Food stoned, and the most successful blind bathroom experience

Oh Melting Pot, oh Melting Pot, how so full I am, your ffondu rocks, your chocolate rules, your coffee tops it all off! And now I’m full, so very full, so food stoned I, can hardly blog, Oh Melting Pot, oh Melting Pot……I can’t wait until my next time!

Ok, I don’t know why I just sang a song about the Melting Pot to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree. I guess I really am food stoned 🙂

I absolutely adore the Melting Pot. It is not just dinner, it is a dining experience. There’s no in and out with fondu. You settle in for a good 2 hours to heavenly goodness. We started off with the cheese course, deciding on the 3 cheese Wisconsin blend. It comes with bread, cauliflower, apples and carrots for dipping. Oh so delicious. Next comes the salad, and I always get the California because I love baby greens and pine nuts. Unfortunately I received blue cheese instead of my requested ranch, but really the salad is just a time filler while the main course is prepared.

*Blind tip here* I learned at Saavi to ask for special arrangements when it comes to how food is served, for easier eating. For example, salads are quite hard to eat. Especially if the dressing is served on the side, or just drizzled on top. Salad plates or bowls are never quite big enough for stirring, and this is even more difficult when blind or visually impaired. So I was taught to ask for the salad tossed. This really does make all the difference. When the salad arrives, it is ready to eat!

After the salad is the main course. We always get the Big Night Out, though the name has changed on this menu. It included cheese, main course and dessert for two. So we got chicken, filet mignon, shrimp, New York strip and bratwurst. This also comes with loads of potatos and fresh broccoli, mushrooms and ravioli. I let B have most of the meat since he doesn’t eat the veggies. Everything was oh so delicious.

*Blind tip for eating fondu* Its fairly simple to dip ones own dippers in the cheese. I recommend touching the pot before the heat is on, and familiarizing yourself with the distance from your plate or edge of table. Place dipper on dipping fork and touch the dipping fork to the side of the bowl, and then lower the tines into the cheese. For the most part this works like a charm after some practice. Raise the dipper and give the fork a couple turns to wind the cheese on the dipper. Until you work out a system if you’re with a sighted person, or another visually impaired dperson, ask if its clear first, so you’re not playing light saber in the cheese. When it comes to the actual cooking of the meats and veggies, I’ve let B do that for me. The cooking liquid is extremely hot, and there are up to 4 dipping forks in the pot at once. B asks what I want, puts it in the pot and then on to my plate when its done.

After the main course comes the chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. We always get The Original, dark chocolate and peanut butter. This is served with sweet dippers like strawberries, bananas, Rice Krispy Treats, marshmellows and cheesecake. Oh the heaven. Follow above tip for dipping, just like the cheese. For the cheesecake, the server usually recommends drizzling the chocolate onto it as it falls apart on the fork.

I always get a cup of coffee with the chocolate. Oh my is their coffee good. I don’t know what kind it is, but it almost has a nutty flavour.

*Blind tip when adding cream to coffee from a fancy creamer and not the little plastic cups* With your non dominate hand, find the rim of the cup with fore finger and thumb. Line up the creamer cup to the edge of the cup. Here is where people might think I’m gross, but I pour the creamer over my left fore finger so I can tell how much I’ve added. I prefer the little plastic cups of creamer, but in nicer restaurants, the nice creamer cups are more likely.

So I think this will explain the food stoned/food coma part of my subject line. Now what, might you ask, is up with a bathroom reference? Let me explain.

When I first went blind, I was terrified of going anywhere with B unless I was familiar with the bathroom, so this limited us to very few places. I also preferred “one stall bathrooms” because they were so much smaller. When I was out with the girls, bathrooms were not a problem. But being out with a guy scared the heck out of me.

After I started using the white cane, Dave gave me some pointers, and one of the blind women at Saavi chipped in too. They suggested things like trailing the walls until I found the stalls and then sweeping until I found sinks, listening for the sound of other women, asking for help if necessary, feeling around to locate soap and paper towels, etc. Then Dave told me the all important one. When locating the door, wedge foot against door while finding the handle, so that a woman can’t barge in and knock me out with the door.

I’ve only had a few bathroom experiences with B, as I’ve been lucky and watch my fluid intake before going out. I think I wrote about the bathroom experience at the Phoenix airport where a nice lady helped, and the one at Chase Field for the Angels game that was like a huge cavern, where again a nice lady helped.

So tonight, before we ordered chocolate, I knew I had to expel all the iced tea I had drunk. I got an idea though, which proved to be very useful.

*Blind Bathroom Tip* I asked the server to describe the bathroom for me. She seemed a bit taken aback but I could tell when she took a deep breathe that she was up for the challenge. She told me the stalls were straight ahead when I entered, and the handicapped stall was on the far left. I told her I like the small stalls, and she said she was just explaining the layout. Then she said the sinks were on the left as I walked in. So I said, “when I come out of the stall, the sinks are on my right?” Correct. Her directions worked like a charm. As she was telling me, I gestured with my hands to form the mental image. Brian took me to the door, and I trailed the wall on my right until I found the stall. When I came out, I walked straight about 2 steps and turned right, and there was my sink. The best part of this to me is this next bit. Bathrooms are not standard when it comes to the location of the soap and paper towels. I think its probably the most annoying thing, because my cane can’t help me there. Well, at the Melting pot, right next to the hot water tap, I felt the soap. Right next to the cold water tap, I felt the paper towels. After I dried my hands, I trailed the counter with the paper towel, and felt a hold in the counter for trash. Continuing to trail the counter led me straight to the door.

I was so pleased because this was by far the most successful public bathroom experience I have had a lone since going blind. And I think asking the server before hand made all the difference.

B got me back to the table and then went to the men’s room and the server came back and asked if her directions were any good. I assured her they were and we chatted about the fact that I’ve been blind a year and a half. She was really great.

So all in all it was a wonderful evening, filled with food and new accomplishments. I’m much more high maintenence when it comes to restaurants, but I’ve found that I have to be to get the most enjoyable experience possible. I want to enjoy the food, not worry about salads or bathrooms.

Oh, another quick tip not related to fondu, when ordering a steak or piece of meat, ask to have the cook cut the meat, if cutting is as hard for you as it is for me 😉

I think I will try and remember to share more tips. Some of the things I do are things I was taught, but the majority of things are do are things I’ve just developed. I know I’ve got a few blind and visually impaired blogger friends, so maybe we can all take some time to share tips and tricks, to help one another? I think that would be cool!

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