Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New foods with old friends

If you've ever shared a meal with me, you know I'm not an adventurous eater. I like my burgers and comfort foods.

But on this trip, I cast off my tendencies to over-research and just let my friends choose the restaurants. I didn't even need to specify "no unusual meats or whole animals."

Which wouldn't have been necessary anyway with Leigh, a Northwestern friend who's a vegetarian. She took me to Pure Food and Wine.

Raw and vegan? I wondered how cheese could be made from cashews or how a croquette could be a croquette at lower than 118 degrees.

But I embraced the adventure.

And it turned out just fine: chips and guacamole, sushi rolls made with marinated shiitake mushrooms and jicama rice, and falafel tossed with greens. I never did find out how they made the chili-lime chips, which were flaky — as if they had been baked. Next time, I'll save room for a lemon bar or almond coconut joy.

Leigh makes time for me every time I visit, and it's great to see how far we've come since our days waiting tables at The Keg, Evanston's skeeziest bar.

For dinner, it was back to the world of cooked meats. I met up with Bob, another Northwestern friend, at Pierre Loti. Almost everything on the Mediterranean menu looked amazing, but we managed to narrow it down to the scallops and the chicken brochette. I loved the scallops. No idea how they made the green pea veloute, but it was awesome and reminded me of warmer weather.

After dinner we had a drink at Playwright. Thus I can say I've been to all three Irish pubs on the block where I stayed. A new record set.

Even though I was super tired this morning, I rallied to meet Katie, a sorority sister whose 21st birthday is still seared in my memory. We had croissants and coffee — all good — at Eataly.

Katie and I lost touch for a while and just reconnected last year, but she is the kind of person that makes you grateful that Facebook exists.

We did talk about the pleasures and perils of reconnecting with old friends. She recommended that I turn my old t-shirts from Raleigh's and the Bay to Breakers into a blanket. I'm reluctant to let go of my memories, so maybe the quilt isn't a bad idea.

Anyway, I love hanging out with my Golden Bear and Wildcat friends (and the Bruins, too, but that's another trip). Now I have new traditions in New York.

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