Fred and I had long established we wouldn't be going out for dinner on Valentines day. I can't think of anything less romantic than eating from an overpriced restricted set menu, surrounded by a sea of couples all going through the motions. I used to get quite excited about Valentines Day when I was a kid. But it had nothing to do with chocolate, or roses, or fancy dining and everything to do with wondering who sent me that mystery card? If, indeed, I was lucky enough to receive one that year.
The other night I just double checked with Fred to be sure. Hey you don't want me to do anything special on Monday, do you, like cut a steak into a heart shape or some thing? Fred raised his eyebrows across the table. "I don't give a shit", he said. Good, I thought, that's my boy. So, nothing cutesy for us tonight. But that doesn't mean we can't laugh at the menus other people are going to be wasting their money on.
Take a seat (put a bucket on one side, in case you feel sick) and let Cupid feed you this monstrous Meat Menu for $52 (wine pairing an extra $35.) The setting? An ugly strip mall in a 'nowhere' part of a sprawling town about 15 miles outside of San Francisco. The price they quote is a good $7-20 more than at a few well-established mid range places in the city, whose menus I glanced at whilst walking through town on Saturday. All the quoted menu misspellings, bad punctuation and repetitiveness are theirs. All thoughts on what was going in their minds when they created it, are mine.
3 cheeses (smoked Gouda, Sharp Cheddar coated with sliced almonds, and Brie)
Champagne Vinagrette, Pt Reyes Blue Cheese, and cherry tomatoes
Braised Beef Shanks
Beef shanks Braised until tender, turned potatoes, turned carrots, and sticky rice
Pears poached in a simple syrup, pear sorbet and strawberry coulis
Cheese Platter 3 cheeses (smoked Gouda, Sharp Cheddar coated with sliced almonds, and Brie)
So let's start with a a hefty cheese platter. Why not? This America, let's do it the way we want to. What do Europeans know anyway? Why wait to the end of the meal? Let me fill you up on some heavy slabs of dairy before we go any further. What do you mean you don't like smoked Gouda? What do you mean, hardly anyone likes smoked Gouda? What do you mean you've never encountered cheddar wearing an almond coat? Why should you care where the cheese actually came from? Forget the champagne, why don't you enjoy a nice port apperitif?
Endive Salad Champagne Vinagrette, Pt Reyes Blue Cheese, and cherry tomatoes
There, now you can have a nice glass of bubbly, it will pair better with the vinaigrette. And look, I've actually told you where I got the cheese this time, a bit of name dropping never does any harm. I'm learning fast, no?
Braised Beef Shanks - Beef shanks Braised until tender, turned potatoes, turned carrots, and sticky rice
No. I have to spell it out for myself, look. Braised beef shanks are beef shanks that have been braised. And I must remind myself I should cook them until they are tender. The vegetables will be turned - and no, don't be cheeky, that doesn't mean they've turned round and fled my kitchen screaming. Don't be so mean, when I am being so kind and preparing both potatoes and rice, isn't that generous of me! What do you mean? You'd prefer a light meal, tonight of all nights? I don't understand? I am charging you $52 for this, you're going to be mad at me if I don't fill you up, surely? No I didn't do any research in to the aphrodisiacal qualities of beef shanks. Look, I just don't know what you are talking about anymore. You've lost me on this one. I am just out of school and I'm not allowed to have my first legal drink until April, I'll be an adult soon and then please will you come back and explain?
Poached Pears - Pears poached in a simple syrup, pear sorbet and strawberry coulis
What do you mean, simple just about sums me up? Look, despite having no experience and knowing nothing about how to live, how to eat, or how to drink, I've spent a whole 17 minutes coming up with this beautiful menu, artfully printed on red paper and I think you are being very rude and very ungrateful. Go away and leave me in peace to make loads of money out of some unwitting customers, won't you...?
That menu is absolutely real. I didn't invent it for comedic effect. I assume some poor victims will actually be eating this crap tonight and paying through the nose for it. Heart Failure