Monday, February 23, 2009

Trials and Treats on Sunday

Once going to church was a refuge from the trials of the work week, a place where friends soothed and spirits were refreshed. It's not that way for me any longer. Instead of a soaring, Gothic sanctuary, we sit in a moldy, cold basement because we have not fixed the furnace and we have no heat in our inspiring sanctuary where the winter temps hover at 40 - 50 degrees. The organ is unplayed, the pianos are getting out of tune because of the cold, and the altar fixtures sit in silent, unappreciated splendor.

I used to love the old time Methodist hymns but now we sing these modern songs that all sound alike to me -- and we sing them at such a break-neck pace that I can't learn them either. It's somehow believed that if we have the words to these hymns we can just sing them -- we're never taught the melodies -- we're just given words and then the accompanist plays tunes we've never heard at race-course speed.

Hubby and I have been made to feel like outsiders in the new regime that has taken over the church, we're the old people whose opinions no longer matter, who liked out Methodism traditional. Hubby doesn't mind this much and I'm learning to accept my age more gracefully (I guess) -- but it annoys me that just because we're over 60 suddenly our opinions no longer matter.

Consequently, church-going is no longer a retreat for me. However, like with other commitments that I've made in my life that sometimes hit a rough patch, I'm trying to stick with this one. Hubby committed to attending the church through June -- and then if I continue to feel unhappy he has agreed to look for a new church home with me, somewhere that I'm not relegated to a folding chair in a dank basement. The truth is no one will miss us when we leave.

The good thing is that church is no longer a huge time commitment on our part. Now we get up at 9:30 so we can be out the door at 10 a.m. and to church by 10:30. I actually get to watch CBS Sunday Morning, a show I used to have to tape because we were up by 7 a.m. and out the door by 7:45. This late morning arrival is quite relaxing. And because I'm being a "good sport" and attending with Hubby on a regular basis, we treat ourselves to a lovely brunch / lunch after church.

This past Sunday we dined at a very exclusive restaurant in the heart of the city -- one that has been rated as the best Sunday brunch in town. Champagne with your orange juice, fresh raspberry juice shots, home-made waffles and omelets, prime rib, turkey, and ham -- all fresh cuts of meat (not that processed stuff). The seafood display is to die for -- crab legs, fresh shrimp, smoked and unsmoked salmon. This week there was also bouillabaisse -- made from shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab, and other white fish. They didn't bother with potatoes or veggies -- but made a milky sauce laden with fresh herbs to pour over all that yummy seafood. There was also fresh cream of asparagus soup. Cheese platters are mixed with fresh breads and rolls. If you yearn for breakfast food, the biscuits and gravy set a new standard for meaty deliciousness. Finally -- the desserts, if you still have room, are spectacular -- from fresh bread pudding (a regular treat) to all kinds of tiered cakes and hand-made sweets. The cost runs about $100 for two -- but my goodness, the food is divine and so worth the money. Of course, we can't afford to do this often . . . but when we do, what a swell meal! Sitting at the top of a sky rise, looking out at the city, with Thomas Hart Benton signed pictures over your booth, and your plate filled with all the delicacies you love the most -- this is the perfect afternoon. The only thing sweeter is driving home to take a long winter's nap on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. Which, of course, we did.


SUNDAY CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH: We feature over 100 different items every Sunday and have been quoted by local publications as the area's best Champagne Brunch! Our brunch includes fresh fruits, salads, shrimp, salmon, omelet station, carving station and pancake/waffle station. Breakfast traditionals including: bacon & sausage, biscuits & gravy, breakfast potatoes, eggs benedict, apple crepes, and a wide variety of desserts. Carving Station includes Prime Rib and Turkey Tom every Sunday. Entrees alternate every week; examples include Bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Braised Lamb Chops, Free Range Chicken Breasts, Tilapia, Halibut, and Chateau Roast.

And this from a local paper: This recently redecorated steakhouse has one of the best views in the city, which is only one reason to make reservations for a leisurely dinner and enjoy sterling service, an oddball array of appetizers including a few favorites from the long-gone Trader Vic’s, juicy steaks and seafood. The Sunday brunch is one of the city’s last remaining elegant buffet brunches — a terrific special-occasion place — with well-laden chafing dishes, piles of chilled shrimp, excellent salads and pastries ... and caviar. - Charles Ferruzza )

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