Monday, August 5, 2013

The Getaway Girls New Orleans Top Five Best Things I've Eaten This Summer

It's hot here in Dallas and there is nothing summery left to do. Picnics in the park stopped being fun in June, unless you're into fried egg a la sidewalk or instant food poisoning. And you can forget the pool. That water's been baking for the past two months and now that it's 102, it's like a super chlorinated, non-bubbly jacuzzi. With little kids. So I'm making a list of the best things I've eaten this summer because I'm too hot to cook, and I've run out of things to daydream about to distract myself while at the gym. Food fantasies may not be the smartest option while on the treadmill, but a little Cuban food goes a long way.

I usually like to tie a Top Five list in with my book, i.e. Top Five Reasons Not to Take a Flesh-Eating Scavenger to the North Texas IrishFest - but a top five list of foods for something that eats flesh would be pretty pointless. So here's my list - feel free to comment with your fave foods of the summer...

1. Tacos y pollo at Taqueria San Julian in Naples, Florida.  Best tacos ever. I live in Texas so I probably shouldn't be saying this about a Florida taqueria - but it ain't treason if it's true. No beans and rice, or fancy add-ons, just really fresh-tasting tacos with three kinds of salsa - and the spiciest one is the kind that makes your mouth tingle but you just can't stop putting more on your taco anyway. I prefer the chicken, but they've got it all - beef, pork, chorizo, tongue. Guess which one I didn't try?

2.  Bratwurst and German potato salad from Pepper's Deli in Naples. I've always been a Johnsonville Brats kind of girl - and I thought that was the best I could do. But then I had the bratwurst from a real German deli and I'm a changed woman. Give me sausage or give me death! (But, please, also give me the fancy mustard. I forgot the name but it's ruined me for French's. Forever)

3. Dark chocolate sea salt caramels, the dark chocolate sea salt cashews and the peanut butter and chocolate ice cream from Sweet Firefly in Richardson, Texas. Here's how this works: I distract the kids with ice cream, buy the candy, stick in my purse and tell them I will share with them later.  I lie. I will hide those salty chocolate jewels in my sock drawer if I have to, but they are mine.  All mine.  As for the ice cream - it's like the Dos Equis commercial: I don't always eat ice cream, but when I do, it's peanut butter and chocolate from Sweet Firefly.

4.  Macaroni and cheese from the Holy Grail Pub in Plano, Texas.  I fix the kind of macaroni and cheese that comes in a box at least once a week, so I'm a little jaded when it comes to this dish. But when it's done right, I remember. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Friday macaroni and cheese from Cambridge House in Chicago, served with a peach on top. I don't know why - maybe the canned fruit was intended to counteract the massive fat infusion from the cheese sauce? But it worked. And it was the best.

Until I had Stanley's, also in Chicago - and maybe it was eating it on my bachelorette party weekend that made it taste so unbelievable, but I swear there was magic in that mac.  I've tried other "gourmet" versions, but nothing's ever measured up to Stanley's or Cambridge House. Jasper's in Plano, Texas is supposed to be incredible, but gouda? Girl, please.

So when the server raved about the macaroni at the Holy Grail last weekend, I thought yeah, right. But my husband ordered some and I took a bite. Lots of cheese, with a snappy bite - none of this smoked Dutch silliness, just really good, sharp flavors. And gooey.

5.  Roger sandwich and black beans and rice from Fernandez the Bull Cuban restaurant in Naples. If my last meal was Cuban food, I'd die happy. The Roger sandwich -  chorizo, cheese, these weird little potato pieces, and hot sauce - all on fresh Cuban bread, was the Best Thing I Have Eaten All Summer. Possibly all year. Garlicky chorizo, vinegary hot was divine.  And could someone please tell me the secret to making black beans like that?  It does not matter how many recipes I try, mine will never even think about tasting that good. Also, the sangria was fabulous. And the chocolate cake. And the Cuban sandwich. And probably everything else, we just didn't get through enough of the menu. We didn't have time. Maybe next year...

So . . . what's the best thing you've eaten this summer?