Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'dining out'

New pants. And dinner out.

Last night, on the eve of TheBoy’s first day at his new job (which means, yes, today’s his first day), we went out to celebrate. And to shop.

You see, I’ve been after TheBoy to buy a new pair of pants for the last few months. For the most part, we don’t buy new clothes unless we need them (admittedly, I confuse need and want when it comes to boots). Earlier in the year, I bought a couple new pair of jeans because mine were stretched out. And it was time for him to do the same. Not only had his stretched out with normal wear, but he’d resumed his running regimen and eating better- and lost weight. So the pants were way too big. He had to wear a belt to keep them up, and hold them up while he chased after the kidlets. But he refused to buy new pants because they were still intact. (Honey, I’m not posting this to shame you, just to point out that you deserved the new pants because you’re awesome.)

So when he got the new job, we agreed that he’d need new pants before he started. As it turns out, from all that exercise, he’s back in the same size pants he wore when we first met. When he was 18. Go TheBoy!

He also bought a few new button down shirts (the casual kind). While he could get away with wearing his geek tees, he wanted to have something he could wear in case he needed to go out on a call that would seem a little more professional. And I have to say, I love the silhouette of the ones he got. They’re a bit slimmer than what used to be available, and he looks great in them.

We also bought him some new notebooks to take notes in, but bought some that looked a bit more adult and professional than the standard cheap ones.

From there, we went to Set´, our favorite upscale restaurant. Steakhouse fair with a latin twist. We first went there a couple years back, and this was our second trip in the last few months.

We started off with their crabcake, which is served in a lobster cream sauce and topped with a mango salsa. So good, we have to get our own. There’s no way we could split those bad boys. (I would post my pictures, but just go to their site where you can see well lit pics. Mine are dark and weird)

I ordered the braised short ribs, which are so tender they just fall apart the moment you touch it with a fork. It comes with a creamy polenta, and a cabernet reduction sauce. TheBoy ordered their fish special, which was a red snapper served with a risotto and fresh vegetables.

Usually we order a dessert, but we were too full to even attempt it.

Here’s the weird thing about their restaurant- I have cheated and had dairy there, without any sort of reaction like I had the other night. My only guess is that it has to do with the freshness and the quality of the ingredients. But they do work with food allergies (especially since most of their food is prepared fresh), I’ve had friends who mentioned it when they placed their reservation and had a great time out.

The only thing that bothered me this last trip was that the restaurant was pretty empty, and a couple people on the staff were loudly talking to a couple in the bar area. Very loudly. Oh well.

It’s certainly more expensive than our usual places ($9-$12 for appetizers, $19+ for entrees), but I’ve never had a bad meal there.

FAQ: Why don’t I talk about his job? While I’m willing to put myself out there, I don’t want my blogging to affect his career.

This will probably be all I mention about his new job, in fact. He’s working a day shift again, and this job won’t have the same sort of overtime/on call factor that the last one had.

Surviving a weekend.

I am gluten-intolerant. At least my body is. I still remember what breads taste like, and more than occassionally crave what I know will make my life miserable.

This last weekend, TheBoy and I got to take some time away from the kidlets. His mom offered to watch them for the weekend, so we booked a room at a local hotel and left shortly after we got back from Disneyland. Why local? We’d debated going up to Hollywood near where he works, as he knew he’d have to work over the holiday weekend. But we’d only have one car (I left the van at home for my mother-in-law). So there were two factors at play. I know our city. I feel comfortable walking around, which I’d have to do when he was gone. Not only that, I know the restaurants here, and with the gluten-free diet, I knew I’d be able to get food.

We went out to dinner on Friday night, and I was bad. I ate food with gluten in it (though when I’d checked with the restaurant, they said they could accommodate me, I just was weak and really wanted their crabcake appetizer). The meal was lovely, as always, but I learned that yes… even after two months gluten-free, it still affects me. Definitely not making that mistake again.

The next morning, I was sore from walking around Disneyland and still bloaty feeling from having gluten the night before. As we walked up the road (and literally up, the road’s on a hill) towards the diner where I’d planned on having potatoes and eggs for breakfast, we spotted a little cafe that we kept forgetting about. They had menudo, I wasn’t feeling like I could make it the rest of the way, so we stopped in! I ordered an omelette with potatoes and marveled at ordering a meal. TheBoy marveled at how good the menudo was. We walked to his car, ran some errands. Since I was going to be alone that night, we wanted to get me some snack foods so that I could cobble something together in case room service couldn’t accommodate me.

Snack foods obtained (I brainlessly bought myself malt vinegar chips, which I threw out before I glutenized myself again), we went back to the room. And I started writing. TheBoy left, and I just cranked up my music and wore my headphones. Yes, I was alone in my room and wore headphones. But I found myself unable to turn off the Mythbusters marathon that was playing, so the headphones kept the show out of my brain.

I was writing, when I realized that there was a weird beat meshing in with my Pirates soundtrack. I pulled off the headphones and realized that the fire alarm was going off. So I put on my shoes, grabbed my purse, phone and laptop and headed out the door. No sooner than I got out the door, the alarm stopped. Which was good, I had to go to the bathroom. I figured I’d duck back in my room, go, then go downstairs to see what was up. Well, the alarm never came back on. But I heard the all too familiar sounds of someone freaking out in the hallway.

So I took my key and went out to investigate. For those who didn’t know, I worked at Disneyland from 1998 to 2002. Those 4 1/2 years were more than enough to shape the way I handle emergencies. In the hallway was a family- father, mother, daughter (9 ish) and son (7 ish). The daughter was hysterical. As with most hotels, there are doors that block access to the elevators if an alarm goes off. The girl thought they were trapped. I did what most normal people wouldn’t do. I butted into their conversation. I explained why the doors were closed, and showed them where the stairs where locations (yes, Disney people, I used the double finger point too!). I pointed out that if there were really a fire, the alarm would still be going on.

The girl calmed down. The parents thanked me (I was expecting the “who are you” look of death), and I made sure to throw in that I worked at theme park, so I’d seen it all. Then everyone seemed to smile. The doors to the elevators opened again, and it was all over. I went back to my room, and opted not to go down to the front desk and see if they knew what caused it- there were families there with kids. I figured someone must have pulled the alarm.

I went back to writing, and called room service for dinner. I’d had my eye on a couple of options- a salad and a burger. We’d even bought gluten-free buns at the store so that I could simply order the burger without a bun. Which I did! And this is where the hotel earned their thumbs up from me- the guy on the other end of the line immediately suggested that I replace the fries that come with the burger with fresh fruit when I mentioned I had a gluten allergy. I doubt they’d trained their employees on food allergies, but honestly, it’s rare to run into someone who knows what I’m up against. So it made my night. (The burger was great, btw. I wound up eating it without my gluten-free buns, which crumbled as soon as I held them)

The next morning, TheBoy stumbled in from a long shift at work. I knew it was unlikely he’d be up for breakfast when I was hungry, so I went downstairs to have the hotel’s buffet-style brunch. They had plenty of options that worked for me, and I didn’t get glutenized again.

For dinner I walked myself to the same cafe and managed to scrounge something that worked. I went back there with TheBoy for breakfast (I’m now the Mayor of it on Foursquare!) where I had potatoes and bacon.

It was a great weekend. I finished my outline, and started my first draft of my novel. But somewhat more importantly- I managed to survive without my kitchen! I know what happens when I eat gluten, and thanks to some quick thinking, I was able to find something to eat! I wasn’t afraid of dining at a place that I knew was 100% prepared to deal with my food issues. Talk about a great feeling. Though I do think I am going to start asking the smaller eateries I loved if they can accommodate me with something other than a crouton-less salad.

Two weeks and I’m surviving!

So I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for two weeks now. Honestly, I didn’t expect a simple shift in my diet to change things quickly. Having been on plenty of forums for those with food allergies, I knew that it could take awhile to see changes.

But honestly, I’ve seen a lot of changes for the better. That said, it doesn’t mean it’s been easy. I’m still trying to figure out a balance in my meals to make them be more satisfying. While I’m getting enough food, I find that I’m hungry more often. Then there are the cravings.

I live in a house with lots of people who do include gluten in their diet. So there are boxes of Girl Scout Cookies I can’t eat, and loaves of sourdough bread I can’t have. It’s made things tricky.

Friday night is Pizza night. Without fail, there will be pizza. I bought a gluten-free pizza mix and used an egg substitute to make a crust that both the Little Kidlet and I could enjoy. I had already about Daiya, which is a spiffy vegan/allergen-free cheese. Having been a vegetarian, I can tell you that most fake cheeses are soy based (so definitely not what the kidlet could eat) and usually don’t melt. Thanks to some ingenuity… Daiya melts. And while the mozzarella tasted a bit cheddary, it had the right mouth feel for cheese and the melt factor.

And for the first time in his life, my son ate pizza. This sounds like nothing to most of you- but considering his diet has been limited to a handful of dishes that he loves, anything new is major. Especially since he’s been staring at the regular pizza for the last two weeks with longing in his eyes. He wasn’t too thrilled with it hot, but he did eat a cold slice the next day- and loved it. (I admit, I thought more about how the crust didn’t taste like regular crust to really enjoy it. Which is bad of me, and not the way to approach this at all)

Saturday night, TheBoy took me out to eat. His mother offered to watch the boys, and suddenly I realized that I had to find a restaurant that could accommodate me with more than a salad. I didn’t want to call a dozen restaurants and grill them on a Saturday night, so I started googling. Which led me to a list of chain restaurants in town.

I don’t want to seem like a snob. But chain restaurants don’t excite me any more. I love the town I live in, and TheBoy and I have been making a concerted effort to dine at independently owned restaurants to try to more directly support the local economy. We’ve discovered some wonderful restaurants- I just have to figure out which of them I can eat at now. So I chose Outback Steakhouse off the list, having discovered that they had an extensive gluten-free selection. Seriously. It’s impressive. Even more reassuring, the menu actually broke down how to ask for certain things like salads to be prepared. I downloaded the menu on my phone so that I knew I wouldn’t forget what exactly I was supposed to ask for with my salad.

I had a steak, mashed potatoes and a salad (no croutons and prepared in a separate bowl from other salads). While I believe the sudden revelation that I am on a gluten free diet scared our waitress (who I believe was expecting me to die if anything went wrong with the meal), we had a wonderful time. It certainly gave me the confidence boost for dining elsewhere, as well as asking local eateries what they have that’s gluten free. And asking them if they couldn’t try to make more of their items accessible for those on gluten-free diets.

(That picture up top? That was snapped at our dinner. So’s the one of TheBoy to the right)

Setá : Uptown Whittier

For our anniversary TheBoy and I went to Setá, a restaurant in Uptown Whittier. The chef, Hugo Molina, has gotten a fair amount of coverage for his work in the community- educating youths about healthy food and sustainability, as well as his use of organic, local and sustainable ingredients. Not only that, it’s been dubbed a must for Foodies, so how could we not go?

We made reservations, which I’d say are a must. It’s a small restaurant, with about a dozen or so tables. So if you’re there on a crowded night, you might be out of luck if you show up without one – though the lounge portion does have access to the full menu.

While the picture’s blurry, it’s pretty representative of the decor. Sleek, clean lines everywhere. Gorgeous.

We were seated by the window, which gives you a view of Philadelphia St, and a city parking lot.

It sounds like a terrible view, but it really isn’t. Uptown Whittier is made up of a lot of older buildings, and has a neat sort of vibe to it. A little old, a little hip, and all with a small town vibe- which is neat, as it’s not that far from Downtown LA.

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