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Life in the Time of Coronavirus

Life in the Time of Coronavirus:  Making curbside pick-up into a special evening
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Making Curbside Pick-Up into a Special Dinner

Most of us are at home, adapting to life in the time of coronavirus, struggling with losing a job or being kept from loved ones or wanting to scream at the walls closing us in. World Oyster, usually devoted to travel and fine dining, will temporarily shift its focus to dealing with the isolation and to supporting the local community. Life in the time of coronavirus means that we all have to be creative.

Because several nearby restaurants offer curbside pick-up, my husband and I decided to support them while treating ourselves to a special evening. After all, we still have to tend to ourselves. We started with curbside pick-up from Cascade at Durham Springs and found ways to create an intimate, elegant dinner in our own home.

To set the stage for the evening, you will have to do some pre-planning. After you’ve decided which restaurant you’ll support, consider how to enhance your upcoming meal with ambience. Think dining, not eating. Take it as far as you’d like.

Curbside Pickup Restaurant: Cascade at Durham Springs

Location: 5065 Lehnenberg Rd. Kintnersville, PA

Phone: 484-907-2100

Pick-up hours: 4 pm-7 pm, Tuesday through Sunday

Wine recommendation: The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

Recommended music for pop music fans: It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense by Ingrid Michaelson

Recommended music for classical lovers: One of the late Mozart Piano Concertos.

Before You Pick Up Your Food

Life in the Time of Coronavirus:  Set your table in advance
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Set your table in advance

Ideally, you want to create a special atmosphere for your curbside pick-up. You won’t have waiters, and you won’t have food fresh out of the kitchen. Instead, create a special niche in your house. We chose a small café table in our sunroom. Even if you have only one place to eat in your home, you can fashion it into something unique. Living alone? Treat yourself as though you’re a special guest.

Start with a complete table setting. Even though we usually use paper napkins, I selected cloth napkins. Consider using china or rarely used dishes instead of everyday plates. Whatever you decide, don’t go for paper. You want the ambience of a fine restaurant.

Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Choose a good bottle of wine, if possible, to go with your meal
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Choose a good bottle of wine, if possible, to go with your meal

If you drink, get out that special bottle of wine and the good wine glasses. We chose a bottle of Hess Collection 2012 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. If you don’t have or want wine, fill goblets with sparkling water. You want to make your meal feel out of the ordinary.

Use accessories to add character to your table. I arranged wooden tulips I picked up last year from the Netherlands next to a bird sculpture. You could use a candle, either real or LED. Or a knickknack taken from elsewhere in your house to remind you of favorite people or places. A houseplant could become a centerpiece.

Set up a speaker nearby to play dinner music. Choose either calming or upbeat music. You want to create an oasis from a troubled world.

All of the above should be prepared before you leave the house to pick up your order since you will want to plate up your food as soon as you arrive home. In my case, I also preheated my oven to 375°F because I figured – rightly, it turned out – I’d have to crisp up fries.

Curbside Pickup Meal from Cascade the Restaurant

Cascade at Durham Springs has been one of our favorite local restaurants since it opened last year. Located in Kintnersville, PA, it sits on a gorgeous country property. Because it’s in the middle of nowhere, however, it is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus restrictions. When I received an email from the owners saying that they now offered curbside pickup, we jumped on it. We didn’t expect the level of fine-dining we had had at the restaurant, but we knew the food would be good. And I was ready for a night off from cooking.

Before we ordered, we checked out the details online. Starting at 11 am, the restaurant takes orders for that evening. We scoped out the online to-go menu, made our selections, and called. Although the restaurant didn’t pick up the first three times, they called back an hour later, much to my surprise. Thank you, caller i.d.

On time, we drove into the event center parking lot, alongside the small table. As instructed, I called the restaurant to say we had arrived. One of the owners came out to thank us for the support. About five minutes later, a gloved employee came out with our bag. The hand-off took two seconds.

From ordering to pick-up, I received ten or so heartfelt thank-yous. Small businesses, particularly restaurants, and their employees will likely suffer the brunt of the mandatory shut-downs.

Our Date Night Dinner

Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Cascade's flank steak with fries and Brussels sprouts, housemade ketchup, and steak sauce
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Cascade’s flank steak with fries and Brussels sprouts, housemade ketchup, and steak sauce

We had ordered pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon vinaigrette as a side dish. My husband opted for the twin Kobe hot dogs with spicy sriracha aioli and Asian slaw. I chose the char-grilled Wagyu beef flat iron steak. Both entrées came with French fries and housemade ketchup.

For vegetarians, Cascade offers three appetizers and one main course, the last being a roasted cauliflower steak with vegetable biryani and Madras curry sauce.

As expected, the French fries didn’t travel well, so I popped them in the preheated oven, spread on a cookie sheet, while I plated the rest of the dinner. I had to work quickly because the food was cooling rapidly. Although I could have popped everything into the oven for a few minutes, I didn’t want to dry out the hot dog buns or overcook the steak. (Some people recommend reheating even curbside delivery to help kill the coronavirus if it’s there.) It took only a couple of minutes to crisp up the fries.

Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Kobe beef hot dogs with Asian slaw, side of Brussels sprouts and housemade ketchup
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Kobe beef hot dogs with Asian slaw, side of Brussels sprouts and housemade ketchup

With the wine and sparkling water poured and our dinner on plates, we carried our food to our date spot. As music played in the background, we settled down to our relaxing meal. The Kobe hot dogs were, well, hot dogs, but the buttered New England-style buns and the sriracha aioli added character. The Asian slaw added a nice touch with its soy sauce saltiness. The flat iron steak was still juicy and flavorful. I most loved the Brussels sprouts; the sweetness of caramelized sprouts contrasted nicely with the salt of bacon.

The food choices at Cascade/Durham Springs align most closely with its seasonal rooftop dining and not the fine dining inside the restaurant. No matter. The chef is the same, and the quality is excellent. Next time, we’ll probably choose fish and go with a white wine.

The Verdict

We were delighted to support one of our favorite restaurants in these difficult times, although it will take many diners like us to do so. Even if you don’t live in our area, you can check out your own favorite restaurants to see whether they offer curbside pick-up. In the process, you can treat yourself to a special night, either alone or with your significant other. Or with the whole family. Turn off the television, and turn on the music. By embracing the limitations of being homebound, we can all emerge stronger.

If you order curbside from Cascade or any local restaurant, please mention this blog. I want businesses to know that the coronavirus is not the only thing that can go viral. Community support can spread as well.

Check out my other articles about how to cope with life in the time of coronavirus:

Practicing mindfulness while traveling your backyard

What to do when you can’t find all-purpose flour

Debbie Lee Wesselmann

By Debbie Lee Wesselmann

I am a world traveler, foodie, and the author of three works of fiction: Captivity, Trutor & the Balloonist, and The Earth and the Sky.

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