Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Just Matt and Ana Maria...

Was at a dinner party over the holidays and the host finally opened the wine I brought: Merlot, Seven Hills, Walla Walla, Washington, 2013.  He splashed a rush of gorgeous varietal color into immense burgundy stemware, the nose was intense and it focused lush blueberries, cocoa, and currents.  I love this already.  The first sip, and I closed my eyes...delicate tannins and balanced acidity on the palate, the aromas carried over to the palate, with blackberries and dark chocolate setting off a series of mid and back palate detonations and finally, breathing the whole experience through the olfactory after swallowing.  My eyes opened, my chin dropped as I stared into this divine liquid clinging to the sides of my Austrian crystal stem.

"Matt needs to be here," I lamented, shaking my head,"this is friggin stellar, it's a pour that you talk to!"  He knows because he planted and started the vineyard and winery with his dad and 7 brothers back in the 70s.

Sometimes, I talk to wine.  When it is particularly enchanting, it becomes a muse that temps us into not only description, but, conversation.  She speaks without talking while we respond with all 5 senses, waiting for responses to our rhetorical questions.  I needed my favorite interpreter, my wine geek brother to help me translate this beautiful verse spoken from sun and soil, vine and rain.

Matt and Ana came by last week for Clam Chowder and Garlic Bread on Christmas Eve.  Not an unusual event since they are practically family; we've seen each other in the craziest circumstances and supported each other during triumphant and sometimes bitter life moments.  Actually, they're better than blood relations since we don't carry grudges, can come together or stay away as long as we want.  If something happens on the way to the dinner table (I over-cooked a pork loin once...horribly!), we say, "oh, it's just Matt and Ana.  They understand..."
Should we go to their place and the egg whites for the egg nog are on the ceiling because the spatula got dropped into the mixing bowl, no problem.  "It's just the Quinns, they understand.  Can you grab a mop?  Oh, and watch the seat, it's a little sticky.  Beer's in the back fridge.  Dinner will be a little late."

Our friendship is like that comfy, plaid bathrobe you would never get rid of, ya know, the one missing it's cinch, so, you take a leather belt and secure it, much to the distress of your family.  Or a t-shirt with rips in the pits and the collar is about to separate, but, it has so many great memories.  You didn't get into it to 'create memories' or become threadbare, but, it just kinda happened because every time you came in contact with it, it just felt right. And stains?  We laugh them off eventually, and call them 'character marks.'  Each was earned and from each we learned. 

Ana is a great story teller.  She spent her adolescence in foreign countries as her father worked for the State department.  Since her mom was from Mexico, Ana blended well during posts in Chile, Bolivia and Italy.  Her relaxed manner in regards to time and schedules is legend; her compassion for the down-trodden is exemplary.  Summer parties on the back deck are incomplete until she tells a tale of high school cigarette smoking at a convent in Rome, visits to Uncle Pepe' in Mexico City or market excursions in Bolivia with the domestic staff.  Ana's timing is pitch-perfect, she displays a grin that barely breaks, laughs so hard it squishes her cheeks, and works an eyebrow that conveys simple surprise to unbearable breaches of protocol.   She commands unsolicited, yet, prolonged hugs from my adult boys, their undivided attention during Life Journey critique and plate clearing, Prosecco filling needs are fulfilled with a well directed, maternal smile.

All in a barely 5 foot frame.

Our friendship began over meals at our restaurant, the former Ivy House.  They were customers, I was the chef in a sweaty t-shirt, apron and shorts, pressing hands and checking on customers satisfaction. They were a young family, but, evolved into much more than clients.  We share a passion for stinky cheeses, eclectic menus, tapas, any kind of grilled meat.  Wine is a particular area of shared interest; we go deep into acids, tannins, mouth-feel and finish.  We can sit at a table, talk, laugh, discuss and agree-to-disagree till the wee hours. 
They were restaurant regulars, became friends and are now indispensable members of our family.  We are solid.

Food, wine, dining together are transformational; we discover, we learn, celebrate and grow.


We are all blessed and this next year, I hope you have someone so special, so close you can succeed and fail with the same sense of acceptance.  'Foodie Friends' that praise your best efforts and are blind to your mistakes. Food is the vehicle, the table is our road, but, lasting friendship is the destination. 

Take care, God bless and remember,

"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"


Friday, December 15, 2017

Gifts Money Can't Buy...

Received a Facebook post that a friend had made, imploring anyone in the area to get to the mountain quick; they had 20" of new snow and regardless of seasonal shopping obligations, we needed to embrace the day, the season, by immersing ourselves in God's glorious nature.  She concluded that, "the best things in Life aren't things..."

So, it got me to thinking.  What is Christmas about, really.  Other than the main focus of the celebration of our Lord's birth, and a beautiful celebration it is, where do we stand in the mix of all this swirling, commercial confusion?  Do we buy more stuff to show our love, do we add $100 to the collection plate at church, or plug-in an extra display to our outdoor light scheme?  I stopped and thought of the last 24 hours and how it was different than other months.  How am I changing and how are people changing during Christmas...?

Standing in line at the neighborhood, Safeway supermarket line is one of my favorite experiences.  Who is the checker, what is her stress level and who are my co-shoppers?  I'm usually in the Express Line, which is neither fast, nor a line, since so many people have 15 items or less, that there is a daisy-chain of humanity trailing off into the pet food aisle.  Nonetheless, we stand and eventually a conversation begins.
"So, fresh pineapple already cut up and vanilla extract...I see a cake in your future," I commented to the lady behind me.  Conversations are never initiated by the person behind, that would be intrusive.  It is up to the person in front to pass a favorable word to the person behind us; reaching out, as it were in a kindly manner.
"Well, yes, my neighbor watched our house while we were away during Thanksgiving and this is going to be our 'thank you' to her.  She is such a dear."
"Well, bless your heart, I wish I was your neighbor, that's a very kind thing to do..." I said.
"It IS the Season and you know, it's such a great time to thank all the people in our lives.  We're so very fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors.  Our kids grew up together and attended the same schools.  We're blessed to have neighbors who are genuine friends!"


I was sitting on the couch this afternoon, working through the flu, when the screen door made the 1-2-3 noise that only a wheelchair bound neighbor with a cane can make.  Like she's a Marine breaching a door in Afghanistan, fer chrissakes!
"Hey Dennis, I was just dropping off some soup for you.  It's my Romanian grandmas recipe and it will make you feel better."
"Thanks, Rhonda-le'."  I was in socks standing at the threshold, but, she was parked with the brake on and ready for a visit.  Went outside and sat on the steps, crossed my arms round my legs and asked how she was.
"Oh Dennis, I told him that I'd give him a year and after that, I'd move back to family in Washington.  This working in Seattle and home on the weekends isn't what a relationship is about.  We have a house in Portland and that's where he needs to work!"

She talked for a bit about how she was so angry with him, but, how they both loved each other so much.
"Dennis, he told me that he couldn't live without me," she whispered in a soft voice, "wanna have a drink?"

I popped up, grabbed the dish towel wrapped chicken soup and bounced into the kitchen.  Put the soup in the fridge, put on a toasty duck hunting coat, poured two bourbons in lightly faceted, whiskey neat glasses and went back outside.  Her eyes lit up.  She slid her right hand into a hidden pocket on her Hoveround and whipped out a cigarette like an old West gunslinger.
"Oh, Dennis...what's this?!"
"Bourbon," I quipped, "you said we need to get together for a Holiday drink.  Well, here we are!"
"Just seems like we used talk more during the nicer weather, ya know, out in the yard.  Just talking. I miss that...well, Cheers!" she lamented.
"Did I tell you that big-ass coyote came up the street last night at 7:00 as the girls were getting into the car for the Christmas pageant?  The BIG one!  He high-tailed it to the top of the hill once a cars lights came on him,"  I told her matter-of-factly.
"Oh Dennis, when's somebody going to do something about him?!  I mean, all they found of Michelle's cat was a paw up in the cul-d'-sac.  That's it, a paw right there in the road!  Don't you have a gun with a silencer or something?!"
I assured her that I would do my best with Lisa and Siobhan out of town this week.  I couldn't divulge details, since it may incriminate her.  Rhonda nodded briskly, then flicked her cigarette and smiled slowly.
"It's getting cold and I should get in.  Thank you for the chat and drink," as she reached for her pumpkin pie plate from Thanksgiving I brought out, "and Fluffy still sleeps on my back porch sometimes.  I brought her a blanket, but, she seems to prefer the elements."
I thanked her for watching my cat, the neighbors cats, my gopher holes, hops and tomato plants.
"It's what I do Dennis.  Some people say I should make a business out of it..." she cackled as her buggy pulled a 180 in the walkway and down the driveway she went.

Christmas is a perfect opportunity for reflection.  Winter is upon us, the world is quiet, and in silence, there is God.  Each single element we bring into that silence is profound and magnified by it's purity.  I put on Mark O'Connor, a bluegrass fiddler, this evening with only the Christmas tree lit to write.  No TV. No extraneous noise, laugh tracks, booming voices from commercials.  Just the tap of my heel lightly touching the Douglass Fir floor in time to Amazing Grace.
The traditional music foundations from Irish and Scots immigrants formed the basis of all American music and is still so moving when we allow it to be so.  Peaceful, emotive, reflective; it can make a fire burn slowly and deliberately as you watch it consume itself and fall asleep to it's wisps and gentle sighs.

Thank you, Kristy Lou for your passion of snow, beauty and service to others.
Thank you, Rhonda for chicken soup to a sick neighbor.
Thank you, Mark O'Connor for bringing traditional American music to Christmas.

The Best Things in Life Aren't Things!

Merry Christmas,

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cooking at the community college #5..."I hate onions."

Between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., things are a little quiet at the griddle station.  Restock for the next day, pre-cleaning and sanitizing for the days end, and service for the occasional food order.
'Mason' approached, looking somewhat bewildered as he glanced side-to-side, hoping to find instructions posted or a counselor on hand to guide his search for a hot sandwich.

"How's it going, what can I do for you?" I asked, giving him a generous and welcoming smile.  The verbal cues seemed to settle his meal time trepidation and he flashed a broad, beaming smile.

"Oh, sweet!  Ummm, I just wanna get a burger and some fries," he stated.   I showed him how to fill out the order form and where to place it for future reference.

"Soooo, just meat and cheese?" I asked, scanning his white chit, "No lettuce, pickle, tomato, onions?"
He claimed to have missed that part, feeling that it would be like the advertising pictures with all the accompaniments on it.

"Everything only no onions, hate 'em," was his final word.

Come to find out, after a very short interview with his culinary consultant, Mason didn't like the heat of raw onions.  We can fix that, I told him.

"OK, while, the burger is cooking, let's try some things out with onions," I stated, like an instructor prodding a reluctant student, "we're gonna grill some using a few easy-to-do preparations.  You folks in the home audience can try this in your own kitchens."  My fake, info-mercial voice was on and it caused Mason to break a crease of a grin on one side of his mouth.  He strained his neck to watch how I put melted bacon drippings onto the hot griddle and spread thinly sliced onions onto the surface in a low stack.

"Next, I'll use just canola oil in another pile, and finally, cook a third portion in canola then, reduce with Balsamic vinegar.  That shit will blow you away, dude!"  I was getting excited as the chemistry of applying heat to the carbohydrates in onions was explained.  Those carbs converted to simple sugars, then, the simple sugars became 'caramelized' with additional heat, giving grilled onions a sweetness that is antithetical to the pungency we experience in say, a fresh salsa.

"Dude, it smells so friggin' sweet!" he told me as his eyebrows raised while pulling on the bill of his ball cap, leaning further over the grill, "that's amazing..."

With a pair of kitchen tongs, I pinched the onions in bacon fat for him to taste.  His face said he had just finished a test.  The ones in canola, he gave a neutral nod of agreement.  The onions in oil and reduced in Balsamic vinegar, elicited the look of a marathon finisher.

"Oh...My...God...!" he quietly murmured, "I want those on my burger!"

"What did you learn at college today, Mason?!  That onions are friggin dee-licious when they're prepared the way you like 'em, right?  I chided.

"Yes, sir.  Thank you SO much!" he concluded, reaching over the sneeze guard for a fist bump.

Atta Boy...

Cooking at the Community College...#2...Miss Tina

(This was from June '17, but, forgot to post it)

"Well, hellllll-o, handsome!" It was Tina, my favorite transitioning student at the community college, sidling up to the sneeze guard separating her from me at the fryer station.

 "How's your day goin'?" she inquired in a perky, supermarket, check out girl tone of voice. She then leaned one arm on the old tray line, swinging her chin upon her shoulder in a rehearsed pose of classic, Hollywood seduction.  Goodness, it's early, I thought, but, we have theater in the cafe' today. With great earnestly, I resolved to remain virtuous to this cooing temptress by shaking a basket of tater tots, grabbing her standing, daily order of gourmet fries and dropping them into the scalding oil.

"Not too shabby," I started, looking away from her and gazing out across the Cougar Cafe' pausing, "but, it just got better."

Looking directly at her, I needed to make eye contact and parry her fledgling advance.  A confused, 20 year old queen isn't going to put me on my heels, I thought.  Flattering though it may be, attempting to put this middle-aged cook in a dither at my own work space is not an open audition. There will be push back.  Gloves off...

"How's your morning going, sweetheart?" I confidently inquired, "love your blouse and jeans shorts outfit...PERfect for our first 90 degree day of the year.  And the dark denim of the cut off short-shorts? Nice contrast to the lighter top.  I LOVE the puffy, Mexican peasant shoulders, too.  They really suit your body type.  Oh well, I could go on..."

Her mouth was visibly agape; hazel eyes bulging and stunned behind black rimmed, safety glasses.  A blank expression had set into a light, powdery foundation; a few blotches of acne concealer barely visible under a soft pink expertly brushed into her plumped cheeks. The boy from Pendleton that became a girl in Carlton actually blushed.  She took a breath and composed herself.  Someone finally noticed her.

"It's all I had today.  Was running late, slept through my first mid-term, then...," she began making swirling gestures with a hand in the air, rolling her eyes in an attempt to break my fixed and piercing stare.  Tina actually looked away and pretended to wave at a friend across the cafe'.  She nervously resumed our conversation and peered into the fryer, hoping her gaze would complete the cooking process.

"Girl did what Girl had to do with what Girl had," I stated matter-or-factly,  "And she looks FABULOUS!" I confirmed, pulling the french fries out to hang for a few seconds.  Tossing them in a bowl with seasoning salt and into a paper-lined basket, I then loaded them with Tina's favorite toppings: bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic/parm and sour cream.  Presenting the dish to her, she commented,

"And you remembered no green onions..."

"Of course I remembered.  Enjoy, and have a great rest of your day, sweetheart" I offered.

Daintily selecting, then tasting a few shoestring potatoes, Tina turned, threw her head back and winked,

"It just got better..."

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cooking at the Community College, #4, 'Gene'

Probably in his mid-fifties, he strolled through the food court area surveying choices, cold cases with prepared foods, beverage coolers with colorful, trendy products and fountain stations with inverted RC Cola cups, stacked in columns and at the ready.  A tray with Rice Krispie Treats in tidy plastic envelopes occupied one shelf, cookies the size of dinner plates sat shingled neatly next to an Italian pottery bowl of apples, oranges and bananas; Devil and Angel.  Finally, the ubiquitous 'Bagel with Cream Cheese', a throwback to the '70s, holding steady next to the not yet filled lunch crock pot of  'Soup of the Day.'

None of which impressed Gene, nor do they ever.  The man from Boise via Mollala, does like to take in the sights though, just in case there's something to entice his predictable tastes.  Invariably, he moseys on over to the griddle station, says hello and fills out a breakfast order ticket for a dish that is familiar, offering great value: two buttermilk pancakes the size of hubcaps, with two strips of bacon, cooked, but, not crisp.

"She wants me to pay for toilet paper, can ya believe that?!"  he calmly stated, fully expecting the absurdity of the statement required no voice intonation and my immediate concurrence.  His head was cocked slightly backwards, black rimmed glasses resting on the bottom third of his nose with every intent of seeing through them at this acute angle.  Unfortunately, being a mouth-breather, it makes him look cross-eyed and detracts from any thought emanating from his mouth. The comb-over haircut doesn't help matters any and putting a vest over yesterdays elk hunting shirt can't hide the fact that you're wearing the same clothes two days in a row...

"So, whaddya think about that?  $425 dollars a month for my room and she wants me to pay for toilet paper.  Doesn't seem right, does it?  To you, it don't seem right, does it?  I mean whadda YOU think about that?"
Gene was laying his case out in the court of common sense as his two pancakes got the flip.  It's hard to keep a straight face sometimes.  The faint whistles he makes when he speaks nearly kill me.  Looks like all his own teeth, but, s-words come out like he's calling a wayward pooch in from a morning shit on the front lawn.

"Ya know, with these hood fans right over my head," I called in an exaggerated manner, "it's hard to hear very well, but, I'll tell you what.  If you have a common restroom for multiple tenants, seems to me that the land lord should cover that expense, since you all don't have a private bath.  She's just trying to put that cost onto you...ain't right, Gene" I offered.

He nodded and grinned, giving his receding hairline a reassuring swipe with this left hand to confirm his stand and opinion on things.  Gene even seemed to bounce a time or two on his feet, giving it a 'Hell Yeah!" while bobbing his head.

"Movin' in with my daughter at the end of the month and gave my notice," he concluded, "so, ta hell with that landlord, anyways."
I assured him that was a sound and prudent move; being with family and closer to the community college was a win-win.

"So, what are you studying, right now?  What's your plan after completing your education?" I asked as I draped his frisbee-sized flapjacks on a plate.

"Well, I'm studyin' reading and math.  Never read so well and need to be better with numbers," he whispered across the sneeze guard.
"I'm on disability, ya know.  Got T-boned by a drunk when I was a cab driver in Portland.  Get $947. 32 per month.  The new rent will be $300, school is covered, take the bus, so, I got about $500 free money each month.  Pretty good, huh?"

"Reading and Math...what am I gonna do with it?" he beamed looking up from his pancakes,

"Enjoy Life more...!"

Thanks, Gene.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cooking for...None?!

I miss cooking for starving, ravenous boys.  I'm talkin' about high school boys that wake up hungry, eat potatoes, bacon, biscuits for breakfast and chug a gallon jug of milk as they try to hide behind the refrigerator door.  The very same lads have lunch at school and upon return home, make a B-line for the kitchen, dropping books, gym bags and jackets along the way, following their noses to the stove top, lifting a few pot lids to inspect the evenings offerings.  The first question is always the same for every guy,
"When's dinner ready, I'm STARVING!!" The high school exchange students were more tactful in their inquiries,
"Um, Mistah Queen, what time is dinn-ah?"  6:00, same as always, Nghia or Luis or Ching-shi.

Music to my ears. Young men will and do eat anything, so, you're guaranteed success and a feeling of accomplishment.  There are no picky eaters, no allergies or sensitivities, no scraps in the garbage.  It's clean and they'll do dishes when you ask them.  But, when they leave, it's like you've been down-sized at work or retired.  You've gone from boots on the ground to management.  Player to coach.


Hey, I think to myself, I can still cook for a crowd.  Come on, somebody come over, text some kids to invade and raise hell. I need a party in the basement requiring late night appetizers.


Siobhan awoke Monday morning for her second week of 5th grade.
"Baby, what would you like for breakfast, eggs and bacon?  An omelette? Bagel with cream cheese or a chicken-cheese quesadilla?"

"Daddy, I'm not very hungry.  I have to take my shower and do my hair.  Thanks."
Risa, our Japanese community college, female student hasn't started classes yet, so, she is asleep till noon.  There I stood like a batter in the box taking practice swings, only no pitcher.  Actually, no game.  Shoved my cast iron pan to the back burner in disgust and disbelief.  This is how it ends, I thought, old cooks don't die, they just don't have anymore customers.  They shop, do their mis en place, take inventory, plan seasonal adjustments and events, but, lack a clientele.  They get diabetes, the gout and burst like an over-ripe melon in August.  Wait a second...


My next door neighbor with her MS, cigarettes, two electric chairs and prying personal questions, who loves to trim my shrubbery without asking, who smoke bombs my gopher holes so they don't migrate to her yard, she always appreciates a plate when her boyfriend is away for the week.

(text message): Hey, I'm coming over with some breakfast.  You awake?  I'll put it outside the sliding glass door.

(Rhonda reply): I'm awake, come in and set it on the kitchen counter.

I dish up a Tillamook cheddar omelette with mushrooms, bacon and green onions.  A quick wrap with plastic and out the back door I go.  She's slid the door open ahead of me as I approached her back yard.

"Dennis, just put it by the microwave.  Whadja make anyways?"
Oh, nothing special, I tell her as I tip the plate towards her.  The omelette is shining with a garnish of salsa and sour cream on top.

"Oh, DEN-iss, that's beautiful.  And HUGE!  How I'm gonna eat all that?"
"One bite at a time," I reply, "and use a napkin," winking at her.
"Thank you, Dennis."

"No Rhonda, thank YOU for being here, my one and best customer this morning."

Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends, 
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"


Monday, July 31, 2017

...our Daily bacon...?

What if the Lord's Prayer actually said, "...and give us this day our Daily bacon..."?

Bread is fine, don't get me wrong, and really good bread is brilliant.  I love the chewy texture and light acidic tang of San Francisco sourdough.  Olive Pugliese is heaven when grilled or just dipped in olive oil as an appetizer.  A sturdy, dark Russian loaf, sliced and slathered with sinus blazing mustard and cured meat is the epitome of sustenance.  But, bacon?  It raises the Dead...

A guest at our Fourth of July party brought a perfect little tray of deviled eggs as part of the pot-luck and handed me a brown paper wrapped package.  "You'll need something to help you clean up tomorrow morning after the mess we leave," she assured me with a chipper smile; lipstick and shoes perfectly matching coral.  I didn't open it for two days, but, when we eventually got around to opening it and giving it some heat, Brendan, our home for the summer collegiate, found his voice.

"Shit!  Where the F is this from!?  Dad, this is like the BEST bacon I've ever's so thick and the smoke is like perfect...and like it's not crispy...these are like bacon steaks!"  I allow some latitude with language when the girls are not awake, so, channeling his passion for an outstanding product via dorm room profanity was permissible.
"So, you like, like it then?" I replied while pouring drippings into a ramekin, only to get actual eye contact of condescension for using 'like' twice in a sentence.
"Yeah, it's from Otto's Sausages over in Eastmoreland on Woodstock Blvd.  They've been doing things right for over 80 years.  Break down deer and elk, too, cut and wrapped."
"Damn, it's as good as Daily's, "  Brendan noted, referencing our preferred, commercial brand we source for our home in restaurant supply houses, only this was even thicker.

Brendan and I went on to analyze these hefty strips of cured pork belly.  What makes superior bacon so much more of a treat?  Cut, cure, smoke?  All of the above we concurred, but, proper slow cooking is key to doing honor.  The fat and the meat in bacon must be cooked to the same temperature.  Too fast and the meat draws up, curling the strip while the fat remains in cupped pockets of white. Wrong.
Too slow and over done?  The fat renders and becomes crisp creating a rigid strip of incinerated protein and crunchy fat more reminiscent of Mexican chicharrones.  

Last week, the family went on an outing to the Columbia River Gorge with stops at one art museum and a winery.  It was a beautiful and breathtaking drive, but, a long one in 95 degrees.  A final stop in Hood River at Full Sail Brewing seemed a logical recompense for the girls, Siobhan and Risa our Japanese exchange student, being such troopers.  Plus Mom and Dad needed a pint of hoppy, malty goodness.  Bonnie Belle ordered a cheeseburger, the rest of us Big Salads.  The facility is a monstrous brewing complex started in 1987 and has grown each year.  With balcony seating overlooking the windsurfers on the Columbia River and bustling train tracks directly below, it can't be beat. Cheese and crackers would have been fine.  And beer.

Salads arrived and our 8 month pregnant waitress slid Siobhan's burger, open-faced, into her place setting.
"Dad, lookit," she motioned with her finger, "this bacon looks a-MAZ-ing!"
Sure as hell, on top of her burger patty with lightly melted cheese, lay two thick, perfectly cooked slices or porcine art, draping her entree like a festive table runner at a holiday meal.  
"Oh baby, that looks NICE!" I proclaimed as Siobhan held a look of finding a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
We all dug in and as usual, something funny came up while dining.  Risa cannot, under any circumstances, eat carrots or celery.  So, Siobhan tried to fool her by blindfolding her with a napkin and putting small bites into her mouth while Risa guessed what it was.  She immediately spit out the carrot shavings and minuscule celery slices we attempted to trick her with.  The blindfold was passed around and each of us allowed our dining partners to put things in our mouths to test our palates.  It became a source of entertainment to tables around us, but, I thought, it's OK; we weren't being loud or vulgar, just having fun.  I was last...
Siobhan fed me a garbanzo bean, a black bean, Dijon with catsup.  Slam dunk.

"Last one, Dad," she proclaimed as laughter increased around us.
Something scratched my nostril and soon was IN my nose!  I jerked my head back, yelled 'OW!' and ripped off my blindfold to see Siobhan holding one of her french fries in two fingers.
"That's not fair!" I yelled.
"It's a French Fry, dad,"  she beamed with a horrible grin.

Tables around us were hooting.  Thank God it didn't have any dipping sauce on it.  Again, no harm and no foul.
We finished our meals but, Siobhan had one bite left of her burger.  I offered to take care of it and she graciously acquiesced.  The meat was thick and retained a perfect Medium temperature, the tail-end of a piece of bacon remained.  Fortune was smiling on me.  It was beyond delicious.  The texture of the meat was as if we cooked it at home, the bacon cooked on a sheet pan in an oven, the best way to have flat, meat/fat doneness.

We paid our waitress and headed for the door, weaving through tables of windsurfer spectators.
"I'll bet that bacon was Daily's Brand," I told Lisa, "it was THAT good."
Passing the kitchen door, I couldn't help it, so, asked a nearby waitress what bacon brand was used for the burgers.  She looked at me for a second like I was some kinda nut, then, changed to server face and said she would inquire.  Peeking through the service door, I saw her asking a cook.  His shoulder shrug indicated he didn't know and really didn't care.  A floor manager passed by and came through the kitchen door, asking if I needed help.  I told her how impressive the simple burger was: beef with Medium temp throughout and the bacon was perfectly cooked, not raw, not crunchy strips of fat.
The waitress popped through the door at this time.

"We use Daily's brand that what you wanted?"

Yes, it's exactly what I wanted.  Thick, flat, salty, smokey bacon that lays like glove leather.

Thank you Lord for our Daily Bacon...

Take care, God bless and remember:

"Food, Faith, Family and Friends, 
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"