My Little Low-Carb & Keto Valentine

My Little Low-Carb & Keto Valentine

Eating Over The Sink with Zack Grady

I’m going to share a well-kept secret with you: the real truth about why the Cecil Hotel in San Francisco closed down. It’s been many years now, and a very popular restaurant currently occupies those premises, so it’s safe to tell the true story without fear that the Men in Black will show up at our door in the dead of night.

Being such a romantic, I took Glorious Spouse to San Francisco for the Valentine’s Day weekend a number of years back. A friend had recommended a particular North Beach area restaurant, and I made reservations there. But because of the holiday (and because I hadn’t planned far enough ahead), I was only able to snag the very last reservation of the evening. That was fine; we were younger then. We didn’t need to eat before the sun goes down.

We flew into San Francisco, took a cab downtown, and checked into the Cecil Hotel, a fine old example of what hotels never are today. Excited about all that San Francisco just waiting outside, we immediately left the hotel for a long walk around town, enjoying the sights. When we got back, we decided to take a nap before getting ready for our 9:45 dinner reservations, but when we awoke, it was considerably past the time we needed to be gone. Reluctantly, I had to call and cancel the reservation.

The Cecil was an old-fashioned hotel, and had no kitchen or eating facilities at all. We were hungry, but we were in a pickle since the hour was too late for most restaurants, and we didn’t have a car. We had no idea where to get something to eat. Then Ma Bell came to the rescue. We started looking in the yellow pages.

A great invention, the yellow pages. Quickly we found a large ad for a local Italian place that said ‘Great Food Delivered to Your Hotel Room.’ Perfect. We were not living low carb in those days of yore, so any Italian fitted in the plan. We ordered lasagna and one of what was described as an individual pizza. And, we specified carefully: Be sure to bring plastic forks and spoons, since there is no restaurant in this hotel, and we have no silverware. Okay. No problem.

In about half an hour, a young man appeared at our door with a beer case full of food, enough to feed at least eight people. Seems the lasagna portions were each intended for a small group, and the individual pizza was a slice for each individual in that group. Additionally, there were two full loaves of garlic bread, and two huge salads. There was way too much of everything, and it all smelled wonderfully of Super-Mega-Garlic!

Of course, there were no forks or spoons.

May We Suggest:

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Now, you already know that Glorious Spouse is extremely clever. She remembered seeing some plastic disposable ice buckets, like quart-sized cottage cheese containers, sitting on top of the ice machine down the hall. She suggested I use my handy-dandy Swiss Army knife’s scissors to cut one of the containers into long, narrow wedges. This worked great, and we had two rather large spoons in no time. Eating salad with a spoon is a little difficult, but necessity is the mother … you know the drill.

New York Strip Steak
Photo by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash

So we had a fabulous Valentine’s dinner there in our room, and even after eating all we wanted, there were lots of leftover. Tons left over. Regrettably, there was no refrigerator in the room so we stacked the leftover containers in the bathtub, and went back to bed.

All night, the room smelled strongly of garlic. The next morning the room smelled strongly of garlic. Rather than eat leftover garlic, we decided to go out for breakfast. The food hadn’t been refrigerated, after all. There were no vampires in the vicinity. So we left the room, which was on the third floor, and hung the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I remarked as we got on the elevator that the garlic smell seemed to follow us down the hall.

We had a pleasant breakfast down the street somewhere and later returned to the hotel. As we walked in the lobby, we were struck by the not-at-all-faint smell of garlic. There in the lobby. We walked past the desk without looking at the clerk and boarded the elevator. As the door to the elevator opened on the third floor, we were knocked back against the elevator wall by the smell of garlic. And, needless to say, in the room there was GARLIC.

What could we do? It was time to leave, so we just checked out, and said nothing. The garlic and leftover food stayed behind in the bathtub since there was no place to take it.

Sadly, a few months later, the Cecil Hotel closed forever. They said it was because the hotel was too old and needed serious remodeling. We know the real reason: try as they might, they could never get rid of the smell of that garlic.

ZACK GRADY writes from Southern California, where steak is on the menu for Valentine’s Day, this year.

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Eating Over The Sink

ZACK GRADY writes from Southern California. He reads cookbooks, but mostly, he just adds garlic and hot sauce.

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