Food adventures with the Kid and I

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 01:05 AM

Did you ever consider two very different people, say, Clint Eastwood and Justin Bieber, and marvel that they are from the same species?

Well, in one 24-hour period, we had two meals that were so different, it was hard to believe they were both in the food family.

On Tuesday we were in Elizabeth City, visiting friends and family before The Kid takes off for an internship in California.

We met my two best girlfriends, Bo and Kat, for dinner.  I ordered the chicken fried steak.  It would not have been out of place in an elementary school cafeteria.  The meat was factory fresh.  The mashed potatoes were instant, and the string beans were canned with absolutely no seasoning.

The best thing I can say is that it was cheap. 

On Wednesday, Chef Jason Cunningham had a luncheon at the Washington Duke to introduce his new summer menu. 

They kindly invited my child to attend as well.  We sat with the GM, Randy Kolls, Ed Ibarguen; the GM and PGA master professional of the golf club, and my very favorite person at WaDuke, Jim Bressler; director of sales and marketing.  

We had a blast at our table.  Everyone was very sweet and welcoming to The Kid.  We laughed as much as we ate.   And buddy roe, did we eat.

We had a gazpacho that tasted like we were sitting in the middle of a garden, munching on sun-warmed veggies, which was served with a miniature grilled cheese. There was a red snapper, that I, fillet-o-fish girl, thought was pretty yummy.  One course included an interesting beet dish; sitting on a red beet was a bracelet formed from a golden beet, and filled with Goat Lady chevre.  I inhaled every bite.

Then came dessert:  Cheer Wine syrup on an ancho chile chocolate cake with mousse; a Lilliputian blackberry short cake; and the biggest crowd pleaser, a wee pistachio purse with orange blossom ice cream, and pistachio cream.

The comparison between E City's grub and lunch in Durham was from the ridiculous to the sublime.

After lunch, Chef Jason whisked The Kid away for an hour-long behind the scenes tour.  From hot line to the Terrace on the Green, no food-related stone was left unturned.

I just love seeing my silly, irreverent offspring interacting with kitchen folk.  Three years of classic culinary education has left The Kid with an almost military sense of protocol and decorum.  “Yes chef, no chef, three bags full, chef”.  It’s adorable, and admirable.

The next day we headed toward Cary for eats (I have to admit, Cary makes me a little nervous — compared to Durham, it’s a bit Stepford wives for my Bull City tastes).  Supper was at Sonic (109 Jones Franklin Rd).  Although our server was in sneakers, not roller skates, the cheese tots were as fantastic as they were in high school, when I stuffed my Dodge Dart Swinger with 8 or 10 people, and we gorged on pink lemonade and frito chile pie. 

Then came Kilwin’s (2004 Boulderstone Way).  It’s a candy store that sells ice cream.  They have my very favorite flavor — blue moon.  I’ve loved it since childhood, and still call it by its (to me) proper name—blue bubblegum.  It’s so rare and hard to find that The Kid has never actually tasted it.  So I introduced it to the newbie. 

It was enjoyed, but what really thrilled my child was they had superman ice cream — The Kid’s tie-dye hued childhood fave.

Friday we drove to the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.  We adore executive chef James Clark, and our little scholar wanted to see him before departure.  He generously packed up some of his magical Bohicket grits for the trip west.  The bartender there, Gabriel is the sweetest man, and from Puerto Rico.  He brought me some fresh, homemade sofrito, a Caribbean flavor base.  Normally, I use it from a jar.  It’s going into a big pot of rice and beans I’m making for The Kid’s last Durham supper.

I’m so grateful this week was such fun.  Because when my partner in culinary crime goes west, I shall be bereft.

Poor Petey.  For a while, he's gonna be bunking with Debbie Downer.

Thanks for your time.