Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If Food Be the Music of Life, Eat On

My god, did I eat today. Erin and Scott came up from Rochester to shop and hang out. Do you ever just make a list of everything you consumed in one day? Hmm... let's see:

1 cup hot black tea
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 bowl Caramel Crunch cereal with milk (not as good as it sounds)
2 large Irish breakfast iced teas from Caribou
1 hunk French bread with dip
3 pieces crunchy breadstick-thingummies
2 more glasses of iced tea
1 egg salad sandwich
Side of fries
4 more glasses of iced tea
3 lettuce wraps of black laab
2 scoops fried rice with guacamole
1/2 skewer of chicken tikka masala with rice and vegetables
3 small spoonfuls of elote
bunch of marshmallows with chocolate, hazelnuts, and a cinnamon cookie

It makes me never want to eat again. Yet, how satisfying is it to just feed yourself really well with delicious food for a day? When I know I'm going to have a great meal, I look forward to it days in advance. I just enjoy food. Perhaps you can tell by looking at me, but I'm definitely going to have to find a way to get in shape by exercising, not in giving up my favorite foods.

I've had some great meals in my life. Victoria and Albert's at Walt Disney World serves ridiculously good multi-course meals (and they're a little pricey), but it's nice to get a little gussied up only to suck in my gut two hours later. My sister has taken me to The Lobster a couple times, the restaurant where's she's worked in Santa Monica Pier for the last eight years. I even make some killer (and perhaps artery-clogging) quesadillas on my stove at home. Perhaps the best meal I've ever had in my life was at our hotel on our honeymoon in Pärnu, Estonia. Brian and I were served a five course meal complete with two bottles of wine and cognac. For the record, I will never drink cognac again, but I'm glad I tried it. Each course was brought into our suite, which had windows overlooking the beach, and was decorated with red roses.

What makes food so great is the rest of the experience. The following are my favorite restaurants. They're not 5-star cuisine, but I have good memories from these places, hanging out with friends and family. I could go back to any of these restaurants and have stories to tell.

Top 5 Eateries

1. Dunn Brothers North, Rochester, Minnesota
"Seriously?" you're probably thinking. Besides the delicious Mocha Ice Cremas, this is one of my favorite places to eat lunch with my lady friends when I visit Rochester. I tend to order the veggie quiche of the day and a Caesar salad. For a special treat, I'll get a loaded shortbread. Who wants much more than that for the midday meal, anyway? Sure, the food isn't spectacular, but I was mighty disappointed when I visited a Dunn Bros. elsewhere in the state and realized that there was nothing good to eat. My favorite memories from Dunn Bros. are my old Fridays with Brian. When we still lived in Roch, I'd pick Brian up early from work every Friday and we'd go hang out at the DB and play Trivial Pursuit while the live musicians set up for the evening. I love dating my husband.

2. Pearl Cafe, Denton, Texas
The best things I got out my time at the University of North Texas are a few great friends and a plethora of learning experiences. That's code for being around a lot of idiotic people and figuring out how to avoid similar people for the rest of my life. Jen was right there learning alongside me. After both being ousted from a certain social group, she and I would walk to this now defunct Chinese restaurant about a mile from campus every single Sunday. We would proceed to spend about five bucks while the servers brought us plate after plate of delicious MSG-infused food, while we attempted to make sense of the splintered relationships we possessed with this particular group of people. Best crunchy noodles ever.

This is why I can't stand Domino's. I don't even acknowledge most national chains as producing food remotely related to pizza. I grew up eating pies on the boardwalk by the shore. This is the stuff you have to fold in half because the slices are so thin and huge, they'll otherwise fall apart. Throw a little pepper or basil on that stuff and it's perfect. You can load it with toppings if you want, but cheese is just fine with me, because the sauce and crust is nothing to cover up.
4. Bohemia Bagel, Prague, Czech Republic
I practically slept at this place when I was living abroad. Once, twice, or even three times a day I'd dip my bagel in their tomato soup before spending some spare crowns on the Internet to email all my friends back home. I'd entitle all my letters according to the lyrics of the song I was listening to. This was where I met--and met up with--other expats. I had to cross through Old Town Square to get to the place from my Metro stop, and once I even saw Matt Damon briefly on my way to Bohemia Bagel. He was in town filming The Bourne Identity.

5. Magnolia Cafe, Austin, Texas
I had dropped out of high school and was waiting to find out whether I got into college or not the summer my sister came home from her freshman year at UCLA. A little after midnight, Sarah and I wanted to find a cup of coffee, so we went cruising around South Austin. That's when we found Magnolia, the digs I can't go without patronizing every time I visit Austin. I bring everyone there, and all the food is delicious. Every town deserves a 24-hour greasy spoon. Every person deserves their own Magnolia Cafe.

I have stories from all these places, just like I have stories behind the most delicious meals of my life. As I look forward to the next couple months, I know I'll be eating in Las Vegas and Denver with my sister. Brian and I hope to vacation somewhere we've never been before, and I'd even like to explore Minneapolis a little more. I hope I come home from these experiences with a little more than a full stomach.


Lisa said...

Ironically--which I taught to my classes today ;) --I did not get hungry reading this post. I expected that I would since I also LOVE to eat. I actually got very full. Your scrumptious descriptions satisfied my palate quite enough for the time being. Well, that and a huge glass of sugar-laden Black Cherry Kool-Aid (so much healthier than all your tea...ha ha! See, that was verbal irony! Okay, Teacher Lisa, go away for a minute.)

Funny thing that you mentioned the restaurant in Disney World. I read that and my eyes perked up a little bit. When I was 14 and on my second trip to the big ole' DW, I managed to gain over 5 lbs in 5 days from all of the food. My dad made the (lovely) mistake of overspending and paying for the all-inclusive option. We could eat THREE count em THREE full, sit-down meals every day PLUS had like $50 per day to spend on snacks at kiosks and stuff. The restaurant in Cinderella's castle was hands-down my favorite. I ate the most wonderful meal of my entire life that night. I had a scrumptious steak, amazing garlic mashed potatoes, and some kind of vegetable (I was 14, and didn't really care about that.) Plus, all of the napkins were folded into little cute! Afterwards, my dad and I ditched his nagging (now ex) wife and her daughter to spend some quality time together. We went to this lovely shop on Main Street that sold FRESH, HUGE chocolate chip cookie-ice cream sandwiches. Imagine the warm, gooey chocolate chips and cookie dough oozing down your fingers while you lick the melting, homemade vanilla ice cream from your wrist. MMM...MMM...GOOD.

Thanks for this post. I love it.

Shmaylor said...

Shrimp Lolipop!?!?!