Sunday, November 29. Pulling The Reveillon Together. Two Filets At Zea.

Written by Tom Fitzmorris November 29, 2009 06:35 in

Dining Diary

Sunday, November 29. Pulling The Reveillon Together. Two Filets At Zea. It's a big job, pulling together the information about Christmas dining my readers expect of me. Finishing that took all day, much of it devoted to assembling the catalog of Reveillon dinners that begin on Tuesday. And compiling lists of restaurants open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Those are two days I strongly recommend against for dining in restaurants, but as happened to Thanksgiving during the last twenty years, the pickings have begun improving greatly.

My readers love this kind of information, but it's the easiest work I do. No real writing involved. I compare it with the fact that a large McDonald's does more business in a month than Commander's Palace does. Mary Ann likes quoting a line from who knows where: "Sell to the masses, eat the with classes. Sell to the classes, eat with the masses." That's probably true, and it drives me nuts.

In a break from all that typing, I went outside and put the Christmas tree in its stand. I approach this job with fear in my heart. My mother was a holy terror when she watched the men in the house attempt it, while she supervised. It was never quite straight to her eyes. Each time we made a new adjustment--even though we got a little closer each time--my mother's disdain grew. Finally she threw up her hands and decided to be angry about our incompetence throughout the entire Christmas season. My father, who did not handle stress well, was very happy to turn this task over to me when I reached puberty. My mother was no less patient with me than with him.

Perfect perpendicularity has never been an issue with Mary Ann, for which I am thankful. I'm also glad I live in a time when Christmas trees are less crooked than they used to be, and when the stands are both sturdier and more forgiving. Still, I remember the old days and my mother's ghost watching over me.

I put the stand on the deck, picked up the tree, and dropped it in. After tightening the four screws, I stood up to see what needed to be adjusted. I walked around and around, but from no angle did the tree appear to be leaning. I called the Marys to take a look. "Looks okay to me," Mary Ann said, and went right back inside. Oh, how I love her for that! It must have been the prayers I said in St. Joseph's house at Manresa, with my poor father in mind. (His name was Joseph, too.)

We decided a couple of months ago to cook and eat Sunday dinner at home from now on. But for some reason Mary Leigh was completely occupied with some project, and wanted to break neither to eat dinner nor to decorate the Christmas tree. Mary Ann said we'd cooked quite enough this week for Thanksgiving, and that she'd be open to dinner at Zea.

There was one more item on Zea's fall menu I haven't tried, and my appetite was primed for it. It's a pair of tournedos atop some grilled onions and mushrooms, topped with a melting ball of Bourbon butter. I prefer tournedos to filets mignon, because their small size forces them to be cut thickly. A thick steak cooks better than a thin steak. Sides of Zea's excellent roasted potato wedges and pretty good red beans (the beans are good, the rice never is; I wonder why). Mary Ann ate a salad.

Our discussion centered on whether I would be going with her and Mary Leigh to California after Christmas. I told her I will not. I am completely out of radio vacation days--which is saying something, because I've been with the station for over twenty years and get four weeks. I'd do it anyway, if I could be assured that I could broadcast from out there. But when we visited Jude there in June, on five consecutive days I was unable to get a decent connection, and had to do the show on the phone. And so the geographical difference in our ideas of the future looms again.