Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for The Guardian, begins his column: “Good things don’t always come easy.”
He warns that prices are sky high at the Payvllon, a new restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in London, and then describes how very difficult it is to book a table there (roughly 10 phone calls plus numerous e-mails).
Once Rayner finally made it to the restaurant, he found singular offerings: chocolate salad dressing, smoked salmon filled with salmon mousse topped with blinis the size of shirt buttons, a horseradish cream and beetroot, deep-fried oysters dotted with trout roe, langoustine tart, a roasted apricot set into caramelized puff pastry with a scoop of lavender ice-cream with spirals of honey.
Rayner pronounces his food, coming from a chef who holds 15 Michelin stars, “lick-the-plate delicious.” He also describes how his lunch came with a side dish of drama. “At 2 p.m. the fire alarm sounds. We are told cheerily that it’s a test. Why a five-star hotel like the Four Seasons would plan its test for the middle of lunch instead of, say, 4 p.m., God only knows. But it gets better. The moment finishes with an announcement that the test is over. If the alarm goes again, we should follow advice. Ten seconds later it does indeed go off again. It continues for many minutes. In between there are calm recorded announcements telling us to leave the building. Nobody moves. The staff grins. The Klaxon honks. And honks. And honks. The lady’s voice politely tells us to save ourselves.”
Eventually, the siren stopped, and. Rayner asks for the bill “which, with two glasses of house champagne at £31 each, should be around £285. We are told there is no bill. I insist. We pay for every meal we review. ‘No, sir,’ the manager says. ‘You don’t understand. Because of the fire alarm we have comped the entire restaurant.’”
Rayner’s recommends this restaurant, with this advice: “Pray for a faulty fire alarm, or just sell a kidney.”
No chocolate salad dressing, oysters or champagne on the menu for Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center, but the very American menu there is inviting.
Aug. 28, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Pulled chicken sliders, baked beans, coleslaw and ice cream.
There are two slider origin stories and both come from the White Castle restaurant chain. One indicates that a slider was a small burger that slides down the throat. The other tale features smiling cooks putting a burger on a porcelain plate and sliding it down the counter to the customer.
At the Charlotte Senior Center, you slide your tray down the counter, where smiling volunteer cooks will hand you sandwiches, baked beans and coleslaw on porcelain dishware. All the dishes are washed and put away by volunteer dishwashers who seem to laugh a lot.
Rest assured: It’s a pretty safe bet that the ice cream on the menu at the Charlotte Senior Center won’t be lavender. Or the other iced choice on that Payvllon menu —coconut and dill sorbet.
There’s considerable ice cream lore associated with U.S. presidents. George Washington was so fond of ice cream that he spent $200 on it the summer of 1790.
Thomas Jefferson arranged for the installation of an ice house at the President’s House so people could enjoy the treat year-round.
Currently, with a nod to her family’s longtime work as peanut farmers, Rosalynn Carter had peanut butter ice cream at her 96th birthday celebration.
When a child asked President Joe Biden to name his favorite flavor, he replied, “chocolate chip.”
Time Magazine reported Donald Trump got two scoops of ice cream with his piece of chocolate cream pie while others at the table got one.
As a former volunteer cook at the Charlotte Senior Center, I can attest that if the fire alarm goes off in the kitchen, the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue people will come.
One morning we weren’t quite satisfied with the taste of the roasted tomato and red pepper soup, simmering in a big pot on the stove. A team member assured us she knew how to cool down the acidic taste and dumped in some baking soda. That huge pot of soup exploded, spilling liquid over the stove and setting off the automatic fire alarm.
We quickly got the soup under control and phoned the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue people, telling them there was no need to come. But they were already on their way, with all their equipment, reassuring us, “When the fire alarm goes off, we come.”
Yes, dear reader, baking soda is a good cure for acidy tomato soup. Just a very little at a time.
There are two points here:
No reservations are needed for a lick-the-plate Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center, where a tasty meal is offered at no charge (but a $5 donation is suggested).
When summoned, the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue will be there.
Sept. 4, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The cooks are still planning. Check the Charlotte Senior Center website for menu updates.
Warning: If your child is the lucky one who finds “Going Ape: Jokes from the Jungle” at the Little Free Library at The Grange, it is likely you’ll be hearing this sort of thing:
Vulture #1: Let’s go eat up the road.
Vulture #2: No thanks. I don’t like the taste of asphalt.
This library is supported by the Friends of the Charlotte Senior Center, who recognize the importance of food for children’s minds. And know this: as a longtime reading teacher, I assure you that riddle and joke books are a great vehicle for developing kids’ vocabulary, while showing them books can offer lots of fun. Combine this with the fact that whether people go up the road, down the road or across the road, they’re in for a tasty treat at the Charlotte Senior Center.
Let’s close out August with “The 13 best songs about ice cream”.