Fresh Kool-Aid Shakes

It’s probably a good idea to avoid restaurants with an apostrophe-n in the name.

Steak ‘n Shake gives us a very good reason with their Kool-Aid shakes… choose from grape flavored or tropical punch.

Have you tried this? I died a little bit inside just seeing an ad for this taste sensation. But how bad could it be? Probably as good as their fresh guacamole! Made from scratch daily!

We’re not saying that the term “good fast food” is an oxymoron. There are quite a few places you can get meals made with identifiable ingredients that are actually prepared on-site by heathy staff members that don’t purposefully use their bodily secretions as ‘special’ seasonings.

And for legal purposes I’ll add that I’m sure Steak ‘n Shake is a fine dining establishment that regularily passes all of its health inspections.

But really? Kool-Aid shakes?

[Girl21]

Cidre Bouché

Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie
2007

Cidre BoucheThe most annoying thing about randomly buying a bottle of something-or-other to try is that sometimes you kick yourself for not picking up more than one bottle. We found this at Dorn’s while mooching around for something besides the three bottles of wine we came for. I’m not a beer drinker but am more than willing to explore cider. The French label made me hesitate (nothing to do with that fact that I barely passed my required French classes in high school). I thought we might be overpaying for a sub-par bottle of something the French wouldn’t make their nervous little dogs drink.

This cider was lovely though. Very light and sparkling. Very good mouth feel. Balanced flavor curve from beginning to end. Very fruity without even the slightest hint of insincerity. Absolutely no doubt that the flavors of the cider were the elements of its origin, from the dry soil and clovered orchards, to the tight and tart apples, to the oak aging barrels. This cider tasted of the story of its creation.

For a 750mL bottle of cider in the $10 price range, we were glad we took the risk of random selection. If the price jumped to $18 or $20, it would still be worth it.

Recommended as a solitary drink, or with cheese and other light snacks so you can thoroughly enjoy the delicate flavor palette.

www.calvados-dupont.com

Flying Biscuit for Brunch

You’re with family or friends and everyone in the group wants something different to eat. It’s Sunday morning. You’re hungry. You don’t want to deal with this before you’ve had a cup of coffee.

Simple. Flying Biscuit. It’s a small chain from Atlanta. Our Gainesville restaurant is one of the few not in Georgia. It’s up near 43rd and 16th/23rd a few doors down from Fresh Market and Dorn’s. They open every day at 7AM.

It’s a medium size restaurant. A bit on the cute side with their interior design. Southern style food in a we-don’t-cook-everything-in-lard kind of way. It’s always busy on Sunday morning. Even if you call ahead to get on the list (and we recommend that you call ahead) the wait can get to be 1+ hour. But that’s a good sign.

Flying Biscuit for BrunchThe menu covers breakfast and brunch in depth, from omelette to grits (oh the grits!) to pancakes to french toast. And of course, biscuits. And let me tell you, if your meal doesn’t already include a biscuit, order one on the side. That is the whole point of the place, and you’ll thank me for the advice. Big, fluffy, sprinkled with seasoned sugar, and spread with cranberry apple butter. Num num num.

But most important before the food is caffeine. Duh! Coffee. Can’t tolerate your breakfast-mates until you’ve woken up the old grey cells, right? If you don’t think a good old cup of coffee is good enough, you can get a Steamer, which is basically four shots of espresso and steamed milk (or soy milk) in a BIG cup. Better yet, confuse your brain… get a Guinness with two shots of espresso. Yes, beer and coffee. What better way to wake up?

As vegetarians, we’re happy to find any place that recognizes our second-class status. Flying Biscuit has Morningstar Farms soysage patties, several variations of tofu scramble, and even organic oatmeal pancakes. And they’ve got a few healthier dishes in case you want to sooth your guilt and go for some collard greens or black bean patties.

The menu is laced with some other options if you’re not in a breakfast mood. They offer salads, sandwiches, wraps, burritos and daily stoup (that would be where soup and stew meet into a perfect bowl of goodness). Honestly, I’ve never been in a non-breakfast mood walking into that place though. A switch gets thrown in my head and I MUST order something I can put butter or syrup or apple butter on.

If you’re like me, you have a hard time settling on one thing on the menu. Especially when you look around and see the amount of food you get with each order. Which is why I love a corner of the menu where the sides live. They’ve got half-orders of some of their best goodies. That way you can choose the things that tickle your drool circuits without overdoing (much). Half order of french toast. One pancake or biscuit. A bowl of grits (probably the yummiest restaurant grits EVER!). A bowl of fruit. Soysage patties. Mix it up and pack your tummy with exactly what you want.

The prices are fair; you get a lot of food for your hard earned dollars. I don’t think we’ve ever been there without taking food away for later. Usually the car ride home. And might I suggest ordering a few biscuits to take home? Trust me on this.

www.flyingbiscuit.com
(Yes, they’re on Facebook too!)

4150 NW 16th Blvd.
Gainesville, FL 32605
Phone: (352) 373-9500

Hours: 7AM-9PM (Wed-Sat)
7AM-4PM (Sun)
7AM-3PM (Mon-Tue)
Tables & Booths (some outdoor tables, and breakfast bar stools)
Service: polite, personal, efficient
Payment: All of the usual options

[Girl21]

Salad Days

“So what do you eat?”

Lord, if I had a buck for every time I heard that, I’d be driving the tricked-out Beemer I’ve been wanting. Admitting to being a vegetarian seems to elicit a reaction comparable only to a child finding a jellyfish on the beach for the first time. Suddenly you go from being a fellow human to something tentacled beamed down from Sirius.

I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life…including those formidable years in school, which is partially responsible for me being the well-adjusted optimist I am today. It’s kind of like A Boy Named Sue. Growing up as a vegetarian with an odd name has certainly earned me the Self-Confidence Badge in life. And of course, I’m fluent in Sarcasm as a result as well.

Later on in life, when going out to restaurants with non-vegetarian friends, you get the usual… “I’m sure you can eat here. They have salads. I think.” Yup. Because that’s what we eat. Salads.

Never mind that there as many kinds of vegetarians/vegans as there are individuals committed to their choice of diet. I don’t need to go there. I did try to break the stereotype when I could though. A little gentle education by example goes a long way. Maybe a few less people in the world think vegetarians eat only salads.

My big secret is that I really love salads actually. Not because I’m a vegetarian. But because they’re a yummy meal that can be ready in five minutes and cover all of the food groups and nutritional requirements you feel like owning up to. And since it’s all fresh ingredients limited only by your mood and creativity, you’ll never eat the same salad twice.

In public and with non-veggie friends, I try to make a point of NOT eating salads all of the time. Maybe I have a little chip on my shoulder and need to prove a minor point. But in the privacy of my own home, drapes closed to the world, I do partake of salads often.

Salad DaysSpinach and lettuce, with a little chopped curly parsley. Dried cranberries, blue cheese crumbles, white corn, and a drizzle of pesto Italian dressing. Maybe a light snow of pecorino or asiago cheese. Well that was just today. Tomorrow it will be a little different. Depending on my mood and what’s handy in the kitchen.

My salad habit will have to stay at home for the most part though. I dream of a world where vegetarians don’t have to squelch the urge to punch people every time they hear that question. Its a small dream and a tiny mission. But we can’t all be Mother Therese I guess.

[Girl21]

Food DJ

I’m in love with a food DJ.

What? Yeah, I said it. A food DJ. He is the Ron Hardy or Frankie Knuckles of food remixing.

Hm… I could go on a not-so-clever tangent using all kinds of DJ slang, but that would be annoying. Let’s assume you even know what phasing, bubble scratching, and hamster-style is and move on to the food.

So what is a food DJ? We were at brunch last weekend with friends, all single guys, and the three of them look over at my DJ with the admiration guys have for the silverback male of the bunch. He had masterfully layered, condimented, and sliced his meal into a magical combination on one plate. We’re talking about a full Southern brunch pulled together into a delightful fusion of food. A single land mass. A Pangea of breakfast yumminess.

I’ve been watching out of the corner of my eye since. Every chance he gets, he brings together flavors and textures, a little here, a little something else there. Nothing is plain. Nothing is straight up and simple. Umeboshi vinegar is a favorite base track. Organic stone ground mustard. Pecorino or gorgonzola cheese. Dried cranberries, fresh ginger, lime zest. The little thrills that change the deep, predictable flavors of every-day meals.

He is a musician with the cutlery, the salt and pepper mills, the chilli sauce bottles. There is percussion and bass in the cheeses. High feathery notes in basil and parsley. Indistinct, intoxicating vocal samples of garlic. Long, low grooves mixed over the rhythmic breads. Slippery transitions in olive oil from sharp pasta sauce to mellow whole-grain cappellini. Scratch beats of chocolate. Zig zag beats of garam masala.

Our house is his night club. Our kitchen is his DJ booth. I am his number one fan, hovering at his elbow. He spins the plates and drops the tracks together. And he closes his eyes, lost in the moment. Enjoying the flavors.

[Girl21]

Flock, Smoking Loon

The old adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply to wine. In fact you pay for what you’re willing to pay for. So drink what you like, not what’s on the price tag.

Case in point, this nice little line from Smoking Loon. Flock? So many jokes, so little time. Right?

We’re always on the look out for a decent bottle of dinner wine for under $10. So we picked this up on a random trip to the grocery store one evening. If anything, we wasted a whole $7.99 on a corporate marketing ploy. Anyone who’s bought tickets to Disney World knows a sting much harsher than that.

It was very nice. An interesting collection of fresh flavors. A beautifully balanced flavor curve from start to finish. Lovely little fruity notes. It certainly made us sit back and go “huh, should have gotten another few bottles”.

Flock
2007 Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel
$8-10
Donandsons.com | Flock

[Girl21]