Monday, June 30, 2008

... and the food

Y'know, normally, when I go on a vacation, I have this overwhelming urge to go back to the same location a second time, and correct everything I screwed up the first time, thereby perfecting the vacation experience.  (I did this with Australia.  The New Zealand trip was largely perfect, but I know how I'd fix it.  And I know how I'll do Alaska again, when I get around to doing Alaska again.)

And if there's anything making me want to do my charter-the-Curlew-for-my-birthday-party experience again, it's that I'd get the food right this time.

The ship's captain told me there's two ways people generally do the food -- you can get cheap platters of stuff at Costco, or you can have it catered by the restaurant right next door to the dock.

I'd originally planned to go the Costco route, but time pressures forced me to just book it through the restaurant.

This was a challenge because the catering manager at the restaurant was only there Tuesdays and Thursdays.  From noon to four.

(Yeah.  An eight hour per week job.  Good deal.)

And she wasn't what I'd call extremely well-organized.  She emailed me the price sheets for platters of appetizers, and I emailed her back asking for a quote for six different appetizers ... and she didn't answer for several days.  Ultimately she told me my email ended up in her spam folder -- but eventually she found it and sent me the quote.  A few days later, I called her (it was Tuesday at 3:00 -- she'd just gotten in) and I was all set to pay, but couldn't because she didn't know how much it was as my quote was on her home computer.  So, yeah, massive competence going on there.  Until the food was actually on the ship, I'd had my doubts it would arrive.

But the food did come, and it was as advertised.  There were, however, two problems with it.

Problem one:  Way too much of it.  I was following standard cocktail party rules which said 4 appetizer servings per person per hour -- i.e., 12 per person.  What I hadn't counted on (and catering manager certainly didn't tell me) was that a good portion of my guests wouldn't eat at all, being afraid of seasickness, while others would eat very little.  Had we been on a yacht, everyone might have been walking around, mingling, eating and drinking.  But on the schooner, it was mostly sitting down on the deck -- you'd get up and walk someplace, but then sit again.  Result of all the sitting:  very little eating.  I'd say that, on average, people might have consumed 3 or 4 appetizers each.  If that.

Problem two:  I came up with a menu and asked the catering manager if she'd had any alternative suggestions for use on the boat.  She said my menu was fine.  Here's what she should have said:  "The finger sandwiches have mayo on them, and with it being upwards of 85 degrees outside, you might want to order something else."  Or maybe she could have told them to make the sandwiches sans mayo.  And the mushrooms al cava were in a lovely white sauce that was separating about an hour in to the cruise.  After two hours, the ship's "volunteer doctor" (a nice guy to have around) decided to clear the mushrooms, the sandwiches, and the dip for the veggies away "as a precautionary measure."  I whole-heartedly agreed.  Sure, I'd paid for a ton of food, but, all things considered, not getting my guests sick was a top priority.

So, yeah, next time I do this -- a platter of teriyaki chicken sticks and a platter of fruit.  And that's IT.

(And about one-third as many cupcakes as I'd bought.)

The ship's crew took home all the leftovers -- at least, the stuff that was still safe for human consumption -- so I'm glad it went to a good home.  But still, the food was the major element of this party that definitely could use a do-over.


rfaye1000 said...

I don't know your name; but be happy it wasn't your wedding.  My wedding was the worse piece of crap I have ever been on.

My briads maids changed their dresses; and ended up looking better than me; half my guest did not even bother to show up; and what makes this the worse wedding ever; my groom gave me a ring that was so cheap; my hand change colors and now has a knot where my wedding ring should be.

If you want to read my journal sometimes my journal is

rdautumnsage said...

You would this the woman running the catering busines would of been more "aware" of what works on catering on a yatch. Seeing as her restaurant is right there on the dock. Live and learn. Sounds like it still turned out pretty good despite the food issues. (Hugs)Indigo