From Where I Sit – Taking Time to Savour

My recent stay at a downtown Edmonton hotel coincided with the city’s annual Downtown Dining Week. The 2014 version, the eleventh one, ran from March 14 to March 23 and involved many of Edmonton’s most popular and pricey downtown restaurants.

This event, sponsored by the Downtown Business Association, is a way to showcase some of its members. For ten days patrons can enjoy lunch or dinner for $15, $25, or $50 at any of thirty different restaurants.

I was happy with the increased number of interesting and affordable choices within walking distance of the hotel. But, on Monday afternoon when I tried to buy something at the Canada Place food court for Tuesday’s in-room breakfast. virtually all the vendors were already closed. I guess when all the federal government employees have had their afternoon coffee break most of the vendors close. I suppose I could have gone to the donair shop on Jasper Avenue but that option didn’t speak to me.

If some part of the promotion is to get people looking, thinking, and talking. it worked. Trying to pick a restaurant forced me to the web to research which ones were offering what. First. I checked the entire listing to eliminate those who were only offering dinner. Next. I stroked off those whose menus didn’t appeal to me. Location was less of a factor because the participating restaurants were located within a few short blocks of where I was staying.

I ended up choosing Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The online reservation thing didn’t work so I called to reserve my table for one. This was not the first time I’ve eaten alone in a snazzy place; nor will it be the last. I like to think it takes a bit of chutzpah and self-assurance.

The dining room quickly filled and I was indeed the only solo patron. I had Demi Lovato’s Staying Strong 365 Days a Year for company. Actually, it was an inspired choice because the one page per day offerings are perfect for reading interrupted by wait staff or discreet people watching. Lovato uses a combination of quotes, her own words, and a daily goal to inspire anyone desiring introspection or working through a problem.

I remembered to notice the plush, well-appointed interior with massive chandelier, heavily swagged draperies, white linen draped tables, original art, and comfy upholstered chairs. Each server?male or female?wore a crisp white shirt, tie, black tuxedo style vest, black slacks, and black apron.

My food was exquisitely prepared and beautifully plated. Only when I saw a woman taking a photo of her entrĂ©e did I kick myself for not thinking of doing it myself. It no longer qualifies as food porn if you’ve mixed it and moved it and dug into it.

And it proves, yet again, that the simplest of ingredients are transformed in the hands of a talented chef. Taking the time to savour it is the least I can do, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.