This month’s issue of Northern Virginia Magazine features three pieces involving our family. Most notably, Ge Ge was a dueling food critic with the magazine’s resident food editor and critic, Stefanie Gans. Featuring Ge Ge wasn’t an easy decision for the hubby and me. We’ve always known he’s a great eater, but we worried that at age four, he might not be ready to tackle a commentary about food. We warned Stefanie that Ge Ge could clam up, or maybe he would just decide not to eat on the appointed night out of stubbornness. Plus, the restaurant that she chose, Airlie Garden Bistro in Warrenton, Virginia, wasn’t exactly a hop, skip and a jump away from our house.
On the night of the dinner, Ge Ge and I loaded up into the car and inched along I-66 for over an hour and a half. Along the way, he peppered me with questions. “Are we going out to the jungle?” “Is this closer or further from Charleston?” “Do you think they’ll have dessert at this restaurant?” “How many deer do you see?” I answered every question, then asked more of my own, mainly to keep both of us distracted from the mind-numbing speed at which we crawled.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Ge Ge loved every minute of the attention he got, both from the wait staff (who probably thought we were straight crazy when we walked into a haute cuisine restaurant with a four-year-old) and from Stefanie. We gave him his own printed copy of the magazine when it came out, and every once in awhile he clutches the wrinkled text to his chest with rapt joy, as if he’s an emotive preteen with a locked diary .
I have a different worry now. Last week, when scouting a restaurant for a new story I’m writing, Ge Ge thoughtfully took a bite of his food, paused, and looked at me. We’d waited a while for our food to arrive. When it finally did, some of our food was missing, requiring the hubby to go back to the order counter.
“It’s really good, Mommy,” he said with a cautious smirk. “But the service could use some work.”
Sigh. Everyone’s a critic these days.