Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Black Listed: Champs Sports Bar

April 7, 2007

The other night, I went to one of the biggest sports bar in town to watch a hockey game, the Canadiens are in a close battle to make the playoffs. The place was packed because of the circumstances and everybody was there to watch the game, drink and have a bite. I am not usually found in these kind of places but the prospect of watching the game with friends and a bunch of enthusiastic people was not as bad as it might sounds. I cared little about the game but more about the setting and the people I was with.

In any case, we arrived, got seated and called for a pitcher and some nachos. Beer comes in, the nachos come in. Everything is up to the standard I was expecting, not high but decent. Comes the end of the first period, I try to catch the waitress’ attention. Difficult task as she was obviously in the weeds, the place was definitely understaffed and the poor girl was running around like crazy. It took about 15 minutes to finally get her attention and we are able to order food, two subs and a chicken burger.

Second period finishes. Third period starts. No sign of the food, its been more than an hour now and we are starving, she is still in the weeds so I try to get her attention again to see what’s going on. I am finally able to talk to her and she is saying that the kitchen is overloaded and everybody is the same, it shouldn’t be too long. Fifteen minute passes and still no food, I mean its been nearly an hour and a half, I discuss with my buddies and decide to cancel the order and go elsewhere, f*** this s***. I call for her again, and tell her to cancel the order and to bring the bill.

The plates suddenly, magically appear about a minute later. We are famished and decide to take them anyway, might as well, they are ready after all. I start to dig in. The fries are borderline cold, all soggy and the first bites of the sub finds it cold to the core. My tablemates have similar problems and the chicken burger looks like it was taken out of the sole of a shoe. This is unacceptable, I call for the girl and ask to see the manager. I explain the situation, fairly succinctly and diplomatically (no screaming or anything). Now this dude is a big guy, he looks like a bouncer (probably is one), and basically tells me, to my face, that it can’t possibly be cold because they just made it, clearly trying to intimidate me. This dude is saying that I am a liar! When he sees that the intimidation will not work he tells me that he’d replace it, I politely decline and demand my money back, which he agrees to as long as I have not eaten too much of it (can you believe this guy? I mean what difference does it make? It is going to be thrown in the garbage anyway, or maybe not considering the events.) I bring him my plate and examines it (I had in fact taken two bites of the said sub), and tells the waitress not to charge me.

My tablemates, way too nice, and famished, decide not to complain, and decide to pay for that crap anyway. After we ask for our bill, the waitress stops at our table and starts to explain that we should have come early and order early when there is a big game like that. She tells us that things like that always happen when the night is busy. What kind of pathetic excuse is that? Any service establishment is there to answer the call, and provide the service. That it takes longer to get your meal is fine, although an hour and a half is stretching it, but bringing cold food, food that has been under the heating light for the past half hour, is unacceptable. I know they were in the weeds. I know it was a difficult night. I understand all that, but you still have to crank out the meals that are in an acceptable state. The management of that place is clearly not seeing that they have a problem and are clearly happy with customers not ever setting foot again in their establishment. Customers talking about it online for the world to see.

Now on the black list is:

Bar Champs
3956 St-Laurent
Montréal, QC,  H2W 1Y3
(514) 987-6444

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma

February 11, 2007

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

Alright, I know I am a bit late to the parade on this one but I guess I needed to read it at some point and that was early January. After all the praise and analysis I am not sure what I have that is so unique to add on the subject but I will try none the less. I guess one more review is nothing that will make this less of a best seller, it already is, but this is an important book with the “foodie” crowd and I thought I would address it.

 

One of the most important aspect of this book is its incredible vulgarization characteristics. Pollan did a lot of research for this book, read many important texts, talked to important and not so important people and nicely packaged that in a book that anybody with more than a passing interest about food can read. And because he writes with such a naive tone that everything seems so new to him that you feel like you are discovering things at the same as he does.

 

His journalistic approach to research is interesting but, in my opinion flawed. My biggest problem I have with the book is the fact that he bases his whole arguments on things he has seen once and a huge sample of one person he interviews. I understand that he is trying to make his point as clearly as possible and that it is a lot easier to relate to that one “Organic” farmer in Virginia as the truth but the reality is much different. The reality is that there is shades of gray and that one people’s truth is not necessarily the one. True enough, corn farming in Iowa probably follows a certain order that is well established, but apart from big farming like that, they are definitely a whole host of different realities.

 

He even freely admits that the farm “his” cow was born was a place where they seemed to care for the animals. They artificially inseminate dozens of cows with the same sperm all the time but they take good care of their breeders and good care of the calves. But that is overshadowed by the incredibly cruel treatment they get where they will get fat and be killed. The feces, the mud, the animal fat given to them in addition to all the medicines. This is disgusting. But is it the point? I understand the will to engage the reader in what he is seeing but the blurring between the editorial essay and the journalistic research and personal account on the matter bothers me a bit. Pollan changes his hat quite a bit and that is the real issue for me.

 

None the less, the information is nicely packaged and the book is thoroughly entertaining. I mean I whizzed through that volume in no time while only reading on my commutes. There is some significant information for anybody that wants to know how the big food industry works. There is also interesting facts about the big organic business, their practices and how it will be changing, probably for the worse, with its increased popularity.