The morning's view of fog rolling off the Mississippi.
In the far left corner, you can just see the bridge.
When my dear friend and fellow writer, Winnie Griggs, had no roommate for the ACFW conference in St. Louis and offered me a few free nights at the Hyatt, I was instantly on board!! Not only do we have kinks to work out on a two-hour workshop we're giving at New Jersey RWA's Put Your Heart in a Book next month, but something about nice hotels makes me write like the wind!! (Already sent a fun new project to my agent last night!!)
Anyway . . . We got adventurous for dinner last night and walked a few blocks west of the hotel to this place called Calicos. Anyone who's a fairly close friend of mine knows I have a thing for ranch dressing. All right, let's call it more of an obsession, but I'll claim it!! I LOVE RANCH!!!
We get our menus and what do I see? Beer-battered Zucchini strips--be still my heart!! Angels sang!!! Only one problem--how was the ranch? Homemade with buttermilk? Or from a big jug of Great Value Imitation Ranch? As any respectable ranch lover would, I asked our waitress what kind of ranch they serve.
She got a blank stare, and I swear to you said, "I don't know. Never had ranch."
At this point, I felt a little faint. She had to be twenty-something. How had she made it this long in the world without ever learning the joys of a superb buttermilk ranch? I got a little panicky, thinking it might be time for a ranch intervention!!
My dining companion talked me down, assuring me the ranch would be fine. Being from Louisiana, though, she felt my apprhension.
My food comes and the zucchini is beyond extraordinary!! Long, lovely quartered strips with just the right amount of batter. In the center of the dish is my ranch. Hands trembling, I go in for the first dunk. Anticipating the tastes of Tulsa's Hideaway Ranch or Ron's, you can't imagine my displeasure to find it wasn't real ranch!!! It wasn't just from a jumbo, industrial-sized bottle, but had to have been part glue. Chef Paula Dean would've died on the spot. Chef Gordon Ramsay would've told the chef to piss off then shut the whole place down!!!
Sigh. Waitress appeared, so I asked for an alternate dip. She brings an imitation of the sauce Outback Steakhouse uses for their Bloomin' Onion. It was okay, but still not what I wanted. I managed to eat a little, but I wasn't happy!!!
Making matters worse, twenty minutes later the waitress gave me the stink eye, asking in a snarky tone if I was enjoying the new dip. NOOOOOO!
Winnie and I salvaged our evening by snagging free Dove Chocolates from one of the publishing house giveaway tables!!
Never tasting ranch . . . Pffft. Ridiculous.