Tales of a wandering lesbian

Iberian splendor

Okay, here it is.  The big meal.  Every trip seems to have a big, memorable meal for me.  In Atlanta, this was it.  I honestly was trying to find a pizza place, to grab a slice of mediocre “New York style” cheese pizza.  But, as I walked through Decatur Square, I stopped in front of a smooth-looking restaurant to read the menu.

Damn.  I knew I was hooked almost immediately.  They had a nice outdoor seat for me, in the cool-enough Atlanta evening.  I quickly made friends with my waiter, Daniel who, when I asked his name, handed me his business card (I thought this was a nice touch), and we started moving through the menu.

Something I learned in Italy was the benefit of taking advice.  Some advice, about what to eat, from the wait staff.  These people know the food intimately.  They see it all day long.  They smell it.  They eat it.  They see what gets sent back, and know what the chef is most proud of.

Tonight I took my Daniel’s advice.  “You’ll be good if you order the special salad and the red quinoa.”  Okay, not what I was thinking, but why not?  I’d eaten late in the day, and my slice of pizza was quickly turning into a full-blown, serious meal.  I had a conversation with my stomach and prepared myself.

Or so I thought.

The salad, which was big enough to be a meal in its own right, was beautiful.  It was endive and arugula with seasoned Marconi almonds, grilled peach, and goat cheese.  Holy yum.

I savored every scrap of it, listening to the lesbian couple next to me bicker about whether they would allow their infant daughter to know the family members they didn’t like, and whether people who don’t work are just a drain on society.

I just smiled at my salad.

A fool, I had debated with Daniel about whether I should have the quinoa (I love quinoa), or something else I can’t even remember now.  The quinoa erased all memory of competing meals.

I’ll try to reconstruct the combinations of flavors and textures, because it was precisely these combinations that made the plate of food sing.  The quinoa, which was nutty and beautiful, had a delicate crunch, and sat on a bed of roasted red peppers.  Slightly roasted.  Roasted just enough to concentrate the flavors, while leaving the soft, sweet flesh tender.  That sweetness paired beautifully with the tangy tomatillo salsa, and the crunchy, salty asparagus that had been slightly braised.  The magnificent corn sauce was entirely of its own flavor, creamy and sweet.  Independent in the way it made the whole, stewed tomatoes edgy, and the mushrooms even more elegant.

I’d been worried about the mushrooms.  Generally, I’m a fan, but shitake can border on the slimy, chewy, nasty side for me.  I have to say, though, these were the star of the show.  They were marinated, seasoned and sautéed in a way that made them tender and succulent.

The endive and microgreens were lovely as well.  The finished off the piece, giving it a light, clean feeling.

I spent a good amount of time, studying the dish, which was beautiful and inviting.  I paired different parts and evaluated each combination.  It was as much entertainment as meal.  Even as I became increasingly, uncomfortably full, I wanted to make sure I’d tried everything fully before abandoning my attempt.

Daniel glided past a couple of times making eye contact long enough for me to smile, give the thumbs up, or nod vigorously.  When he saw a slow-down in the action, and approached again, he was smiling.  “Dessert?”

Now, I wasn’t hungry.  I was, in fact, unhungry.  But it’s almost always worth hearing the list, in my experience.  He went through a litany of tasty treats, gelato, tort, etc.  And churros.  With a chocolate dipping sauce.

I’d heard tell of such things existing in far off lands like Spain.  My experience of curros was relegated to Disneyland and Costco.

“What’s made in-house.”  The question had served me in so very many situations, and I pulled it out now with relish.

“Well, the churros.”  He was a little sheepish telling me that they didn’t make everything there.  It wasn’t a problem for me, though.  The churros sounded delicious, and I didn’t really want anything huge, so it was a win-win.

“And an espresso.  Let’s do this thing.”  Daniel smiled a conspiratorial smile and headed to the kitchen.

I sat in front of the plate of fried, sugared delight.  It reminded me of an edible Calder staybile.  You know those giant steel sculptures that look like mobiles that have fallen to the ground?  Yeah, maybe it’s an obscure reference, but it’s the truth.

Passersby gawked.  Kids.  Adults.  Dogs.  I could hear the lesbians whispering next to me, and after an hour of ignoring each other, they finally asked what I was eating.  The power of the churros was strong.

“How is everything?”  Daniel was back.

“You might want to give people a heads up about the size.  I’m getting stares.”  He giggled and looked at the ground.

The churros were hot.  They were extruded and fried-to-order.  Which was perfect.  I thought I’d finally make it through a meal in Atlanta without a fried course.  Nope.  The fried dough had a wonderfully crispy exterior, and an airy, doughy inside.  The tubes were the size of a big carrot, and crunched with a satisfying sound when I chomped into them.

The chocolate dipping sauce was slightly spiced, and equally hot.  Throwing all concerns about staring lesbians, I dip pieces of churro in the sauce, and then into the surplus cinnamon-sugar on the plate.  The chocolate dripped on the way to my mouth, and I soaked it up with more fried dough.  There were enough churros for four people.  And I ate them all.  Every last one.

I paid my bill and laughed at what my little piece of pizza had turned into.  Then I moved Spain further up my list of places to visit.  Pretty much for the churros.

Bookmark and Share

0 comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment