Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Getting in the Holiday Spirit (and Fondue Update!)

I had actually brought the Christmas boxes inside from the garage just after Thanksgiving but I let them sit for a week before tackling them on Monday. CPA Boy helpfully suggested, "You can decorate the tree on Monday in between doing laundry!" THANK YOU, HUSBAND, because there's nothing that makes 6 loads of laundry fly by like doing MORE chores.

Up top we see the "Holy Family". This is how they start out the season. I have not checked to see what they are doing now. Usually Mary is huddled with the Wise Men and all the rest are worshiping the sheep. (Doesn't it seem like "worshiping" should have an extra p? Shipping? Shiping?)

I select wrapping paper with the overall color scheme of our house: red, white and black. Like these:

And yet CPA Boy pays EXTRA MONEY to have wrap the gifts he buys (this kills me). Which look like this under the tree right now:

In no world do the blue or gold packages match anything in the house! Oh well, they will soon be buried under the avalanche of properly color-coordinated gifts for him.

Keep in mind that I really DO appreciate that he shops for me AND "sticks to the list" (what's the point of making a list if people don't USE it?!). I just like matchy-matchy with the holiday decorations. It's always amazing that these Type-A traits pop up in me for such lame things.

Long story short: My husband is a good man in all ways about presents for me, except for this gift wrapping issue!

The tree is very small, only about 4 feet. This year I draped my snowmen garland down the sides rather than wrap it around in a spiral. This was because I put the tree in its final position before I started decorating (the lights are part of the tree) and I didn't want to move it out from the wall to decorate. I like doing the garland draping though; it's fast and easy. And it looks like the snowmen are having an orgy:

Aren't they adorable (ignoring their tendency to orgy, of course)!

Here's the finished tree:

It will look so much better with a zillion packages underneath it. (And no TV in the frame.)

So who wants to read about the fondue place? You do! You do!

The Boy and The Girl ordered the 4-course meal which includes the cheese fondue appetizer, a salad, the meat course and the dessert fondue. CPA Boy and I stuck with the fondue appetizer and salad for dinner.

But first, the menu tells you that you can only order one choice of fondue per cooktop on the table. (These are built in to the table, like a smooth top kitchen stove.) We were seated at a table for four with only one cooktop. That meant we'd all need to agree on ONE thing.

This is where being assertive helps. I asked to move to a table with TWO cooktops. The waiter looked a little put out and went to ask. All the other tables in our section were empty at this point so I could see no reason why we couldn't move tables. After a couple of minutes they moved us across the aisle to a two-cooktop table.

CPA Boy and I ordered the Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue and the kids got Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue. They place pots on each cooktop (which are double boilers) and when the steam starts to pour out then your server returns and makes the fondue right in front of you.

Ours had a base of white wine and the spinach artichoke had a broth base. These heat up and then seasonings and cheese are added until the right consistency is achieved. Ours required MORE CHEESE which is not a bad thing. You get little bowls of bread cubes, veggies (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower; one out of three ain't bad)) and apples for dipping (diping?!) into the fondue. We still had some dippers left over by the time the cheese was gone so I have to say that you get enough of them.

I'm going to estimate that we had between one and one and a half cups of fondue. Which is a perfectly acceptable amount for an appetizer. (Still, I will make this better --- and less expensively --- on New Year's Eve.) I thought ours was a little too heavy on the wine because I tasted that more than I tasted the cheese. (We are not wine drinkers in general but I do like wine-flavored foods.)

We got our salads next. Three California Salads (and one Caesar Salad for CPA Boy). Totally fine but nothing out of the ordinary if you eat salads regularly: baby greens, roma tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans, and raspberry vinaigrette.

Then the main course for the kids (who are both 19 but will forever remain "kids" to me) consisted of a platter of raw meats and more varied vegetables to go with their boiling pot of vegetable broth. The meats included ahi tuna, shrimp, seasoned sirloin, teriyaki sirloin and marinated chicken.

[And seriously, Spell Check? You want me to correct "teriyaki" to "sukiyaki"? You have "sukiyaki" in your dictionary but NOT "teriyaki"??]

The Boy and The Girl dug in. This portion of the meal, wherein CPA Boy and I had nothing to eat in front of us, took by far the longest amount of time. Each of those little hunks of meat took at least two minutes a piece to cook in the boiling bouillon. The kids soon learned to spear the meat or veggie and then just let it sit in the pot rather than hold each fondue fork. They give you 4 per person.

The Girl was finished eating sooner than my son but he finished every single morsel of meat so nothing went to waste. He is a bottomless pit when it comes to food.

But seriously, this part of the dinner must have taken over an hour. By the time dessert fondue was ordered we two old folks were definitely ready for more food! (We got there at 5:30 and left just before 8:30.)

For dessert The Boy wanted a chocolate fondue that had caramel in it and The Girl didn't so the guys switched chairs. The Boy and I shared the Flaming Turtle (milk chocolate, caramel and candied pecans, flambeed tableside!) and CPA Boy and The Girl shared the Yin and Yang (pictured above, with tray of dippers), which was dark and white chocolates in the design you see above. The dippers included pieces of bananas, strawberries, cheesecake, marshmallows, rice krispie treats, brownies and pound cake. I ate a reasonable amount (I think I tried a piece of each dipper) and The Boy polished off the rest. Again, bottomless pit.

I think with the picture above, using the pieces of banana in the bottom left as a size guide, you can see how big their fondue pots are (they are double boilers, remember, so the fondue does not go near the bottom level of the pot itself.). I am curious what would have happened had we remained at a one-cooktop table. Bigger pots? I never saw any but maybe I just didn't notice.

And again, I will make this so much less expensively for New Year's Eve! So our final review is, while it was a nice one-time thing, we'd rather go the the Cheesecake Factory (leftovers for a second meal!) and make fondue at home. Or go there just for dessert (again, one piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake lasts for two servings!).

We are glad we didn't order the meat course because we would not have been able to eat much of it and I am not sure what one does with leftover raw meat chunks. Take them home and cook them later?? Seems a little too complex, doncha think?

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