Today's post isn't exactly about cooking. Instead I bring you ten rules that I hope will help you enjoy eating. Eating out, that is.
1) Go out to a really nice restaurant once in a while. It doesn’t have to be a daily thing, obviously. If you’re budget-conscious, think of it as a reward for yourself. Enjoy life a little bit by spending a little extra money once in a while for a great culinary experience.
2) Make a point of patronizing owner-operated restaurants rather than chain restaurants. Forget the Olive Gardens and the Red Lobsters and the Macaroni Grill. Does it really help the world if you give business to huge corporations like Darden Restaurants or Yum Brands? Help support a local entrepreneur in your town instead.
3) Try at least one appetizer. Or better, order two and split 'em with your dinner companion.
4) Try one of the house specials. Learn what the chef is good at. Ask the waiter or waitress "what's good here?" and make a point of ordering that dish.
5) I wish I didn't have to include this one, but it goes in anyway: Never speak on your cellphone in a restaurant. You’re just not that important. Turn your phone off for once and try and enjoy the here and now.
6) Order drinks, or try a new wine you’ve never tried before. Laura and I have a weakness for the occasional margarita (rocks, and I'm sorry but I must admit it, extra salt).
7) If the restaurant has a sommelier, use him. Yes, I know this sounds snobby, and you don't have to do this EVERY time. But it's actually kind of fun. Tell him something cryptic like "I like red" or "I like sweet wines" and let him go to work. Then write down all the information on the label--and even a jot down note or two on whether you liked it or not and why--and keep those notes somewhere. Heck, file them with your 401(k) statements--you might cheer yourself up this way.
8) Don't clean your plate. Take some of your food home with you. This will give you room to follow rule #9, which is…
9) Leave room for dessert! It's an especially good idea to ask the server for a suggestion or a favorite recommendation when it comes to dessert.
10) Tip 20%, never less. This isn’t the 1980s anymore. Make the universe a plentiful place. We're in the era of outflow. If service is atrocious, tell the server politely (and keep an understanding and sympathetic smile on your face while telling) and still tip 15%.
I'd love to hear any additional rules that readers out there think I should include. We'll update this one as needed.
Using Salt = Cheating
Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain
The International Sommelier Guild