Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Birthday Cake August 15, 2009

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 10:26 pm

I work with such wonderful colleagues.  Check out the cake they gave me for my birthday.  No ordinary cake would do.  Not that I’m picky – I’m not into the generic store-bought sheet cake with shortening frosting, but pretty much anything else is fine.  But they went out of their way to find this amazing cake.  Layers of cream puffs with three different kinds of filling — vanilla custard, chocolate, and butterscotch.  (And since you couldn’t tell from the outside what the filling would be, we had to try alot cream puffs to try all flavors.  The things we must do for culinary adventure!)  The best part was the crispy caramelized sugar drizzled over the whole thing.  Yum!  Almost compensates for being another year older.  Sigh.

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Waiting, by Debra Ginsberg

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 10:08 pm

As you would imagine from someone who blogs about food and books, I read many books about food and chefs.  But now I’ve read a book about the front of the house.  Waiting, by Debra Ginsberg. chronicles the author’s experiences during her 20 years of waitressing.  The atmosphere she describes sounds just like the restaurant atmosphere descibed in the chef books (Kitchen Confidential, Heat, Making of a Chef, to name only a few) — frenzied, transient, and sexually charged, with no personal space and frequent animosity between the cooks and the waitstaff.  The book gives you an appreciation of how hard waitresses and waiters work.  The work is fast-paced and physically demanding.  Chances are, if you’re getting bad service, it’s due to circumstances beyond your server’s control — a back-up in the kitchen, another demanding table, or a shortage of server staff due to someone’s not showing up for work.  The book also reinforces the fact that a tip is not really an extra, “nice to have,” for good service, but that we’re actually subsidizing the restaurant by paying part of the waitstaff’s salary.  Waitstaff salaries are so low, sometimes below mimimum wage (which apparently is legal), that a tip is necessary to enable them to earn a living.

The tone of the book can seem whiny or sanctimonious at times.  But I enjoy reading Debra Ginsberg.  I read About My Sisters, her autobiographical account of her close relationship with her sisters, and I heard her interviewed about her book, Raising Blaze, which describes her challenges of raising a son with special educational needs.  Waiting gave me more sympathy for waiters and waitresses — but on the other hand, when my waiter at lunch the other day had to ask who ordered what (not to mention bringing me the wrong kind of quiche), I knew he should have known better.  Sometimes a little knowledge isn’t such a good thing….

 

Pike Street Market

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 8:44 pm

Pike Street Market in Seattle can be a bit overwhelming.  It’s large, crowded, and has everything imaginable.  I was tempted to hold my kids’ hands so we didn’t get separated but somehow, being young teens, they didn’t go for it.  Rather than talking about it, I’ll show you, thanks to my husband’s photography skills.  And yes, we did see the flying fish although didn’t get a picture of it.

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Alaska Cruise August 5, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 11:04 pm

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Although I’ll never do justice to the beauty of Alaska, I can’t avoid blogging about such an amazing experience as our Alaska cruise.

To Cruise or Not to Cruise?  Although I’ve been hearing raves about cruises from everyone around me, I never really thought I was the cruise type.  But a cruise is actually a great family vacation.  It offers a good balance of the luxury hotel experience and the beautiful nature experience.  Everyone in the family can do his or her own thing, and I never had to worry about where my kids were.

Selecting the right cruise line is critical.  While they’re probably all similar, some are more geared towards “fun,” which is not for me.  I didn’t want loud pop music blaring whereever I went or peppy activities that would make me roll my eyes.  On Celebrity, there were plenty of activities, but there was also plenty of quiet space.  You could take a cha-cha lesson, play bingo or Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, or go to a flower arranging demonstration, but you could also grab a cup of tea and read or watch the scenery go by.  There was also a naturalist on board who gave two funny but very informative talks every day.

Cruises offer excess – more food than you would ever want to eat, but also nice amenities like rolled towels in the pool area and blankets on the lounge chairs.  Whatever you need is right there in abundance.  The service is abundant as well.  There were about 900 staff people for 1,900 passengers.  If you set down a dish or a wet towel, it would be cleared very quickly.  The ship was always immaculate.

 

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Alaska  Some people cruise for the luxury experience, but for us, the destination was key.  Alaska was an ideal cruise destination.  Because it is relatively remote, it doesn’t seem like it would be easy to visit other than on a cruise.  I wouldn’t want to take a cruise to the Mediteranean for example, because I’d rather see the Mediteranean from the countries and towns themselves, eating in small, local restaurants rather than from a generic cruise ship.  But Alaska was great.  It was as if Mother Nature conspired with Celebrity Cruise Lines to give us incredible scenery as the afternoon’s entertainment.  One day it was the Inland Passage, a narrow strait that seemed impossibly small for a cruise ship to pass through.

 

Inland Passage

Inland Passage

Inland Passage

Inland Passage

 

Another day, it was whale watching.  The coup de grace was the Hubbard Glacier, which we watched from the helipad (open to passengers only on this day) for hours.

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier

 

Sea lions (or are they seals?) near Hubbard Glacier

Sea lions (or are they seals?) near Hubbard Glacier

 

The pictures speak for themselves.  Nothing more need be said.  I wonder how a cruise to the Panama Canal would be………

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