Two short subjects, presented for your elucidation and entertainment.
Pookie, Render Of Souls
After we had a chance to settle into the FIL's house and get unpacked, we got to meet the dogs and then, then we had the dubious joy of meeting Pookie. Pookie is a rescue cat that the family brought home, a sweet, loving little black kitten who is now about half grown. Pookie wears a strikingly red collar with a tiny bell which made me wonder; cats with bells on their collars aren't wearing them just for the fashion statement.
I was right. The bell is a warning to anyone other than Pookie that Pookie, Devourer of Flesh is nearby.
Now, I love cats, let's just get that clear out front. I love their attitudes, love their behaviours, love that they aren't mindless attention-grubbers. I also love that you can play with them for five or ten minutes and by that point they're tired and will go lay down somewhere to nap for several hours. Pookie, Penultimate Evil Incarnate is the only cat I have ever known who can play for literally an hour or more on end. He's constantly into something; batting his toys around, attacking the dogs, leaping onto very high places so that he can leap onto things like his toys and the dogs (interchangable) and attacking people.
I noticed something interesting about the dogs, who never seemed to notice that Pookie, Canine Exterminator was grimly hanging from their necks by his teeth: they were all fat. All three were breeds that had rather heavy, curly coats and they were all wearing quite a thick layer of fat. I can only assume from this that, like walruses, the dogs wear that extra layer of padding to prevent any real and lasting damage from occurring. Either that or Pookie, Terminus Morte has already killed and eaten all the skinny dogs.
Mind you, he didn't use his claws when attacking. He'd leap onto your ankle or leg and wrap his paws around you and hang on, but not with his claws. He did, however, use his teeth. All of them. Often. I'd be sitting at the bar on a tall stool, my bare feet on the footrest, when I'd hear a tiny musical "jingle" and feel several rows of shark-like teeth enter my flesh. I'd be sitting on one of the comfortable, overstuffed chairs, my legs resting on an equally overstuffed ottoman and almost as soon as I'd hear that quiet "ding" Pookie, Lurker In Dark Places would be trying to swallow my ankle. The only time you could safely pet him was when he was eating, which meant that he was occupied more with devouring his food than with devouring warm human flesh.
The problem is, I believe, that Pookie, Spawn of Paris Hilton isn't a cat. He's a full-blown demon from one of the 666 planes of Hell which has had all the extraneous, not-so-evil bits cut off with a blowtorch, then had that core of penultimate vileness run through a dehydrator to get rid of all the excess niceness, leaving about six pounds of dried Essence Of Pure Evil, which was then mixed with strychnine, poured into a cat skin and left on a sidewalk somewhere for someone to 'rescue.'
He's a good kitty.
Fondue Unto Others
Kids, I've discovered fondue.
I know, fondue was discovered some seven thousand years ago when Vlad The Impaler, all together a rather enterprising fellow and an explorer of the culinary wilderness tossed some of his enemies into a huge pot filled with boiling oil, a little white wine, some balsamic vinegar and a few bay leaves, stuck one of the unlucky guys with a forked prod and ate him after exactly one and one half minutes at full boil. I'm talking about a more refined fondue. Fondue in a nice eating establishment. Fondue in a nice pair of slacks and a silk tie.
The in-laws took us Saturday evening to a little place called "The Melting Pot." It was in a strip mall, and from the outside it looked like nothing more than a glamorous pizza place, or maybe a rather swank Chic-Fil-A. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was right, however, in the secondary assumption that they were taking us there to get us out of the range of Pookie's teeth.
You see, I come from a place where fine dining is Johnny Corrino's serving "country Italian," which means they play Conway Twitty and Johnny Cash real loud overhead while you eat the same bread, pasta and tomatoe sauce in about thirty different variations. I wasn't ready for the idea that you'd have to have reservations to eat somewhere, and that the manager would greet you by name when you came in and do a little groveling dance around you and roll your name around his mouth a few more times like he was working on a peppermint candy as you were lead to your table.
Your tile-topped table with a huge metal heating plate set in the middle and heater controls set discreetly in the side.
Yeah, I can hear you guys snickering and elbowing each other under the monitor already. Forgive me, I'm not used to anything more exotic in an eatery than China Doll Express in the local Mall's food court.
The waitress, it seemed, was going to be with us for a while. All of us being new to Serious Fondue, we had a rather extensive lesson on how to Do It. Choices of wines. Selections of the cheese for the opening course. Selection of the broth for the main course. In-depth instruction on how long to cook raw seafood, beef, pork and chicken. A gentle but legally binding reminder that if we failed to follow said instructions the eatery was not liable for lawsuits concerning e. coli and salmonella poisoning. More instruction on what exactly was going into the little round-bellied pot, and how it should taste, smell, and sound. How we shouldn't touch the pot, how we should place the little sieve spoon so we wouldn't get burned. How not to eat the round white mint in the urinals and how not to stab ourselves in the back of the throat with the skewers when we ate.
Long story short, the four of us fondued our way through a full four course meal, including desert and coffee. We fondued breads in interesting cheese. We fondued a whole selection of fresh vegetables. We fondued steak (60-90 seconds) and pork and chicken (120 seconds) and shrimp (60 secs) and lobster (lobster!) in a boiling concoction of rare white wine and extra super virgin olive oil and spring water drawn from darkest wells deep in Siberia and expensive herbs painstakingly plucked from vertiginous mountaintops and mysterious ungents robbed from tombs deep in the Holy Land. Then we fondued fruits and tiny cakey confections in dark chocolate mixed with raspberry and Frangelico, and for the close there was Irish coffee with a dash of that Frangelico again.
Kids, I nearly died. I nearly died over the course of three hours. The servings never seemed large; a main course was set up for two, and you were lucky if you got three shrimp and two bites of lobster and three little cubes of steak, but when you eat slowly, when you savour it, when each bite is lovingly and carefully cooked and then enjoyed, oh. Oh.
I had to have a cold shower afterwards.
Me, I'm just glad I didn't have to pay for it. I made the mistake of seeing the total on the bill.
But you know? If I had it to do all over again and this time I was footing the bill, I'd do it again. With more chocolate, and lots more coffee.