16 Thoughts For Sweet ’16

  1. Sorry, but I don’t get excited about ramen.
  2. Since many recent openings in St. Louis have been either pizza or barbecue joints, please note you can combine the two with the Pulled Piggy Pizza from PW Pizza. It is delicious. (Pictured with slaw atop the pulled pork and sauce.) Pulled piggy pizza
  3. We are blessed to have a wide choice of grocers in my neck of suburbia: Schnucks, Dierbergs, Shop’n’Save, of course. Also, Lucky’s, Fresh Thyme, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Global Foods, Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart, Target. Still haven’t made it to Aldi.
  4. Want to be happier in 2016? Eat more avocados.
  5. I like this memorable quote from Tom Colicchio (pictured below) in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal: “Calories are cheap. Nutrition is expensive.”Colicchio
  6. Even if you’re a Starbucks hater, you have to admit that their national presence over the past two decades has helped “raise all boats.” Almost every place that sells coffee has improved their product.
  7. Chain restaurants are not inherently bad. I can name chains in St. Louis whose quality varies from pretty good to abysmal, from location to location. In most cases, the reason is good or bad management.
  8. Is it okay for a restaurant to brag about using local vendors whenever possible… via a release from an out-of-town PR firm?
  9. Sweet and savory do not always go together well, but when the combination works, the results can be pretty amazing.
  10. I’m not a fan of the “best nine” tic-tac-toe format on Instagram. Most of the nine tiny pics are too small. (Or maybe it’s time for me to get a new phone with a bigger screen.)
  11. The crew at a local Breadco did not know what to do last month when I ordered a mocha and asked them to stamp my 90s era Cappuccino Club card.
  12. I enjoy Urban Chestnut beers but the 500 milliliter bottle size (just over 16 ounces) can be confounding. Sometimes one is not enough but two are too many.
  13. How many waiters have their own business cards? Our server at Fleming’s last week included his card in the check holder. Nice touch.
  14. If you’re thinking about going paleo or trying Whole 30, you should know that cauliflower makes a great rice substitute and sweet potatoes are wonderful.
  15. Recommended book: A Year In Provence (1989) by Peter Mayle. Among the joys he and his wife experience are numerous eating and drinking occasions. Loved the book. When I read it last spring, I laughed out loud many times.
  16. My favorite meal of 2015 was at Singleton’s Seafood Shack in Jacksonville, Florida, on the banks of the St. John’s River. Fried fish, fried dill pickles, a cold Bud Light and memories of the years we lived in the Big J.

I wish you and your family a Sweet (and Savory) ’16! Roll Tide!

A Favorite Meal

I’m not sure I could ever write the detailed food memoirs that our best food writers entertain us with, but I do recall some personal favorite meals. As with most food memoirs, the food itself is important, but the people and the circumstances are what make the meal especially memorable.

In 1987, my wife, my son and I took a driving vacation whose first stop was Washington, D.C. We arrived at our hotel in Arlington on a Friday night and left early Saturday for a big day of touring.

Capitol

We nabbed a parking spot near the Ellipse, grabbed tickets for White House tour, then trekked several blocks for breakfast. After hoofing it back to the White House and enjoying the tour, we walked to Ford Theater (then closed for renovations). We strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, grabbing a hotdog apiece from a street vendor.

Following an extensive tour, which included visits to both legislative chambers, we walked down the Mall to the Washington Monument and later, finally, back to our car. After a quick shower and change at our hotel, we went to Georgetown and Morton’s of Chicago steakhouse. To say we were famished and starving would be an understatement.

map_dc_large

In ’87, we were living in Jacksonville, a city I love but one that didn’t have many fine dining restaurants. We had planned to feast on good food and enjoy the good service at Morton’s. (We had heard about Morton’s when we lived in Philly a few years earlier, but considered it too pricey.) On this particular evening 26 years ago, Morton’s lived up to all our expectations.

This was the first time I had dined at a place where cuts of uncooked meat were displayed by the server. My wife and I picked beautiful beef cuts. One dinner offering was not displayed, because it was still alive in a tank.

Morton's steaks

My son, then 15, asked if he could order the lobster. The server quoted a price of $11/pound and said he had one that weighed in at three-and-a-half pounds. A 15-year-old boy (and many girls of that age) can consume vast quantities of food, so I had no doubt he could polish it off. He did, easily.

My wife and I savored our filets. Following dessert, I paid one of the biggest dinner checks I had encountered to date. But it was worth every cent—truly a memorable finish to a great day of exploring Washington with the family.