Spice my brunch up

Not having the ability to go into the future and show you the food I am making for brunch tomorrow, I instead offer you the view from where tomorrow's pre-brunch 5K will be. Hey -- Minneapolis. I love you.

Tomorrow I’m going to HeartBeat 5000, a 5K benefiting Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. I’ll be under the registration tent as a volunteer, not under the sun as someone who would willingly run three miles. I’m volunteering with a group of friends, and afterward they’re all coming over for brunch. While I am opposed to the cutesy joining of two words to form a new word (guesstimate!), I support the juxtaposition of classy dishes alongside normally-not-classy drinking-before-noon. They cancel each other out in a way that society has deemed appropriate. It’s best not to question it.

I’ve set a spicy theme for the brunch. I’m also opposed to themed meals. But, as established in the previous paragraph, brunch defies logic.

But wait, you say. Get back to this spicy theme. OK, I say. Let’s examine the menu:

  • huevos rancheros – spicy black beans with salsa and sour cream atop a crispy tortilla! (I demand more reasons to use the word “atop”)
  • spicy cheddar hashbrowns – made from scratch!
  • pepper jelly pastries – puff pastries filled with pepper jelly (duh) and cream cheese!
  • Bloody Mary bar – with horseradish vodka and tomato vodka!

Here’s a secret, though. Don’t tell anyone. I have a few things on the menu that are not spicy, as I enjoy overplanning:

  • watermelon granita – a delicious blend of watermelon, lemon juice, sugar and vodka!
  • champagne granita – champagne thrown in the ice cream maker!
  • yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and agave nectar – to make sure there is enough for everyone!

So. Help me. Let’s just say yogurt, champagne and watermelon do not require spice. We’ll break theme. Don’t tell whoever keeps track of brunch themes. (Wait. Is it me?)

What other spicy dishes or drinks would you serve for brunch? Say things. I’m lonely. And I have to make this stuff tonight.

I ate. I laughed. I cried. Then, later on, I ate more.

Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza and Sam Adams

If you're going to spend your loved one's birthday alone in a hotel room in another city, make sure beer and deep-dish pizza can be delivered to your room.

Oh, hello!

It’s me again. Cavan. I’m the guy in every blog. Surely you remember me.

When I travel, I focus on food. Golden Gate Bridge. Gorgeous. Alcatraz. OK. But what do I get to eat before, during and after those things? I appreciate all the wonderful aspects of traveling. I just want to appreciate them while eating.

With that, more on my recent trips to San Francisco and Chicago:

Because I won’t pretend I am a sommelier but am in expert in “Hey! This food tastes good!” I am no stranger to wine tastings. I did not, however, know olive oil tastings existed. So while wandering through Sonoma, I was thrilled we made a stop at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and The Olive Press. I was also thrilled when an employee explained that while we could dip bread in each olive oil, we were also welcome to just drink each one as well. It was incredible. There was an unexpected range of tastes in the unflavored olive oils. Then we spent a healthy amount of time getting to know the fruit vinegars and flavored olive oils, and olive oil ice cream. We joined the Jacuzzi wine club and recently got our first shipment. But I’m also having a ball trying tomato vinegar on cheese, in Mexican dishes and with eggs.

Lucky Creation

Staring at the fish-shaped item for vegetarians to confirm it is not fish-shaped fish for fish-eaters.

Like shooting starchy root vegetables in a barrel: As you saw before, we tried a fish-shaped item for vegetarians at a really great find in Chinatown called Lucky Creation. It was made from taro root and, while I’m not honestly sure what fish tastes like, seemed to have the texture spot on. We also tried a gluten sampler, with what I think were takes on sweet and sour pork, sesame chicken and … well, three other types of gluten. The point is, it was delicious enough that we didn’t mind sharing a table with two other groups and squeezing by the staff in their claustrophobia-inducing kitchen to reach the restroom. Any place that can take a pretentious bastard like me, shove me at a table with two other groups, force me to battle claustrophia as I squeeze my way through the narrow kitchen and into the restroom and still have me grinning the entire time because they offer a whole new world of vegetarian options is good in my book. Or my blog, rather. I haven’t written a book. I didn’t want you rushing to Amazon to buy it. Stay here.

Salty! I looked forward to visiting Millennium for my 30th birthday so much that I memorized parts of the menu and couldn’t wait to discuss multiple dishes with our server, only to be passed from a hostess to a bartender to a general manager to a server during the course of our meal and having such terrible service that I was heartbroken. My much anticipated conversations about the seasonal menu and local ingredients were reduced to, “Yeah, well, just order both.” On the bright side, now I know where to go next time I want to taste my own tears.

Scott's Bachelor Chow

While I dined on gourmet tacos in Chicago, Scott was back home preparing his version of Bachelor Chow -- nachos (plural).

What taco dreams are made of: While in Chicago, I was able to try Big Star with my friend Leah, who writes Eating With Integrity. Initially, we were told we were on page three of the list and likely wouldn’t get a table at all. The hostess then quickly decided she liked us, led us inside, told two people they’d better move on for the evening, and we got a few seats. Our newfound friend didn’t explain her change of heart, but I’m guessing it’s because Leah is adorably pregnant, and it’s never wise to stand between adorably pregnant women and their $3 gourmet tacos. You know what this means: If you go to Big Star, you have to bring Leah. If you bring some other pregnant friend and don’t get a seat right away, then you know your friend is not adorable and likely won’t make good dinner company anyhow. The highlight of the food: roasted peanuts in long bean tacos! I have never heard of such things. I must have more.

Those were my food adventures. They kept me, and, subsequently, you, from my kitchen. But we’ll get back to it soon, friends. I swear on my tomato vinegar.