Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Faux Family Dining

In which.... 10 project managers take on The Melting Pot.

Their motto: "Get your fondue fix coast to coast."
Your fondue..... fix

The latest trend in Ya-Yas' Nights Out activities, at least here in the right-hand coast, is The Melting Pot -- corner on the market of fondue dining experiences. Every wife at our table remarked, at some point during the meal, "My husband would hate this." Exactly.

Men put topless women in their restaurants so we won't show up there. We serve absurdly small portions of food cooked one piece at a time and dipped into a girl's favorite sauces: chocolate and cheese. It was really a matter of time before this product was perfected.

Our waitress Gloria was a treasure, and there were enough of us that we had our own dining room, but she lacked something in explaining what was about to happen, so let me take care of that for you. You can be the star of your book club, and avoid some of the pitfalls we found when a power vaccum meets a roster of decisions to be made. We did what any group of women will do in that situation: we formed a committee and nominated a chair.

Like family dining, only more complex
Like any Groupeat situation, you'll first offer up all food taboos, allergies, dislikes, and restrictions, and see what you are left with. Because this group will have to order together. Waitress Gloria explained to us some math about # of party members divided by # of fondue pots. She served cocktails while explaining it, so we never understood it. We asked her 3 times to tell us how to order.

Please lead us to Cheese
The Lieutenant took control, since she owns the Nut Allergy and could drop dead at the table. Another of our party, I'll call her The Arranger, (because I have been groping for a blog-name for her for some time), challenged the fondue math and got us a third pot. This made things much easier.

Begin with your cheese. You choose 1 sauce per pot. We arranged a spectrum of Bland on one end, Spicy on the other, and the neutral crowd-pleaser in the center. Because heaven forbid we approach this without a system.

Dip bread in cheese. Talk about it a lot. Declare your love for cheese.

Know your fork colors
I once wrote an entire short story about this. You'd think you could keep track of 2 forks, but it was a big table. And I do love a Manhattan.

Salads are a la carte
But big. The Lieutenant and I had agreed on one to split before the rest of the table had found them in the menu.

Yer Meat or...why your husband will be glad to have you go alone
We did see some couples in some of the tucked away booths -- very date-y -- but you know those guys went to Arby's on the way home.

This picture.... ridiculous

How do these people even know each other? Cindy & Mark celebrate their engagement with Cindy's Dad Allan and his longtime companion Gerrick.

The lobster in the center of the table? We had 3 cubes of chicken, 3 beef, 2 shrimp and 2 ravioli each, plus endless boats of broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, squash etc. Gloria showed us how to make mushroom caps. The Arranger pointed out that we had to cook our own food.

Think of that moment at the wedding buffet where you discover, say, the peapod with shrimp dipped into the chicken sate, and you have to make sure everyone at your table knows about this possibility and tries it. That was dinner.

"You guys! Do the chicken in the tempura then the caribbean pot!" It seems we never outgrow calling each other "you guys." Now you have 3 tries with your chicken, so you have to know who of your Guys to trust. Own your plate. Plain Jane would not fall for the curry mushroom and wondered if she could ask for the cheese back.

This went on for another hour.
This is math I can get behind.

Be silent. The chocolate has entered.
We chose the basic milk (for Plain Jane end), the chocolate/peanut butter (legumes are safe), and the Turtle with pecans on the side. Shut even up about what they bring you to put in there.

Sponge cake - again, some people like plain
Brownies - some people indulge
Bananas - "Oh my God, you guys! bananas in the peanut butter one! Hurry!" Why hurry? I don't know. We were beginning to speak in tongues.
Marshmallows plain. Marshmallows chocolate.
Rice Krispie Treats. Please. Slap me. You guys. hurry.

The Late Roman Empire began to make perfect sense.

Gloria in Excelsis.


  1. Loved this!! Your sister, niece and I went to one in Richmond for Mothers' day about 12 years ago. Your niece enjoyed it greatly!!

  2. i had already heard this story and still peed my pants reading this. :)


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