This past Friday was one of the longest workdays in the history of all workdays. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences; you’re sitting at your desk, checking the clock every fifteen minutes or so, wondering how time could possibly move that slow. It didn’t help that outside, it looked like torrential downpour, and the rain drumming against the roof was lulling me to sleep.
To make it through the day, I started contemplating my after-work plans…Dinner at Remy’s Kitchen and Winebar in Clayton. Remy’s is best known for their wide selection of wine, and also for their smaller, tapas-sized entrées. I first went to Remy’s on New Year’s Eve for an after-dinner drink. I had some Muscato wine, but as I looked over their dessert menu, one particular dish caught my eye. The Warm Apple and Golden Raisin Bread Pudding seemed destined for my consumption. That night, I had already eaten a three course meal (plus most of my friend’s dessert), so I took a rain check on the Bread Pudding.
Three and a half months later, I couldn’t wait any longer. As soon as the clock turned to 5, I gathered my things and drove to Remy’s. I didn’t have a dinner guest, but I’m trying to get better at that…eating alone. I’ve done it a few times before, and whenever I start feeling self-conscious, I start thinking about M.F.K. Fisher‘s advice. In her essay, “An Alphabet for Gourmets,” Fisher writes that “if one is not there, to dine alone is preferable to any other way.” In her book The Art of Eating, Fisher goes on to write that, “If I must (dine) alone, I refuse to be alone as if it were something weak or distasteful, like convalescence.”
I couldn’t agree more. Even though there’s a certain level of discomfort (and self-consciousness) in sitting alone at a table, there’s also something peaceful about being with your own thoughts. And also, there’s the fact that you can focus your full attention on the food in front of you.
I started with the restaurant’s signature hummus plate. When my waiter brought it, I was surprised by the presentation…The pita was rolled into cones, and was sticking out of the hummus.
The hummus was delicious, though, and I could tell it was homemade; I could taste the chickpeas, and the tahini was cool and refreshing. The hummus was sprinkled with feta cheese, and finished with colorful red and yellow peppers.
For the second course, I ordered the Pan Seared Scallops and Spinach. I hadn’t had Scallops in awhile, a recent conversation with my sister about the scallops I ate in Le Pradet, France, made me start craving them. While these scallops weren’t fresh out of the Mediterranean, they were still plump, juicy, and tender. The spinach was served with a tomato balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese, and I liked the tangy flavor of the cheese mixed with the slightly acidic vinaigrette.
Although the first two courses were appetizing, nothing prepared me for what was about to come. The waiter seemed a bit surprised when I ordered the Bread Pudding, and warned me that it was a “hefty piece.” I told him that I’d be able to handle it.
When the dessert arrived at the table, it was like love at first sight. The bread pudding was served in a pool of hard Brandy sauce with caramel, and had a lightly sprinkling of powdered sugar. The dessert smelled like French Toast (another one of my recent cravings), and when I took my first bite, I lost all my self-consciousness; I was completely immersed in what I was eating. The raisins were plump and juicy, the diced apples were soft and tart, and the brioche bread was dense, rich, and decadent. I didn’t want to stop eating; but luckily, even after I finished the bread portion of the dessert, there was still a pool of caramel to be devoured.
The waiter clapped when he came to take away my empty plate. He said that not many people (besides himself) could finish the dessert. I said that next time, we should have a face-off…He suggested adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to raise the stakes.
Eating alone can be…well, lonely. But the bread pudding taught me that like a good dinner companion, a good dish can make you forget your self-consciousness…And teaches you to savor every bite.