When it’s Cold it’s about Food…and Wine…and Carrots!

In my 20+ years as a yogi I have drifted from vegan to carnivore and everything in between. Vegetarian, pescatarian, ovo/lacto vegetarian and omnivore. I’ve pretty much tried it all. In the dead of the worst winter in memory I can’t help but want to eat everything in sight. Maybe it’s survival instinct and maybe it’s just hedonism but I just want to eat!

Over the last week I’ve done plenty of that indeed. Last weekend we were in Michigan and amidst a huge snow storm we decided to try to drive to one of our favorite places, The unnamedGrand Mere Inn which is about 25 miles from my place in New Buffalo. After about 45 minutes of two track driving I called my buddy Randy and told him we were going to turn around and head back to New Buffalo. We wound up having a pretty average dinner at a local joint called Bentwood Tavern but I did have a super BLT wedge salad that was the highlight of the night. We then wound up back at the cottage watching a great movie Captain Phillips and although our night didn’t go as planned it started a week of epic winter food enjoyment that will go down as both a very enjoyable stretch and a challenge to my renewed commitment to the Insanity workout sequence.

Sunday brought us Super Bowl and while I normally cook up a storm for my friends in Michigan for this event, this time around it seemed to point us towards the classics. We unnamed-1opted for pizza, Casey’s chicken wings and some leftover crab legs from Joe’s…and plenty of wine! I’ve had chicken wings from many places in my years but the measuring stick always seems to point back to this bar called Casey’s which just seems to get the simplicity of the concept. Delicious!

I took the day after the Super Bowl off of work partially to test the new plumbing in my house when the city of New Buffalo turned my water back on and partially because I wanted to really enjoy the night before and sleep in and have a fat breakfast. Our favorite breakfast joint out there is called Luisa’s cafe in Harbert but they are closed for winter break so when we woke up in the morning we were faced with finding another place. unnamed-2After we were sure that we had a good seal on the plumbing we debated eating at a second favorite local joint or venturing out. I though I’d try to see if good old Gary, Indiana had any options on the way home and the closest thing I could come up with was a place called Cafe 339 in Hobart, Indiana. Well it was only about ten minutes out of the way and we had time to kill. It had great reviews so we decided to give it a whirl. I debated getting a chef’s salad and a cup of soup but then I asked the awesome waitress what she thought of the chicken fried steak and eggs with country gravy. Let’s just say she was very persuasive and I couldn’t have been any happier! The over medium eggs were about the most perfect I’ve had!

My week proceeded pretty much as normal after that with only one night out where I tried a veal dish at the recommendation of my buddy Richard. It was good but not great so I would be inspired to try to outdo it at home later in the week. In preparation for that  unnamed-3on Thursday night I made another ill-fated trip to Eataly – more about that in a later blog – but I did get what I needed not only for my dinner but also for CJ’s End of Restaurant Week Treat Meal which I put together for her as well. So far her favorite thing about Eataly is the charcuterie plates at the wine bar. Since she would get off of work late that night I decided to put one together at home for her and I think I hit it pretty well. Rustic bread, mortadella, salumi, fig paste, almond honey, gorgonzola, grana and asiago. Home run!

As the weekend approached we were pretty much toast. Apartment hunting on the horizon and the Olympics on TV had us primed for a weekend in with more good food and wine. Friday we made it simple with a carryout from Mity Nice Grill with our privileged 51% discount. Turkey and the fixings were never more appreciated or cheaper than they were as we watched the opening ceremonies on a snowy and cold night. Saturday led us out and about and falling in lust with the Andersonville neighborhood and Lady Gregory’s in particular. A great chicken pot pie and some ham and eggs for CJ unnamed-4along with bellinis and cider were perfect! Later that night I pondered dinner and with a little input from wifey we decided that a craving for orange chicken needed to be satisfied. Panda Express was nowhere to be seen and as usual I felt my homemade version would be better so I ran to Trader Joe’s to buy the needed ingredients. The only problem was that I totally forgot to buy orange juice! Lucky for me my awesome Mom in law Cathy had sent us a box on Honeybelle tangerines for the holidays and they were still in play so Tangerine chicken instead. As we approached dinner time I must admit I muttered a “Damn am I good at this cooking thing…” along the way and we sat down to slope style snowboarding with a pretty awesome meal to enjoy!

unnamed-5Sunday I wanted to go out to breakfast once again but in an effort to save dollars and use up what we had around the house I instead crafted a skillet breakfast. We had a couple of top sirloin steaks in the freezer and some old potatoes and a dozen eggs. CJ’s last two skillet breakfasts out and about had ended in peril with under cooked steak and/or soggy hashed browns so I decided to one-up again and put together an at home post-workout breakfast that would please even an Olympic athlete. Yet another great meal in a stretch of a week that has been all too good to my taste buds and all too challenging to my waist line!

Oh and about those carrots? Well earlier in the week I noticed that there were still a good number of rabbits jumping around in the snow in the vacant lot next to our parking unnamed-6garage entrance off of Wells street. On Thursday night I took some carrots down there to give them a little treat. It seemed to go over pretty well because they were gone the next morning. Tonight when I took some more carrots down there it was as if they were waiting because a few rabbits were hanging around the door to the parking garage. I guess the cold doesn’t make all of us omnivores. The rabbits are still vegan but at least tonight even in the cold they will be happy vegans. This guy was certainly happy to see me!

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About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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