"He vaporized marshmallows! Not only that, but he's turned cocktails into marshmallows. And I've heard he's done amazing things with . . . ." Cassandra chirped excitedly on, going on and on about the miracles of Chef Pierre's dishes but Stone really had stopped listening. Chef Pierre had been gracious with both Cindy and with the Librarians after the whole incident was cleared up and if they were ever in LA had offered to create them a special meal. They'd had a case nearby and seeing the restaurant had reminded Cassandra of the offer. The others all suddenly had plans and Stone really was going to try to beg off. But he had a hard time saying no to Cassandra, especially now. There had been a brief period of time when they'd drifted apart but after his return from Shangri-La, they'd found themselves drifting back into their close friendship. Besides, it was a free meal and Stone did like food.
Except that this was a really fancy place and he pulled impatiently on his tie. He and Cassandra just didn't fit in with the scene here. Plus he'd seen dishes being brought to other tables and they seemed like they barely qualified as food. He enjoyed eating, liked exploring the cuisine of the places they visited. Cooking was art after all. But . . . .
"Jacob, are you listening?" Cassandra asked, breaking into his thoughts.
"Huh, sorry I was um admiring the decor. It's nice."
"Uh-huh," Cassandra sighed. "Well, the waiter said that Pierre was preparing a special tasting menu for us, so I can't wait!"
The dishes, when they came out, were certainly beautiful to look at. Stone could appreciate the art that went into them. But they were . . .well weird was the only way to describe it. One type of food made to look like another, beets as caviar for example. And spheres of fois gras. Tiny things that tasted good but weren't really satisfying. Then the transparent ravioli came out.
Cassandra made a weird face and took a large sip of her wine.
"You okay?" he asked. Up until then Cassandra had kept up a constant stream of patter about the science of each dish and he'd responded talking about how artistic it all was. It certainly was fascinating. . .as an academic exercise but maybe not as a meal.
"Not . . ."she cleared her throat. "Crazy about ravioli."
"Well . . .I'm not . . ."Stone's comment was interrupted by the waiter.
"Ah, something wrong with your dish?" he asked Cassandra.
"Oh, no, no, I'm sure it's lovely. I just am not fond of ravioli."
"Ah," the young man said, nodding his head as if he understood (Stone frankly didn't, the ravioli was actually the best thing he'd eaten so far, weird as it was). "Perhaps another pasta course? Macaroni and cheese?"
"Oh, yes!" Cassandra delightedly beamed.
Until the dish came out. Three pieces of what looked like pasta, but Stone assumed were actually carrots or parsnips or squash covering in powder.
Cassandra ate the dish but looked bored. And the conversation between the two of them died to rather dismayed exchanged looks and lies to the waiter about how good everything was.
They did however, agree that the dessert was delicious if tiny. A play on s'mores with the vaporized marshmallows Cassandra was so looking forward to and absolutely decadent chocolate dusted with gold.
"How is it," Cassandra asked as they walked toward the door. "That we just had 10 courses and I'm hungry?"
Stone laughed. "Oh thank god, you feel the same way. I'm absolutely starving! We had to run for our lives three times today. We need fuel."
"You know what I could go for?" Cassandra asked as they stepped on through to the Annex.
"Boxed mac and cheese?"
"I think there's some in the kitchen. Let's go."
Over plates, sitting on stools in the Library's kitchen, Stone asked a question he had. "What was the deal with the ravioli? I thought it was the best dish we had. And what you got looked awful."
Cassandra shrugged. "Promise you won't laugh?"
"I have an irrational fear of ravioli. I don't know why. I think maybe I got sick eating some when I was little? I mean that's usually the explanation for food fears. But I really can't stand it. And that transparent pasta was just freaky. Pasta should be pasta."
"Amen to that. Food should be food. I mean that stuff was artistic as hell and probably interestin' to you as a science experiment. But what we had? That ain't food."
"Not satisfying anyway," Cassandra sighed. "Well we learned something new."
He nodded. "Just because we're interested in something doesn't mean we're gonna like it. Honestly I was intrigued too. But I know of a place in Japan that had food pretty as that and satisfying too. How about we go next week?"
Cassandra smiled. "And I know of a bistro in France that's showcasing new food sources and gardening methods while sticking to classics. Wanna go there after that?"
"Sounds like a plan to me. And now, how about some real s'mores?"
"Race you to the fireplace!"