Sunday, March 1, 2009

Life's occasional rewards

Sometimes you get confirmation that you're on the right track in the most unusual ways. Take yesterday, for example.....My Beloved and I were in our favourite brunchtime hang-out in NoHo - The Green Bean (no website, alas) - seated at a small two-top towards the back of the restaurant. Now for folks who don't know The Green Bean, it's a pretty cozy kind of place. Not exactly elbow-to-elbow, but 'friendly', if you catch my drift.

So, I had ordered their roasted pear and pecan salad (hold the goats' cheese that normally comes with it) and had settled back with some coffee and begun to people-watch. It's a really intriguing kind of place in that it attracts a great diversity of customers - college students, locals, 'valley folk' (stereotypically munchy-crunchy, Birkenstocks-in-winter, hand-knitted hats and beaded beards), alternatives of every kind, and strictly professional types peering at their Blackberrys or laptops. The couple seated next to us were older, hardy New England types, bundled up in The North Face, Polartek, and leather outerwear. They drew my attention mainly because they were large folks in a small space and were incredibly clumsy: water glasses were constantly on the verge of overturning, forks dropped effortlessly to the floor, condiments squirted randomly across the table....everything was a disaster, happening right beside us, in slow motion.

Amidst this carnival, our food arrived and I was presented with a gorgeous-looking plate of baby spring greens, candied pecans, a roasted pear, fanned delicately across the plate, the whole thing drizzled finely with a balsamic vinaigrette. There was also a side of fresh, creamy avocado. The colours, textures and the smells were just a picture! As I savoured the image before tucking in, the plates arrived for the 'couple next door' and instantly my stomach just heaved. He had ordered a beef burger and it arrived slathered in cheese, with fat pooling around the bun. It was gross in the extreme.

Then he cut into it.

The smell was just nauseating. It was blood and death and putrifying. That's the only way I can honestly describe it. A slight panic set in as I realised that it was going to be really difficult to eat with that stench emanating from the next table and I did not want to spoil our brunch.

And then the miracle happened.

The dead bovine on a bun was underdone.

So. He. Sent. It. Back.

I looked at My Beloved and he looked at me, and we tucked in to our brunch with abandon.

I wondered how long this reprieve could possibly last. The guy grumbled. He ate from his wife's plate. He muttered, dropped a coffee spoon or two, was given some chips and salsa to 'tide him over', he muttered some more. And still his beef burger did not reappear.

A full 20 minutes later, My Beloved and I had finished. For me, the last candied pecan had disappeared in a tummywards direction; the final morsel of toast and jam had been devoured, for him. We sat back, satisfied, and drained the last dregs of our coffee contentedly.

Then our waitperson reappeared. She was bearing two things - our check and our neighbour's cremated cow.

It was time to leave.

But the wonderous way in which life doles out occasional rewards was not lost on me.

Steer clear of the steer and stay vegan, friends!

1 comment:

Sara said...

Oh I hate when you're attempting to enjoy your death-free delicacies, and some visibly-omnivorous patron orders up a fresh helping of carcass. Glad to hear that fate stepped in and allowed you and your beloved to enjoy your meal in a death-smelling somewhat-free zone.