Tag: food

MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH Grapevine Texas

MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH Grapevine Texas

MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH Grapevine Texas

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As many of you know, I am somewhat of a foodie.  While I am not near the cook that I would like to be, I have traveled enough and have eaten at so many different places in my lifetime, critiquing restaurants is second nature.

Eating out to me anyway, should be a treat, and not the norm; as let’s face it, it is expensive.   Dave Ramsey once said in one of his courses, the only way that you should be inside a restaurant is “you are working there!”  Dave and I disagree on this point.

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Life is short, so an occasional foray into an eating establishment should be acceptable.  Even if you have to budget for it with disposable income.  That is why I don’t want to waste my money and or time in some place that is supposed to be good, and it disappoints.

Upon entering the parking lot around 6, there were few if any places to park.  It looked as though Valet Parking was going to be the way that I went until, as if on que, someone pulled out right in front of me.

If you get there at dinner time you might want to anticipate Valet parking.  I will do that as I don’t want to detract from my dining experience by looping parking lots, in some sort of conga line looking for a place to park.

Once inside it was standing room only, even though we had a reservation.  You must have six (6) or more to qualify for one.

Inside the building there is absolutely no place to stand without being underfoot of the servers, wait staff and other patrons.  There are tables by the front door in very close proximity to where people are waiting for tables.  When I say very close, imagine sitting at dinner and having someone standing within a foot of your table talking with their party complaining about the wait.  To me this is unacceptable.  Not only for the people who are now eating as you can hear everything that they are talking about but, for the patrons waiting to be seated.

While our table had been vacant, they had to make sure that they had someone to cover it before they sat us.  This process took about 25 minutes which one might expect without reservations.  If there had been a comfortable waiting area it might have been less objectionable.

The wait staff once seated was amicable. Getting our drinks took a little too long for me but the group that I was with seemed pleased with the outcome.  I was the DD or designated driver, so I ordered a soft drink.  The soft drink came in the original can, that was warm!

Folks!  I expect that from a greasy spoon, not from a restaurant of this quality.  Not only am I pouring my own drink from a can that I would buy in the store for .25 cents but, I know that I am going to at least pay $2 for the privilege and there will be no re-fills!  Canned drinks have a “can taste” and I typically will not buy them that way for that reason.

I ordered the table side Guacamole which could not be made “table side” as there was no room.  It was prepared somewhere else however, they had forgotten about it and we had to remind them, 30 minutes after the fact.  Yes, they were busy but, so what! If they can’t handle “busy,” people will vote with their feet and find other places that can.

I ordered:

BANANA LEAF WRAPPED SCOTTISH SALMON – 20
Rubbed with achiote, citrus & grilled. Served with morita whipped potatoes, sautéed chayote & mango-lemon grass mojo.

The presentation was nice and 180 degrees different than a can of soda.  The lemon grass mojo was placed on top much like a scoop of ice cream might sit atop pie.  I tasted it and was non to thrilled with it, off to the side.

The Salmon itself was cooked well, soft and tender as it should have been.  The whipped potatoes were light and fluffy with good taste, again as one would expect.

Part of the lemon citrus grass came with some sort of sauce that circled the potatoes in the bottom of the serving dish, much like a sauce.  Dipping the salmon in this produced and un-expected treat as the flavors coalesced to make a whole new taste for salmon.

achiote

The salmon was covered in “achiote” which is a red seasoning.  It is actually more than just a seasoning but a dye that is used for other reasons than for culinary work.  Much like eating cucumbers, this was the seasoning that kept giving for hours after the meal was over.

achiote rojo1 achiote_painting

On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this place a 3.

While it was clean, it was way too crowded; and the overall appeal of this place just is not enough to encourage me to fight the crowd again.  The price was middle of the road but the canned soft drink really was a deal breaker. To me this is like buying a good looking car and putting a small gutless engine in it.  If you are going to go to the trouble of producing quality food, purchase a blooming soda dispensing machine so no soft drink cans are ever seen and, the glass can be easily re-filled.  On top of that folks, soda taste much better out of a machine, than a can!  By the way, does anyone else see the issue here with the name “made from scratch” and a canned drink!?  Is it just me?

Not all of us consume alcohol!  Some of us actually prefer to maintain our senses and be able to drive after the meal is over.

No review would be complete without a critique of the drinks however; so, I am happy to inform you that while I personally did not imbibe, those that did had more than one, and were complimentary of the drinks, flavor and presentation.

I think if they would change their policies to “reservation onlyduring certain busy times, they could please more people and have less people standing on top of other patrons.  Managing traffic in a restaurant is critical to pleasing the guest, as well as managing your staff.  This place has the ability to easily be a 4 star restaurant, with their quality of food.

-Best

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#tips #time and #family attn: #Brinkers

#tips #time and #family attn: #Brinkers

To Insure Prompt Service  T.I.P.S

Growing up I spent much time at the local Denny’s drinking coffee with friends and eating food that was hardly good for me.  As I became acutely aware of what you eat you become; I switched to salads and more healthy choices even though I was still eating at a place that would have fried the coffee it were possible.

While there, I made many friends out of managers, servers and even the cooks.  As the matter of fact for many years, the crew at the local Denny’s became just about a second family.

There were also the regulars who also became familiar faces and it was not long before we had this huge round table grouping in the back which contained many of the locals, off the clock staff and of course myself.  I learned quite a bit about people while doing more listening than talking.  You do not have to be rich to be happy was one life lesson that I have never forgotten.  Having money is nice, but not a requirement for happiness.

I was living paycheck to paycheck, in very humble surroundings with a total monthly rent of $200.  My transportation was nothing fancy and if I had not learned to work on them “every weekend” I would most certainly have been living back in the bedroom that I grew up in.

Today, many “generation X folks” go to school on their parents’ dime (tens of thousands of dollars) and expect the corner office, six-figure salary and a house like the one that they knew as a child.

I was not one of those that attended a place of “higher education,” at my parents’ expense.  I am what some would call a self-made man.  Having tasted living like the rich and famous through my childhood friends and tasted living in little more than a tin box I knew that I needed to set my sites on a standard that was obtainable but not so high that I would never make it.  Aim High was the Air force slogan but after talking with recruiters regimentation and I were strange bed fellows as I often march to my own drum beat.

Since I had taught myself electronics at eight years old, I went to work for the local television repair place where some OJT was happening.  Information then is nothing like today.  If I want to know about a subject today, Google gets me more than enough to sate my appetite.

As a young person, I never stopped thirsting for information. The encyclopedia was my constant companion along with the college dictionary.  I made friends with Dewy and haunted the library as time permitted.  My appetite for knowledge was voracious however; my focus was extensive.  Selectively I gave attention to subjects that always seemed a little out of my reach.  Mechanic type stuff was easy for me but that is not what I wanted to do day to day.

I had thirteen cars at one time as I purchased them in disrepair and repaired them and sold them.   There was always grease under my nails and my hands contained bruises or cuts on them from working in such a harsh environment.  Cars back in the day were nothing like today, they simply were not reliable.  Every weekend I was at the auto parts store or junkyard piecing together some car that some part had failed.  I do not look back at those times very fondly as being under a car when you had to have it, to be to work, grew tiresome.

I still made time for my friends at the local diner and enjoyed my “salt of the earth” friends. 

One day while eating my salad I overheard one of my favorite waitresses grumble about a tip.  Some elderly couple had eaten their dinner and after their fill before leaving he pulled out some change and left two quarters.  While I always over tipped, it was because I knew them, liked them and when I came into the place even before they knew me, the girls fought over which one got me and or my party.  “to insure prompt service”

What I was not aware of; the patrons in fact fund the wait staff.   If you have ever eaten at a restaurant you in fact are or have been an employer.  How did you pay?  Were you fair?

Typically, they make one or two dollars an hour from the business, which now goes to cover their taxes.  Back in the day, their tips were un-reported income for the most part and later some assumed value established to cover their part of the tax collection system.

Taxes are another subject for another day, today I am calling attention to the fact that these folks have a very irregular or inconsistent paycheck.  The friends at Denny’s and the story is over forty years old.  While it is not dusty in my mind and only seems like yesterday, the fact remains that this system is still in place today.

I saw a girl get a couple of quarters the other day from an elderly couple and could not help but think, surely by now, everyone knows that you are paying these peoples salary!

I have turned into a foodie over the years.  My palate has changed from forty years ago and I have not been into a Denny’s in about as long.  Eating fried food is not much better than smoking, of which neither I do.

While I am happy to report that automobiles are no longer the worrisome things they once were, they still however require maintenance, just not by me.  Either metallurgy has improved or the Japanese and other foreign automobile producers have forced a paradigm shift in the American automobile industry as now American made cars compete nicely with the others.

What has transfixed my attention as of late is the fact that we still do not understand as a people what a TIP is and what it is meant to be.  Some establishments use a kiosk of sorts at the table where you order, where one can entertain themselves while waiting and then where one pays for their food and service.  When you “check out” a scale appears on the bottom with a suggested “tip” amounts. If not that then at other places, printed on the ticket are different amounts so you can easily identify the percentage and add in the correct amount.

While I will not belabor the point of automation in this industry taking away from the “personal touch”, I will say that part of my “tip” is that I expect that personal touch.  When I go into such an establishment, I expect pampering.  Had I wanted self-serve, I would eat at home.

So here is my TIP to the industry and all who choose to work there.

When I arrive, I expect a warm and friendly greeting, and I want to feel as if I am important and welcome.  When seated; the table should be clean and dry and the chairs should be clean as well as the floor. The bathroom should be clean, and smell fresh.  I often find that if the bathroom is poorly maintained; the kitchen is as well.

The server no matter how busy should be able to speak with my guest and myself in a friendly conversational manner.  His or her knowledge of the food should be endless.  They must know the food, how it is prepared and be able to speak to its contents for those with food allergies or even particular taste. As menus are convoluted at times, they should be a sales type person able to ask appropriate questions and suggest items.

The server should be visible at all times and attentive without over burdening the guest with request about the food.  Water or other drinking glasses should never get below half-full. At no time should a guest have to go looking for their server or accouterments of some kind.

The food quality is not the responsibility of the server however, how he or she takes care of any issues is.  Tips should not be reflective of the food quality.  The server did not cook it therefore; they should not be punished, because the kitchen screwed something up.

There is a rule about Buffet’s and tipping, and it should be noted: that the more that one has to self-serve, the amount of the tip is reflected.  Tips are reflective of “customer service.”

I personally find the kiosk with games offensive, and counter productive to the whole “eating out” experience.  There are already too many distractions that keep people from “experiencing” each other and the whole “Event” of sharing a meal with someone.  Just as I find electronic gadgets at the table offensive, I find places that push this technology and even push the patron to use it as a method of paying, distasteful.

The simple facts are that the family unit as a whole is suffering.  They suffer from gadgets, screens of different kinds, or other distractions and the parents loosing control of what manners are.  Etiquette in fact is becoming a lost art.  

One of the reasons that I eat out is that I have the full attention of family or other guest without the distractions of the TV or other electronic things that amuse us.  Some restaurants have taken to bringing that home experience to you however as there are flat screens all over the place with anything that might interests someone.

James Stewart once said in “Mr. Hobbs takes a vacation. That what we need is an Un-Edison!”   Mr. Hobbs identified the problem, he just came up with an incorrect solution.  What we need is parents who teach manners, etiquette and hard and fast rules about TV’s and gadgets at the table.  Families should endeavor to eat at least one meal at the table without the distraction of TV or Facebook! 

When people look back at our history they will find that the decline of the family had much to do with these things of which I write. 

As we stray from our humanity, and trade social intercourse with pokes, and OMG, and LOL, we loose sight of many other things along the way including one another.

Allow me to leave you today with a verse from a book that most of you know, but may put aside for something else. 

Ecclesiastes

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

 

There is a time for LOL and OMG; there is also a time for family and friends and one on one face-to-face laughing, sharing, caring, crying, hugging, bracing your fellow man, and paying attention to who you are and what your purpose is here, today.

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Nobody Wins

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We live in a world today that is much more hostile than yesterday, “speaking figuratively.”

We have an economy that is literally based on a house of cards for a foundation. The Feds are printing $40B a month ($1.1trillion a year) saturating our economy, devaluing our currency with every dollar that they print. With oil based on the US dollar, is it any wonder why gas cost so much? The “booming economy” is most certainly the same today as the dot com fiasco of a few years ago, when Enron was in the news.

We are not the only country playing this game, others including China are as well.

The economy is based on fabrications and we might as well try and spend monopoly money as that is what your greenback may very well look like in the not too distant future.

Those who survive this will most likely be that small subset of humanity who “lives off the grid” as it were. The people who live in the inner cities and who depend on the government for their existence will be in trouble when this house of cards falls. The Farmers in this country and others may survive as they know how to live without going to the local grocery store every other day for something. They also see the inside of a restaurant far less than the folks in the inner city as they simply don’t enjoy the disposable income that others do. When the bible talks about the meek inheriting the earth, one can’t help but wonder if he is talking about the farmers.

On top of the shaky economy we have small countries with the keys to Nukes! There are no winners if someone drops a nuke. Our defenses have most certainly been hardened to sustain an EMP, and a retaliation of biblical proportions would most certainly follow.

This exchange would involve other nations who have nukes as they will have certainly picked a side. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” While I have full confidence in the American Military and their ability to intercept any missile headed this way; the following actions would have serious repercussions worldwide.

Any exchange of missiles with the US would not only devastate the offending country (s); I am certain it would also trigger an economic meltdown worldwide. Everyone looses. Never mind the radiation that would be released to poison every man women and child in the entire world, as well the animals and vegetation.

I can visualize that last man standing, holding the key to a spent nuke, standing next to the shell of building, scorched from fire, with dead creatures and plant life all around him, with radioactive ash falling from the sky, declaring victory; as the blisters from radiation sickness bubble up on his body. We are truly that foolish! Nobody Wins!

When E=MC2 was discovered, Einstein wrote an impassioned letter to the president urging him not to use the bomb. That letter and is German heritage earned him a one way ticket out of the program. Oppenhiemer and others took over, and of course the rest is history. A nuclear device of a relatively low efficiency was created and dropped on our enemy, twice. If those were of a low efficiency, can you imagine what is around today?

An alliance of the superpowers is critical to keeping the peace, and our current administration does not seem to embrace that. Foreign policy is critical at this stage of the “game.” America needs to sort out who its friends are relatively quickly, and form that alliance that was so strong under previous administrations.

In retrospect, what is important to you? Is having a lot of money in the bank important? Is having a lot of gold in some small vault in your house important? What about food, water and guns? Add whisky and cigarettes to the food and water and you may have something. Why? That may very well be the new currency, if this comes down badly. Keep a good supply of your personal medications on hand; several days if not weeks of fresh water, and having some gas stored somewhere may not be a bad idea either. If they are that stupid to launch nukes, it really doesn’t make much difference. There will be no survivors, other than the cockroach. Mutually assured destruction, either by nukes or the economy or both; is not a cheery outcome.

While it is my fervent prayer that no one is stupid enough to pull the trigger, North Korea continues to be very provocative in its talks with media and other news outlets. Today they gave the Brits till the 10th to get out of their country. What will be the spark?

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Customer Service

Customer Service

Throughout my history as a business professional, one of the things that I have to offer consistently is superior customer service.  Think about this; when someone calls me they are in a fix as something is broken.  There are a myriad of emotions in play from anxiety to anger.

As the guy who is going to take care of all of their problems the first thing that I have to do is understand where they are coming from.  Then listen to them and take notes.  This helps me to remember the points of the discussion and if in front of the customer, it helps them to calm down as they see me doing something.

These are some of the things that I would make sure my technicians carried with them into the field.

I truly believe that we as a country are drifting away from giving a damn about clients.  It is almost like we are the post office or the phone company; we are all that there is so we just don’t care about your problems.  But wait!  We are not all that there is.  The phone company has competition as does the USPS.  Granted e-mail, FedX and UPS, are not the end all of competition, but it is a start. Vonage and Magic Jack to name two, are good alternatives and much less expensive then the phone company, not to mention the cell phone.

Competition drives us to be good at what we do, and that includes customer service.

Exploring new shopping places as I like to do from time to time, I had occasion to shop at a place called Central Market.  http://www.centralmarket.com  The layout of the store was well thought out.  There were people who came up from time to time to see if I needed any help and here is the biggie; they not only bagged my groceries but they carried them out to the car and put them into the car for me.  When I tried to give the guy a tip, he refused it politely!  While their prices are a little higher than that of Wal-Mart, or Kroger,  the service was excellent and the choices were fresh and plentiful.  With people offering help that cut down on my time in the store and time is money!

A lot of you are most likely not old enough to have ever purchased gasoline where it was pumped for you by a friendly attendant.  While they were filling your car up, they would wash your windshield, check your oil, and other fluids and check the air in your tires.  At the end of the transaction you might get “green stamps” or even a dish or other some such give-away as a token of their appreciation for doing business with them.  While I too am not old enough for this to have happened to me; I do remember vividly this very transaction process with my parents.  I also remember how nice they were and how they really seemed to appreciate the business.

In stark contrast today, if you do need anything other than what you can do outside at the pump, there is a strong likelihood that the person behind the counter will speak limited English and really wont give a damn if you like the product or not.

I was in a Kroger a few years ago when they first put in the self-checkout machine.  I was appalled by this for several reasons.  First, I want that little bit of customer service when I patronize a store. Secondly, those kiosks hardly ever work flawlessly and unless you are only buying a handful of items, they are a pain the rear.  Lastly and this is the part that I really wanted to drive home, these things are taking jobs away.  I remember that night vibrantly as not one checker was at his post.  When I found someone he directed me to the self-checkout.  I told him that either he checked me out or he could put all of the groceries in my cart back from where they came!  Begrudgingly he went to his register and checked me out!  What an idiot, a lazy star-studded blazing example of the entitled society that we have raised!  Not only did he not want to do his job, he was trying his best for me to do his job and was incensed when I called him on his attitude.

I think we need to vote with our feet or in this case, with your pocket-book.  I will happily pay a little more for a little extra service.  I actually like to be told to have a nice day!  Do you really feel appreciated when a machine says thank you on the screen?

The world in which we live changes daily; some of those changes are for the better; and some not so much.  Society needs to dictate to the business world, what is acceptable and what is not.  Like sheep we all too often simply roll with it.  We forget however that we are the boss.  I have to provide superior customer service to keep my customers coming back time after time.  We the consumer should expect that and demand that from the different vendors that we frequent.  You do that in a myriad of different ways but the best way; the way that they will listen to, is to spend your money where you get the best value for it, including customer service.

If there are places that you like to shop because of the customer service, send a message and I will post it.  Consumers need a bill of rights, not only when they are flying but when they are spending their hard-earned money on anything from products, service or otherwise.

-Best to you and those that you care about.

Dining in North Texas

Dining in North Texas

It is no surprise to anyone that knows me; I enjoy eating out.

Today I wanted to talk about a Mexican Restaurant that I take clients to often called 7Salsas. http://www.7salsas.com

Today I took a client there early; as to get in and avoid the usual rush.  After parking and walking up to the door we discovered that the place was closed.  Somehow or other the city damaged a water line feeding the row of restaurants and shops thus putting them out of business, on Valentines day.

The lady that greeted us quickly explained the issue and handed us three discount tickets for their sister restaurant, Salsas Mexican Grill.  Upon arriving there, the parking lot was pretty much filled to capacity and I was afraid of a wait.  We made our way through the line to learn that you place and pay for your order, get your own drink and have a seat.

I typically avoid places like this for several reasons.  When I am taking a client out to eat I don’t want them “fending for themselves.” This was not much better than a fast food place.  With food prices being what they are, this food should come with a smile and lots of service.  I over tip, but I expect good service.  If you simply want to grab a quick lunch and get back to the office; than this place might work out for you.  The place was crowded, the isles were narrow and instructions as to what to do were lacking.  I had to ask as I thought that maybe we were in the takeout line.

I wish that I could rave about the food; I can not.  I have had Mexican TV dinners that had more flavor.  The chips were not warm, and when the food was delivered it was cool around the edges and barely warm in the middle.  In stark contrast to 7

Salsas which I would give a strong 8 out of ten; I would give this place a 3.

To their credit they were trying to recover from an unfortunate turn of events and very possibly on a normal day their food might have been better.  They made good on the coupons and tried to make up for the inconvenience, the food was not impressive.  We all ordered the special of the day which I thought would make it simpler, perhaps it was too simple.

Look for more reviews, as I am either impressed or stressed about dining places and other places that I try in the area.  –Best to you and those that you care about!