Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bastille Day



Today is Bastille Day, the French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution.


The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute power of Louis XVI. The revolution marked an end to the monarchy and the birth of a sovereign nation and, in 1792, the creation of the first country's first Republic. 


Bastille Day is to the French what Independence Day is to us in the United States.


I've always been a Francophile, loving all things French. My fascination for France began long before I ever traveled there. My first visit, in 1995, sparked the passion I have for the country now. 


I love Paris. In the springtime, anytime. I love Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Côte d'Azur and Provence. Each is uniquely beautiful; all hold special places in my heart for the memories  created there. 


I love French food and wine. Years after the fact, I can't purchase a baguette here in Houston without being reminded of the first one I bought in Paris - at a small bakery near Notre Dame. 


I've always wanted to travel to France in July and be there for Bastille Day. But, so for, that's not happened. Even so, I always keep an eye on festivities there (via cable news) and do a bit of celebrating here. 


Tonight I was with friends who share my love of France. We dressed in all black, donned berets and gathered at a private home. There, we listened to French music and drank French wine. Those who could speak French did and made fun of those of us who only understand (non-spoken) four-letter words. 


For dinner, we were treated to a menu that featured Soupe à l'Oignonlarge (onion soup with grated swiss cheese)  and Poulet aux Porto (chicken breast sauteed in a port wine mushroom cream sauce). For dessert, we enjoyed a delicious Crème Brûlée and strong French Roast Coffee. 


The meal lasted for hours and many stories of French adventures were shared. We talked about doing this all again next year. Someone volunteered to play host. Another volunteered to bring the wine. The rest of us promised to be there — berets and all.


One more good reason to say, "Vive la France."











































Sushi and Sake 102



I showed up at the RA Sushi Bar and Restaurant in Highland Village today, just before 11 a.m., to participate in the restaurant's Sushi and Sake 102 Class. I wanted to learn more about sushi, how to prepare a few of the restaurant's signature dishes and how to pair them with the appropriate sake.



With me to enjoy this culinary adventure was Nikki, my good friend and associate.


We were greeted by Kim Stitham, the restaurant's general manager, and Head Sushi Chefs Jimmy Kieu and JoJo Urbano, who put in front of us several plates and bowls filled with the food items we would be using during the class — avocados, imitation crab, cucumbers, ginger, salmon, seaweed, sesame seeds, shrimp, soy sauce, tuna, wasabi, yellowtail and, of course, rice! 


Also placed in front of us were cutting boards, bowls of water, clear plastic gloves, glass mats, knives, chopsticks and saki glasses.


Kim started the class by telling us sushi was invented thousands of years ago in Japan - as a way to preserve raw, cleaned fish. (The fermentation process could keep a cleaned and gutted fish for several months.)


In the 18th century, Yohei Hanaya, a chef from Tokyo, decided to forget about the fermentation process and serve the fish as it was. Fresh sushi became very popular, and two styles emerged — the kansai style from Osaka and the edo style from Tokyo.


After that brief introduction and before severe hunger set in, we were ready to prepare Salmon Nigiri, the first of several items on today's menu. It took a couple of tries, but we learned to properly (by using only one hand) wrap the salmon atop and around a "log" of rice. We learned the secret of keeping the rice together is folding in distilled white sushi vinegar, available at H.E.B. and other grocery stores with an Asian food section. 


Next, we prepared a Rainbow Roll, RA's version of the California Roll, topped with tuna, yellowtail, shrimp, salmon and avocado. 


The California Roll, we learned, was invented in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. It was  considered "a big leap" in sushi culture. It is credited for spreading the popularity of sushi in the West. Until the California Roll was created, most sushi rarely utilized ingredients foreign to Japanese cuisine. It was also considered a "no-no" to use imitation crab for a cuisine that prided itself on using the best seafood possible.


After preparing (and eating) our Rainbow Rolls, the chefs taught us how to prepare tuna rolls. We made two types -  "outside in" and  "inside out." Both consisted of tuna, rice and seaweed wrappers. In one, the rice is rolled on the outside of the wrapper, and then sliced. In the other, the rice is rolled on the inside of the wrapper, and then sliced. In both ways, the tuna rolls we made looked beautiful and tasted great!


At the end, we prepared a Banana Split Maki - a fried banana maki topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit and then drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauces. Again, this "sushi" was beautiful and yummy!


RA Sushi offers Sushi and Sake classes about every couple of months. Already, I'm planning a return visit in the fall. Taking a Sushi and Sake refresher course would be delicious fun! 



















Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ima Hogg's Birthday

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of the Houston philanthropist and visionary, Ima Hogg. To mark the occasion, Houston Woman Magazine and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens teamed up to host a fun and festive celebration luncheon. 

Ima Hogg
The event, first in a series of small educational luncheons planned by Houston Woman Magazine for its readers this year, was held at the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitors Center at Bayou Bend. In attendance were nearly 50 professional women, all interested in learning more about Miss Ima and the many things she did to improve the quality of life in Houston.

As the publisher of the magazine, it was a pleasure to serve as the official greeter for so many of our readers. However, after making a few welcoming remarks, I was delighted to turn the program over to Bonnie Campbell, the director of Bayou Bend, and Kate Sayen Kirkland, our presenter, and - like everybody else - sit down and enjoy the festivities.

Kate, who did her Rice University dissertation on Ima Hogg, provided us with a lot of great information about Miss Ima, including her contributions to our city's arts and education communities.

During her talk, Kate explained how Ima Hogg was always thinking about additional projects to take on - even when she was in her 80s and 90s. It was a message that inspired us all. 

An unexpected treat was having one of our guests, Katie McGready, share an "Ima Hogg" story of her own. As the story goes, Miss Ima was a dear friend of Katie's mother-in-law. When she became engaged, Miss Ima suggested she "register" her china, so friends would know exactly what to buy her as wedding gifts.

This was  back in the 40s, when registering china was "just not done." Miss Ima, however, thought that it should be — that it was the practical thing to do. 

So, Katie did as suggested and registered a Lenox pattern in a popular china shop in River Oaks. Shortly afterwards, Miss Ima called the shop and bought Katie eight place settings!

As it turned out, that sweet story proved to be a fitting prelude to the presentation of the cupcakes and champagne that followed. When we lifted our glasses to toast Miss Ima, we did so with even greater appreciation.


















Saturday, July 7, 2012

'Black Coffee'

The popular ExxonMobil Summer Chills series continues tomorrow night, July 8, when Agatha Christie's Black Coffee opens on the Alley Theatre's Hubbard Stage. 


In Black Coffee, the famous and cunning Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, gathers clues to solve the murder of Sir Claude Amory, the eccentric inventor of a new weapons formula. 


The cast is filled with an assortment of colorful (and suspicious) characters, and the plot is typical Agatha Christie - full of clever twists and turns.


Veteran Alley Theatre actors lead the cast. James Black, now in his 24th consecutive season with the Alley, is taking on the role of Hercule Poirot,. James Belcher, now in his 23rd  season with the Alley, is portraying Sir Claude Amory. Others in the cast include  Jeffrey Bean, Laura E. Campbell, Josie De Guzman, Jennifer Harmon, Paul Hope, Chris Hutchison, Joe Kirkendall, Paul Hope, Jay Sullivan and Todd Waite. 


Black Coffee, which runs through August 5, is being directed by Gregory Boyd, the Alley Theatre's artistic director.


Black Coffee was Agatha Christie's first play. It was written in 1929, after she had already established herself as a successful writer of mystery novels.  The production of Black Coffee  in the UK in 1930 launched Christie as a playwright too.







Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America the Beautiful

My plans for today, the Fourth of July, will include some down time. On purpose, I've set aside a few hours between commitments to start reading America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, a book that's been on my "must-read" list for awhile now. 

I learned of this New York Times bestseller on television when I saw its author, Ben Carson, being interviewed. I learned about Carson's challenging childhood in the ghetto of Detroit and his amazing journey to become well educated and one of the most celebrated neurosurgeons in the world. 

During that television interview, I saw that Carson was intelligent and articulate, but his voice revealed something that really appealed to me — an intense passion for this country and a strong desire for all Americans to understand how the fundamental beliefs of our founding fathers impacted our history. It was Carson's voice that made me want to read this book today! It seems a most fitting way to honor those who birthed our nation!



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Branson Belle

Taking the two-hour dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle was going to be the perfect ending to our last, fun-filled day in the music capital of the heartland. Thus, my friend and I were eager to get to the boat early and enjoy it as much as possible.

We picked up our tickets at the box office at the White River Landing, situated near the entrance to the showboat and alongside the shores of Table Rock Lake. There, we found a couple of specialty shops that begged for our attention. 

Inside the Layton Mercantile, we found stylish clothing, sunglasses and hats, custom jewelry, gourmet coffees, decadent candies and more. Next door, at McAdoo's Boatworks, we found unique nautical souvenirs, t-shirts, jackets and caps. Needless to say, a couple of "must-haves" were bought before we moved on toward the boat ramp.


We boarded the Branson Belle just before four in the afternoon. Immediately, we were taken by the beauty of the boat, as well as its size - 78 feet wide and 265 feet long. We checked out all three levels. We found the captain's wheelhouse on the top deck and the engine room and kitchen on the low deck. 

Next, we made our way to the showboat theater and to our assigned seats on the fourth row. We were greeted by Viva, our waitress, who took our beverage orders. Offered were iced water, iced tea and pink lemonade. (No alcoholic beverages are served on the Branson Belle.)







A comedic pre-show started as the servers brought out our green salads (splashed with a delicious sweet Vidalia onion dressing) and continued off-and-on until we finished our entrees (roast beef, honey-dijon glazed chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh sugar snap snow peas with julienne carrots) and desserts (golden brittle lemon-berry tortes drizzled with caramel). 


The pre-show was a bonus we had not planned on, and it added much to the night's enjoyment. 

After dinner, we were encouraged to go outside for awhile (about 20 minutes) and enjoy the panoramic views of the lush Ozark Mountains and turquoise waters of Table Rock Lake from the various decks. We did, and it was delightful.

When we returned to our seats, the show, Made In The USA, began! 

The show was hosted by the two-time Branson Comedian of the Year, David Hirschi (as Slim Chance), and featured The ShowBelles (a four-member, all-female quartet), Master Pianist Julie McClarey and Champion Fiddler Dean Church. Each was backed by the showboat's own live band, The Castaways. All gave stellar performances!

Each musical moment in Made In The USA was a fitting salute to our country. Together, they stirred deep feelings of patriotism in all of us and made us proud (all over again) to be Americans! It was, truly, a beautiful thing!













Branson Landing




Branson Landing, situated between US 65 and Lake Taneycomo in the city of Branson, Missouri, is one of the nation's most attractive and dynamic mixed-use developments. This $400 million, master-planned project offers the only retail, restaurant and waterfront entertainment district in the region. So, naturally, I wanted to see and experience it. This morning, my schedule permitted me to do just that!

Branson Landing occupies 95 acres and boasts nearly 450,000 square feet of retail shopping, anchored by Bass Pro Shop and Belk Department Store. 

Additionally, there is the 220,000-square-foot Branson Convention Center and Branson Tourism Center, a flagged four-star, 260-room convention hotel, a 100-room boutique hotel, 140 waterfront luxury condominiums and penthouses and marina.

Branson Landing features a scenic boardwalk that stretches along the 1.5-mile Taneycomo lakefront. At the heart of The Landing is a beautifully landscaped town square that terraces down to a spectacular water attraction. The $7.5 million fountains are the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music. At times, the fountains come alive, shooting 120-foot geysers and fire cannons blasting, all choreographed to light and music.

The water and fire spectacle was created by Wet Design, the producers of world-class shows for Downtown Disney marketplace in Orlando, Universal City Walk in California and the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Visitors here will also walk past the docking facilities of Branson Landing Cruises, the home port of the Branson Landing Princess and the riverboat replica, Lake Queen.

Branson Landing also features a cross section of eateries — from fine dining on the waterfront with spectacular views to casual fare for shoppers on the go. 

I opted to drop in at Famous Dave's, a lively place near the water that boasts award-winning barbecue. The place and its decor looked familiar; they reminded me of barbecue restaurants back home in Texas.

I ordered the chicken wings, which were smothered in the restaurant's signature sweet-and-tangy sauce. It was a good choice; the wings were simply delicious!



Spa Chateau


Before leaving Houston on Friday, I scheduled an appointment for this morning at Spa Chateau, located just a few miles from Branson, at the luxurious Chateau on the Lake.




Spa Chateau, a 14,000-square-foot facility, is "a palace of pure indulgence." It reminds me of a Tuscan retreat, the kind of place one might go to enjoy exotic European therapies using the finest of lotions and potions.




The spa's two-story lobby features an amazing 30-foot-tall Swarovski crystal chandelier. It was beautiful and amazing, and it set the tone. Clearly, I was in for a very special experience.





After checking in, I was led to the woman's locker room and found it as well-appointed as the lobby. There were the usual restrooms, showers and dressing areas, but the locker room also featured a sauna, eucalyptus steam room and relaxation lounge offering beverages and light refreshments. Nearby were the co-ed whirlpool and indoor swimming pool. 











Spa Chateau offers a long list of signature facials, massages and body treatments, as well as hair cutting and styling, and manicure and pedicure services. The website (www.spachateau.com) provides full details, including prices.










Getting a facial is always a favored treat for me, so I settled on the 80-minute Pina Colada Facial. It stared with a comforting foot soak, followed by a customized, anti-aging facial that included eye and lip treatments, a relaxing neck and shoulder massage, enzyme peel and warm paraffin wrap for the hands. Some of the products smelled of pineapple and provided deep hydration. Combined, they diminished the fine lines and wrinkles and left my skin glowing! It was just what I wanted - and needed!






























Saturday, June 30, 2012

Clay Cooper's Country Music Express

This evening I headed over to the Clay Cooper Theatre on Highway 76 in Branson to take in the 8 p.m. performance of Clay Cooper's Country Music Express.


The star of the show is a good-looking Texan, born and raised in the small town of Wylie. He grew up singing in the Wylie Baptist Church, where his mom played the piano, and loved being able to share his gift of music. 


Cooper came to Branson at the age of 16 — as part of a kids band, the Texas Goldminors. He stayed and became a town favorite, performing at many of the popular venues. He is now celebrating the 24th season of Clay Cooper's Country Music Express.


Tonight, Cooper shared the stage with a dozen or so other performers, including his wife, Tina, for the two-hour, high-energy, fast-paced country music variety show. The show featured hilarious comedy throughout and lots of great singing and dancing - the kind that inspired us in the audience to - continuously - tap our feet and clap our hands! And, at times, literally hoot and holler! 


Cooper has a great personality, and he enjoys people. Frequently, he jumps offstage and interacts with the audience, shaking hands and asking questions. Tonight, an older, married couple got lots of his attention. 


Joyce was celebrating her 80th birthday and excited about it. Her husband, Gus, teased about being married "too long" when Cooper asked about the length of their marriage. From there, the banter went back and forth. The good humor of the couple was greatly appreciated by all, but most especially by Cooper who could not have chosen a better duo to "pick" on!


A bit later, the band began to play and Cooper started singing a love song. I was enjoying it thoroughly until, all of a sudden, Cooper walked directly over to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me out on the floor to dance with him! 


I love to dance, so I really didn't mind it at all. In fact, the cheek-to-cheek stuff was fun, and Cooper's cologne was nice! If he hadn't been singing tenderly into my right ear, I would have told him so. 


Instead, I'll simply say it here, "Thanks, Clay!"


































Clay shares the stage with 20 veteran cast members in a high energy, country music variety show guaranteed to make you tap your toes, stomp your feet, and even let out a holler or two!  Don’t miss New York’s number one cowboy, trick roper, and gun-slinger, Johnny Lonestar; eight amazing dancers lead by Clay’s multi-talented wife, Tina Cooper, a six-piece band, Branson’s funnier than funny comedian, Matt Gumm, 6 year old rising star Colt Cooper, and Clay’s newest addition to his cast, Buckets ‘n’ Boards, a dynamic rhythm duo that will make you laugh till you cry!  Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express is great for all ages 2- 92. The unbelievable talent, hysterical comedy, and down-home   personality bring our guests back time and time again.


Clay shares the stage with 20 veteran cast members in a high energy, country music variety show guaranteed to make you tap your toes, stomp your feet, and even let out a holler or two!  Don’t miss New York’s number one cowboy, trick roper, and gun-slinger, Johnny Lonestar; eight amazing dancers lead by Clay’s multi-talented wife, Tina Cooper, a six-piece band, Branson’s funnier than funny comedian, Matt Gumm, 6 year old rising star Colt Cooper, and Clay’s newest addition to his cast, Buckets ‘n’ Boards, a dynamic rhythm duo that will make you laugh till you cry!  Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express is great for all ages 2- 92. The unbelievable talent, hysterical comedy, and down-home   personality bring our guests back time and time again.

Andy Williams' Moon River Grill

When visiting Branson, schedules are often full, and finding time for a long, leisurely dinner is difficult.


This was the situation my friend and I found ourselves in tonight. We had seen the epic show, Joseph, at the Sight and Sound Theatre this afternoon and were taking in Clay Cooper's Country Music Express this evening. In between the two was just enough time to drive to Andy Williams' Moon River Grill and hope for good food and speedy service. We got both but missed not having more time to sit back, relax and enjoy this very cool spot. 


The restaurant is large, with four dining rooms and a generous bar area. The interior design is reminiscent of the 1960s. On the walls are displays of Andy Warhol-like art and pieces from Williams' personal collection, including framed gold records, photos of the star, etc. 


Andy Williams' Moon River Grill routinely features live music. Tonight, we were entertained by a talented artist at the piano. His selections were hits from the 60s - by Williams and some of his buddies. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., etc. Loved it!


Many of the entrees featured on the menu are Williams' mother's recipes. I ordered her meatloaf, and I could not  have been happier. It was spicy and delicious and came with sides of mashed potatoes and green beans — foods that always comfort me!


Our waiter told us Andy Williams lives in Branson about nine months of the year. He pointed out  "Andy's Reserved Table" in one of the main dining rooms and told us Williams pops in frequently for dinner and to visit with his patrons. He said it would not surprise him one little bit if Williams showed up this very night!


If it had not been for plans already made and tickets purchased, I would have enjoyed sitting there for a couple of hours - just in case the main man showed up. I would have loved to meet him, tell him how much I've always enjoyed his music, how much I appreciated the opportunity to dine at the Moon River Grill and see for myself what others are always raving about!

















The Moon River Grill...The hippest place in Branson...Where California chic meets 60's cool!
Become immersed in the 60's with the atmosphere and four separate dining areas...plus pictures of Andy and his friends and his personal collection of art displayed throughout the restaurant!

It's the coolest place in Branson to hang out and enjoy some great food!
Whether it's the outstanding selection of entrees...many from Andy's Mother's recipes...or the great salads and sandwiches...The Moon River Grill offers some of the best food in Branson at prices you'll love! And don't forget about all of the delectable desserts that are created daily by the in-house pastry chef.

Or just hang out with Andy's original gold record in the bar area. The Moon River Grill is the place to be each night with drink specials and live entertainment.



me out at Night!

The Moon River Grill...The hippest place in Branson...Where California chic meets 60's cool!
Become immersed in the 60's with the atmosphere and four separate dining areas...plus pictures of Andy and his friends and his personal collection of art displayed throughout the restaurant!

It's the coolest place in Branson to hang out and enjoy some great food!
Whether it's the outstanding selection of entrees...many from Andy's Mother's recipes...or the great salads and sandwiches...The Moon River Grill offers some of the best food in Branson at prices you'll love! And don't forget about all of the delectable desserts that are created daily by the in-house pastry chef.

Or just hang out with Andy's original gold record in the bar area. The Moon River Grill is the place to be each night with drink specials and live entertainment.














Joseph



Being able to see this afternoon's epic musical performance of Joseph at Branson's larger-than-life Sight and Sound Theatre was an experience I will long remember - and treasure!

Joseph tells the 4,000-year-old biblical story of a boy who triumphed over incredible adversity - including the betrayal of his brothers - with the grace and mercy of God. Joseph's inspirational journey is full of twists and turns and as colorful as Joseph's famous coat. The message of integrity and forgiveness to heal broken relationships and reunite families is relevant today - and powerfully told in Josephas evidenced by the tear-filled eyes of those of us in the audience.

Joseph features stage performances by 40 actors and dozens of live and exotic animals, teamed with brilliant costumes and Egyptian stage designs, heart-warming musical scores and fabulously choreographed dance numbers. 

The Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson was the perfect setting for a show of this caliber. The 20,000-square-foot stage accommodates sets up to 40 feet tall and boasts state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, pyrotechnics capabilities, impressive special effects including 3D video imaging. To call this theatre incredible, would be an understatement.

Seeing Joseph is a life-changing experience - the kind you'll welcome and appreciate!

Note: Sight and Sound Theatres is a for-profit ministry that operates without charitable support. Performances of "Joseph" will continue in Branson through December 29, 2012. 





Silver Dollar City

My friend and I arrived at Silver Dollar City about 11 o'clock this morning. And, despite the bright sun and temps nearing 100 degrees, we ventured with gusto into the rustic, Ozark Mountain theme park.


Like all visitors, we entered the park through the Hospitality Center where, amidst the displays of souvenirs, is the entrance to one of nature's greatest wonders - Marvel Cave. This is fitting because Silver Dollar City evolved around this gigantic hole in the earth.


In 1894, Canadian entrepreneur William Henry Lynch and his two daughters, Miriam and Genevieve, opened the cave as an Ozarks tourist attraction. It remained so for over 50 years. 


Then, in 1950, Hugo Herschend, a Danish immigrant from Chicago, leased the cave. Ten years later, the Herschends opened the 1880s theme park.


When visiting Silver Dollar City, a tour of Marvel Cave is included with your ticket. Tours depart approximately every half hour. 


Marvel Cave is a wet limestone cave, complete with formations that are still alive and growing! 


Powder Keg
Visitors to the cave travel 300 feet below the surface and enter the breathtakingly beautiful Cathedral Room, the largest cave entrance in the United States. The tour lasts about 60 minutes, with most of that time spent climbing nearly 600 stairs. Along the way, a trained cave guide provides interesting and entertaining anecdotes of historical or geographical importance. After the tour, a unique cable train takes cave visitors back up the half-mile, 1070-foot climb back to the surface.
Frisco Silver Dollar Steam Line


After a visit to Marvel Cave, theme park goers will be ready for some rest and refreshment, and Silver Dollar City has a dozen wonderful options. Near the Hospitality Center (and the cave), for example, is a favorite spot of mine - a bakery offering tasty snacks and sandwiches. The place features an open kitchen where patrons are able to watch the bakers do their thing.




Silver Dollar City features shaded pathways that lead to specialty shops, entertainment stages, thrill rides and other seasonal attractions.


I passed on a ride on the Powder Keg, the park's sky-high roller coaster, but I did enjoy a 20-minute train ride on the Frisco Silver Dollar Steam Line. It ran around the theme park and through the Ozark forestlands. Along the way, I noticed several new-construction sites. Though mum's the word when it comes to these coming attractions, I did learn one will be home to a giant woody, an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster. It's expected to be ready for riders by September. 


I had a great time at Silver Dollar City, and I would like to return later this year to check out that new woody. But, as with the Powder Keg, I will look and report. It's hard to take notes while screaming!



























McFarlain's Rising Table


I was invited to have breakfast this morning at McFarlain's Family Restaurant, located in the IMAX Entertainment Complex, 3562 Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, in Branson, MO. Also invited was my friend, Richard, another Houston-based travel writer.


We got there just before 10 a.m., and were warmly welcomed by the restaurant's general manager. He led us to a large round table in the center of the main dining room, instead of one of the smaller tables that lined the walls. 


Richard and I thought this was odd. We commented on it to each other but said nothing to our hosts - fearing we would offend, appear rude or be viewed as critical city slickers!


We both noticed and appreciated McFarlain's unique country decor. The place is jam-packed with hundreds of antiques, original works of art and photographs.  


Rich and I chatted a bit about the day's agenda. Then an adorable young waitress walked over to take our order. As you might guess, we ordered big and hearty breakfasts - Eggs Benedict, hash browns and grits, bacon and sausage, biscuits and gravy and, of course, lots of freshly squeezed orange juice and hot coffee.




About 10 minutes later, the food arrived and distracted us from further conversation. Instead, we focused on our plates and the Ozarks-inspired cuisine in front of us. 


We had been eating for awhile when, all of a sudden, Richard looked over at me and asked: "Does this table seem high to you?" Only then, did I realize that, indeed, it did. In fact, it was now very high; the top of it was nearly up to our chins!




Clearly, the height of the table had risen since we first sat down. But how?




Just then, the general manager and our waitress, smiling from ear to ear, returned to our table. Yes, we had, deliberately, been seated at McFarlain's infamous Rising Table!


We learned about the table's hydraulic lift that allows it to rise so slowly patrons sitting there remain unaware of the changes. We learned of the switch on the wall that was turned on by staff just as the food is served.


We also learned the other diners (sitting at normal tables in the surrounding area) were told to observe the rising table and the people eating there. They were instructed by the servers, "Don't tell them what is happening!" 




So, as you can imagine, the other diners couldn't help but stare and laugh at us for "no apparent reason!"


But, being the newest victims of McFarlain's Rising Table wasn't all bad. Soon enough the table was slowly lowered, and we were able to thoroughly enjoy the rest of our meal. 


Additionally, we became the newest members of the McFarlain's Rising Table Society. We were also given certificates to prove it!