Someone should sponsor me to test out chain restaurant happy hours with friends. In exchange for sponsorship, we’ll eat and drink a bunch of things, after which I will post a recap (when it’s convenient for me) and even supply my own very average phone photo!
Why P.F. Chang’s?
There’s been a lot of discussion about Andrew Zimmern’s restaurant opening and Fast Company interview in which he calls P.F. Chang’s a rip-off and questions founder Philip Chiang’s Asian identity. Chiang had my favorite response to the whole shirtstorm in this Washington Post interview. He simply responds, ““I am not going to get involved in his muck. I am totally comfortable with who I am and with who I am not.”
I was also struck by local, third-generation restaurateur Edward Fong’s thoughtful response. Growing up in the south suburbs, one of my family members would occasionally invite us over for a take-out meal from one of the Fong family restaurants. It was such a treat and now I want to go back.
Becoming comfortable dining alone is a satisfying part of adulthood.
Our parents probably warned about the un-funness of bills, cleaning, fixing things and working. Sometimes eating ice cream for breakfast is the most satisfying part of a tough day. I’ve also found that pulling up a seat at any bar to order the food and beverage of my choice is very satisfying.
Dining alone used to terrify me. One May term in college, I spent an entire month eating alone in my dorm room. My roommates and best friends were gone and I felt too embarrassed to eat in the cafeteria. I literally ate baby carrots, oranges, ramen, and grilled cheese sandwiches all month.
If I could go back in time as current me, I would stroll into that cafeteria and and sit wherever I wanted. Of course, there’s a lot I’d tell my younger self.
Each year I go back through my photos and narrow my dining experiences down to my 10 (or so) favorites to create my “best of” lists. My favorite dishes aren’t necessarily the fanciest or the newest. They’re just my favorites. Here’s a run down of memorable dishes from the year.
All of the cocktails and snack plate, Vikre Distillery, Duluth, MN: Most of the time I’m disappointed when I order a signature cocktail. Something’s usually off-balance and I wish I just ordered a classic. This has not happened here. Everything’s good, even when it sounds strange. The snack plate is a ridiculous deal for the price; it comes loaded with spreads, cheese, smoked fish and meats, candied nuts and the best pickled beets ever. It’s better than any cheese plate I’ve ever ordered, well, anywhere. The NA cocktails are also good! Post on Vikre here.
Whenever someone’s like “So are you ready for Christmas” I die a little bit inside.
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, but when you work full-time, the preparation is a lot. My work team is small and with the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year) falling on Tuesdays-Thursdays this year, we have to take turns with our days off.
This year I swore I’d finish my holiday gift shopping early this month, and, well, I didn’t.
I am enjoying a little stretch off before Christmas until I serve as the after-Christmas crew. This weekend I’m planning to make lefse to share with our families (here’s how I do it at home without fancy equipment) while drinking white russians and listening to podcasts.
Before I compile my best/worst year-end posts, here’s a final post on a few more memorable dining experiences:
I have a long-held fascination with malls and food courts. Especially mall food courts.
Growing up, we frequented the mall food court. Everyone could split up and reconvene with their favorite foods; A slice from Sbarro, a baked potato loaded with teriyaki chicken from 1-Potato-2, a combo from the Chinese restaurant or Philly cheesesteak from Steak Escape.
These days many malls are barely hanging on for dear life and others are still thriving.
The Rosedale Center, a thriving mall, located in Roseville, Minnesota (a suburb located near St. Paul) revamped their food court. Sure, there’s still an Orange Julius/Dairy Queen/Karmelkorn. But now there’s this fancy new food *hall.
Revolution Hall just opened just last month. The concept of a food hall is very cool. With the decline of malls and giant department stores, food halls are a compelling way to fill these empty spaces. It’s especially fun to see one of our childhood malls revamped – it was actually built long before we were born in 1969.