Not since the age-old question of "Who is the EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS sign in bathrooms for?" have so many people been miffed in restaurants. More and more restaurants, particularly in NYC, are showing a "Recommended Gratuity" chart on the bottom of their checks. For instance, if you bill was $50, the bottom of your receipt would read 15% = $7.50, 20% = 10.00 and so on.
I love this, don't you? There's no math involved and thus no chance of incorrect math (unless you make one in the actual counting of physical money).
Some folks have complained to me that it feels pushy and presumptuous of waitstaff to "point out" what's expected. "Isn't it MY choice what to tip them?" I've heard more than one person inquire.
First, this is the restaurant's choice to put this chart on your check, not your waiter's/waitress'. It also helps serve as a friendly reminder to our international guests who may not know how tipping is conducted in the states.
Secondly, it's only "Recommended" - you can always tip what you want. Bad service is bad service, and the tip should reflect that, but excellent service is priceless and must always be recognized appropriately.
I'm about to download the album of musical christmas offerings otherwise known as "She & Him: A Very She & Him Christmas." Anyone who knows me well will be a tad shocked by that pending activity.
I'm not a fan of Zooey Deschanel. Not of Zooey the "peronality." Not of Zooey the actress. I think there's something "off" about her ... and not in a Kirsten Dunst dodo-bird kind of way. Let me explain.
The film performances of ZD have almost always been atrocious. She's the worst thing in the little scene Eulogy, and she somehow managed to give a unintentionally scary performance in the truly terrible thriller The Happening (by all means, check out the scene in which ZD explains her "tiramisu date" to Mark Wahlberg while running away from ... wind). Even in her now-classic holiday film Elf (w/ Will Ferrell), she's more remembered for her singing than her "acting."
Zooey has the ability of appear both childishly googly-eyed and stoned out of her gourd, simultaneously. This is not a compliment. At 31, she's already pushed the limits of her oft-used "deer in the headlights" face, not to be confused with her "who meeeee?" face. She is the female Ashton Kutcher of the bad acting world, always inexplicably trying to harness the naivete, energy and flat-out stupidity of the world's dumbest first grader but in a come-hither bod. It feels both forced and desperate ("Look at meeeeeeeeeeee!").
The only performance that has suited her thus far is on display in the fantastic 500 Days Of Summer, and that's only because the character is completely aloof and uninvested in anything going on around her. A tailor-made role for ZD. (You'll notice the absence of Fox TV's "New Girl," which I can't bring myself to watch after seeing the annoying previews.)
Now the nice part (it's the holidays after all). Her singing voice is instantly atmospheric and harkens one back to the days of Dusty Springfield and Nancy Sinatra. Her just-this-side-of-a-stuffy-nose vocal stylings add a surprising layer of richness to nearly any melody she puts her voice to. She sings optimistically from a broken heart. She's quite something vocally, and so is the album. Grab it. I will. ... I just won't be watching the music videos.
This past summer, my friend Penny invited Honeybee and I over for a little dinner and board games. Being an avid board game player (Taboo; Catch Phrase; Balderdash), I accepted with enthusiasm.
Penny, not her real name, is a very accomplished Yoga instructor and musician. She's also cautious about what she eats. Naturally health conscience, her diet appears to have a holistic slant. She's incredibly knowledgeable of 'smart foods' and frequently shares dietary ideas that can have powerful effects in other areas of your life ... and yet, I still choose to hang out with her. No, seriously, she's lovely, funny and sharp. She's also great at board games.
Although I'm not a slob, I can't say that I'm the kind of person that seeks out the healthiest options in grocery stores (my box of Special K cereal often rests in the shopping carriage right on top of some pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream).
So, I naturally had a "What the eff is that?" expression on my face when Penny 'splayed out a large platter of homemade Kale Chips in the middle of the game table. (See Picture)
I had never seen anything green offered as a game night snack, barring an occasional overly seasoned Hint of Lime Tostido. As much as I looked forward to the calories I wouldn't be ingesting, I was puzzled by the other folks at the party. Smiles, when they weren't stuffing their faces, all around.
Honeybee was enjoying them thoroughly (his leg shakes when he's happy, much like Goofy in Walt Disney cartoons).
"Hun, you have to try one," he said. "You will like them."
He's usually right, so I picked one up. Even in my hand, I wasn't quite sure, as some edges were crispy, and other areas of the "chip" were soggy. It just felt wrong. I was expecting the chip to taste like a broccoli flavored Triscuit, which would've made me unhappy.
I bit in. Chewy, crunchy, healthy, salty, tangy deliciousness filled my mouth. I couldn't believe it. I am a salt junkie, but that wasn't the prominent flavor. It was the addictive texture - a little something for everyone. Penny is a great cook, so individual results will most likely vary.
But wait there's more ... Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium ... and yes, I cut and pasted that from wikipedia.
Here's a recipe from allrecipes(dot)com. Super easy to make! Try it!
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces.
Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner.
Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
I'm not much of a drinker. I blame (and thank) my dad, may he rest in peace.
When I was a kid, and I'm speaking of a time when I was in the single digits of my life, my dad would give me "sips" of beer. Sometimes a can. Even back when I was eight, I knew that Budweiser he was drinking was crap. (My dad was a drunk on a budget, basically.)
Anyway, sips here, sips there. This wasn't BudLight by the way, so yes, not only was I getting buzzed at the age of eight, I was accumulating oodles of unnecessary carbs. I must state that my parents were divorced at this time, so my mom is in no way accountable for my underage drinking nor my caloric intake.
All those sips add up, and by the time I could drink legally, I was a little burnt out on beer. The taste of it actually nauseated me. Many, many, many years later, when I moved to NYC, I realize that, "hey, this city is effing expensive ... and beer is always the cheapest thing on the chalk boards of the dives I'm going to. I guess I should rethink this relationship."
So I experimented, with my beloved Honeybee (a german) as my guide. I now have two favorite beers, which of course, dear readers, are both a tad pricey. I love the Belgian beer Duvel, which is just flat our expensive unless you buy it at Trader Joe's, and I love Brooklyn, NY's own Sixpoint Crisp.
Both of these beers are super-fizzy, have a lovely light freshness to them, and don't cause me to bloat. They're both rather highbrow (Duvel comes corked; Crisp comes in packs of four, not six), so if you're ever on a date, or a drinking business meeting, step it up and order one of these puppies.
You'll get all the fizzy buzz without any of the fatty bloat. For more on Sixpoint, here's their info: http://sixpoint.com/