I have had the great pleasure to have a Mother-in-Law that is the antithesis to the creatures that have been portrayed on the stage, film, radio and television. I am sure that some may be envious, but she is just a great lady and she has maintained a great sense of humor. She is the last of her siblings and there were plenty of them, the last time that they tried to get all of the clan together, they had to rent a city park, because of the spouses, children and their spouses and the grandchildren and their spouses and the great-grandchildren. I sometimes wonder how I remember my immediate family and she could have her own Zip Code if everyone lived in one community. My Bride and four of her five sisters with their spouses and just a couple of the grandchildren met to celebrate their Mother’s ninety-fourth birthday and that is quite the number to achieve, especially to be in great shape in body and mind.
The sisters got together and decided on a restaurant, that I have never been to, and it is probably because I have always imagined it to be a step up from fast-food, and yes, I can be snarky about food. We went to a place called Outback Statehouse that sounds like it should be based in Australia, but was actually conceived in Tampa, Florida and some of the dishes have “Australian” sounding tag-names. There are over a thousand locations spread across eighteen countries, including Australia. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Parent Company which is named Bloomin’ Brands, named after the signature appetizer of a one-pound onion that is specially sliced and cooked and a takeoff on breaded onion rings, and it is called the Bloomin’ Onion. I won’t try to discuss all the meals, as there was fourteen people having dinner. I know that we ordered a Bloomin’ Onion and another appetizer called Shrimp Scampi Dip with tortilla chips, which had Parmesan and “Jack” cheeses (and doesn’t sound anything remotely what I would think of for Australia), but I have to admit they dishes were interesting. My Bride of course, ordered their version of a Caesar Salad called the Brisbane, with a dressing not even close to her classic interpretation and topped with “Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie” which I guess refers to a barbecue grill and not the legendary statuesque doll, and she said that the dressing was very spicy and not what she expected, but she did eat it without any complaints. I had a classic Surf & Turf, which was a Filet Mignon and a small Lobster tail with a small container of melted butter, and some grilled Asparagus and something called a Loaded Baked Potato. I have to admit that the food was better then I had expected, but not my idea of a steakhouse, but who knows, I am probably in the minority anymore. After dinner, one of the sisters had stopped at a famed bakery and got a special cheesecake for the group with a candle.
There were an assortment of libations ordered by the attendees and my Bride decided to take the bull by the horn and order a bottle of wine, before I had a chance to see the wine carte, and I did finally find it, and I believe that there was about a dozen or more assorted wines, and they were all priced by the glass, instead of the bottle. We had a bottle of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2018 and this is a new designation from 2017. The wine had thirteen percent Chardonnay, which I guess was permissible and was fermented in Stainless Steel for three weeks and then aged sur lie for two months before bottling. The wine was a very easy and light drinking wine and was crisp and refreshing with all of the spices in the dishes. I also ordered a glass of La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017 to go with my Filet. La Crema was originally a producer based in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and started in 1979 with the desire to produce Burgundy style wines, as they only produced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1993 they were purchased by Kendall-Jackson and to their credit the winery is now known for making a quality wine at value pricing. This particular wine is their entry level Pinot Noir for the Sonoma region and it is aged for nine months in barrels before bottling. It is a good dependable glass of wine, balanced and easy drinking, not made for cellaring, but for drinking and enjoying immediately.