Thursday, June 28, 2012

– To Wear or Not to Wear; Putting One’s Best Foot Forward

 The cold damp months are quickly replaced with the hot days of summer and we are compelled to rip off our clothes and enjoy the sun! Suddenly we are overwhelmed with bare-chested men and women with bra straps on show. Occasionally we forget that our exuberance can be offensive to those around us. This devil-may-care attitude sets a terrible example for those who look to us for guidance. Children learn these attractive habits by watching their parents and other mentors exhibit this behaviour and conclude that this is both appropriate and acceptable. This is precisely how children (and we when we were children) learn their patterns of behaviour. This is no mystery to understand but the solution to a more civilized world seems all too elusive. Setting guidelines for what people should and should not wear is the province of HR departments, the military, and hopefully our own households. What we wear speaks volumes about our personality, our self-respect and the respect we have for those around us. Image and first impressions are important to both our social and business worlds. It’s important to remember that we are constantly representatives of the companies for whom we work and for our families.

Here are a few guidelines that might be good to keep in mind when dressing for the day.
1.     For formal occasions make sure you are wearing suitable clothes for the occasion. It helps that the clothes are clean and fit properly. Polish shoes.
2.     For informal business meetings, one can dress down a notch. However, informal does not mean jeans and runners. Business is business and
3.     In public indoor spaces, wear a shirt and shoes. Especially in food shops and restaurants, there are health codes in place dictating minimum attire.
4.     The beach and the park are excellent places for sunbathing and the attire, or lack thereof, that go with it. One expects skimpy bikinis and bare flesh on parade in such places. Once one ventures back onto the streets, it’s best to cover up.
5.     Wearing pajamas or being unkempt when going to the store is sloppy and reflects the general state of one’s life in general. This is at least the impression others will form. Think about what impression you want to convey before heading out the door. People do notice.
6.     Resist the temptation to wear baseball caps indoors. Even if it’s early and you’re having a bad hair day, hats worn indoors reflect laziness and a total disregard for others. Simply because society has slipped into a state of sartorial disrepair, one’s perceptions of others and the associated feelings does not change. In the immortal words of the great Andre Agassis, “Image is everything!”
7.     Dress down Fridays have become out of control. Their original purpose has been abandoned for so long that most people don’t have any idea why it began. It was an idea that got real traction during the 90’s. Some office managers thought it might improve company morale and de-starch the white color atmosphere that pervaded the dot com industry. Some office workers  actually paid into a charity pool to raise money and awareness of community activities. I think its usefulness is over. What about “dress up” Fridays? Would you take a lawyer or a banking officer seriously if they were dressed casually? Call me ‘old-fashion’, but I avoid making appointments on Fridays because I find conducting serious business dressed too casually kind of creepy.

I have recently been in a discussion on LinkedIn about sleeveless dresses on women in the workplace and how it diminishes their perceived authority. I don not agree because I think one’s power really comes from within. That said, visuals do come into play more often than we may want to admit. By being more conscious of how we look, how we dress, and how we comport ourselves, we do show others that we have respect for them. This is the very backbone of etiquette – putting others ahead of ourselves. Amazingly enough, making a bit of effort to present a clean and tidy image makes us feel better about ourselves. Even when our lives may be in turmoil, our attire does not have to reflect that. It is never inappropriate to put one’s best foot forward!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Evening with Jamie Kennedy at The Rossmount

Celebrating the bounty provided by land and sea and the local farmers, fishermen, and producers was the theme of An Evening with Jamie Kennedy graciously hosted by Graziella and Chris Aerni at their beautiful Rossmount Inn. Now in their 12th season, this world-class restaurant never fails to impress and this special dinner was no exception. Coinciding with the town of St. Andrews’ 3rd Annual Seafood Festival, the tickets for this dinner sold out in minutes.

Seven courses incorporated over a dozen key local ingredients that contributed to the evening’s tasting menu. We began with marinated Arctic Char from Nova Scotia as small roll-ups combined with a bit of radish root and greens. An oyster from Prince Edward Island accompanied these topped with a fresh horseradish and shallot mignonette.

A colorful taste of the sea followed as a salad comprising greens fresh from the garden and from the shore, tossed with ribbons of cured Short-Nose Sturgeon.

We then enjoyed grilled weir-caught Herring, a local delicacy we usually see only in cans. This paired with a warm potato salad tossed with fiddlehead vinaigrette was a delicate treat.

Served in its shell, the next tasting was a Sashimi Scallop with Brassica (mustard) and coriander seedlings. Tossed with a bit of orange, this was an elegant morsel.

The fifth course was a very subtle combination of jelled lobster consommé, lobster meat, a dollop of crème fresh and a dab of local Beviro Caviar.  I discovered that enjoying these ingredients individually, rather than in combination, proved to help bring out the distinctly subtle flavors, although admittedly the lobster was bland.

The apex of the seafood offerings was Halibut, perfectly poached in sunflower oil served with lovely fresh asparagus. This I could eat daily. I first had this served as an entrée several years back and found it truly exceptional. Preparing it in one’s own kitchen seems to border on magic, and tonight’s presentation was perfect.

Dessert was an intense Rhubarb soup in which rested a delicate Pavlova of meringue and macerated strawberries. What a lovely refreshing way to conclude an early summer’s evening.

The evening was a success and Jamie Kennedy brought an original twist to the food we locals have come to enjoy regularly. The notion of relying on food indigenous to one’s environs is an important one, and one for which both Jamie and Chris have established their impressive careers. The fact that two such well-respected chefs are willing to share their talents with one another so openly and freely bodes well for this food movement and for the hospitality industry as a whole. Thank you, both!