Three Dinners and a Pink Elephant

I’ll take a break from blogging about my trip to FRY and get on with my primary avocation of describing the wonder that is eating in DFACs. The eponymous three dinners were at the Monti, the Lux and the Cambridge while the pink elephant is J’s fault.

The Monti 27 Oct

“Those who do not know the conditions of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes, and swamps, cannot conduct the march of an army.” – Sun Tzu

To put it another way: “Those who do not know the conditions of the main steam line, short order bar and middle steam line cannot conduct eating decently at the Monti” – Kafoodie.

Good stuff on a bed of stuff

I always do a recce at the Monti because of their trickster ways with the menus but, this night, I got complacent, did a half-assed recce and paid the price. I did my walk around but was being kinda lackadaisical about it. My tiny little brain registered turkey and stuffed peppers on the main line and completely missed the chicken wings at the short order bar. So I got in the main line and, in a classic example of hope trumping experience, asked for mashed potatoes and turkey. It’s then that I noticed that the stuff peppers look delicious. They were full of tasty looking broiled meat so I got one of those on top of my turkey. As I turned away from the steam line, I saw a guy with crispy chicken wings on his plate. It’s so unusual to have them cooked so perfectly, I just had to saunter over to the short order bar and pick some up. I saw no apple pie, so I grabbed a cherry instead…”it’s better than going dessertless“, I thiought to myself.

When I got to the table I tentatively tasted the mashed potatoes. “Hope is an asshole”, I heard experience gloat. But I tucked into the wings and they tasted as awesome as they looked. Sure, the sauce wasn’t exactly a sensory extravaganza, but at least they were cooked right and had a decent flavour.

Could happen...

J was raving about the two stuff peppers he was scarfing down.  So I started in on mine and discovered that J was not full of shit. “Dammit” experience muttered. The pepper was sort of just an accompaniment to what was essentially a giant spiced meatball. At this point, I had only potatoes and turkey left. Having given up on the potatoes, I tried a bit of the turkey and was extraordinarily underwhelmed. J had some turkey too and confidently declared it “processed”. I disagreed and,based upon the grain of the meat, thought it may have been carved from real turkey breast…albeit a genetically engineered giant turkey almost certainly grown in a vat of agar. I told J that I had tasted processed turkey rolls, the production of which surely involved stuffing a live turkey into a special deboning/plucking machine out of which was extruded a meatlike product and, while our current turkey was vile, it was not at the level of vileness those particular nasties can achieve.

D, who also had spotted the chicken wings after getting something else (ungood egg rolls), wistfully remarked that it would be nice if we could have “do overs” with our meals. He said he would have just had chicken wings, fries and two pies. Yup, we all would’ve been better off if I’d done a proper recce and no do overs would be needed.

On a final happy note, about half the child sized, hard plastic chairs in the Monti have been replaced by padded grown up seating. I’m sure they’re reading and heeding this blog now. You’re welcome.

The Lux 28 Oct

Manchester United...with lard

Just a real quick note on the Lux. While the Monti folks seem to be taking to heart my pearls of wisdom, the Lux folks just ain’t listenin’. As I perused the desserts available, I noticed something called Manchester Pudding. It didn’t look particularly appetizing as it appeared to have a rubbery texture but I saw that it had white blobs of something that looked sorta like icing or meringue. I’ve seen that before“, I thought, “surely they haven’t made a rendered fat based icing again!”.

Guilty as charged...

But, of course, they had. It wasn’t quite so hard as last time and was slightly sweeter so on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I’m gonna hurl and 10 is oh jesus fuck that’s disgusting, it scored a 5. When I told J that I thought the icing was made of lard, he said we could tell for sure if it made paper translucent when applied to it. While I’m not too sure of the validity of J’s hypothesis as it sounded about as scientific as comparing  ducks and suspected witches, the results of our little experiment were clear. DFAC icing people, if you won’t take it from me, take it from WikiAnswers: Lard must not be used in icing anymore. The internet (and I) have spoken. Don’t make us tell you again! I think J put it best when he said “How rude of them to put that out for human consumption”.

Cambridge Oct 29

So, Cambridge tonight was pretty decent. They had Cornish Pastry (sic) which is really just meat in pastry but they call them pasties in Cornwall. No, I don’t know where the “r” went but wherever it was, the DFAC sign maker found it. Regardless, it was pretty good in a factory-made sort of way.There was also some nice tender chicken in what was called a casserole but was really just baked chicken in a tasty sauce. I had some properly cooked peas and corn and a surprisingly delicious carrot and raisin salad. So everything was going along swimmingly…til I went for dessert.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was praising the yummy moistness of the pineapple upside-down cake at Cambridge and encouraging the DFAC cake makers to just keep doin’ whatever they’d done that night. They just don’t listen. One of my legion of fans commented on that earlier blog that “Pineapple makes anything moist.” I’d happily debate her on this issue but I am still trying to get my tongue unglued from the roof of my mouth after tonight’s pineapple upside-down debacle.I wondered aloud “how can they make the same cake so much worse than just a couple of weeks ago”. J suggested that it may indeed be the same cake.

Ok, Now I hear it

There’s an old psychological demonstration where the prof tells the class “don’t think of a pink elephant” and, of course, all they can think of is a “pink elephant”. Well, J managed to point out the hitherto, unnoticed pink elephant in the room.

As is to be expected, the DFACs are fairly noisy places. Lots of people chatting, the dull plunk of plastic cutlery and drone of the air conditioner makes for a constant thrum of noise. It all just sort of fades into the background after you’ve been here awhile, that is, unless, you have someone like J who just has to make observations like “Hey, listen for a second, hear how noisy the chairs are as people pull them out to sit down or push them back in when they get up? Isn’t that irritating?” Well J, now that you’ve pointed that particular noise out to me, yes, they are indeed irritating.
He made this observation about 5 months ago. Since then, I can hear
nothing in the DFACs except the damn scraping and squeaking and scratching of chair legs against the floor. Go ahead, play the audio I recorded at dinner tonight but don’t listen for the chairs scraping..

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