My first time at Red Lobster

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday, and as usual we went out to dinner. The past few years we’ve gone to McCormick and Schmick’s. A birthday is always our excuse for going a little bigger than we would otherwise, especially when it comes to dad.

This year, we changed things up a bit. Our last visit to M&S’s was disappointing for some, so dad decided on Red Lobster. I was a little hesitant, as I am most times I visit a new restaurant, until I checked out the menu online. Not only do I have my dairy restrictions to consider, but I’m also not big on seafood. I love shrimp, unsure of crab and most fish, and I’d never had lobster before. But I found a few things I could go with and thought I’d enjoy myself eating out for once.

I was more than right. First off, while I’m hardly a drinker, I do love a good daiquiri and they make a great Mango Berry Daiquiri.

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I ended up with two of these over the course of dinner. They were so good! The mango took over most of the flavor profile, but I happen to love mango, so it wasn’t overpowering to me. What was best about the drink was that there wasn’t even a hint of the rum it contained. Part of why I don’t drink very often is I can’t stand the taste of alcohol (and it’s really flipping expensive). So to find a drink like the daiquiri is nice.

What also made for a good meal was what I ordered. I got a plate of the garlic-grilled shrimp and the peppercorn sirloin, with a side of wild rice pilaf. All of it was so tasty. The shrimp wasn’t overly buttery, my medium-rare sirloin was tender and flavorful (and not terribly peppery as I feared it would be), and the rice pilaf was a nice twist on what I usually get in a rice dish.

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(The shrimp had been skewered, but I was eager to eat and forgot about sharing the artful plate with you all until they had been freed of their wooden impalement.)

Lastly, to top off a nice meal, I finally tried lobster. I get it. I really do. It’s awesome! My mom was generous to share a couple bites of the tail she got, both with and without butter. Obviously it was better with, but I did enjoy it without. I didn’t ask to try anyone’s crab, but dad let me try my hand at cracking one of his claws. Not an experience I feel the need to repeat unless necessary.

Perhaps one day I will be brave and try my hand at making lobster myself. I have a feeling I will be much like Julie Powell in Julie and Julia (the film version, I haven’t read the book).

I want to end this with a shout out to our waitress Jen (at the Vancouver location). She was a great server and we had a great time chatting with her. She seemed to really enjoy her job, which is always nice to see. I know it’s not always easy to be warm and smiling in service jobs (having been in one myself years ago), so I appreciate those who make a point of going above the expectation like she did.

Another time I will share something about her and what it means for her job that I find fascinating.

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My favorite smothie

Being lactose intolerant, finding the work around for dairy has become a part-time job. Thankfully, there are companies like Earth Balance, Whole Soy Co., So Delicious, Daiya, and many others, that have created great products that taste pretty damn close to the real thing. In most cases, you can’t tell it’s not dairy. That makes living dairy free a lot easier and not quite so limiting as when I first figured out that it was dairy making me sick.

One of the things that I love making now that I can is a fruit smoothie. I take two 6 oz vanilla (or one of the berry flavors), about 1.5-2 cups of frozen mixed berries, and about .5 cup frozen mango chunks, and blend them together with some honey to taste. When I started doing these, I realized that my parent’s 15+ year old blender wasn’t cutting it–figuratively and literally, I was getting huge chunks, no blending, and there was a burning smell whenever I used the blender. So we bought a new one. Again, I started having problems. With this one, the blades had a hard time thoroughly mixing my ingredients and pureeing all of the fruit. In fact, it would blend the bottom section, but a full 1 inch layer sat on top of it, immobile. So I took to sticking in a rubber spatula (mostly carefully, we do have a rather mangled and misshapen spatula now that I’m told I will be taking with me when I move out) and gently guiding the rest of the mix into stream. Finally, the last time I made a smoothie, I got so fed up I vowed the next time I wanted one I was going to try using the food processor.

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Well, this time I used the processor and it was beautiful. And delicious. And way more than I expected! Oh well. In this case, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. Spread out over a couple of days, it’s filled in the time between my trips to Whole Foods to stock up on yogurt.