Living to Eat

During our first lonely weeks in Albuquerque, sweet friends of ours sent us this most fabulous book: Chicago Chef’s Table by Amelia Levin.

chef's table

It was truly thoughtful since our friends knew how much we gluttons loved Chi-town’s restaurants. (Thanks, Grace & Brant!) It features various restaurants, executive chefs, and recipes along with other snippets about the culinary scene in the Windy City. With a fellow Chicagoan visiting us this past weekend, we finally ventured to try one of the recipes. We decided on the Lobster Rolls from Sixteen (inside the Trump Tower).

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Sixteen may have the largest plate budget in the city, but we Becketts could only afford a fraction of the lobster meat. As a result, our main ingredient had too much mayo relative to lobster. At least now our kids may still go to college some day since we did not cash in their educational savings accounts for the full calling of expensive seafood. Why not continue the spree and buy some white truffle oil so we can make truffle fries as an appropriate side? Our dearest Sora was our special guest, and we felt splurging appropriate for our last supper with her yesterday evening.

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Although our foodie wannabe taste buds miss the abundance of Chicago’s food offerings, they have found some happiness with local finds in the Land of Enchantment. Yes, it is painfully true that Albuquerque Magazine’s “Best of the City” issue listed Red Lobster and Olive Garden as one of four alternates in their respective categories (Best Seafood and Best Italian). Believe it or not, Ripley. Food snobs may groan at this (I admit I definitely did), but truth be told, Mike thinks one of the best lobster tails he has had hailed from the cheddar biscuit haven. Believe it or not. (Not?)

Even though we have a hard time discovering truly innovative kitchens here, Mike and I did enjoy our last lunch date at Artichoke Cafe whose French Onion soup perfectly hit the spot. And this morning I revisited The Grove Cafe & Market for brunch before dropping Sora off at the airport. I had taken my parents there also for a pre-flight brunch, and both times I and my guests fully enjoyed our delicious eats.

We were wanting to try the one jibarito place we knew of here this weekend but found out it was closed on Sunday. Our friend, brother and fellow Chicagoan-now-Albuquerquean offered to make them for us himself. Flaco has blessed our mouths with homemade, savory Puerto Rican fare including pernil, octopus salad, and the beloved jibaritos we had missed. When you cannot find it, cook it!

The kids continue their weekly cooking routine as well. Last week we used recipes from one of Ethan’s cooking classes at The Kids’ Table in Chicago: cheesy broccoli calzones and minestrone soup. They took turns doing different tasks. Connor got to use the chopper to dice celery and carrots.

IMG_2404At first it was Connor’s task to do all soup duties including mashing the tomatoes since Ethan got to carry out his choice of making the calzone dough and filling. Fortunately, his little brother was feeling charitable and allowed Ethan to have a little Roma mashing time. Prior to this generous act, Ethan thought the world was ending. He actually said that it was “the worst day of my life(!!!!)” when he thought he would be robbed of the chance. I instinctively began a lecture on how 99% of the world’s kids would just be happy they could eat the darn tomatoes rather than have suicidal ideation after having to endure the injustice of NOT mashing them. Sigh. Proof his day got better:

IMG_2406As I thought about Ethan’s very real yet very short-sighted feelings during cooking, I wondered how to broaden his little mind and extend his sight beyond his insulated little world. At the same time, I realized that I am also very short-sighted in so much of my life. Crying over a lack of innovative cuisine and turning my nose up at unlimited breadsticks is not much different than whining over tomato-mashing duties. We live in a bubble. I am fully aware of this big, fat bubble all the time. How do I pop it? For myself and my kids? And do I really want to? I like it while I simultaneously loathe it. Thoughts to ponder while I pour the last of the Malbec into my bubble-shaped glass and research restaurants for this Friday’s lunch date with my valentine. WHAT?! Mike already drank the last of the Malbec. This is the worst day of my life!!!! 🙂

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