Monday, June 27, 2011


This week should be a bit of a gong-show around here since there is so much going on in Charlottetown/PEI the next 7 (or so) days. Charlottetown Summerfest goes from the 29th to July 2nd and this includes tons of events and concerts such as The Tragically Hip, Meatloaf, Eddie Money, The Trews and Haywire (just to say a few). There is also Canada Day coming up, Island Fusion Festival and PEI Pride Week. So what does this mean for me? I will be at work.

I went from working 2-4 days a week to suddenly jumping up to 6 days a week in a matter of one work schedule. This makes me a bit more optimistic of keeping myself busy while I try to figure out my life. I have been working more and more hours as the weeks go by since we get about 2 cruise ships a week arriving in Charlottetown, plus tourist season is well under-way so the restaurant is getting more and more busy which each passing day. Now that I am working more hours, the time has come for me to talk about the one topic that all waiters/servers/service people talk about obsessively to one another in hopes of figuring out the cryptic mystery behind it.


With each group of people who walk through the door, one never knows the tipping experience which is to come in the next 30-60 minutes. Every culture has different customs as to how much to tip in restaurants, or even if tipping will occur at all. In the USA/Canada, 15-20% is the standard tip one generally leaves a server and/or bartender. Then there are countries that tipping is not expected, such as England, Thailand, Costa Rica and New Zealand. To take it one step further, it is considered an insult in Japan to leave a tip and is it illegal in Argentina. Huh. Interesting.

"Tip" of the Day: T.I.P.S stands for To Insure Prompt Service.

There are so many factors to consider when trying to decide how much to tip. Was the server pleasant, informative and accommodating? Was your glass filled when empty? Were your condiments stocked and available when you needed them and dishes removed when the meal was done? Did he/she draw a smiley face on the back of your check? Did you feel rushed or neglected while dining? Does the server seem to be having a bad day or do you think that he/she just plainly sucks? Plus there's the food (the most important part). If the food is lousy, don't take it out on the server. He/she didn't make it and it is no fault to that person. Whether or not that person available and willing to fix or change your order is the important part.

Now the other night it I was not on my game at all. The people in the kitchen were asking what my deal was because I'm generally 3 steps ahead at all times, but I was messing up left and right. I felt really bad constantly apologizing to the customers for food coming out incorrect or after a lengthy amount of time. Now most people are understanding and still tip within complimentary ranges, but some will leave you a crappy tip no matter what. Even if I did everything perfectly and the food was perfect and the atmosphere was perfect and the person told me that I did a fantastic job, I don't doubt the chance of seeing a toonie waiting for me on the table after serving a $100 meal. Yeah it sucks, but it's just the way it is sometimes.

I want to finish this by asking you, the people of the world who dine-in every now and then, to appreciate the good servers out there and to let them know they are good at what they do.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Factoid Post

Just a quick post here to let the people/visitors of PEI know that on the days that cruise ships are docked down on the waterfront, bars and licensed restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol starting at 9am.

Oh, and I should also mention that the same rules apply on the day that the royal couple visit PEI.

Now, the question of the day. Does anyone see the logic in this new development?

I guess the rationale for the cruise ship situation is so that passengers can come into the city and have a meal (breakfast/brunch/lunch) with a drink such as a Caesar if they so desired. That also means that us regular folk can swing on by and have a drink before our 10am shift at the bank or mall. Whoo hooo! I'm guessing this is to increase workplace friendliness and customer service.

Now I really don't understand why the visit of the royal couple should cause need for breakfast booze. The more I think about it, the more is seems strange to me. So we'll be more rowdy? I can't image anyone would want rowdier Islanders to greet royalty. Yeah it's a celebration that they will be here but why does that mean that alcohol will be served bright and early for their arrival? Any insight?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tall Order

PEI is a very small province so it is kind of funny that one of the most famous people on the island (apart from Anne of Green Gables of course) is a very large person. Chef Michael Smith is from New York but he lives on PEI, has had 4 TV shows and 4 cookbooks, so he's quite a local celebrity around here. Last night he came into Rufus and Rory's for dinner with a small group of people to try the food and atmosphere for the first time. I was lucky enough to be the one to serve him his meal.

I've heard conflicting opinions about him from different sources and have yet to make my own opinion about the guy. I know that he volunteers a lot of his spare time and energy to promote buying local foods and also promote healthy eating in the schools and community. I highly approve of both of those efforts. Plus I have spent many hours watching his television shows so I feel a bond to him as I watch him travel around the world and share his culinary experiences with the his viewers. I will admit that I was very impressed with my experience last night at work. He was very polite and courteous to me which I appreciated. When the little girl at the table wanted to ride our antique tricycle he asked if she could ride it instead of just letting her have her way with it (like most parents do which drives me nuts since it's not supposed to be ridden!) I could tell that he was strict with making sure that his son was a healthy eater by making sure he ate a salad before having the hamburger. They also ordered extra sides of vegetables to fill the kids up with instead of fries and they didn't have the customary candies that are delivered to the table with the bill. Way to go Mr. Smith!

I think it's funny how we get all weird around celebrities. At first I was a little nervous when I approached the table but after a minute thought, "Why are you nervous? Don't be dumb!" Then I calmed down after that because if anything, it should be the cooks that should be nervous. However, I did go into a bit of a cleaning frenzy which is rather hilarious. My co-worker used to work at an upscale restaurant in Vancouver and she waited on people such as John Travolta, Kirsti Alley and K.D Lang. I wonder how I would react to serving people such as that? Probably cool and calm to their face but then all giggly behind the safety of the kitchen doors.

We worry about making fools of ourselves in front of famous people which is silly because the chances of that person remembering you is pretty slim. I think it's harder to sustain a good front when you are around someone all of the time whom you admire because he/she will know you and hopefully remember you and you want him/her to think well of you. I had a professor that I especially admired and I never wanted to look dumb in front of her or show any weakness, which is hard because you nearly kill yourself doing papers for the class because you strive for greatness. Perhaps one should always try to work for people they highly admire so that they seek high expectations of their work and themselves. Now there's a thought.

And I know what you're all wondering. Yes, he left me a very generous tip.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Proud Day

Question of the Day....Ready?

What do you do to truly prove your Canadian patriotism?
(a) Pour real maple syrup over your plate of Canadian back bacon.
(b) Dress up in plaid clothing and go into the woods to cut down trees.
(c) Make an igloo while listening to Celine Dion and then go for a dog-sled ride.
(d) Take a trip to your one of many local Tim Hortons.
(e) All of the above.

Have you picked your answer yet?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you're wrong! It was a trick question. The answer is actually (f).

What I like to do to prove my Canadian ego is I like to get sour and bitter about losing a silly hockey game, then I like to go out into the streets and start a riot where I then tip over cars, set them on fire, then rob my neighbours, beat up innocent people and later get sprayed in the face with pepper-spray.

I am proud to be Canadian today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Awesome Things

One of my favourite blogs to follow (next to Cake Wrecks of course) is 1000 Awesome Things. If you have never heard of the 1000 Awesome Things website or the 2 books that are based on it, then I highly recommend taking a peek for yourself and enjoy the awesome things that they list because it will make you smile. Most of them I find I can very much relate to, such as today's which is, "when you find the spot on the dog that makes its leg go crazy."

Every so often I think of ones that are applicable to my life. I really should write them down when I think of them because I forget most of them. Here are at least 4 that I have thought of and not surprisingly, most of them are food related:

1) Already having all of the ingredients for the new recipe you found. I love this one and it happened to me today. I was thumbing through a cookbook looking for ideas for dinner when I came across Sesame Hoisin Chicken Wings. Yum. So I grabbed a pen and paper and got ready to make a shopping list. As I scrolled down the list of needed ingredients, I was able to mentally locate where every item was located in the kitchen and when I reached the bottom of the list I realized that not a single item was in need of buying. Not having to go to the store is awesome.

2) When everything on your shopping list is on sale at the grocery store. I guess this can pertain to anything you are in need of buying and not be just for food, but it just seems better when it's food because generally the list is longish and being able to find every item at reduced price just makes ya feel good. Knowing that you made one heck of a dollar-saving grocery list that day is a nice accomplishment.

3) Making the perfect milkshake. This one only happens to me at work where I make many milkshakes every shift. There is a perfect balance between ice cream, sauce and milk that must be made to ensure that the shake is thick and delicious but also the perfect amount to fill the glass. Making too little sucks because you end up having to make a tiny bit more and making too much is just a waste (and a big no-no at work) so when I make the perfect milkshake where it slowly flows out the mixing cup and into the glass and the last drips that come out fill the glass to the's just very satisfying.

4) When you're able to save a falling hula-hoop. I love love love hula-hooping and I own 2 in BC and one here in PEI just so that I will have access to one no matter what side of the country I am on. So there you are, hulaing away and trying not to concentrate too hard on the hip movements when suddenly the hoop begins to fall lower and lower down your torso. Your brain and body begin to panic so you twirl a bit faster and add a little extra tilt to your hips to try to compensate for the loss of control. Then as quickly as things fell apart, it all comes back together when the hula-hoop makes its way back up your body and lands safely at your waist. Whew! What was close!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just A Friendly Reminder

It seems as though the weather lately is trying to deny us a chance to remember that we are actually nearly through Spring already and Summer is only weeks away. Hard to believe, I know! I actually had to Google "the first day of spring 2011" just to make sure that my math skills weren't deteriorating as quickly as I thought and that Summer is fast approaching. Did I mention yet that I had to add another blanket to the bed the past few nights to keep my teeth from chattering?

I've been trying to get out for bike-rides on the days that aren't 100% miserable and today I went for a good long ride out into the country. For the first few kilometres I basically just frowned at the cool temperature and overcast sky, but have been trying to keep my promise to myself that I would not complain about the weather much anymore. Then I got past the interstate and out a few more kilometres when it happened; a steady supply of pleasant reminders that it is actually late Spring.

The first was a large tree covered in beautiful apple blossoms. I love apple blossoms. They are one of my favourite things and I actually have a large tattoo of these lovely flowers down the right side of my torso. While on my ride I got seduced by their romantic scent which cause me to come to a halt and take a picture of some blossoms with my cell phone.

The second sign of the time of year is the frequent visit of foxes that I see on the trail. A couple weeks ago I saw a family of 5 foxes all enjoying the afternoon. In fact, one of the young ones was chasing a butterfly which was one of the sweetest things ever to witness. I have yet to ride the trail this year without at least one fox sighting. I probably won't see any now for the rest of the year just because I said that. I hope not.

My next spotting was of multiple families of Canadian geese who all inhabit a large pond on a farm out in York. It's this quaint farm that runs along the trail right as you enter the town of York and there were dozens of geese and their little ducklings there. I stopped to watch them for a few minutes because the ducklings are so cute. It also gave me the chance to enjoy the calves that also live on the farm. They are growing up quickly now and barely even look like baby cows, but they're still super cute nonetheless.

Living in BC you become very defensive when driving a car because you're constantly on the lookout for deer to prance out onto the road. For me, when riding the trails on my bike, I have become a defensive rider for squirrels and chipmunks. They will dart out in front of you at any given second, leaving you with only a second or two swerve out of their way. Most of the time they are quick enough to get back into the bushes well before you reach them, but every so often a little dare-devil squirrel will come out and just stare at you...possibly playing chicken with the rider of the bike.

Next are one of my other favourite creatures: bumblebees! They've been having a rough go this year since they came out when the weather was warm but now they're struggling with the cooler temperatures. I see them wandering around the sidewalks, unable to fly or really have any concern over their well-being as living things. It's sad to see such a wonderful little creatures having difficulty thriving in such a green and lush province. But I was fortunate enough to enjoy their company a bit on the ride as they lazily flew around from tree branch to tree branch amongst the blossoms.

Last, but not least, are the wild bunnies that live around here. Today was the first time I saw one this year and it made me happy to see it poke its curious head out of the underbrush and onto the trail. I have no desire to ever own a bunny as a pet but they're sure cute to watch as the hop around the woods.

Maybe Mother Nature was tired after the long Winter and decided to just skip Spring and move right into Summer. Maybe in a couple weeks it will get really warm and we'll all be wearing shorts until late September. Fingers crossed!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bitterly Sweet

One day, a good long while ago when I was still a student and studying was high on the priority list, I turned to my good friend and fellow Nutrition student Jess and asked, "Do you get the feeling that we're setting ourselves up for a career choice that will be nothing but us hitting our heads against the wall and being completely unhelpful and ignored by the population?" Those weren't my exact words but you get the drift here. Her response was an enthusiastic, "Every day!"

Today was one of those days I feel like there is no hope for the human race and all I want to do it crawl into a ball and give up. Ok, that was a bit dramatic for sure, but I just sometimes get the feeling that people just do not care about their health or for the science of nutrition and all that it can do for you beneficially if you just give it a chance!

At work this evening I witnessed a girl of about 16 years old add sugar to her glass of rootbeer (insert big frowny face). It was so painful to watch I had to avert my eyes. I overheard her saying to her friends that the ice cubes (all 6 of them!) were diluting the flavour too much, so I guess this means that adding sugar will enhance the flavour of rootbeer?

So here's my thoughts. One can of rootbeer has 29g of sugar in it which is approximately the equivalent to 6 teaspoons for a person to ingest. This cup of pop definitely held a larger volume than a can of regular pop, so I'm guessing at least another teaspoon or two in there. Now add however much she poured in and presto! One good old fashioned sugar rush for the body to deal with. Hello pancreas! Work your magic!

Rootbeer is fat-free so what's the harm? No big deal right?

Oh, hello Type-2 Diabetes! Fancy meeting you here.