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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brunch With My Beau

It's Fall. The leaves are crunchy. The sky is a brilliant blue. The sun is warm, the breeze is crisp. I could go on. Justin and I did something a couple weeks ago that we have looked forward to for, oh, about a year. We went to brunch. Not just any brunch, mind you. Our favorite, perfect Woodberry Kitchen.

I know it's not actually perfect. No place is. It has been, however, featured in Gourmet magazine (when they were still around) and Bon Apetit and it has plenty of other accolades. Woodberry Kitchen has excellent food, a beautiful atmosphere, and impeccable service. The waitstaff have an easy, carefree manner. The men wear plaid shirts and the women wear skirts and aprons, usually with a calico print. They are extremely knowledgeable about the menu and know where the food comes from. They look you straight in the eye every time, smile sincerely, and make you feel like you are their only table. Your water is filled frequently. The waitstaff does not hover but does not hide either. No detail is forgotten: mini jars for condiments, little cream jars, cloth napkins that are actually absorbent, a dainty spoon to stir your latte. In addition to the incredible food, it is the whole experience of dining at Woodberry Kitchen that makes such a fun date. Granted, you pay for this experience. But for us to go once or twice a year it is worth every penny.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Maple Walnut Sundae

Do you know that I never had a taste of real maple syrup until I was in college? It's true. I went almost twenty years pouring the fake stuff over my just-add-water pancakes (yeah, my food renaissance didn't happen until a few years later).

I went to school in western New York, in one of the most beautiful areas you can imagine come autumn, or spring, or summer (winter depends on your cold weather preferences). A friend who grew up in that area took me to a pancake house that was a very rustic, podunk, men in red plaid flannel kind of place. With stacks of buttery pancakes and real maple syrup. That I didn't like. Can you believe it? The first time I tried real maple syrup, I thought it was too thin. Now I realize that I prefer Grade B, which is a little thicker, as opposed to Grade A, which tends to be runnier. The thought of going back to the gooey fake syrup turns my stomach.

This past summer we went to Vermont and had a wonderful time. Justin and I had a chance to go on a long bike ride in the beautiful green hills (on which he got three flat tires -- but that is a story for another time). The bike ride took much longer than expected (thanks to the flats), and we were kind of ready to just get back, but we passed a hand painted sign advertising "Maple Syrup Here." Of course we had to stop. The man sold it out of his garage, with a few shelves of syrup and maple sugar candies in a small refrigerator. We bought both. We broke out the syrup a few weeks ago, at the first hint of fall, and poured it over waffles with ginger-y peaches.