It Was Worth It
In case you were wondering, 10 days in the South for the holidays will result in approximately a 5% weight gain. That's right. 0.5% per day. About 200 days and I could double myself. Incredible.
But, as the title states, it was worth it. I can honestly say that I have never had 10 consecutive similarly culinarily amazing days in a row, including stints living in France and in Italy (no doubt because I was never hosted by in-laws there...).
December 23rd, we arrived late, assuming we'd make due with the snack boxes, only to be taken out to delicious French food where I had a light 4 course dinner. The trend continued throughout the trip.
December 24th, we started to enjoy what will henceforth be known for eternity as "the bacon christmas." Bacon sandwiches for lunch. Baked okra with bacon for dinner, on the side of beef tenderloin and green beans with bacon, of course.
Christmas breakfast? Grits fried in butter (DELICIOUS!), bacon, scrambled eggs, homemade bread and homemade blackberry preserves. Not that different from my childhood, except I'd never experienced fried grits before and was uneducated in the manner in which they can a) expand in your stomach; and b) turn you into an addict.
Christmas dinner? Tur-duck-en and all the fix'ns (including bacon brussel sprouts stuffing) with 3 other families. Bigger and more dressed up than what I'm used to. More hand-shaking and polite table talk. But, in general, almost the same as home and the food...Mmmmmm.
Midnight Christmas snack? That one generally takes the form of the best leftovers available and this year was no different. So E and I enjoyed midnight fried grits, bacon (duh!), and beer while watching For Your Eyes Only. Double-O-7-days of Christmas is one of my favorite things about Christmas in the South. I have no idea if its available nationwide, but I'd never experienced it 'til I came to visit, so I associate it with this part of the Country.
The day after Christmas we ate brunch with friends at a delicious, (but much too cool for the likes of us) cafe, then, we went out for another 4 course meal. This one was surpisingly expensive (one of the great things about leaving our hometown for other towns in the US is the lower cost of living just about everywhere other than NYC. Turns out, the expense came from the California wine). Apparently, we're spoiled here. Either, people in the South don't think much of paying $17/glass for what I consider a reasonably priced mid-level California Pinot, or, we should have asked how much the house pinot was before we ordered it. 3 glasses later, we we surprised at the $50 increase in the bill.
The next day, after a lunch of with E's parents at piebar pizza, which isn't exactly light, we met up with E's family for a delicious, but overly-big-portioned meal at newly-opened place-to-be-seen Trois. We all agreed the food was amazing, just too much. Note, E wasn't a huge fan of the super-cool ambiance. I really liked it. I suspect we may differ due to the complimentary pink sparkling wine upon seating -- not really E's thing.
So, there we were, December 28th, both of us visibly fatter in just 5 days, me, despite my continuing marathon training. Believe it or not, we had no food plans for the 28th. So, we did what any self-respecting Southerner who's left town and finds themself back in their old stomping grounds would do--we had an impromptu lunch of authentic pulled pork barbeque with the requisite fried sides and then a few hours later, we had dinner of all the holiday leftovers at E's parents. Mind you, I indulged in two desserts that night: sticky toffee pudding with sauce, AND bourbon ice cream. Seriously, how could you not love this place?
December 29th, we had a lunch that escapes my memory, but I can guarantee there was lard. And, for dinner, we had the best meal, food-wise (and the company was great as well -- E's best man and his wife), that E and I enjoyed in 2006. Bacchanalia. I can not rave enough about this meal. Amazing flavor, texture and wine combinations. Great service. Wonderful cheese tray. Innovative between-course (I refrained from saying inter-course, aren't you proud?) palate cleansers. Perfect portion sizes (except the extra oysters they gave me because we were one of the last seatings, wahhhh...). Excellent wine paring. I am interested to see how the whole experience compares to French Laundry, which E and I have reservations to enjoy in a few weeks (yeah, it's gonna be all celery and water 'til then if I want my clothes to fit...)
Anyways, I think you get the idea. It was gluttonous caloric mayhem. Rest assured there were more meals of pork, (most including bacon), beef, fried, and, of course, the required visits to both Chick-Fil-A and Waffle House. E always complains that no one in California knows how to make proper hash browns, green beans, okra, etc. I'm thinking that's not a bad thing. Perhaps proper hash browns and the like should be a vacation only activity...
Regardless, I can't recommend it enough. I feel so full with happiness. Nurtured. Loved. The only drawback was how much more difficult my long run was today...