Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A great Christmas story...

I was recently reading one of those inspirational stories about people coming together to help someone in need. It reminded me of this story that happened to my mom and I during Christmas 1989. Please enjoy...

It was Christmas of 1989. I had turned 18 the past September, and was living with my Mother. I had purchased my car ($400 for a 1969 Ford Falcon, it was Powder blue and had beige doors) for my birthday, so I would drive to school and work. My mom and I did not have lots of money, in fact, most of my paychecks went to help pay the bills, since both my mom and I were making $3.35 an hour (basically).

We had decided that we were not going to have a Christmas, that we would just spend the day together at home. 

Now I know that none of you guys knew my mom, and I will admit I was a complete Mommy's boy. I truly loved my mom, and I really miss her now that she is gone. I guess it might have been because our birthdays were a day apart (hers Sept 27th, mine Sept 28th), but basically, she was always there for me, and for anyone else that needed a mom to talk to.

Anyway, so I was working for Pizza Hut Delivery in Pensacola, FL, and everyone had started talking about their plans for the holiday (Pizza hut being closed for Christmas). knowing that I wasn't going to do any celebrating  I stayed out of the conversation, until someone asked me directly, and I told them about the decision that my mom and I had made. I included the fact that there were no children at home, just the two of us, so it really didn't matter how we celebrated it.

That conversation was a few days before the actual holiday, and since we were not doing any celebrating, I offered to help close the store on Christmas Eve.

Early that evening, one of the delivery drivers came up to me and asked a favor. I said sure, and he proceeded to remind me about how he had recently gotten married to a christian woman, him having been raised Jewish, was apparently unfamiliar with what was involved with a traditional Christmas meal. He asked if I would help him after work, go over to Albertsons and help him select foods that his wife might enjoy for their first Christmas together.

We went to Albertsons, and he would ask me all sorts of questions, about main dishes, side dishes, traditional desserts, what items went with what, and actually had asked me how some of the items were to be cooked.

We finished shopping at about 1:00 am on Christmas day, and I started to tell him good-bye as I walked to my car. He followed me to my car and said "Merry Christmas, this food is for you and your mom for Christmas".

I started to cry, I didn't know what to say. He told me that after I had told them about our not celebrating Christmas, a group of the employees decided to raise some money for us to have a good Christmas dinner. I later found out that the entire crew and management had donated to help my mom and me have a great Christmas.

I asked him about his dinner with his wife and everything he told me. He said that he and his wife had already done their shopping, and that he had used the same questions on me that he used when he and his wife went shopping.

I will always remember that Christmas.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Sylvia's Brick Oven Restaurant

Located at 625 Columbia Street, in downtown Lafayette, Sylvia's Brick Oven has a selection of starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza's and pasta's. I found the location to be well kept and clean, with some minor spots on the floors and a cluttered service station. The music from the piano and the conversations from the other customers appeared to reverberate off the ceiling and walls, amplifying the sound making it difficult to hear conversations at times.

On a Friday evening at about 8pm, my friend and I arrived during the busy dinner crowd, so our wait for a table was about 10 minutes, which was shorter than the 20 minute wait time we were told upon arrival. I was taken to our table while my friend was talking with someone in the bar area. The tables were set "Pizzeria" style with red & white checkered table cloths, soft candles, and customary pizzeria condiments (salt, pepper,   Parmesan cheese, red peppers, and sweeteners).

Now, I have 20/20 vision, but I had a real difficult time reading the menu, based on the soft lighting and font used that made it almost indecipherable. I am sure the font and menu looks wonderful, I just had difficulty reading it. Luckily, our waiter, Jerry, was excellent at translating the menu for us. It is great when a waiter knows everything about the food he is serving, down to the smallest ingredients. His knowledge was exceptional.

For myself, I ordered a side salad with ranch dressing, an order of "Garlic Knots", and a "Carni" pizza. If you are interested in the menu, you can view it at

The salad was a basic spring mix salad of various greens and what looked like a grape tomato cut in half. I was expecting a nice cool, crisp salad but instead I received a salad of room temperature ingredients. Personally, I prefer my salads cold and crisp, but I was unfamiliar with this restaurant, and unfortunately, I did not ask if that was the norm. The restaurant menu states that they use produce from local farmers, so the salad could be exceptionally fresh.

As I am writing this review, I am looking at the menu, online, which I can read much better. For the "Garlic Knots", basically think of dough that is tied in a knot and baked. They are then to be tossed in fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese. Ours arrived at the table drizzled and plated in olive oil and  a dab of pesto on the top of each knot. The pesto had a nice flavor; however, the knots had no flavor at all, just cooked dough. I was asked if I liked the knots, of which I told our waiter that I did not and explained why. He seemed a bit stunned by my comments.

Finally, the pizza arrived, and while I have very discriminating tastes when it comes to pizza, I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the pizza. The toppings were perfectly portioned so that each bite was full of exceptional flavor, and the pizza dough seemed to have more flavor that the dough used for the "Garlic Knots".

Overall Experience: B
Food: C
Service: A
Cleanliness: A-
Atmosphere: B
Cost: $25 plus tip