Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Making Up for Lost Time

I live AND I have photographic evidence of places I have dined. I know, right? I'm like a real food blogger and everything.

Most recent days have been spent scouring the web to try to determine what I cannot eat (everything) and then consuming what I think I should eat (and that would be pretty much everything.) I was laying low in the dining out part, though. I'm just so thankful that I've got a job with medical coverage, I can't even tell you. I felt guilty even thinking about going out to eat when so many are scouring bare food shelves for pantry items.

I'm getting over it, though. Prepare yourselves, there's an epic Frodo to the Mountaintop aspect to this post. It was my burden - and my precious.

Anyway, Friday night, just as I was about to leave work after way too much working and not enough net surfing, I got a call from Matt. The heat was out in the house. Great. I considered driving up to Duluth, where I knew Mom and Julie would feed and shelter me, but it was snowing and that's far. I knew my mother in law would happily take me in, but I just didn't want to go bug her. I wanted to sit on my couch, watch embarrassing TV and stuff my face - as I'd earned the right to do by resisting the tired urge to call in sick to work every day. I tentatively checked in with a couple of friends who I thought would be sympathetic to a night on the couch and munchies. Aisha almost insisted I come over immediately, but she and Scottie have a Friday night ritual that may or may not involve a television program called "Smackdown." I hated to interfere by making them suffer through a Jon & Kate Plus 8 marathon - then I remembered that they don't even have cable. That wasn't going to work. I checked in with Andy and she had plans, so I gave up and cried into the phone to my sister. "I got no place else ta goooooooo!!!" Overly dramatic? Yes - but you'll remember I'm pregnant and already prone to such theatrics.

I decided to tough it out. How bad could it be, right? Maybe the heat had come back on! When I arrived at the hovel it was... not warm. But it wasn't sleeping on a stretch of cardboard with fingerless gloves freezing either. I put on my chill pants - my fat pants - the only pants that fit these days, grabbed the down comforter and strategically positioned the space heater. I phoned Skinner's and requested they bring me a bacon cheeseburger stat - with fries. I flipped on the TV and was thrilled to find Meet Me in St. Louis had just started. After horking down the burger, I sang along to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from under my fluffy white refuge, burger bun crumbs floating from the sides of my mouth like so many snowflakes.

I moved the entire operation into the bedroom and was asleep by 9:30. Except for a couple of wretched trips to the coldest bathroom this side of the Himalayas, it was really tolerable. Things improved when Matt got home from work - he's my human space heater.

The next morning I was supposed to get together for an impromptu little brunch with Aisha and Scottie, Andy and Laura - Andy wasn't able to make it at the last minute, but everyone else was there when I arrived - smiling and oh, so warm! We'd decided on the Copper Dome on Randolph and Hamline in Highland Park. I haven't been there since the days I used to pretend to be a Mac student. Consequently, I don't think I'd ever been there so sober. I thought for sure the food would be Perkins-type quality - it is frequented by lots of gray hairs - which, incidentally, means the room is a Grandma appropriate 85 degrees. It was wonderful.

I was so wrong about the food. Before it arrived, however, I was swilling down my diner strength coffee and bemoaning my plight to my dearests when they distracted me with something shiny - a present! It is my birthday this week and I do so enjoy presents. They know me so well! I would have been thrilled with a jar of dilly pickles, but instead they got me this gorgeous little blue digital camera! Turns out Aish, Andy, Eric and Laura had all gotten together to get me something really nice. I know - crazy awesome friends! I was thrilled and immediately started snapping pictures.

Here's Laura and Scottie

Aisha and Scottie - that is not poop she's holding. They're truffles. I made them. If you notice the table, Scottie had eaten his already.

Aisha and me in my birthday sweater - I LOVE this color and would live in it every day if possible. (Purchased from B&lu online shop. As much as it pains me to pay shipping from four blocks from my house, I'm loving their clothes as pretend preggie wear.) By the way - don't you think Sweet Loaf would make a totally awesome '70's power ballad/arena rock band name? They'd kick Bread's weenie butts.

Here is my breakfast. I was starving and inhaled half of it before I remembered that I used to be a food blogger and I should probably capture this stuff with the camera. Two eggs, over easy (see ignored Preg Food Advice), hash browns, wheat toast, 3 sausage links and two crepes. I ate nearly the entire thing. Freezing makes me hungry.

Random shot of the poor saps stuck dining with us. It was a great meal. The waitress was one of the same ladies that used to wait on us back when we were obnoxious/hungover/burned out students. She was so sweet! The food was down home cooking - fluffy margarine ball topped my crepes, toast was thoroughly buttered on both sides - crispy on both sides, oddly square hash browns. The sausage was good and mildly spicy and the bacon Scottie ordered was real, thick, perfectly cooked meaty bacon. Aisha's pancakes were huge and fluffy. Why hadn't I been back to this place sooner? And talk about a great antidote to the saggy economy - the prices haven't inched up since the Regan administration. Totally affordable, totally comforting and so completely worth the two second drive for me. I left flushed and full of love for my friends and neighborhood.

Then I went home. The house was definitely not getting any warmer. I eyed my suitcase and contemplated my Mom in Law's house blocks away. Oh, so warm and inviting. She's the kind of mom that would even let me control the remote - she probably wouldn't be there - off reading scholarly tomes or feeding the lepers or something. She's always busy.

Then I looked at the cats. Foul beasts. When we moved into the house Eli pissed his pants and hid under the stairs for two days. How do you explain that kind of thing to a person with no pets?

Heaving a pathetically heavy sigh, I gave up my thrilling plans of visiting the No Coast Craft fair and picked up the Yellow Pages. I called a few heating guys and invited the nicest sounding one over. Matt came home to suffer with me - this time it was winter coat and hat, space heater and Can't Buy Me Love on the TV. When the heating guy finally arrived, he had no more luck than I did finding the pilot light on the behemoth in our basement. The house has one of those old "octopus" style furnaces. It's covered in plaster, cement and purportedly made entirely out of asbestos.

He poked around until he found a thing that could be unscrewed at the base of the thing. It kind of looked like the Abominable Snowman's foot. There was more poking around and then he tugged on a thing. Magically, the furnace fired up. Then it died again. From this he was able to determine that the problem wasn't actually the 10,000 year old antique heating system we had, but was in fact only the thermostat. Thank God, because if it was that furnace, I was going to have to move. So, almost $400 later and a new thermostat affixed to the wall, now exposing the hot pink paint left behind the old one, we were in business. And it was still freezing. So, we left.

Our plan all along had been to meet up with our friends Tony and Sarah for dinner at the new St. Paul Bulldog. We had a little time to kill and decided to whet our appetites with some treats from Wuollet. Since I'd not gotten any fun Christmas shopping in and now wouldn't be able to until our landlord returned from vacation and sends me a reimbursement check, I wanted to at least wander the Grand Meander that was taking place. We grabbed a hot chocolate, fried Cinnamon donut, chocolate donut and a sugar cookie. Don't laugh! Matt hadn't eaten all day. Geez, what do you think I am?

So, I slurped up the deliciously creamy, deeply chocolate cocoa and had a couple bites of Matt's fried cinnamon yum-yum. It was gone in seconds. The glaze crackled as I tore off hunks of raised donut batter laced with homey cinnamon. Heaven with a cocoa. The chocolate donut was Matt's wubbie of childhood food treats. He was practically hugging himself and humming as he scarfed it down. Here's another poetically posed photo from the new camera.
After that we were off into the snow dusted evening - white lights were strung from bare empty branches, lighting up white streets full of happy shoppers.
More from Lowertown tomorrow!


At 1:21 PM , Anonymous Laura (shameless awesome friend) said...

Wow, your friends sound awesome.

At 2:25 PM , Blogger Stacey said...

I am not typically a breakfast food person but I love the Copper Dome.


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