Tag Archives: restaurant

Poor Paula

The headline in today’s local paper reads  “Publisher drops Deen cookbook.” “The Perils of Paula” has been all anyone in Savannah has been talking about for the past ten days. In case you have been hibernating, you know that local Savannah restaurateur-made rich-and-famous Paula Deen has been under attack ever since the contents of a deposition were made public, in which she admitted using the “N-word” some 30years ago.Paula w

I am of two minds on this issue. My first reaction was this was an incredibly disproportionate reaction to a three-decade old petty misdemeanor. I mean – come on! Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. I am not condoning the utterance. I just think this is a case of capital punishment for a parking ticket. I feel sorry for Paula. She actually lives around the corner from us, and occasionally we’ll see her shopping in Publix.

On the other hand, to borrow another cliché, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In this case, the sword is the combination of publicity and image.  Paula built her food empire and her fortune based on image and publicity. It’s not like she is the greatest chef in the world. Her folksy “Southern charm” made her the queen of The Food Network. Once she caught on, her momentum just kept building. But that kind of fame and image can be like a balloon – big and voluminous, but of little of substance. One leak and the whole thing disappears.

Paula did not do a good job protecting that balloon from lurkers with needles. The damning deposition originates in a lawsuit related to a restaurant Paula created for her brother, Bubba. We know a number of people who have worked at “Uncle Bubba’s,” and they tell us that things were run pretty loose there. I have no idea of there is any merit to the actual lawsuit filed by one of Bubba’s former managers, but it is safe to say that the operation was not squeaky clean. That is not unusual for restaurants, and in most cases, it doesn’t matter — unless you are Paula Deen and you have a mega-million business riding almost entirely on your image. You must make certain there is no one lurking in the background with a hat pin looking to burst that giant balloon. Apparently, she did not do that, and that is her biggest mistake. Too bad.

A plate of spaghetti on a winter day

Our Sunday was all about running some errands, doing stuff around the house, a movie and making a big pot of spaghetti.

spaghetti 1

I make a decent spaghetti sauce, at least Mrs. P thinks so. When we were growing up in Wheeling, West Virginia, there was a neighborhood Italian restaurant, Figarettis. It was a classic Italian family restaurant. (I believe they are still in business but in a new location.) The family’s children went to school with us. Their sauce was so good, my mother was always trying to duplicate it. Her recipe is the basis for mine. The one unusual ingredient in the Figaretti sauce was anise. That’s the spice with a little liquorice taste you usually encounter in Italian sausage. I’m not a big liquorice fan, but just a hint of underlying flavor in the sauce makes a tremendous difference.

I start with Ragu, Prego or whatever other pre-made sauce is on sale and then go from there. I add a ton of garlic, and additional spices. The “secret ingredient” is sugar. It takes a little of the bite from the tomato sauce. Here is the basic recipe for a beginner.

BASIC SPAGHETTI

Brown a pound of ground beef and a pound of some Italian sausage together.  (Slice open the sausages and brown it along with the ground beef.)

Drain the fat

Add one jar of Ragu or Prego meatless spaghetti sauce, and a good handful of chopped onions and sliced mushrooms, as you will.

The key is in the spices.  Add…

  • At least two garlic cloves, either sliced thin or minced. Feel free to add more.
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Crushed hot pepper, as you wish.
  • A small amount of Anise, if you have it.
  • Salt to taste.

Simmer for about an hour (Or longer. The longer the better.).  When it is almost done, taste. If it is bitter, add a little sugar.  It will take the tang off the tomatoes and bring out the other flavors.

Enjoy!

You’re how old? No, really…

I’m getting old. I don’t feel like it, but the calendar and the date on my driver’s license don’t lie. I turned 60 last Friday.

Holy Metamucil, Batman! Where did that come from? It seems like it was only yesterday that I was in high school, spent nearly every evening throwing a football in the front street with my brother and didn’t know how to talk to girls. WTF?

Actually, I had a very nice birthday. As difficult as it may sound, coming from someone who writes a blog, I really don’t enjoy being the center of attention. Last year, the kids and I threw Mrs. Poolman a pretty nice party for her 60th.  I really didn’t want that. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s my natural social insecurity. I never know which good will-wishes are sincere and which are just for show.

In any case, Mrs. P made sure I had a very nice weekend. I had some work issues that had to be handled on Friday morning, but then I took the rest of the day off. Mrs. P and I had a nice lunch out. Then she had made an appointment for me to have my first professional massage. Very nice! On Saturday night, Poolboy, Girlfriend, Writer Princess and Son-in-Law joined us for dinner at a nice tapas restaurant in downtown Savannah.

I guess if you have to age, that was a pretty good way to celebrate a milestone. Thanks, guys!

Sick, recovery and back to work

The last few days have been fairly eventful, at least from my limited, self-centered perspective.

On Saturday, I was a judge at the regional Ocean Science Bowl competition. It involved 16 high school teams from Georgia and South Carolina. It was actually a lot of fun. I was a “rules judge” so my amateur knowledge of ocean science didn’t hurt me. I had one minor conflict with the moderator on my team of judges. He interpreted a rule incorrectly and, at least initially, was not happy about being corrected on it. We discussed it, and when he actually saw the rule in question, he realized he had made a mistake and everything turned out OK.

Mrs. Poolman and I went out for dinner with some friends Saturday evening. It was “restaurant week” in Savannah, and many of the up-scale restaurants had fixed-prix menus. I was not impressed with the restaurant, even though it had an excellent reputation. The chef barely seared my steak that I had ordered “medium.” Once the food was laid down, the waitress did not appear again until it was time for dessert. She didn’t even ask why a perfectly good (but practically raw) steak sat, barely touched, on my plate.

I’m not a complainer. If I’m asked, I’ll answer. Otherwise, I’ll just remain quiet but take my business elsewhere.

I almost nev­­er fall victim to a “stomach bug” or other gastro-intestinal maladies. So I was very surprised to find myself spending most of Saturday night in the bathroom with significant eruptions coming from both ends. What do they say about “thinking you’re going to die, and afraid you won’t.” Ugh. Not a fun experience.

So I spent Sunday like a zombie, laying on the couch, napping and watching TV. I napped through the first half of the Super Bowl. I apologized to Mrs. P for being such lousy company. There are benefits to being married to a nurse. She took good care of me.

Dinner?

On Monday, I recovered enough to drive to Atlanta for today’s Board of Regents meeting and a “Coastal Georgia Day at the Capitol” tomorrow.  I’m off in a little while to meet some of my fellow “coastal Georgia” people for dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. Is it supposed to be ironic that the representatives of the Georgia Shrimp Association go to a Brazilian steakhouse when they come to the “big city?”

Whatever. I’ll report back on dinner tomorrow or later in the week.

 

 

 

 

Off to Mouseland!

We took a few days off last weekend to join Mrs. Poolman’s older sister and husband in Orlando. They traded with some friends —  a week at their mountain house for a week at the Wyndam Bonnet Creek Resort at Disney World. They had a three bedroom condo and asked us if we could join them for a few days. Of course we said, “Ah, yes!”

Windam Resort Bonnet Creek

Our condo

Mrs. P and I actually spent our honeymoon at Disney World – way back in 1976 when the area around the park was a tiny fraction of the development there now. And the only Disney developments were the Magic Kingdom and a few other small auxiliaries, like “River Country” which no longer exists. Even EPCOT didn’t open until around 1978.

We also lived in Orlando in 1979-80 when I worked for the ABC affiliate there. Poolboy was born in Orlando. So while it’s safe to assume we have some familiarity with the area, the tourist section of the area has change dramatically.

We drove down from Savannah on Friday and met B & D at the condo. It is rather high-end and very nice.

On Friday night, we treated our hosts to dinner at Bahama Breeze. This is a chain restaurant of the Longhorn Steakhouse – Olive Garden family, but it is very good. I wish they had one in Savannah. I had the shrimp and grits off the daily special menu and was very happy. Mrs. Poolman had a grilled chicken with mashed potatoes, a cilantro-cream sauce and cheese.

Grilled checken with cilantro crema

I had to taste it. It was heavenly. We will try to duplicate it at home sometime soon. Both our guests also enjoyed their dishes. I thought my brother-in-law was going to lick the plate, but he restrained himself.  The bill for four adults (without alcohol or tip) came to right-at $75. That’s not bad at all for a tourist area. Two thumbs-up for Bahama Breeze.

Tomorrow, we will be sitting through a time-share demonstration and then off to Epcot.

 

No snow, pricey eats and a decent flick

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, without a speck of snow to be found. This was a big disappointment to some folks in our neighborhood who were looking forward to a once-every-ten-years-or-so snowfall. The area west of Savannah got an inch or two, but we live to the east, closer to the ocean. We got a little sleet Friday night, but that was it. No Frosty the Snowman or Olympic bobsledding in our area. No hills either, so the sledding wouldn’t have worked anyway.

Mrs. Poolman and I celebrated St V’s day with reservations at Ele’s, a relatively new and very upscale restaurant in our section of town. We had been holding on to a gift certificate that Poolboy had given us for Christmas. The restaurant, Ele’s, was good, but I’m not sure it was worth the hefty price tag. I had a filet and lobster tail. The steak was good, but frankly, I did a better job with the lobster tails I cooked on New Years Eve. Ele’s normal menu is a little pricey for suburban Savannah, but this weekend, they had a special menu, and the prices were even higher. (A typical entrée was $35-60. The “dinner for two” special was $149.) In our little section, we saw two groups who were seated, and after they looked at the menu, got up and left. I’ve never seen that before. I hope the restaurant does well, but they may be pricing themselves out of the market.

We went home and ordered up the movie “A Time Travelers’ Wife” from On-Demand. Mrs. P and I both read the book a few months ago. (See my thoughts on the book here.) (November 3)

We really liked the movie, just as we liked the book. However, I think this is a movie for which it definitely helps if you have read the book first. As the main character, Henry, pops in and out of time, I’m not sure I would have been able to keep track of which Henry was on the screen, if I didn’t already know story from the book. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it could have been better. Read the book first, and then enjoy the flick.