Turns out, the farther you move from your 20s, the longer it takes to recover from a vacation hangover. This debilitating condition is brought on by an excess of food, booze, friends, memories, and a lack of sleep and moderation. I ate what normal people – i.e. people without a tape worm – would consider way too much pizza (Californians can do a lot of things well. Making a decent f*ing pizza isn’t one of them), drank too much Dunkin Donuts coffee, wine, beer and margaritas, stumbled gracelessly down Memory Lane and loved every second of it. I’m still digesting (the experience and the food).
Most of you won’t really “get” this post, and that’s quite alright. If any of you grew up in CT in the 80s and 90s though, you might find yourself nodding along with some of it. Particularly if you grew up there then immediately left, with no intention of ever returning, yet find yourself drawn back “home” even though it hasn’t been that (for any extended period of time) in many, many years. If you grew up there and haven’t left, you’re going to say, “what do you mean you can’t get DD, awesome pizza and hard rolls everywhere else on the planet? Are you daft?” If you’ve never been to New England you’re not going to know what the hell I’m talking about, so just look at the pictures.
I have to admit, driving down the main drag of the town I so desperately longed to escape as a teenager but now admit is a pretty amazing place to grow up listening to this didn’t help the pangs of nostalgia:
Between the 90s station and the Grateful Dead station, I pretty much relived high school in about 7 songs. All I needed was a 1983 Toyota hatchback, a stolen pack of Marlboro reds and a cheerleading uniform. I’m pretty relieved none of those were accessible.
Anyway…since this is supposed to be a food blog/random journaling of oddities that strike my fancy and not a psychoanalysis of teen angst or my 35 year old psyche, I’ll move on to the consumption portion of the trip. I didn’t bring my “good” camera, just the iPhone, therefore these photos might actually be decent.
My best friend, Niki, who this trip was really about, no matter how much I try to make it ALL about food, likes lists. A lot. I love this about her because someone has to keep my scattered ass on an agenda. This was on her kitchen wall when I got there. It’s a list of all the places she had to make sure I consumed something.
Note, however, DD coffee had been taken care of on the way from the airport thanks to another amazing friend who is willing to indulge my eccentricities (most of the time, sometimes he just yells at me and tells me I’m out of my goddamn mind. I love him for that too).
I got so bloody excited I took a very artsy photo of my leg in the car. Maybe I should consider getting out more.
Next stop, Pepe’s pizza. If you haven’t been to New Haven to have Pepe’s, well, I’m sorry that you live such an unfulfilled and pathetic life. There’s counseling available for that. If you have, you know this is a justified 2nd stop on the culinary train in southwestern CT. And lucky for me, they’ve opened a second location in Niki’s town, so trekking all the way to New Haven at rush hour wasn’t necessary. Will wonders never cease? Lordy, I hope not.
Not the same as the hour+ wait in the rain required at the New Haven shop, but still worth inhaling like a ravenous wildebeest that’s been on a plane for 6 hours. Or enjoying slowly with a lovely red wine. Your choice.
Plane ride + pizza + wine + time difference = not waking up in time for breakfast. However, plenty of time for a rainy drive through New Canaan and 2 more check marks on the blackboard (I added several additional check boxes to the DD item).
DD + Club Sandwich for a #29 (once upon a time known as the Derek Vanderwalker…the name of #29 on our HS lacrosse team. He was older and hot. So we memorialized that by naming a…sandwich…after him. God DAMN, high schoolers are clever. I’m working on the assumption here that no one who still knows him will ever read this because that would be really embarrassing).
Basic ingredients. But I’ve purchased them and tried to make this at home and it’s JUST NOT THE SAME. You can debate me on that if you want. But you’re wrong.
Next up (4 whole hours later) = more pizza. Colony is like no other pizza I’ve had anywhere (except their original digs in Stamford). This meeting of the minds – old friends, new(er) friends and a most awesomest surprise guest – included great food, way too much beer, several hours worth of playing catch up and one very cold late night walk to 7-11 for coffee. I’m getting too old to have so much fun.
Another culinary concept I’ve learned is foreign outside of New England (or at least hasn’t made it to CA) is the hard roll, the necessary ingredient to make a proper sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. You ask someone in CA for this, they give you toast, with a side of eggs and sausage and it’s $8.00 – they charge extra for their confusion.
The wild card on the Big Board of Consumption was Bodega. An unexpected choice, seeing as I had never heard of it. Niki was so right (as usual). That’s her behind a tall glass of sangria.
The food pics are too dark, but check out the whole menu here, and go there if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood. This was the last night of the CT portion of my trip. Train service threatened my trip to NY in the morning due to the freak SNOW STORM in October, but by 8 AM the tracks were clear and I headed into the City for an entirely different and unexpected memory roller coaster (I lived in Brooklyn my last semester in law school. Let’s just say I spent those 4 months living life with the energy and appreciation of a paroled prisoner (a wrongly convicted one, of course)).
Before I left though, this was the Big Board of Consumption. Look at me all following through and crap.
There was nothing I needed to consume in NY, so I left my fabulous foodie friend Emily in charge of our dining experience. Brunch in Brooklyn at Buttermilk Channel with a starter at Frankie’s. Because that’s what you do in NY when there’s an hour wait. You give them your cell number and go have a drink. Brilliant.
We shopped and played the rest of the day until we ended up at a personal LES favorite, Barrio Chino. With they’re spicy as hell habanero margaritas and menus written on the back of beer cases, these folks would fit right in in SD.
So that, friends, concludes my brief culinary jaunt around my own personal Land of the Lost. This post was about the food, but the truth is, the farther I get from my roots, the more I long for them (my parents live here now, so totally different roots being referenced here, just fyi). I suppose absence might actually make the heart (and taste buds) grow fonder. To those I was lucky enough to catch up with, thank you for taking the time. For those I missed, next time. Hopefully it won’t be 2 years this time. It’s amazing what remembering things long forgotten can mean for the future not yet created.
And to those of you who tolerated this LONG ASS post to get all the way here, I just wanted to take a moment to point out that today is the one year anniversary of my little blog. I can’t believe I’ve kept with it, and more importantly, that a few people actually read it with some regularity. If you fall into that category, I sincerely thank you. I started writing this for myself and for something to do while B was away at school, but knowing others are getting something out of it (even if it’s primarily amusement at my expense) keeps me going. Happy anniversary, LD, I shall bake you something tasty this weekend.