Tonight, after a day of driving around seeing restaurant customers, I ended up with a nice dinner not in my territory with a good friend who will be leaving for Paris soon. My friend got a job with an organization in Paris which is moving her there, and she is preparing to leave at the end of this month, starting work February 2nd.
Paris! Imagine. The land of cheese and wine and romantic little streets that wind through the city and end up at one of the many foot bridges that cross over the Seine.
Our dinner tonight was in Koreatown, at one of the newer, more modern (read: less smoky) Korean barbecues. Walking in, I was at once skeptical and relieved - skeptical about whether it would have great authentic Korean barbecue; relieved because it was not so authentic that it was all smoky, necessitating me to dry-clean all my clothes the very next day.
As it turned out, the food was excellent. We indulged in a kimchee-tofu-seafood soup, some barbecued chicken (which they cooked for us in the kitchen, so we didn't have to any of the work), and the best part was the numerous small dishes - tiny dishes of various preparations of kimchee and other preserved and pickled vegetables and bites. Absolutely appetizing, and superb. There was also rice to make everything taste that much better.
We didn't have wine with the meal as my good friend doesn't drink. She lamented this fact as she is going to France, the country of wine. I said, "Don't worry, you will." She wasn't really sure about that.
All in all, the meal was fantastic, the conversation enlivening, and the whole experience made me value the restaurant experience all the more.
I know in this wild economic environment, where the Citibanks are crashing, and the Intels are reporting 90% declines in profit, and the Black Anguses are declaring bankrupcy, many are not in the mood to eat out. Eating out seems like such a wasteful activity. Sure, I feel that way sometimes too. But ultimately, I don't think there is a substitute for going out to restaurants. I've been going out to restaurants with my family since I was a small child, and will continue to go out to them when I'm an old lady. There is no substitute for this comfort, this welcome treat, this chance to chat with one's friends, spouse, business partner, whomever. It is just plain pure unadulterated fun, and though in this time we might do it a tad less often, we should continue to do it nonetheless.
It is a chance not only to socialize and explore the thoughts of another person, but to explore a cuisine, an art created by an establishment...... it really is a part of a true cultured life.
So here's to restaurants! And here's my hit list of restaurants I have never been to and want to go to:
Michael's of Naples
Michael's in Santa Monica
Canlis (in Seattle)
Hmmm... I'm sure there are more... I'll have to add more later!