Of the 20 Challenges I listed for myself in 2015, I can finally check one off the list. Now it might seem ridiculous to some readers that I put down going to the best restaurant in my home city of Spokane as a challenge, but I didn’t make the list to impress the world but rather to get me doing things I have been hesitant to do. I haven’t been to a really top-notch dinner place for many, many years and the last time I spent over $100 on a meal we were on vacation in Monterey, California where I was treating our gracious hosts to a very expensive Japanese Hot Pot of seafood(???).
Long story short—they threw a bunch of miscellaneous ocean products into a boiling pot of water and produced a steaming, tasteless meal of yucky things like rubber octopus. This meal cost $250 fifteen years ago and not knowing the tip was included in the bill, I added 20% to what will always be the most expensive and worst meal of my life.
Now $100 may not seem like a lot to pay for two meals (my wife insisted on coming along by complaining that she should not be left out on what was actually our wedding anniversary), but then Spokane is not New York City (thank God). The restaurant I chose was Masselow’s at the Northern Quest Casino. It was rated 4-stars by AAA (Auto problems/restaurant critics) which is apparently a big deal in the restaurant world. I looked for 5-star awards in Washington, but gave up searching after ending up in a mishmash of stars, diamonds, gold shields, and World’s Best Taco Bell. There were several other excellent restaurants in Spokane, but their menus all ran more to the more exotic and so I decided to leave them for my “eat something I have never eaten before” challenge. I do know that the food and service at Masselow’s was excellent.
My wife had “Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheeks.” These are also referred to as “The Kobe Beef of Pork” and originated in Japan and England. It is cut from the animal’s jowl and said to be the most succulent meat on the pig. I know the medallions could be easily cut with a fork and, as they say, “melted in your mouth.”
The pork was served with a Vermont maple and white truffle glaze, duchess whipped potatoes, kale, and squash. What can I say, if there were truffles it was expensive and, if a duchess whipped the potatoes, who could ask for more. My wife loved it and I loved a few of her tidbits (haven’t used that word in a while).
I had “Seared Stuffed Quail.” There aren’t many quail around Spokane and, in fact, there haven’t been quail anywhere near where I have lived in the last 40 years. But when I was younger and lived in Arizona, there were lots of Gamble’s quail around. I learned to shoot a shotgun by hunting quail in the desert hills around my home and remember that my mom would cook these little mini-birds whenever we brought a mess home. She would wrap a strip of bacon around the breast and bake them whole like little Cornish game hens. These little birds have always been one of my (and my belly’s) fondest memories.
At Masslow’s the quail were every bit as good as I remember my mom’s (except at Masslow’s the birds were deboned and you didn’t have to make sure you didn’t bite into a piece of lead shot). The birds came with Chicken Andouille stuffing, maple bacon glaze (probably got the bacon from my mom’s recipe), shredded brussel sprouts, squash, and the whipped potatoes courtesy of the duchess—all in all, a fantastic culinary feast.
You may not be too thrilled about reading about our 4-star dinner, but that’s not really the point of me writing this. That point (in fact the point of this whole blog) is to encourage you, as a geezer, to get out there and give everything a try (or do things you should do, but don’t want to). My wife and I could have stayed home (it was as they say, “a very dark and foggy night”) and eaten everyday pork chops and chicken, but we went out and had one of the best meals we have ever had. To me, my challenges are just a way to keep life interesting and keep me (and my wife of 45 years) smiling–go for it.
My next challenge starts this week and in no way am I going to enjoy this one—more on that later.