Monday, May 23, 2011

Gordon Biersch Brewery, Broomfield

Remember the food you ate when you first set out on your own? Not only the hand-to-mouth “Ramen Years” paying college tuition or in your first bad apartment when you subsided on popcorn or day-glo orange Kraft Mac 'N Cheese (who else licked a finger, plunged it in the cheese powder bag then sucked it off? Hands?) Rather, the time of life away from parents or rules or anything other than a youthful metabolism when you ate what you wanted.

Mine was fries done my way, a specific process nearing ritual. Always frozen Ora-Ida Crinkle Cut (I’d splurge on brand) deep fried in vegetable oil. Used only the silver sauce pot I’d inherited from Mom (so old I wore it as a hat when I portrayed Johnny Appleseed in my sixth grade production of the play musical actuallyI wrote instead of the standard book report and which my teacher insisted I stage for the class). It was heavy and forever shiny stainless with a thick black handle. Cooking time had to be precise and just so, resulting in fries oily but crispy on the outside, overcooked almost to the point of becoming a shell of crunch. I’d drain them on a brown paper bag, season with Lawry’s Garlic Salt, California Style with bits of dried parsley, and dump into a big, slightly dented silver bowl that stayed warm on my lap.

I loved those fries and fondly recall the freedom they represented, cooked on my own cheap stove in my own cheap apartment, cheap ingredients bought with the few dollars I had. This weekend, I came close again.

And I thought I might cry.

You can say it’s the same but it’s never same and these weren’t. Exactly. But the signature Garlic Fries at Gordon Biersch Brewery came close. Yes, a chain restaurant (now open in Taiwan and some airports to boot) but Gordon Biersch housed the other half of my amulet, because we were meant to be together, those fries and I. 

Fat and super crunchy outside, so tender on the inside you’d think they were hollow. Instead of simple garlic salt, coated in fresh chopped parsley and finely, microscopically minced raw garlic for a tangy bite.

Perfectly salted.

All the better, they came warm and nestled under a plate of Steak Frites, a thicker cut of flat iron steak than expected (marinated in Märzen lager for a mildly sweet and malty finish) and lightly drizzled with tangy steak sauce.

To call the Hummus and Goat Cheese Salad (dressed with Märzen Balsamic Vinaigrette) a mere salad is an insult. It ate like a large tapas plate, spring mix greens piled high with lemony hummus and goat cheese, surrounded by roasted red peppers and warm herb flatbread points.

Washed it all down with a Limoncello Lemon Drop—shook with Absolut Citron Vodka, Caravella Limoncello and fresh-squeezed lemonade—Limoncello tangy, but the lemonade finish a bit sweet for my taste (“my” Lemon Drop is Grey Goose, juice of half a lemon and a salt/sugar coated rim on the glass).

Better of the puckerish two, the Pomegranate martini (Ketel One Citroen Vodka and POM Wonderful pomegranate). The Schwarzbier (literal meaning is “black beer” in German) was a dark and chewy lager with a dry finish and roasted coffee aftertaste, the espresso of beers.

You can't go home again, really. But sometimes you might find yourself in a place or at a time or with a person or a thing that—if you simply pay attention—means more than the sum of all the parts.

I found love, again and for the first time. In a french fried potato.

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