake, and lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar. I couldn't partake of these, because after my THIRD trip through the line, I decided that if I was going to make it to the top of the falls (a somewhat steep one mile), or even out of my chair and through the dining room, well I needed to stop.
But the best part of this whole affair was that when we were finished, when we had consumed every last morsel on our plates and paid our bill, we walked out into the fresh air and hiked up, up, up until we saw where the water spilled over the edge. We stopped many times along the trail: to explore huge trees whose exposed roots provided a perfect play house climbing structure; to rest and breathe and be swept away by the gorgeous vistas of the mighty Columbia River on a sparkling Northwest day; to play along the banks of streams and feel a part of the land, but mostly to kiss Daddy, because it was Father's Day after all.