A weekend of tastes -- 04/06/08

So far this weekend seems to be food-flavored...

Friday night was A Taste of The Towers... a fund-raising event at the Narragansett Towers featuring leading area caterers providing samples of their food (with the assistance this year of the newly-formed Rhode Island and Connecticut chapter of NACE - the National Association of Catering Executives).

Nancy spent an hour or so at the ticket desk while I opened the front door and said "Good evening. Welcome to The Towers" over and over.

Actually, it is quite pleasant greeting happy people who are coming to have an enjoyable evening. They are in a good mood.

Eventually we got opportunities to wander upstairs to see the sights and enjoy some tastes.
There was everything from hors d'oeuvres to appetizers to soups and chowders to samples of entrees to deserts and coffee and hot chocolate.

The photo on the left shows some sushi artfully arranged on a decorated slab of marble. (It was difficult getting a picture without catching a hand reaching out to grab a sample.)

The folks from Tom's Market were serving up custom-cooked stir fry at their table.

The evening was a great success. The Towers raised a good chunk of money towards the cost of building the new outdoor patio. (An attempt to recreate the look and feel of the front patio area at the old Narragansett Casino in the 1890s.)
(Note: for newer readers -- The Towers are all that remain of the Narragansett Casino -- not a gambling hall, but a Gilded Age combination social hall, theatre, restaurant, and tennis club -- similar to the Newport Casino that is home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Towers is maintained as an historic site by the Town of Narragansett and is available for weddings and parties. Nancy and I sometimes work there and at Kinney Bungalow as combination building babysitters and museum docents.)
The evening also included beautiful music by the Shilakowsky String Quartet.

We were impressed by how many people stopped on their way out at the end of the evening to tell us how delicious the food was and what a wonderful time they had -- and saying how much they looked forward to a future Taste of The Towers.

Shortly after we got home, Jill showed up with Eli. It was his birthday and she was baking him a special birthday pie. Eli is originally from the Pacific Northwest area and is very fond of huckleberries -- a wild berry related to the blueberry (and in some areas the names are interchangeable). Being wild berries, people have to go out and pick them by hand and they are thus quite expensive (unless you go into the mountains and pick them yourself, in which case they are free). Jill was determined to surprise Eli with a huckleberry pie. She hunted and hunted on the Internet and finally found one company that does business with retail consumers (rather than just commercial customers) -- Marx Foods, who offer an incredible variety of high-end (and high-priced) gourmet foods. Jill had a problem, however, with their Web page -- she'd get to the checkout page and get an error when she attempted to complete the transaction. She spent a lot of time on the phone Wednesday with Katy Springer, the general manager.Thursday morning Jill phoned me from work to say Katy had called her cell phone to ask that she try again. Since Jill couldn't go online from the bakery department where she works, she asked me to log on to the Marx Foods site and place the order. So I did, but I ended up with the same error. I phoned Katy and told her what happened. A couple of hours later she called me back to ask me to try again and stepped me through the process. The problem was fixed, this time it worked.

The order included overnight shipping. On Friday we waited for the berries to arrive -- I got nervous in the afternoon when I noticed on their Web site that they guaranteed next day delivery for all orders placed by 10 a.m. EST. This order had not been placed until at least three hours later. I phoned Katy. No problem, she said. She had been monitoring this order and FedEx said it reached Warwick, RI that morning (that's where the airport is) and FedEx promised it would reach us between three and five. At 4:30 there was still no sign of it (and Nancy checked the porch).

Jill phoned Katy again a few minutes before 5 -- Katy checked her computer -- FedEx tracking said it had been delivered -- Jill looked on the porch and there it was. The driver must have quietly put it there sometime after 4:30.

I have done my fair share of complaining about companies that give poor company service, so I am very happy when I find a company that gives exceptionally fine service. I don't know if any of you will ever want some wild fiddlehead ferns or venison sausage made with merlow wine and blueberries, but if you do, I think you might consider the folks at Marx.
A slice of huckleberry pie.

Two of Nancy's colleagues at her middle school moved over to the high school about three years ago but they remain close friends. Include husbands (one college professor, one lawyer, and me) and we three couples get together for dinner and conversation every few months. (It would probably be more often, but we all seem to have full schedules.) Saturday night was one of those occasions. Dinner was delicious (starting with a marvelous carrot and orange soup, I've really got to make that sometime) and conversation was lively and interesting.

And, speaking of taste... I've got to get myself off to the supermarket and buy some groceries. Hmmm, what would be good for tonight?

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