Monday, March 13, 2006

Talk of the Town -Cattiness Alert!

Having nearly blown my entire paycheck in one weeks time, I figured I'd better just finish off the inevitable with a fancy breakfast at the newly remodeld and just opened Town Talk Diner. My friend Laura had gone to college with the new chef/owner. At least we thought she probably did. How many guys can there be walking around town with a name like David Vlach? I thought he might be some kind of hassidic Hungarian or something, but he was just a good ol' Midwestern lookin' boy when we walked in.
I was nursing a wee hangover as I'd had a dinner of dirty martinis the night before at the Monte Carlo. (Great chicken wings and martoonis. Lousy everything else.) When the waitress began to describe the Bloody Mary to me the visions of floating olives started to fade from my eyes. They use fresh tomatoes, infuse the mixture with capers and fresh dill. Then they do some other wonderful things that I can't tell you about, because I cut her off and hastily ordered one.
The menu made the decisions hard. The food all sounded wonderful. As I gulped my drink, I contemplated my options. The hangover wanted the pulled pork hash with fingerling potatoes, but the pit of my stomach still groaned from the weight of the wings from dinner. I chewed my capers and contemplated. Finally, I decided on the grilled Tempeh sandwich with a side of bacon. I mean, I'm not totally crazy, although the looks I got from Andy and Laura seemed to suggest otherwise.
Laura got the mushroom, spinach and cheese omlet, while Andy (My Hero. Her nickname is Dirrrty Martini) ordered the pulled pork hash. We also got a side of ridiculously priced pancakes. ! $ 8.95 !! The maple syrup was real, though. None of that awful high fructose corn syrup crap.
While we waited for our food the servers were constantly refreshing Andy's coffee and my water. The glass was never half empty. I entertained my girls with stories involving some unfortunate singing that had been done on my part after the martinis. Laura and Andy filled me in on their much more responsible lives.
When the food arrived I all but dove into my cute little sandich. The bread was incredible and studded with sunflower seeds. The tomatoes were pink and really under ripe, so I ditched them. The Tempeh and sprouts made for a tasty little treat. The bacon was just the regular ol' buy it at the grocery store variety. For someplace so concerned about quality of ingredients, I really expected that they would have some Fisher Farms bacon or something more along those lines. The pancakes were really tasty. I still think they're a little overpriced, though. Unfortunately for Laura the omlet was a little heavy on the spinach. Andy totally scored, though. The pulled pork was roasty, smoky and so tender. It was just delicious. The peppers, fingerling potatoes and pork mixed together was the best thing on the table for sure. I tried to keep my fork off of her plate, but it just kept ending up there.
I just loved this little place and will have to come back for lunch and dinner some time.
As we were leaving, Laura spotted David in the kitchen. She smiled and said that she remembered him from when they were at the U together. She said on her first day he was really nice to her and she appreciated that. I kid you not, he looked at her like she had a third eye with a piece of crusty in it. She kind of stammered and backed away. I was doing my best to blend in with the walls.
We all parted ways, but my cell rang as soon as I got into my car. It was Laura. "How retarded did I sound? Was it as bad as I think it was?"
No, Laura, it wasn't you. It was probably all my fault for staring at the huge gap in his front horse teeth. Note to self, we are not cool enough to hang out with the chefs. Save that for Iggers or Moskowitz.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sunny Lunch at Lucia's Deli

Doth my eyes deceive me? Could it possibly be? I think that's sunshine that I see!! Is spring about to... spring? I get the feeling that it might time to peak my head out of my shelter and see what's going on. Time to wake up from my booze and fried food slumber and taste something alive. Spring! That's like two blocks from summer! I can't wait!
I had the good fortune of being able to escape this cube filled landscape for the wilds of the Uptown.
This wasn't my first foray into Lucia's deli and I'm yet to find anything really to gripe about. First and foremost the baguettes that they get sent in from Rustica are without question the best baguettes EVER. Seriously. I know it probably sounds like a hyperbole, but it's true. Trust me and try one. They have the perfect crusty outer shell and chewy, flavorful insides. I could walk through the streets gnawing on one of these like a kid with one of those oversided lollipops. I know it's ridiculous, and I can't possibly finish it, but I've got to try! A little high grade olive oil and this bread is transformed into the chi-chi-est of appetizers.
When I saw that one of the sandwich specials was served on my beloved baguette I couldn't resist. Ensconsed in the crusty goodness was procuitto, arugula and a creamy, soft white cheese that has to be close relative of brie. It was all I could do to keep myself from scarfing it down. On the side I had a sweet, little cup of parsnip puree soup. I now understand why Bon Appetite has declared the parsnip as one of the greatest vegatables of all time. It was creamy, with just a hint of sweetness, and finished with crisp, green chives. The grassy little chives sang spring time lullabyes to my day. There was no way I was going to be able to go back into the office.
So, since it was getting fired, or feeding the joy of my day, I bargained that if I just had a little dessert to get me through the day, then perhaps I could return. I mean, I like my job. It gives me money. And I would like more money so that I can keep going out to eat. Therefore, I had to return. But what to get? The Best Chocolate Chip cookie, as declared on the little sign in front of them? Shortbread flecked with vanilla beans? Puffy cloud coconut macaroons? Sea shell shaped chocolate madelines? There were so many delicious looking confections that I could hardly decide. I chose a mini peanut butter cupcake with peanut butter frosting and a little dollop of chocolate. The batter was lightly spiced with nutmeg. I ate it with a fork, which did draw some ridicule, but made it last longer. I needed to savor. The peanut butter frosting was shaped like a little star crowning my mini cake. It was so cute! And whoever came up with the idea of peanut butter icing has an open invitation to be my new best friend. Besides, in my book, there are few other examples of food alchemy beyond the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
The room was sunny and the people working there were so friendly. I was so giddy leaving, I nearly put the top down on the convertible. Although, it might not quite be that warm. I feel it getting closer.