Archive for the ‘Vacations’

A Much Needed Respite

One of my 2013 goals was to spend more time with my family and spend way less time on the website:

3. Better prioritize my time and how I spend it.

Less time spent on work, school, and Lazy Lightning and more time on The Wife, The Rooster, and The Koala. This has been a long-running argument between The Wife and I, especially after 2010. I thought I had done a much better job managing my time but she disagrees. In 2013 I promise to strike a better balance and make my family (i.e. The Wife) happy.

I have a real problem letting go of things (go figure) and after writing on this website every single day for the last five years, I decided I had to make a clean break. Instead of spending weeks putting 20+ posts into the queue for our annual vacation to South Carolina, I decided to simply take time off and write if I felt like it instead. Well, vacation was more hectic than expected, especially with 3800 miles of driving and two kids under the age of 4 and I just didn’t have the energy during or after to get much done on the site.

Over the last few months we’ve bought a cabin and spent 4 days a week there, went on a 3800 mile road trip passing through 16 different states and I have done a lot of reading, watching movies, and traveling to Southern California for work which included a tour of Stone Brewery, taking photos of sunset from the beach at Santa Monica, and eating lots of great food.

Some more granular details include:

  • Reading Phil Rustad’s two novels based largely in Minnesota.
  • Seeing the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial/Museum, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.
  • Smoked lots of meat including wings, ribs, and porketta.
  • Drank lots of local beers including: Lucid, Indeed, Third Street, Summit, Surly, and Big Wood to name a few.
  • Enjoyed many sunrises and sunsets over lakes and oceans.
  • Played lots of Golden Tee 2013 and have been loving it.

I am back at it again and while I can’t promise that I’ll be posting 5+ days a week from here out, I do plan to spend some time doing what I used to love to do: scouring public meeting agendas/minutes/videos and writing about them as well as exploring local food both in and out of my kitchen.

What did you do this summer? What books did you read that you enjoyed? Where did you travel to? What foods did you eat either at home or at restaurants that you found noteworthy? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

When Does Attentive Service = Too Much?

Last week we enjoyed a fantastic farm-to-table (very unlike the Sysco-truck-to-table restaurants which have proliferated across the South Metro) meal while on vacation in South Carolina. Most everything was sourced from a local farm, which the waiter referred to as “their farm”, and what couldn’t be was sourced from 6 other local area farms and/or sources of proteins such as fish. Being that we had just visited Asheville, NC earlier that same week, a hotbed for the local food movement, it was nice to see a Hilton Head Island restaurant doing the same sort of thing that so many of their restaurants are doing successfully, nevermind the multitude of restaurants here locally which do the same thing.

While the food was pretty darn good, I have to admit that was completely and utterly turned off by the overly attentive service. Perhaps it’s my too-many-years-spent-in-Minnesota rubbing off on me but I did not at all appreciate our date night, sans children which in order to dine at this restaurant you have to have kids 14+ anyway), being regularly and routinely interrupted by the 6 or 7 different workers and the owner himself.

Their attention included telling me exactly how I should eat my meal, scraping crumbs and/or other detritus that had fallen from our forks several times, refilling our water glasses by reaching across the table without asking first, and asking over and over again how everything was after what seemed like each and every bite.

While I was turned off by it and I wanted to say something more direct as my non-verbal cues were not helping the situation, The Wife asked that I just ignore them and continue to pay attention to her instead–a good plan indeed. The question here is what level of service do you expect from a restaurant and at what point does it get to be too much? Would you have said something if it were getting on your nerves? Do you think this is something that was happening because I am accustomed to the standoffish approach of Minnesotans or have you experienced similar service at restaurants elsewhere recently (I haven’t even though I’ve traveled to many different parts of the country since living in MN).

Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Memorial Day Vacation at the Cabin

Here are some pics from our Memorial Day Weekend. How was yours? What did you eat and what did you do? Do you like to travel for holiday weekends or stay at home? Was the weather a total bummer or just more of the same for this crazy year?

Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Restaurants Beg for Reviews and Compensate Authors

As I’ve been touring the culinary scene around San Francisco I have noticed several places are offering discounts, like the one seen above, to customers for writing a review. While this is a terms of service violation for the site, it hasn’t stopped businesses from doing it. I have long suspected one local restaurant which doesn’t have that great of food for doing this because I see regular updates on Urbanspoon for them and all glowing reviews. No other restaurant around town is getting that sort of traffic on Urbanspoon so they must be doing something to game the system.

Knowing that these sorts of systems exist, do you put even less weight in the online review sites out there? Would you take up a restaurant on their offer for 20% off for a review? Can you guess which restaurant locally I’m talking about? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.