Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothers' Day: No brunch,
great opera, bad dinner

Oh, and a great kid who made me a lovely card. I guess that's the most important part, right?

Careful readers will remember that wheels were turning in my head concerning a brunch menu weeks ago. It was to be fabulous: Smoked Salmon Beggar's Purse, Roasted Asparagus, Baked Meringues topped with fresh strawberries glazed with my homemade rose geranium jelly, . . . I was just getting going when the MIL announced that she wanted to take Sophie with her to church that morning for a special Mothers' Day service (really, the MIL think every service is special, so I'm not sure what this meant). I caved since Sophie was to spend the night with her Saturday so Husband and I could celebrate our anniversary at one of our favorite restaurants. Sophie assured me she'd call in the morning to wish me a happy Mothers' Day.

So that morning I sat and stared at the phone. Which did not ring. Several hours later I finally caved in (I know, pathetic) and called over there. No answer. They had left for church and forgotten about me. I know the MIL has been a mother longer than I have, but STILL. And I know I could have gone to church with them, except (a) I am not a supporter of organized religion, (b) church bores the crap out of me, and (c) I was not invited on what clearly seemed to be their outing.

Anywhoo, after a (too) quiet morning, I picked up Sophie and whisked her off for something more to my taste: San Francisco Opera and Cal Performance's production of the The Little Prince at Zellerbach Hall on the Berkeley campus. I bought the tickets month ago when Sophie was in SF Opera's Macbeth, thinking it would be nice for her to see an opera from the audience rather than the stage and enjoy something more suited for children. I didn't realize that the performance was on Mothers' Day, but it was the perfect afternoon activity to enjoy with my girl. She sat still and payed attention throughout, although she quickly moved into my lap so I could whisper the libretto in her ear when she was unable to understand the text of some of the singing. It was a beautiful performance, and I was happy we could enjoy it together.

Warning: Long culinary rant here.

Unfortunately, things went downhill after that. The MIL decided that what she wanted for Mothers' Day was for her sons to take her out to dinner, mistakenly thinking that Sophie and I were going into the city for an evening performance. When it was realized we were in Berkeley for an afternoon performance, we were invited to the dinner. At a restaurant of the MIL's choice, The Cape Cod. (Friends we ran in to at the opera when told of our plans mouthed in silent horror "The Cape Cod???") Yes, The Cape Cod. Which an astute reviewer noted "looks and feels like a rec room and has the musty smell of your basement." Very low cottage cheese decked ceiling round out the experience. What it really reminded me of is eating in the dining room of a nursing home. Many customers shuffle in on their walkers and eat with napkins tucked in like bibs. The fish is fairly fresh (although anything tastes good swimming in the amount of butter they use), but what they do to produce should be illegal. The salad was romaine (not quite iceberg, but close) with shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, and what had to be bottled dressing. Vegetables on the side were a mix of (clearly frozen and then steamed) carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. You can just imagine them opening the bag back in the kitchen. Of course every plate features a large frill of curly parsley. And did I mention the salt? No, but I don't need to, do I? But really, the food was not the worst part. The service was so slow that it took us almost two and a half hours to get out. Not good with a small kids who needs to get home to bed (no time for a bath!). But not everything was the restaurant's fault: Why why why does that family have to order fried calamari every time we go out? The MIL always remarks "Everyone likes that!" Has no one notice that I do not like it? Have never eaten it? On the rare occasion I treat myself to fried food I want it to be something other a substance with the texture of an eraser.

Maybe I'm so bitter because I still haven't forgiven the MIL for her choice of Mothers' Day restaurants two years ago when she carted us to a little breakfast cafe she deemed "charming, just delightful." There was only one entree that did not feature eggs (I do not eat eggs), pancakes. Which were served with fake "maple" syrup and MARGARINE. Yes, margarine. I had to scrape it off.

So here's what we're doing next year: I will wake up AND STAY IN BED. Sophie will bring me breakfast. When I am finished, she will remove dishes, placing them all in the dishwasher. We will then move to the foot massage. Maybe when we get up, we'll go to a performance like we did this year. And then come home again. And eat there. The MIL is welcome to join us, of course.

I hope everyone else had a good Mothers' Day!


Sabina said...

i'm so sorry you had to throw away good money on nursing home fare... gag a gag gag... okay, so your revenge plan sounds good, and perhaps you need to just demand restaurant selection status.

MixinMike said...

Mother's Day is way over-rated. Celebration of motherhood is everyday, it's looking in the eyes of your children; being thankful our city does not shake; waking and smelling their sweet breath.

Choosing a restaurant to acknowledge motherhood, choosing the best restaurant, what does that have to do with anything?

Sorry, I love your blog, being our children is just enough

Cindy said...

Oh, Mike, you are so right. Especially about that smell . . .

Sabina said...

i didn't realize the beggar's purse recipe was from the one the only Michael Chiarello, now that's a devoted child.

Impoverished Preppy said...

Oh dear. Sorry to hear about that little fiasco. On the bright side that performance looks lovely - I'm jealous. E would have loved that.

My mom is off to Berkeley today - my little sister is finally getting her doctorate! I'll advise her to steer clear of The Cape Cod. :-)

jilly said...

I like your idea for next year. BTW-sometimes boys don't understand.. . .next time tell them that they should plan where to take her out, not let her choose.

BTW-some people have NO taste!

Jen Yu said...

I'm really sorry about your M Day disaster. When I dine out, I want to eat something good otherwise I can save $ and have a fine meal at home. When I eat a crappy meal, I feel like I got drove :( That said, you did get to spend some QT with Sophie and I think that was probably special for both of you. I suggest taking the initiative next year and nipping any foul restaurant ideas in the bud early :) Some folks have really wankered food ideas...

Angelina said...

While Mike is right, I have to say that I have always relished these little excuses to celebrate that our society makes up and why shouldn't we hope for a really delicious meal that we didn't prepare for ourselves?

Most of the food I ate in Scotland was similar to what you ate for Mother's day, except that, oddly enough, my Mother's day meal was one of the few that was really quite good.

I think it's not surprising why so many people don't like vegetables considering how many people out there don't know how to cook them.