I thought it might be fun if I rewrote yesterday’s entry to not be an incomprehensible, decontextualized mess.
My girlfriend’s sister and brother-in-law have been in town for the past week or so. Actually, they somehow timed their visit to perfectly coincide with the absolute busiest I have been at work since the fall of 2004, when 1UP consisted of four full-time writers covering one of history’s busiest game-release seasons ever. In the ten days they’ve been in town, I was assigned a review of Metroid Prime 3. And Phantom Hourglass. And Dracula X Chronicles. And Tactics. And I needed to spearhead the launch of the Halo 3 coverage. Plus I was wrangled into helping manage the site’s news for a day or so, since pretty much everyone else was either in Seattle or Leipzig. Meanwhile, it was an implict expectation that I fulfill my Social Obligations to our guests on top of all of this.
Needless to say, it’s been a real hoot to juggle all of this.
My social obligations haven’t been entirely onerous, though — they’re fun people, and they eat incredibly well. It turns out that when my sister’s family goes on vacation, they mostly just want to eat. Extravagantly. Last night was sort of the peak of their trip, their next-to-last night in town, so they wanted to go to a place called Quince. This turned out to be a stupidly nice restaurant in the Pacific Heights neighborhood; by “stupidly nice” I mean that they practically maintained a 1:1 staff-to-customer ratio; when I excused myself to the restroom (a necessity during the course of the four hour meal) no less than three people escorted me there, handing me off from one to the other like a baton.
(Actually, I lie; the peak of their trip was last week when they spent a few days in Napa and ate at ultra-five-star restaurant French Laundry. I missed out on this so I could babysit Halo 3 coverage. I know people often joke that they don’t get paid enough for doing their jobs, but seriously.)
It wasn’t enough for them to go to Quince, though; they requested the chef’s table, a private dining area in the back of the restaurant where the service was even more over-the-top. Course were brought to the table by a team of waiters, and the head waitress would move around the table, leaning in close to everyone and explaining in quiet tones the details of their latest selection. And the wine pairings for each course blew my mind. I’m still learning to appreciate the taste of wine — the tasting tour I enjoyed at the beginning of the year helped! — but this stuff was incredible. Especially the pinot noir they served alongside my (mind-blowing, hand-made) pasta with raw smoked swordfish.
Each course was, obviously, about two normal bites’ worth of food. The point was to stretch them as far as possible by taking tiny, tiny bites. That way, you could appreciate the ludicrous amount of care invested into two tiny scallops served with a couple of plum tomatoes, or the flavor of a thin strip of sea bass served over a vinagrette reduction. It’s a totally different approach to food than mere sustenance; the point is to savor the full sensation of the food. Excessive? Yes. I will be wracked with guilt about how much this meal cost (someone else) for months.
Also, I will lay awake at night lamenting my general lack of culture.
But now our guests are leaving, right as my review work wraps up. It’s a bitter miracle of timing! But it does mean I can start catching up on the dozen or so new wiki articles that have been created over the past week or so. Stay tuned for something that doesn’t involve unrealistically-priced food.