Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Blogger's Night" at the Melting Pot Dayton!

The Melting Pot - Dayton recently held a "Blogger's Night". Oddly enough, I was invited. Me! I guess originally it was meant to be a "Mommy Bloggers" night but @MeltingPotDaytn decided to expand it to include Tweeters and other bloggers as well. I think I got invited as a "Tweeter". Either way I am absolutely honored (and still in shock that I was chosen to attend).

About The Restaurant

The Melting Pot Dayton
453 Miamisburg Centerville Road
Centerville, OH 45459-4753
(937) 567-8888

In case you didn't know, it's fondue! You get a plate of stuff and dip it in hot stuff. Fantastically fun!

As you probably know already, this is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. My husband and I go there as often as we are able to afford to do so and always hope to get Randy as our waiter (who's name I learned on Blogger's Night). Our favorite thing to do is to get the Big Night Out selection with the Spinach and Artichoke Cheese Fondue, followed by a salad (our favorite is the California Salad), the Entree for the featured Big Night Out, and ending desert usually with S'Mores fondue (my husband is allergic to nuts and hates dark chocolate).

We highly recommend this restaurant as a couples place to eat or for small groups of friends. Avoid going there with really grumpy company though - we got stuck there for 3.5 hours one night taking my family and my father was not happy. He should be used to it by now - he never has good luck with waitstaff when eating anywhere.

That leads me to rule #1 about eating at the Melting Pot:

  1. Expect to Take Your Time - Even Matt our tour guide at the Melting Pot on Bloggers night suggested that they intend for this to be a conversation restaurant, that they do their best "not to bug you". While I generally like this idea, it does mean that you can feel a little neglected if you do want to eat and get out. So don't go if you are on a tight schedule.
  2. Expect to Be Messy - My boobs always come away fed - and I usually need to purchase a new shirt after. This is especially true for the cheese and the chocolate.
  3. Mind the Drink Specials - Alcohol is great with Fondue and The Melting Pot is good at providing specials.
  4. Join Club Fondue - If you join the Melting Pot mailing list you won't be bugged often, and best of all you'll get special offers. In fact, you get a free chocolate fondue for 2 just for joining. I look forward to these mailings (one of the few pieces of advertising I await on a regular basis).
  5. Don't Diss the Garlic and Wine Seasoning - This may seem like a silly shaker spice, but my husband has purchased it and uses it as his "secret ingredient" in most of his cooking. Seriously, it's just about as versatile as Spike seasoning in that respect. It is FANTASTIC on the California Salad. Use it, buy it, take it home. You won't be sorry.
  6. Don't Be Shy, Ask! - On items like the Green Goddess sauce, pick up two or three containers. They don't mind. Also their veggies for cheese dipping always has cauliflower and celery in addition to carrots: I hate this selection and always ask for just a container of carrots.
  7. Be Adventurous - Get the ravioli or pot stickers. Seriously, they are good.
  8. As for a Veggitarian Plate - They can do it. In some respects, the selection is better.
  9. Ask to Sit in Lovers Lane - it's their special place for couples.
  10. Get the Mojo Style - People think this is going to be spicy. It's not. But it is the most flavorful cooking style according to myself and my husband. Once you try it you'll never go back to plain Court Bouillon or the heavy Coq au Vin.
  11. Do Share the Last Strawberry - they even tell you why if you look closely at the doors to the Men's and Women's rooms.
One thing to note - the meats are not organic. if you're in to that thing, you won't want to eat here. But they aren't bad quality. For crying out loud - you see them raw. You can tell how fresh it is.

Now On To Blogger's Night

I was incredibly surprised by two things.
  1. There is a blogger community in Dayton.
  2. I was considered important enough to invite to this event.
There were around 30 people invited (not sure how many actually attended). Most of the attendees already knew each other. I had thought perhaps that this wouldn't be the case (after all, I hadn't met or even heard of any of them). I got a little ticked that it seemed like no one was putting together a guest list with the appropriate contact info for Bloggers/Tweeters so I ended up creating one for the PR person for the Melting Pot (who sits in Boston and tweets at us tweeters on a daily basis). It ends up this list was pretty much only for my benefit - I was the odd one out.

The lovely Katie of DomesticDebacle actually organized the whole event with @MeltingPotDaytn. Being a Mommy Blogger herself, it suddenly made a whole lot of sense to me why this group would be so skewed (and so tightly knit). But I was assured by several other Mommy Bloggers that they were not at all as much of a clique as they seemed. While I am sure this is true from their point of view, this still doesn't help explain how it was that I ended seated next to the only other person who didn't know anyone, the lovely Lynn Bissell. Seriously, with that many people what are the odds?

Doesn't matter. Either way I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We were treated to the following selection of items:
  • A Cheese Course - Consisting of 3 different cheese fondues at my table. I was able to try my favorite (the Spinach and Artichoke) and something new to me: The Wisconsin Trio. My husband hates blue cheese so I never get to try it. It was fantastic!
  • A Chocolate Course - We had a Milk Chocolate, a Dark Chocolate, and a Caramel course at our table. I didn't even know they did caramel but it makes so much sense! I also was able to try the dark chocolate and discovered how much I've missed good dark chocolate (he's a milk chocolate fan).
  • Any Non-Alcoholic Beverage They Had - I didn't partake of this. I went straight for the alcohol. Wallet be damned! I was nervous and didn't know anyone. I needed liquid courage!
No salads??? BOOO! But that's one of my favorite parts of the meal! That California Salad is to die for! No, I should not be complaining. We were treated to all of the above for free!

After desert we were treated to a history of the establishment - I had no idea the owners of the Cincinnati Melting Pot sold the store to open the one in Dayton (no wonder the Cincinnati one went down hill). The original store started in Florida as a two tables and a couple of pots. They recently spread the Fondue love to Canada (Alberta? don't remember through the wine-haze) so check their site for locations.

We then got a tour. The most exciting part was seeing the extensive wine cellar. I would love to turn our basement into a collection like this. I would have loved to talk to their Sommelier about how they went about creating their collection. It's divided between sweet and dry wines (THANK YOU MELTING POT) which makes the selection process a lot easier. Their wines by the glass can get a little expensive, but they do have specials. Just ask.

We also saw the kitchen. Nothing exciting here really, but what do you expect when most of the work is prep work and the cooking is done at your table. No, there's not really a big vat of chocolate. But they do start the melting process around 3 pm each day to make sure it's ready for the evening diners. They want things to go on time and run smoothly - especially the chocolate.

About The Other Bloggers

Apparently, I've been read by a few of them. I had no idea! I was incredibly embarrassed talking to DomesticDebacle because she has read me, commented, and apparently I didn't comment back. I try to be really good about those things. Oh well.

In any case, they were all quite nice. I think you should check them out. Here is the list (as I know it). I am missing a few people, so if you were there and you're reading this let me know. I'll add you to the list!

The Big List: Dayton Area Bloggers/Tweeters - doing my best to write what I remember, but there were so many people I only remember a few.
  • Amy In Ohio -Amy Cribbs
  • Mommy Confessions - Kandi Barnes (@shevirgirl) and Andrea Mann (@Daisiesforu). Both were super nice.
  • Working Moms Against Guilt - Susan Wenner Jackson (@SusanWJackson)
  • Mommin' It Up - Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup). She was one of the people who could claim the title "Life of the Party". Let me tell you - this girl has some serious style! I want tips from her!
  • Even Has Landed - Corney Loyd (@cortney_plus2). I must say this lady has lots of tips on hair straighteners. She said go to Sallys - they'll sell you a great one that costs half the price of the higher priced models. She really has super curly hair. You can see in the picture to the right (with Jenny) that she has super straight blond hair here. I can't even picture it curly.
  • Mommysnacks - Andrea Deckard (@mommysnacks)
  • Once a Month Mom - Tricia Callahan (@onceamonthmom)
  • Oh Social - Carole Hicks (@carole_hicks)
  • Savvy Little Women - Kate Pauling
  • Domestic Debacle - Katie Dattalo (@DomesticDebacle). Awesome style as well. I totally dig her dark hair, eyeliner, red lipstick rockabilly look! She had some tips on getting the hair (her stylist Cherry Lee on Linden Lane)
  • Deals for Dayton - Amy Wells and Celia Emmons (@dealsfordayton)
  • $5 Dinners - Erin Chase (@5dollarsdinners). She has an adorable son Tyler who kept making faces at me all evening. She also has written a book which absolutely intend to pick up.
  • Problem Solving Mom - Stephanie Dunkle (@psmom)
  • Knitting in a Tree - Laura Harr (@lauraharr) - not sure if I met her but given she seems to share a hobby with me I will have to get to know her!
  • Mind Active - Duane Myers (@PreppyDude)
  • Kelly Tibbs - Kelly Tibbs (@1sassy_chick) - And one chick I want to get to know! I didn't get to talk to her much but you know when you're introduced to people and you think "I should get to know that person!" Well, I think I should get to know this person, if I can. She seemed like she'd be a lot of fun.
  • Lilly Pea Designs - Jen Pilchack (@lillypea) - Cutest! Just the cutest.
  • Carla Weis Hale - (@carlaweishale) - She has quickly become one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. Super sweet, super cute, and has a love of bonfires!
  • The New Frugal Mom - Marianne Thomas (@WriterMommy)
  • Lynn Bissell - I don't have any contact but her email, which I will not give out here. But she was amazing to talk with during the night and I do hope we become friends.
  • Weirld - Dave Ave-Lallemant (@ohioGrassman) - Another person I did not spend time with during the evening but have been tweeting with ever since. Follow him. He's awesome!
  • What's New With The Dells - Becky Dell
  • Rich Palmer - Rich Palmer (@richpalmer)
  • And the guy who does the voice for Stitch at Disney World - Don't remember his name, but I have his card somewhere. Will update when I can. He was nice.

I know there were others - this isn't it! It's just what I had written down from the RSVP list. Anyway, please have a look. Support the Dayton Bloggers, and go visit the Melting Pot!

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