Sunday, 28 July 2013

All You Can Eat At The Hilton

Happy Birthday to not me!

Two weeks ago, my great grandmother celebrated her 90th Birthday. Born in 1923, Ivy gave birth to nine children, and has since acquired a great number of grandchildren, even more great grandchildren, and in some instances, great-great grandchildren. I count myself lucky to be among her great grandchildren (my grandmother is her daughter), and a part of her legacy. Ivy had never been to the Hilton, so my aunt saw it fitting to organize a celebratory dinner at the popular hotel. My father, mother, cousin and I tagged along to represent this side of the family. Overall, I was very excited!

Ivy- The Birthday Girl!
It was Friday, July 19th, 2013, the time was 7:15 PM, my dad was parking the car, my mother and cousin were chatting, and I was obsessively dusting the non-existent lint from my black pants. Having satisfied my compulsion, I took in the Hilton for the first time. Honestly, I was not that impressed as it looked so normal. I secretly hoped that it would improve once I got inside, and it did partly due to the two water fountains, the gorgeous, floor length mirror in the men’s bathroom, and the pleasantness of the restaurant staff. I remember being impressed by the fact that they were playing calypso and soca music. For some reason, I was expecting some Mozart or Beethoven. 

We were led to our seats and given instructions as to how everything worked. There were three stations:-appetizers, dinner and desserts- and you were expected to get up, go to each station, and take what you wanted. There were no limits as to the number of times you could visit each station. My partner in crime was my 13-year old cousin, Faith. Her role was simple: she would support me in the night’s eating endeavour by accompanying me to the stations and vice versa. Let’s just say that she rose to the occasion.

Faith and I! Ain't she a cutie?
Our first round of appetizers featured gourmet doubles which I had never had before. I believe what made them gourmet was the addition of meat and/ or shrimp to the usual channa. I had mine with curried chicken, tamarind sauce, and pineapple chutney. My taste buds REJOICED with the first bite, and I went on to attack the rest of it with my knife and fork. After finishing our doubles, my cousin and I returned to the appetizers station. We went on to have BBQ wings and ribs (Plate No. 2), and an assortment of salads, fish, croutons and cheeses (Plate No. 3). Both were good, although I did come to the conclusion that I am a fan of neither salmon nor zucchini. Also, my love for lettuce with salad dressing remains, and it’s easier to eat ribs with my fingers.

With our three plates of appetizers behind us, we diverted our attention to the main course which featured grilled meat and fish. Patrons were afforded the opportunity to “choose their poison” from bowls, labeled LAMB, CHICKEN BREASTS, FISH and SHRIMP. I opted for lamb and chicken breasts. Within fifteen minutes, my meat was grilled, and my plate was filled with rice, carrot sticks, lettuce and croutons. Everything tasted great except for the lamb, which was hard to chew. Sigh! Dessert was yet to come, but I realized with a shudder that my belly was almost full. 

When I saw the staff on their way to our table with a slice of cheesecake, topped with a strawberry and a candle, I grinned because I would have time to digest before I started on dessert. We all sang “Happy Birthday” for my great-granny, and everyone in the dining room turned their attention to our table. Two cougars even sauntered over to the table to wish her Happy 90th. Then, we went around the table congratulating her, retelling funny anecdotes, or singing her favourite calypso. It was all very nice and I was struck by how significant a milestone it was to be able to reach the age of 90. I hoped that I would live to see even half of that. Long live, Ivy!

Dessert was a subdued affair, since the time I had taken to digest did nothing for me. My stomach was almost full, and I didn’t want to undo all the good that the exercise I had started earlier that week had given me (I lost one pound). Thus, I skipped the colourful cupcakes, the slices of ice cream cake, the slices of cheesecake, and the like. Instead, I had some fruit salad, a paw- paw ball, and ONE, LITTLE square of double fudge, chocolate cake. I was happy that my partner in crime had retired for the night because I would have been compelled to follow her to the table again and again and again. With my belly fit to burst, I was grateful that it was time to leave.

After a brief photo session in the foyer, a leisurely stroll to the car park, a drive to the Boardwalk, close to Pier 1, Chaguaramas, and what seemed like a thousand mile journey to Sangre Grande, I was finally home. “Oh, what a night!” I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

Until the next post!