Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dining with a Chockley

For the continuing series Get to Know Your Blogger, I wanted to dine with both of the Chockleys, but I feared kicking it old school style with Steph in the house would make transcribing the interview a very daunting task.

I hope you enjoy this brief departure from our regularly scheduled monkey adventures...

EP Delta Kitchen
126 Beale Street

Since Chip and I work downtown, it was only natural that we would pick a downtown restaurant. We had agreed on Meditrina since a) it's yummy, b) neither of us had been there in a while, and c) it hasn't been covered on Dining with Monkeys. (c was admittedly a little weak considering neither of us had any intention of bringing a monkey on our lunch.)

The day before our, I found out that Meditrina had gone out of business. I assumed that Chip would then pick some sort of Mexican restaurant, since he is all about Mexican food, but he picked E.P. Delta Kitchen. Since I've already reviewed E.P. here, it took the pressure off of me to actually comment on the food. I gave Chip my full attention.

I was shocked by his friendly chit-chat with the manager, a former colleague of his at Applebees. (Or maybe it was Grady's. Brooklyn Bridge? Before becoming an attorney--yes he's an attorney!--he was a waiter for about six years.) Who knew he was so connected!

Next he ordered a Coke with no regard for the caffeine content. Clearly he was living on the edge with no monkeys or nagging wife in sight. This was later confirmed by his lunch order of a cajun chicken salad sandwich on a croissant. If Steph was there, I'm sure that she would have pointed out that croissants have like a million fat grams. (None of which stand a chance of sticking to Chip's lanky frame.)

Speaking of Steph, she recently mentioned that Chip has a lunch budget. I needed to get to the bottom of this. (He made me sign a nondisclosure statement promising not to discuss the details of their "wine budget" on the Internet.)

"So, how much money do you actually get for lunch?" I asked.

"$60 every two weeks," he said nonchalantly.

"So that's $30 a week?"

"Yeah, I guess, but I get paid every two weeks, so I get $60 dollars in cash after each paycheck."

"So you eat out everyday? You never bring your lunch?"

"Nope. I have to get out of the office...and I've never gotten into bringing my lunch and taking it somewhere to eat."

"How on earth do you eat out everyday for $30 a week?"

"I mostly do low budget and maybe one or two sit downs."

"What constitutes low budget?"

"A $6 sandwich at Bogie's."

"Ok, so $6 times 5 is $30. That doesn't leave any room for sit downs." (Kristy don't let the math talk turn you off, the interview gets really racy in just a minute...)

He started to look guilty, so I pressed on.

"Do you ever cheat and pull out the plastic?"

"Yes," he blushed.

A-ha! Busted!

"The only time I cheat is if I use my cash for a family related activity," he said.

"Yes, but when you pull out the plastic, I'm assuming you aren't at Bogie's eating a $6 sandwich."

Then he smirked.

I pressed on. I had recently seen Chip entering Stella with a good-looking older woman. When I waved to him, he pretended he didn't see me.

"Is there someone who sometimes takes you out to lunch?"

" boss does."

"Your boss?"

"Yes, at least once a week."

Suddenly the numbers were adding up.

"Well, since we are uncovering your dirty little secrets, can I mention the Sakura Project?

Now he was really blushing. "No one cares about that but you," he said.

"How do you know until you do it?" I asked. "Let's just mention it and see if anyone comments..."

interlude: The Sakura Project is something Chip has been doing for the past few months. It combines his love of food with his newfound interest in photography. Every Saturday night, he and Steph get a sushi roll or two to go from Sakura. Before eating it, he photographs it. Now, call me crazy, but that has "you should start a blog for that" written all over it.

"Look," he said. "I'll do it, but not on the Internet."

"But it would be so cool," I said. "I'm telling you, people would love it. Maybe they wouldn't read it every day, but it would fill a niche."

"I realize that I am never going to win this argument with someone who regularly takes pictures of her food and posts it on the Internet."

Damn straight!

"So when do you think you will finish with the project?" I asked, licking my lips.

"Well, the problem is that Steph and I went through the entire menu once without taking pictures and now we are going through a second time. I'd say I'm 65% done."

"Is this project making you like sushi more or less. Is it replacing Mexican food as your true love?"

"Let's just say that I am definitely infatuated with sushi right now."

The waiter started to bring our food out--the aforementioned Cajun chicken salad croissant and my cup of seafood stew and grilled peach salad. Before digging in, Chip said (in true monkey fashion), "My napkin smells like feet!"

Before I could ask why he was smelling his napkin, I realized I was smelling my own. "My smells like dishwater. Like they rinsed it instead of actually washing it."

Before my sentence was complete, Chip was walking around the restaurant smelling each and every napkin on each and every table.

"Sit down and eat or I'll take away your allowance!" I barked (in true bitch mother style).

He obliged.

Next we launched into a discussion of our food. We both agreed that it was good, but not great. (On my first visit--at dinner--I thought it was GREAT. I've had three lunches at E.P.'s and they've all been good, but not great.)

"I think my salad would be better with beef," I said. "And maybe some other lettuce besides iceberg."

"Yeah, iceberg's not much of a looker," he said.

"And I think the stew could be spicier. Ditto on their gumbo. But I don't think you can ask for Tobasco in a place like this," I commented.

As Chip was nodding along, the chef came out to check on us. "How is everything?" he asked pleasantly.

"It's EXCELLENT!" Chip exclaimed.

I smiled, stunned.

The chef nodded happily and walked on to the next table.

"Dude, you just lied to his face!" I screeched.

How many lies and half-truths have I caught this highly respected attorney in since the beginning of the meal? Steph, are you counting?

I decided to give him a chance to come clean.

"Okay, I have a photography question," I said.

"Shoot," he said. (OK, not really, but I couldn't resist the pun.)

"I noticed that once Bwana gave you his fancy Nikon D-50 with its SLR, you immediately started taking close-up pictures of flowers. Why is it that when dudes get fancy cameras or 'get serious' about photography, they always take close-up pictures of flowers?"

He laughed and said, "That's a good question!"

Clearly he knows that flattery will get him everywhere with me.

"I really don't know. 90% of macro lens photography seems to be of flowers. I guess its peer pressure."

interlude #2: Bwana if you are reading, feel free to answer this question!

Our lunch hour was coming to a close and it was time to pay up. Chip pulled out his fancy cash allowance and I pulled out my trusty plastic. When the waiter brought back Chip's change and my credit card slip, Chip went ballistic. He started throwing money all over the table and hollering, "Look at this! Look at this! He gave me two $5 and one $1!"

I had to think for a minute and do some math in my head. Chip's tab was $9.30, he must have paid with a $20. $11 in change means the waiter gave him .30.

"A good waiter would have left six $1 and one $5, so I could leave a proper tip," he said.

"Oh yeah, duh. Even I know that," I said, getting a little nervous. Maybe Chip should have deprived himself of caffeine after all.

I decided to take a closer look at my receipt. "Hey my bill was $12.00 but he charged me $9.30 which was your total."

Smoke started coming out of Chip's ears. Clearly I had touched a nerve with this former waiter.

"Should I tell him?" I asked wondering if I should err on the side of free money or essential job training.

Chip called the manager over and totally busted the waiter. Then the manager called the waiter over and completely humiliated him in front of us. It was crazy! I started to miss the monkeys!

I kid. We got it all worked out and left a trail of sunshine and bubbles as we walked towards the door, back to our respective desks.

Disclaimer: Chip is probably one of the most mild-mannered people on the planet. I exaggerated his actions just a bit, for fun, kinda like I do when I dine with the monkeys. Get to know Chip (and all of the other Chockleys) over at the Chockley Blog


Stephanie said...

"Chip went ballistic." Ha! Even if I told Chip I'd been cheating on him and neither kid was his, I doubt we'd make it all the way to ballistic. (Probably more of a cold stare of disappointment as he gathered his things and left.)

He can have all the fat and calories he wants! Bastard.

The Saucier said...

If you're going to exaggerate your subject's actions, I'm rethinking my agreement to participate in an interview.

That "not enough singles for a tip" thing drives me nuts too. I'm very high-strung. I might have actually gone ballistic. What would you have written about me?

The Saucier has a rep to maintain.

Unknown said...

Telling the chef that what he does for a living is good is what normal people do, Stacey.

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

Yeah, that lying thing is called tact, or as we say here in the south, "nice manners."

And the words "peach" and "salad" have no business in the same sentence, much less the same bowl, unless they are connected by the word "fruit." Gag!

Memphisotan said...

Hm, so this is how the intervention regarding Stacey's restaurant behavior is going to go down. I always wondered ...

Chip said...

I'm glad I'm not crazy-- Stacey had me questioning my automatic reaction to the chef coming to our table. I mean, it really was good, but not quite "excellent" as I blurted out.

La C. said...

I'd like to put in a vote for yes to the Sakura project being on the web please.

Unknown said...

OK, I'll offer some insight for the tendency for photographers to focus their equipment on flowers...

This is NOT peer pressure, which is the common belief. I have taken many close-up shots (called macro shots in the biz), and I throw them all away as dull and uninteresting, EXCEPT shots of flowers and bugs (and there are usually bugs on flowers). If you don't believe this, I'll start a blog with close-ups of non-flowers...

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