As Mrs. Wilson, the head housekeeper of Gosford Park, Helen Mirren gets one of the classic lines of cinema:
I'm the perfect servant.
I know when they'll be hungry and the food is ready.
I know when they'll be tired and the bed is turned down.
I know it before they know it themselves.
I had one of those practically perfect experiences today on my third (or fourth, depending on how we're counting) day of Thanksgiving.
My small fishing village by the sea is not without its patina of sophistications. Most of our eateries are of the taco-burrito variety. Food that fills without really satisfying either the stomach or the soul. But there are exceptions.
One of the best is Restaurant Maya. I first ate there in July of 2008 when I test drove the house where I am now living. I loved the food.
The owners did not have the place open this summer. Instead, they were in British Columbia. But they are open now.
I was a bit reluctant to stop by -- for two reasons: 1) I was wearing my beach bum outfit and 2) I was afraid my gluttony over the past few days would take the edge off of the food.
Let me tackle ambiance first. Maya is not a shorts and flip flop place. If that is what you are wearing, you will be welcomed, but you will immediately feel as if you stepped onto the wrong sound stage. That was exactly how I felt sitting amongst my better-dressed expatriates.
I purposely use the cinema analogy. If Shakespeare is correct that all the world's a stage, Maya is the Cole Porter Theater.
I sat there tonight looking at the self-conscious arrangement of the well-manicured tables with their tidy candles and cutlery. The ocean and sunset as a backdrop. A canopy of palm trees as a roof. Subtle jazz drifting through the open air. Almost as if Erté had taken a tropical turn.
Even if the food had not been good, the visual effect was enough to make you believe Clara Bowe or Norma Desmond could be sitting next to you at dinner.
But the food is good. No. It is excellent. Considering the ambitious nature of the menu, I am amazed at the consistency.
The menu changes. But the current menu offers the following entrées: vegetarian, 3 fish, 2 prawns, chicken, pork, and beef.
I tried a mahi mahi marinated in lime, basil, and garlic -- along with side dishes of spinach risotto and a carrot-based puree.
I do not like fish. But this I liked. Of course, I also stuffed in a plum flambé with vanilla ice cream.
The total: $290 (including three soft drinks and a coffee). Or about $22 (US).
Try that in Manhattan or Montreal.
But, best of all, were the waiters. Black-clad as any stage hands, they disappeared into the darkness to appear even before the diners knew they needed anything. The perfect servants. Hardly the usual reticent service where waiters need to be summoned with gongs.
Thus ends my journey of self-indulgence. Well, this bout, in any event. Another thing for which I can be thankful.
If all goes as planned, this coming week, I will start some mini-journeys around Mexico. I have no plans. I intend to just head out.
Some of the trips may take me away from the house. If so, I may miss a post now and then because the wireless connection is not working on my laptop.
But you will hear it here first. I may not be the perfect servant, but I will stay in touch.