Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘eating out

Cosmic Evening

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Our experience last night was indeed cosmic in the colossal sense. Joined by our friends, Mike and Barb, we dined at the ever so fine Capital Grille before catching Neil deGrasse Tyson presenting his “Cosmic Perspective” at the State Theater.

Typically, I was rather lukewarm to the idea when Cyndie purchased tickets last fall. April seemed so forever away and why would I want to drive to downtown Minneapolis to sit and listen to an astrophysicist talk? Now I know why. Neil deGrasse Tyson is hilariously entertaining while expounding on mind-expanding perspectives from an astrophysicist perspective.

The icing on our cake of an evening was the fact that Cyndie included Barb and Mike in our plan and selected a fine dining establishment that shares a wall with the theater. We feasted like royalty and were lucky to be served by a sublime professional who guided our selections and timed our meal with impressive expertise, right down to slipping in a delectable coconut cream pie serving for dessert with just enough time to allow me to run a doggy bag of leftovers to the car in the parking ramp down the block.

Then, it was time for the show. From the moment Neil kicked off his shoes by the podium and addressed the crowd with his good-natured, approachable delivery, I felt myself becoming an instant fan, along with seemingly everyone else in the audience, if they weren’t already.

Almost every detail or relationship of the universe he highlighted was affirming in its scientific simplicity, even when it was equally mind-boggling in complexity. The molecules in the air we breathe and the water we drink have been on this planet for centuries upon centuries and passed through others for eons.

We are built out of the same elements as the stars of the universe. It isn’t our uniqueness that makes us special, it’s our ‘sameness’.

The hubris of thinking we are anything more than we actually are is laid bare by the multitude of examples presented from a cosmic perspective. For me, it resonates with my understanding that the more we come to know, the more we realize how little we actually know.

Neil’s sharp wit provided non-stop chuckles and frequent bursts of laughter throughout the delivery of interesting scientific details about our world and its place in the universe.

When the talk appeared to be going long, he put up a universal permission slip for us all to use, especially kids for whom it was a school night. He said to take out our phones and take a picture, so Cyndie did.

We just fill in our names and we have a ready made excuse for staying out too late.

I’m not sure it will hold much influence for our horses and Delilah if we don’t serve their morning meals at the expected hour, but it helps in our minds to feel justified in our exceptional evening.

It was truly cosmic.

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Date Night

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Cyndie and I were out last night in Excelsior with friends, Eapen and Barb for dinner and some live music in support of singer/songwriter, John Magnuson, from our association of families up at the lake place.

I worked late in Plymouth until the appointed hour of our dinner reservation and Cyndie drove from home after feeding animals and walking Delilah. Then, like ships passing, I drove home and Cyndie went to her mom’s house for the night.

It proved to be one of those days when I left home in morning darkness and returned during the dark of night. Makes it seem downright wintery already.

I did actually see some daylight during the intermediate drive from Plymouth to Excelsior. I arrived with time to spare which allowed for a stroll down memory lane from my days twenty-some years ago when I worked to co-publish “City’s Tone” from a basement office just off Water Street.

It was a beautiful night for the walk. As for a “date,” it could have used a lot more “we” time.

Now, I’m on morning chore duty before logging in remotely to the day-job tasks and waiting for an appliance repair person to show up and assess the leak in our washing machine.

Nothing like the duties of daily life to all too quickly muddy the memories of being out on the town the night before. Guess we’ll just have to schedule another event. Oh! Look at this! We have another dinner date with friends already on the calendar for tonight.

Pretty good planning, eh?

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Tour Nightmare

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During my final hour of slumber this morning, I was deeply occupied with a new version of a recurring nightmare about the bike tour. The usual scenario involves a classic concern of seeing everyone around me departing well before I am prepared. A common second version I experience has me searching for my shoes or a wheel or some item that I should have but inexplicably discover to be missing.

This morning, it was rather specifically related to my early departure from the ride. I found myself needing to ride my bike back to the original start by myself while the rest of the group was already showered and departing for their homes. I said goodbye to them and set off on my own, trying to figure out how to backtrack the route I had previously ridden at the start.

Multiple disruptions ensued and my slow progress was leading to the hours passing and daylight waning. I was so ensconced in the dream that I continued to work on the details as I awoke and wondered if I was trying to reach our home in Beldenville or the start of this year’s tour in Hastings.

Alas, I am in Hayward and slept late into the morning after a glorious day prior filled with special attention for the occasion of my birthday. The evening was topped with a fabulous outing to the Tally Ho restaurant where the service was superb, the food delicious, and the laughs plentiful.

That was no nightmare.

Now I’m watching television coverage of the second stage of the 2021 Tour de France and contemplating a return to Wintervale today. There are a few animals that I need to get reacquainted with and some chores awaiting that will mark the completion of my days of vacation.

In a lot of ways, I am looking forward to it, but that isn’t a reflection of how I feel about the past week. It’s been grand.

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2021 at 9:54 am

Garden Salad

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I didn’t expect it this soon after planting, but over the weekend Cyndie served up the first salad with kale and spinach from her garden. It was fabulous tasting, as well as a wonderful reward to be eating something she has grown right here at home.

Our other weekend meal was a last-minute decision to order take-out from our nearby destination restaurant, Shady Grove. We have not been to a restaurant since the pandemic outbreak and have only had pizza and Chinese takeout up until now. When Cyndie stepped in the door to pick up our haute cuisine food, she found she was the only person wearing a mask.

Hope the patrons weren’t all traveling long distances to congregate in close proximity for a couple of hours of conversation and food. We aren’t aware of any reported cases of COVID-19 in the immediate area and most of the people we have seen are responding with understandable casualness over the risks, but who knows what might arrive undetected with travelers from afar.

Interested in protecting those around us in other parts of our lives, we opt for not sitting inside with the rest of the unfamiliar folks and dine at home for now. Neither of us is very concerned about our risk of getting sick, but we each are very interested in not becoming an unwitting carrier who could spread the illness to her family or my coworkers.

When I was down in the woods on Sunday cutting up the latest of the fallen trees, I had a thought that we should probably be focusing on planting new trees to make up for all the ones we lose. Then I realized that we find uncountable numbers of new trees popping up every spring, to a fault. They show up everywhere, particularly noticeable in places we don’t want them. In our landscaping around the house, underneath preferred mature trees, and too close to buildings.

Nature plants more trees than we ever could. We just need to figure out how to manage them.

While writing about the salad and all the new trees sprouting, I thought it would be perfect to include an image of each. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of either. Instead, you get two recent versions of our sky overhead, one taken by Cyndie and one by me. Guess which one is from me.

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We’ve been blessed with a pretty good balance of rainstorms and warm sunny days. It has made for some pretty good progress in growing salad greens and baby trees.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

Out Again

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Feeling quite the bon vivant event-goers of late, last night we found ourselves out on the town again. We took a chance with our chickens and left their coop access door open long after dark in order to head downtown to Minneapolis for dinner and a concert with Cyndie’s brother, Ben.

Highest accolades shout-out to Mercy restaurant for superb food, great service, and fine ambiance.

Oh my gosh, the salmon and fixings were sublime. Shared bites from Cyndie’s and Ben’s plates revealed their choices were just as good.

Conveniently, the restaurant was just steps away from the State Theater where Ben had tickets for a solo acoustic concert by guitarist, Trey Anastasio. I am most familiar with Trey’s electric guitar artistry on his self-titled album, but I’m sure he is better known for his role in the rock band, Phish.

I’ve seen plenty of performances that were advertised as “acoustic” but stretched the definition to a variety of degrees. Trey’s show held reasonably close to the genre.

Our seats in the balcony placed me appropriately between two levels of interested fans. There were two guys behind me who I assume came with dates who were in love with the guitarist. These guys decided to have a full-voiced conversation about the mundane, …about one of their dads, something down in a basement, how the truck was performing… in the middle of some fascinating finger movement across frets.

Two people in front of us were being moved to the highest levels of euphoria upon hearing the opening notes of every song, unable to keep their hands from floating into the air in joyous rapture, occasionally rising to their feet to dance, as if powerless to resist the bliss unleashed by the connection their minds provided to the Phish song Trey was acoustically covering.

I couldn’t join the Phish faithful in singing along, because I didn’t know the lyrics, but I was thrilled to be witnessing the live-performance virtuosity of such an accomplished musician.

It made it easy for me to overcome the urge to turn around to tell the guys about my deck and the power tools I was learning to use in replacing all the rotting cedar boards with new green-treated two-by-sixes.

As our car barreled east on I94 through St. Paul after the show, a call came in from Ben. He just wanted to let us know he was a few blocks from home already and wondered how we were doing. Funny guy. We had about 40-minutes left to get to Beldenville.

Happily, I found the chickens all safe and sound on their roost, cooing at my arrival to close the door.

Another smashing success of a night out on the town. Thanks, Ben!

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Fine Dining

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We went out to dinner last night with Mike and Barb who spent the night so they could give us a hand finishing the board replacement project on our deck today. Dinner was at our local favorite destination restaurant, Shady Grove. It’s about two minutes away from our house in a structure that looks like it used to be a house, though serving food as good as the fanciest downtown restaurants in Minneapolis.

The difference is in the extraordinary flavors. That is what sets each bite apart from what we typically experience eating out at most other comparable restaurants. A simple dinner salad comes alive with any one of their custom-made dressings providing a notable accent. I chose honey-mustard and was greatly rewarded.

Maybe the secret is in the sauce because our fun appetizer guilty pleasure of deep-fried Ellsworth cheese curds came with a surprise cup of sweet/hot chipotle sauce for dipping and that definitely took things to another level of goodness.

Even the fresh-baked rolls seemed to be graced with an extra flavor beyond just bread.

Maybe I was just that hungry.

The second I got home from work, I went out on the deck to make sure the last few old boards were pried up and nails removed in order to be as ready as possible to maximize progress today. I built an appetite before Mike and Barb arrived.

For my entrée, I chose the fish fry with a side of wild rice blend with dried cranberries. I like my fish mild, so the filets I enjoyed were more for the texture than flavor, and it was perfect in that regard. The rice blend, however, was irresistibly flavorful and that had me gobbling it up like I hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Regretfully, I was so taken by the nirvana of my eating experience that I forgot to take a picture of the meal. It would have complimented this post nicely. I was so busy living in the moment that I didn’t think to capture a shot in order to revisit it later.

I don’t think it would be smart to eat such good food every night, for fear it would become mundane and my senses dulled to the splendor.

Fine dining is fine because it is not just everyday food. If we ate this well too often, the experience would become ho-hum.

Last night was truly fine.

Here’s hoping today’s deck progress will be comparably fine. Looks like we are going to have weather that qualifies for that descriptor: fine. That is, as in, highest quality.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Late Season

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A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Celebration Dinner

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It was a small gathering last night, in terms of usual for a birthday event celebrated by Cyndie’s family. Our two kids and Cyndie’s parents met downtown in Minneapolis for a royal feast at the Melting Pot restaurant for Julian’s birthday dinner.

The fact that it was also Cyndie’s and my 38th wedding anniversary helped to bolster the celebration a couple of notches.

The multiple courses of fondue made for a long meal. I didn’t get around to snapping photos until we were working on dessert because I had been so focused on cooking my own food.

Fred had the best line of the night when he said to the waiter, “My compliments to the chef!”

There were so many flavors being mixed and mingled it was dizzying. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was eating, but it all tasted mighty good. My entree was a combination of meats that included shrimp, pork, chicken, and beef with a variety of spices. Add in six versions of dipping sauces and the two different flavored cooking oils and I had a good excuse for struggling to identify each bite.

It felt wonderfully celebratory!

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Celebrations Begin

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I think I’ve mentioned before that birthday dinners are a staple tradition in Cyndie’s family, and we doubled up yesterday, dining out twice. Barry and Carlos were sweet to travel all the way from Boston to help celebrate my big 6-0 milestone, and Cyndie brought them directly from the airport to take me out to lunch.

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Salmon salad! One of my favorites that won out over fish and chips.

For dinner, the whole crew, minus nieces and nephews, met downtown in Minneapolis on the rooftop of UNION Bar & Grill. As the sun dropped below an adjacent building, they rolled back the glass roof so we were able to dine under the evening sky.

Festive!

Thank you to Barry, Cyndie, Steve, and Sara for contributing photos!

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

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Florida Chill

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The morning was cold enough that there were wisps of evaporating moisture rising from the heated pool. I enjoyed a swim to start my day, despite temperatures in the 40s (F).

Yesterday was Fred’s actual birthday, so we updated the chalkboard sign in the kitchen.

Fred was off braving the chill to get in a round of golf, so the rest of us went on an expedition to visit Farmer Mike’s U-Pick flower and produce operation.

On the way home from the farm, we stopped for some nourishment at Dolly’s Produce Patch and Eatery. It was a little early for lunch, thus our choices ranged from Blueberry Scone, to a slice of Key Lime Pie, to my cup of freshly homemade Cream of Broccoli Soup.

The soup was divine.

The bulk of the afternoon was filled with reading and a nap in the sun, and then preparing for the grand finale of the day.

Birthday dinner for Fred would be at Real Seafood restaurant in Naples. It carried on the theme of divine food. I honestly intended to take a picture, but was so immersed in the experience, taking a picture never crossed my mind.

We were extremely well fed in every way.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2019 at 7:00 am