Yesterday I wrote about haunted restaurants, but hotels also have spirits lurking. Unrequited love is the basis for a ghost tale at the St. Francis Inn, built as a private home in 1791 in St. Augustine, FL. The story concerns a pair of lovers, long dead, who are often seen or heard by staff and guests. Supposedly a young man who lived with his uncle, Major William Hardee, who owned the house during the middle of the 19th century, fell in love with Lily, one of the young black servant girls. When their affair was discovered, Lily was dismissed and the nephew ordered to never see her again. Deeply depressed, the young man took his own life in the attic, now Lily’s Room.
I’ve eaten at restaurants where goose was on the menu, but goose bumps? They’re on the bill of fare at some interesting restaurants and inns that embrace “the dearly departed” who never have — departed, that is. Do I believe these stories of spirits who enjoy fine dining? Or specters in hotel hallways? The hard-nosed reporter in me says, “Of course not.” But the Celt in me says, “There is mystery and magic in restaurants and hotels, and always has been.”
So, maybe the case of a ghost who dines each night at a reserved table isn’t strange. In New Orleans, which has more than its share of spirits — literally and figuratively — there is Muriel’s Jackson Square, a lovely French Quarter restaurant where I was shown the table reserved for Monsieur Jourdan, more properly M. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, the restaurant’s resident ghost. And not the only one, I’m told.
For the third time, I was called by Gordon Ramsay to be a judge on his highly watched television show Hell’s Kitchen. Thank you, Gordon! When telling the story, I always get the question, “Is it fun?” Indeed, it is. And Ramsay can behave charmingly as much as he can talk very loud (or scream as some would say).
The challenge I had to judge (along with chef/owner Mark Peel of Campanile, Nobu West Hollywood‘s general manager Justin Wyborn, and food blogger Libby Rego) was part of the 100th milestone episode of the show; episode 8.8, which aired on October 13th. The red team (four women and one guy) was pitted against the blue team (four men), fighting for what I had to determine would be the most expensive dish. Continue reading “Judging (Again) on Hell’s Kitchen” »
In my European journey, despite the seasonal French pseudo-revolutionary sitcom, I was able to visit the SIAL in Villepinte near Paris. I guess the acronym is used instead of the full name — Salon des Industries Alimentaires or Food Industry Exhibition — because it’s shorter for the media and maybe also because we don’t like to be reminded that the content of our plates is nowadays largely concocted in industrial factories by Big Business. But there are also artisans who strive to find improbable ways to find a magic formula, such as the one who creates his “caviar” from truffle juice. Caviar is expensive, but so are truffles. I am missing his point.
I was puzzled the other night when a brightly illuminated billboard promoting pants over the boulevard drew my attention. It read: “All asses were not created equal.”
True enough! All of a sudden, as I was so far relatively satisfied with that part of my anatomy, I felt uncomfortable in my mind to have ignored this important issue and its intricacy. I did not feel guilty, though, because no trace of the lower back problem could be found in my favorite readings, that of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Reflecting on the human condition, and on the research of equality among men, they were – it seems – mostly concerned by the inequality of the heads and by the difference it could make at the end of the day if nothing was done to take care of natural or acquired imbalances. Continue reading “My A– !” »