Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The things you do for food

Whoa, three straight days of blog posts. Someone call my doctor! LOL.

It's been awhile since I've been blogging but man do I have stories to tell. I don't usually mention them on here because most of them are a bit crazy. On the level of, "Damn, were you THAT hungry?" or "You don't even wake up that early for work!"

Here are my Top 5 crazy food stories:

5. Last minute flight to Las Vegas.

I don't know what I'll be doing if I wasn't with Hubs. Most of my food adventures revolve around his traveling schedule. After a trip from Chicago and Wisconsin, a few days later I took a last minute flight to Las Vegas to hang out with Hubs since he was consulting at MGM Grand. When Hubs can't dine with me due to work, I usually go out by myself. Luckily for me, we were staying at the MGM Grand so I was one elevator and walk away from the finest restaurants Las Vegas has offer. I walked into L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon with no dinner reservations and came out 2.5 hours later full and entertained.

4. Chef Michel Richard kissed my forehead.

During my trip to Washington, DC for a conference, I dined at Citronelle in Georgetown. As always, I was dining alone but it so happened that Chef Michel Richard was at the restaurant greeting diners. I didn't expect him to come to my table. At first I could see him at the corner of my eye and then all of a sudden he gently pushed back my shoulders. When I thought he was sniffing my hair, he landed a kiss on my forehead! He then came around and introduced himself as the owner of the restaurant and we chatted for a minute. He was concerned that I was eating alone but I replied that I was in town on business. I enjoyed our brief encounter and his demeanor is classically French. He looked like Santa Claus in a chef jacket. Aside from miniBar, this dinner was one I couldn't forget.

3. Waking up at 6:30AM to book a reservation at miniBar in Washington, DC.

I don't wake up before 9am for ANYONE. The only exceptions are 1. I'm traveling or 2. I have to book a restaurant reservation. In this case it was for miniBar in Washington, DC. The phone queue opens at 10am local time which meant I had to dial in exactly at 7:00AM PST. The phone reservation process was similar to the French Laundry so timing was key. I think 100 redials and 7 minutes later, I got into the queue and practically booked the last seat for the 8:30PM seating. I was so happy! Getting one seat out of 12 seats for the entire day is freakishly hard. My excitement level was just as high as when I got engaged (LOL, just kidding).

2. Waiting 1.5 hours for a hot dog.

The place, Hot Doug's in Chicago. The time, November 2009. Luckily it wasn't snowing yet but I love me a great hot dog. I arrived at Hot Doug's at 10:30am (it opened at 10:00am). Man, it looked like there were 50 people in line. It was a Saturday morning and I guess these people eat hot dogs for breakfast. I had to get in and out before 2pm since I had a 4pm flight back to San Diego. By the time I got to the front of the line, it was 12pm. I ordered a foie gras hot dog, corn dog and duck fries. I ordered an additional two hot dogs for Hubs to try when I got home. WTF? Yup, I wrapped the hot dogs in foil and placed them in a sealed container in my carry on luggage. That's love. Sharing is caring!

1. Dissing Charlie Trotter.

When I was booking travel to Chicago in November 2009, I wanted to dine at Alinea. By the time I called, all of the seats were taken so I was placed on the waiting list. I wanted to dine there SO BAD that I even had Hubs contact Alinea's co-partner, Nick Kokonas. Nick actually emailed us (meaning Hubs) and thanked us for our blog post from June 2009. I had Hubs write this:


Quick question, how soon should we book reservations at Alinea? We
know the book opens on the first of the month for the next two months
so we were wondering if a month or two months notice is necessary. My
wife just called and had Amanda put her on the wait list in November.
She's crossing her fingers and hoping someone cancels. Glad business
is still thriving for Alinea!


He wrote back and said this:


We are still months out on weekend reservations and 3 to 4 weeks on the rest. If you give me some specifics I can check personally on days and times.

We are very fortunate to still be having a record year despite the economy....

Best regards,


After that, we didn't get a reservation confirmation so I booked a reservation at Charlie Trotter's just in case. OMG, it must have worked (or it was luck) because on the day of the dinner, I got a call from Alinea for a opening. I was in the car with my boss and we had just arrived at O'Hare airport from Wisconsin. I didn't bother answering the phone because I didn't recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail. When I checked it someone from Alinea left me a message that they had a cancellation and had one opening at 5:30pm. As soon as I got to the rental car place, I called Alinea and confirmed the reservation. Since it was rush hour, I had to get into my rental car and drive straight to Alinea. A lot was going through my mind and not once was I thinking about my reservation at Trotters. Basically, I didn't bother calling them to tell them I wasn't showing up. I was charged $100 for the cancellation but I didn't care. I'm glad I did it because based on Achatz's recent memoir, Trotter seemed like an ass**** anyway.


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