Sunday, September 05, 2010

Tastes Like Summer

Town Talk Diner
2701 1/2 E. Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406

For most of us, pumpkin is the taste of November. In these times of canned pumpkin there's no reason why we can't enjoy a nice pumpkin pie any month of the year. But we don't. Maybe we get our fill in November, when even the yogurt and coffee shop muffins turn briefly pumpkin-pie-flavored, or maybe we're just trying to match rusty orange food with the rusty orange leaves of fall. Whatever the reason, long before it became fashionable to eat seasonally appropriate foods, pumpkin stood out as a food we just naturally eat when it's locally ready for us to eat it. I can't think of too many things that speak to the season as well as pumpkin does.

Recently, at the Town Talk, I had a meal that tasted like a plate full of summer. We've reviewed the Town Talk before, and I've corrected the record just so I could rave about their steak and eggs, so I was shocked when Perley admitted that he'd never even been to the Town Talk. It is a bit of a haul from Uptown though all of Lake Street's poorly-timed stop lights, but still, I'm always amazed when any member of our club has not been to what I consider one of the stand-bys of the Minneapolis breakfast scene. And so, when Perley called a meeting of the Club, and a small contingent of us answered the call (Beau was Studying for Boards, Jimmy wasn't answering his phone, Judy was on call), I insisted we rectify the situation.

The problem was that even though Perley called the meeting early enough, I had already eaten breakfast. I love the steak and eggs and all, but I balked at having steak and eggs for second breakfast. You don't go out to breakfast as often as I do without eventually learning that overeating first thing in the morning can ruin your day. And so I faced a dilemma, what could I order without weighing myself down and destroying any chance of having a productive afternoon?

I settled on a salad. I know. This is exactly what I'm always mocking Judy about. How can you adequately review a breakfast when all you eat is twigs, berries and leaves?

At least it was a smoked salmon salad. And smoked salmon is a breakfast food. It's even a breakfast food that I have often sworn never, ever to eat again. (Come on. If I followed through on not-doing all of the many, many things I swore never, ever to do again, where would I be? Alone, hungry, and bored, that's where.)

So, anyway, the smoked salmon salad at the Town Talk comes with sliced fennel bulb (which is the part of the fennel plant that only carries a whisper of the liquorice flavor that permeates its seeds), fresh strawberries, and feta cheese. One bite and I knew I was glad to have failed to swear off smoked salmon forever.

I can't speak to Perley's biscuits and gravy or Sarah's hamburger, because we've all gotten rusty on the idea of grading our breakfasts before we leave the restaurant, but I can say that I'm glad I had a second breakfast that morning, and I'm glad I was sensible enough to stay in the salad section of the menu, because that's where summer was hanging out that that morning. I give it a B+, because the strawberries could have been more perfect, but the combination of flavors could not have been better.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TCBCB Refresh

Oh, it's been a long time since we've been here to see you, Internet. The cast of characters has changed a bit. The old standbys have been stood up. We got busy. We stopped eating out most weekends. We began to feel like we'd reviewed everything in town (nay, the whole world). One commenter called me a snob (true, true), and Beau, the heart and soul of TCBCB started Studying for his Boards.

I can't really explain how all-consuming Studying for Boards is in this family. We grew up with Judy as a role model, which meant that the words "Studying for Boards" have to be written in capital letters. After all, this is a full time occupation. For Judy, it meant burrowing into her bed, surrounding herself with books and papers, closing the door (in a family that never closed doors!), and muttering to herself about journal articles while she picked bits of skin off her lower lip with the nails of her thumb and forefinger. ("Stop picking at yourself," said Jimmy when I was a kid. "You'll make yourself bleed. Just like your mother.") Beau brought a book about DNA to a recent family reunion, setting himself up in a lounge chair, and interrupting his reading only briefly to chat up his cousins and dip in the lake. There was no physical door on the beach of that lake, but it was closed just the same. It had to be. He was not to be disturbed. He was Studying for Boards.

But the rest of us don't have boards, and we were recognized in a restaurant recently (which -- since the secret plan of this little family blog has always been to take over the world -- seemed like a promising start to world domination). So, we have decided to begin again. Restaurants that we've been to before, we will go to again. Our team of picky eaters and "snobs" will again put pen to paper, to write about hash browns and three eggs with steak and hamburgers before noon. Well, OK, there never have been pens or paper, but you know what I mean...

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for the spam emails - and the non-spam very nice ones that made us want to write again. Today, as the not-too-hot late August sun shines outside the window, anything seems possible. We might just post once a month in the last quarter of 2010.