A Shoe-Tasting Menu…..

29 Nov

My husband, Mr. Sassy, has a job in the food service industry. In addition to being a manager to his team of guys, he is also somewhat of a consultant to many fabulous restaurants and chefs in our area. His job is great when it comes to trying out the newest fab foods too. I’ve been a taste tester for some fabulous things such as coffees, spices, desserts and prime cuts of meats as well as been a part of the launching of some of the best restaurants in our area. Recently, my husband informed me that we had been invited to attend a seasonal gourmet dinner of an Epicurean Circle at one of these restaurants. Since there was a limited seating of only sixty “epi-curious” people, my husband made sure we were on the “A” list for the evening.

I’ll be honest, I don’t cook much. I grew up on comfort foods. I can make a steak, pork chops, stew and a killer chili. I can make side dishes such as corn, green beans, baked potatoes, and yam casserole with marshmallows. Early on in our relationship, my husband loved taking me to all kinds of different restaurants to expand my range of food tastes. He introduced me to a variety of ingredients I had never even heard of, much less consumed. In addition, he showed me fine wines and the types of foods that they paired well with. I didn’t just learn that eating was a means of survival but it could also be a true experience. With that being said, in our twelve years together, I had never heard the word ‘epicurean’ before. So I looked it up on the website for the event. I learned it would be a chef-designed tasting of foods “inspired by the freshest bounty of the season, prepared imaginatively, beautifully presented as well as narrated and paired with complimenting wines.” Let me get this straight. You are going to serve me eight courses of different meals in sizes I can actually finish? Check. You are going to use fresh, seasonal ingredients? Check check. And you are going to accompany each course with a different vino? Triple check, I’m in!

Now as my husband was anticipating a night of eclectic amuse bouches, tartares, emulsions and infusions, you want to know what I was anticipating? A reason to go shoe shopping! Come on…new flavors, new foods, new shoes! We all know a fancy foo-foo dinner just tastes better in high heels. He could become the gourmand of mission figs and I could become the guru of Manolo Blahnik’s. All in the same night. Once the reservations had been made, the online shopping began. I already had the stellar go-with-anything “little black dress”. That was easy. My search now was for the killer pair of shoes that, as Emeril would say, would make my outfit go “BAM!” So many funky styles are out that I had endless options. I knew one thing though – wanted pumps. Killer, model, “F”-me pumps. I am 5’9” with more legs than a bucket of chicken, but I love the feeling I get when I can wear a pair of heels with confidence. It jazzes me even more if I can wear them with confidence AND no blisters!

I hit the hot footwear websites, and the internet quickly became my own personal tasting menu. What’s great about online shoe shopping is so many of them are in competition with each other that they offer deals that cannot be beat. Free shipping, free returns, exchange upgrades, and every designer name imaginable. Plus, let’s not forget really great deals and sales. Now, when I stopped to think about it, I realized I hadn’t invested in a good pair of name-brand shoes in a really long time. In fact, the last pair I bought was an uber-jazzy pair of Nine West peep-toed pumps with a gift certificate my fiancé/now husband gave me for Mother’s Day. That was over 7 years ago. I still have them because I treat them like gold. That’s because when I got them, they were over $90 and at that time (as a piss-poor singe parent) I couldn’t imagine anyone other than a runway diva or Oprah having a pair of shoes that expensive. I never thought expensive meant better, but I think with shoes it just might. “You get what you pay for.” The leather on those classic Nine West shoes have now become smooth like buttah and is soft like a baby’s butt. It will be difficult to let them go when they finally fall apart. I think I will need a coroner to officially declare them gone.

I shopped online for several hours, hitting endless websites, and charging pair after pair of black heels. With tens of thousands online to pick from, I just couldn’t nail down just one pair without testing many. I think I ordered a total of eight pairs. Now don’t hassle me, I had no intention of keeping all eight. My goal was one jazzy-yet somewhat comfy-pair to add to my collection. Now began the waiting game for my boxes to begin arriving at my doorstop. Within 48 hours, my UPS man began ringing my doorbell. Day after day after day. If he had stayed any longer than 60 seconds, I’m sure my neighbors would have begun to wonder what Brown was really doing for me. The excitement of the shopping/selection experience however soon dwindled as I opened each pair and found a problem with each. Too high, too tight, too large, too “what the hell was I thinking?” Eight pairs came, eight pairs got rejected. I was frustrated and annoyed. The good news? I did find a shoe I absolutely loved. A pair of zip-top gladiator pump sandals in black. The bad news? The pair that came was too small and the size I did need wasn’t available from the shoe site I had gotten them from. Once I fell head over “heels” for this pair, I grabbed the laptop and began searching for that specific shoe in the size I needed. And fast too, because the tasting dinner was quickly approaching. After an hour on a few search engines, I found my dream shoe. A perfect size 8.5 Berkley sandal in black patent leather by Michael Kors, the fashion guru judge from “Project Runway”. I love his style and his shoes are to die for. They had them at Nordstrom’s, a primo store known for top designers and high-fashion styles. And I could order them online at a (cough cough) respectable price. My heart began to beat faster as I rushed to get the order placed for same-day shipping. They would officially be the most expensive fashion purchase I had ever made in my life. Well, I had a leather coat that was more, but that doesn’t count. Warm coats are a necessity in New York. Black, strappy, 4” heeled shoes are a splurge.

Since it was a Friday and the multifarious feast was on Tuesday, I requested two-day priority shipping. That meant they would be guaranteed for Tuesday morning delivery, and I’d have time to walk around the house in my new kicks to get my feet ready for the 6 pm dinner. I took seven of the eight pairs of unwanted shoes to the shipping store to return to their appropriate online stores for credit. The only ones I chose not to return yet was the too-small pair of Kors’ Berkley sandals I had just reordered from Nordstrom’s so I could jam them on with my dinner dress, practice not walking like an ostrich, and play makeup until the new ones came. I designed a look from head to toe—sparkly makeup to toe ring—that made me feel like a red-carpet superstar. I walked through my living room pretending I was Heidi Klum telling each of my cats, “One minute you’re in. The next? You’re out!” They just looked at me like I was on drugs.

When my husband came home from work that night, I was excited to show him what I was going to wear to his special event. Mr. Sassy was in awe. He thought I looked stunning and was happy to know I was this excited to be attending an event so out of my comfort zone. And when I asked him how he liked the shoes, he replied by saying they were “hot”. Nice, good answer. Over the next sixty minutes, I told him the story of my shopping experience including every specific, useless detail. When I told him how stressed I was after everything I had dealt with, I assured him it was all worth it now that I had managed to arrange for my new en vouge party shoes to come first thing Tuesday morning for that evening’s event. At that point,  he turned to me with a blank, fogged look on his face. “Oh, I didn’t tell you?” Mr. Sassy said in a nonchalant tone.  “I was wrong. The dinner is on Monday, not Tuesday.”

I was speechless. Probably because my teeth were clenched together so hard I could have crushed a walnut, still in the shell. When Mr. Sassy saw my tense look of shock, he was speechless too. Maybe because he just knew better than to speak right then. I didn’t know if I should have cracked, cringed or cried. I just kept hearing Heidi whispering in my head, “One minute you’re in…”  Oh shoot me.

Long story short, I dug out my pair of shiny black boots circa 1970, paired with a leopard skirt and black sweater, and we went to the dinner Monday evening. The food was fabulous. I tried an oyster for the first time. Of course, it was fried, and anything is good if you fry the hell out of it. I ate a frog leg (even though I was given two), which I think actually did taste like chicken but I couldn’t really tell because I couldn’t get passed the fact that… well, it looked like… a frog’s leg! I promised my husband I would try everything, which I did. I also told him that trying it didn’t mean I would finish it, which he respected. I’m looking forward to attending next season’s feast. And you can guarantee, I’ll get the exact date of the event well in advance!

My Michael Kors black patent zipper-top shoes came, right on time, the next morning. Still in my pajamas, I took them out of the box and tried them on. They fit like a glove. Still in my plush bathrobe, I strapped on my new shiny designer heels and headed out to the driveway to get my mail. Even in fuschia fuzz, supermodel shoes look “hot”. I haven’t had a real reason to wear them outside of the house yet, but every time I open my closet, I see them in their box. Trust me, they will get their time… with or without a fried oyster!


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