As the index of things I’ve sipped and scarfed down (not to mention photographed) grows drastically with every week, I’m starting to appreciate the beauty of The List. The one I’ve created below compiles some of my favorite yearbook-worthy shots of some truly memorable dishes and drinks that I’ve enjoyed over the past couple of months. As summer progresses and new spoonfuls impress me, organized Lists might be just the thing to keep me from becoming overwhelmed, throwing my hands in the air and writing page after page about grilled cheese.
1. Swift’s Attic: the Old Fashioned
I waited a long time to try this drink. I went to Swift’s Attic for brunch not too long ago, but the crazy elaborate Bloody Mary bar (and my general good sense) lured me away from trying the bourbon-centric drink in the middle of the day. So much time passed before I had the chance again that I built the drink up in my head: there was no way it was going to be that good.
For those unfamiliar with the hype, here’s the thing that makes the old fashioned so special at Swift’s: instead of muddling the ingredients (a variation of sugar, orange peel, bitters) at the bottom of the glass, the cocktail gurus at Swift’s freeze all of the ancillary goodies into a spherical ice cube and simply pour a nice bourbon over the top. It’s brilliant. And — I learned just last week — it works.
The first sip is the strongest drink you’ve ever had in your life. The last is the sweetest. What comes in between is a rollercoaster of flavors, which is what makes the drink so much fun. No sip is the same, and when you come to the end you find yourself wishing you could afford the $13 price tag on a second.
2. Perla’s: the entire meal
Perla’s is like the really sexy senior that asks you out as a freshman and then runs off to college. It’s the super nice rental car you get for a weekend in California. It’s a gorgeous bouquet that shows up on your doorstep and then starts to die 2 weeks later.
What I’m getting at here is that Perla’s is far too pricey for a normal person to enjoy on a regular basis. When you do get the chance to experience it, however, it’s so wonderful that you’re OK with the fact that you might not have it again for a while.
Over 4th of July weekend, my boyfriend’s parents treated us to a veritable feast at Perla’s. Calamari, grilled octopus, gazpacho and BBQ shrimp for starters; bouillabaisse, Texas snapper and Mediterranean-prepared barramundi for dinner; lime panna cotta and butterscotch pot de creme for dessert. Every single thing was excellent; we were the happiest table in the place, sharing every bite and laughing at the goodness of it all.
The price tag is steep, but the way to enjoy Perla’s is to either 1) throw caution to the wind and spend most of your paycheck or 2) wait until someone comes into town who likes food just as much as you do and is more OK with splurging for it.
3. Trader Joe’s: Tuscan cantaloupe and prosciutto
I love it when I make something at home for which I’d pay good money at a restaurant. My sisters and I bought this combo over and over again when we were in Italy, and somehow Trader Joe’s has come as close as possible to recreating that experience for me. The Tuscan cantaloupes they have right now are insanely ripe; their prosciutto is really damn good for the price.
4. Licha’s Cantina: La Mula
Licha’s really kills it with happy hour. They have a whole menu of drinks and dishes for $5 a pop that runs from 4 to 7 p.m., much longer than your average HH. Though just about every cocktail on the menu is lip-smackingly good, my personal favorite was La Mula, the smoky stepsister to the Moscow Mule. Made with mezcal instead of vodka and garnished with spicy papaya, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever sipped on — in a very, very good way.
5. Hillside Farmacy: the malt vinegar fries
These fries! I went to Hillside for a date with their delicious oysters and ended up falling HARD for the side dish. Malt vinegar is kind of like a drug to me. That salty sweet thing is incredibly addicting, and these fries are so fresh and hot you just kind of want to eat them forever. Go on a Monday, get them with half-price oysters and $5 cava and thank me in the morning.
See my previous posts for two more excellent spoonfuls of late: