Instead of traditional New Year resolutions, given I'm less than a traditional girl, I choose (with a nod to my love of all things 80's) "devolutions," by definition a descent through successive stages of time. Or for my use, a glance back over the shoulder to revel in what was found, what changed for the better and what's yet to be mastered.
Pei Wei (casual fast) and PF Chang's (casual fancy reheated) are owned by the same chain. True that. You can even get similar if not identical versions of some dishes at both. Choices and options are good. When not in the mood to be powdered and plucked and poured into Spanx for dinner out at the devastatingly good, posh yet hip Firenzea a tavola, I fill my craw and elastic waist leggings at Ernie's Pizza Bar. Both serve a favorite and go-to hot appetizer, strips of dough lightly fried and served with prosciutto and soft spreading salty cheese.
Firenzea calls the dish Cartoccio di Coccoli, $10.
Ernie's serves it up as simply Fried Pizza dough. For $12.
Still I like my new fellow Ernie. He's laid back, loud and raucous when the mood strikes, gets me tipsy and is comfortable like a big leather booth.
Authors note: I'm not a paid representative of chef Sean Kelly or any of his dining establishments. I'm just a wicked huge fan. Read on.
LoHi Steakbar keeps getting better and better. Brussels (plural) sprouts that come with the Sunday meatloaf dinner aren't a bit bitter (how?!) but tiny, sweet, savory and slightly caramelized nuggets. I could eat them from a bucket like popcorn. And the fleshy new cut of sirloin for the Steak Frites holds up to a hot sear and salty crust better than the Flat Iron cut of the past.
Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls? Really more swagger and tongue in cheek (dirty) than substance. Better was the boys Volun-Tiramisu. A Target exclusive; I find it odd to shop for food in the same place as cleaning supplies and home pregnancy tests. Coffee mascarpone ice cream blanketed with cocoa-dusted coffee rum lady finger pieces, it's almost as epic as the Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack concoction; how do they keep the crunch and oily mouth feel of fudge covered potato chip clusters intact?
Kerig isn't coffee. Kerig is beans that have been cremated and loaded into devil pods ready for land fill dumping. Coffee is what drips through filtered water and fresh ground whole beans, with a perfect foamy head like on a pint of Guinness from my Saeco espresso machine. I've had it a few months but still rank a sad amateur in frothing. Asked the young barista at Caribou who whipped soy milk into a creamy cloud (not the bathwater I usually get) how to do it; he gave me a quick lesson but then stopped. "If I show you," he said, "You won't come back and see me."
That was good. All of it was good.
And goodness 2011 went by quickly. Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving. And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour.
So smoke 'em if you got 'em.