I usually take pictures when I dine out. Some wind up in this column to illustrate a piece or are posted on FB to share with friends. But I’m missing photos of some amazing meals—meals where I can’t be bothered to take a snapshot before diving in. At that moment, my appetite takes over, and the food writer has to wait.
Writing about food draws on an archive of vivid memories. When I’m asked, “What’s your favorite food (or chef, or restaurant)?” I have a range of answers depending on the circumstance. But no matter how many places I visit, I count on certain dishes to satisfy my soul.
It’s primal, maybe genetic—sushi is my womb-food. I go to the Japanese Kitchen for chirashizushi—a mind-bending assortment (chef’s choice) of sashimi garnished with pickles, shredded daikon and wasabi served over a bed of sushi rice. When I lived in Santa Fe, I worked in a publishing house within walking distance of a half-dozen Japanese restaurants. There are many places in the Duke City that serve passable-to-outstanding sushi. I always marvel that so much raw fish gets to New Mexico.
Yummi House serves sizzling rice soup, a dish we order so frequently the waiter puts it on our tab without asking. He brings it table side to pour hot-popped rice kernels into a perfectly clear stock swimming with baby bok choy, tender shrimp and chicken, water chestnuts, snow peas, and bamboo shoots. Poule au pot at P’tit Louis Bistro is a 400-year-old family recipe—the perfect combination of chicken, a few veggies and just the right sauce. These two deceptively simple dishes fall just short of alchemy, and they’re what I want when I’m feeling in need of home-style medicine.
Café Green has the classic eggs Benedict down pat. Any time a chef knows how to Hollandaise a perfectly poached egg, he/she is on my list. But, Gold Street Caffè’s Southwest eggs Benedict is unbeatable with the addition of its signature red-chile-glazed bacon and green chile biscuits. The biscuits are so crisp-tender, I prefer them to any English muffin.
“Two over easy, hash browns, sausage and whole wheat toast, easy on the hash browns.” I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve placed that ordered—at Hurricane’s, Milton’s or any number of diners—because I know that if I find a place with a greasy spoon menu and a full parking lot, I’ll find the breakfast of my childhood.
“Pudding!” I heard a man shout in a restaurant the other day. Turns out he’s British and was reminding us that “all dessert is pudding.” I agree with him on that score. I have a sweet tooth and enjoy cakes, pies, ice cream and the rest. But put me in front of a warm bread pudding, crème brûlée, flan or anything remotely resembling custard, and I will be laser-focused until the pudding is history. I look for great renditions of bread pudding or custardy desserts at CoolWater Fusion, Oz Patisserie Mobile Dessert Truck, Pasión Latin Fusion and most French restaurants.
Everyone has a menu of restaurant dishes that satisfy when all else looks like dust. If you have a dish that tops your list, I’d love to hear about it and where in Burque you go for the best version.
Send your restaurant tips, food events and other delicious tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org