Sunday, 3 April 2011

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Perhaps you have noticed, if you've returned here on more than a couple of occasions. There's a subtle (?) theme to many of my posts. That theme, food and/or drink.

I have traveled a lot. Ireland, Eastern Europe, Spain, the UK, throughout the Western US, Canada, New York, Big Sky Country, the Eastern Seaboard, the Midwest, New England...even Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The single experience that links all those places for me...is dinner. If you name a place I've been, I can probably tell you where I ate and what I ate.

One of my fondest meal memories is from my cycling trip across the top of England in 2000, on the Sea to Sea (or C2C) route. I booked a room at the Crown and Crossed Swords in Consett, primarily because it was reasonable and had its own restaurant. I had a pizza and some cheap red wine. It was not the best pizza ever, except for the fact that I believe the best pizza ever is the one I'm having at the moment. I was the only person in the place...the entire evening. I was beat, and hungry, and in no mood to move quickly. So, I lingered. All this time, a very attractive young lady was manning the cash register area, all the while labouring over some obviously-pressing paperwork. My assumption was she was ordering for the other nights in the week when this place was "jumping." After dessert, and the wine had achieved the affects I desired, I approached to settle up. I told her she looked like she was very busy, despite the fact I was the only custom of the evening. She replied, "Not really. I just wanted to look important." Turns out she was bored beyond description. Had I not been there, she could have closed up and gone home.

I'm fairly certain I run/ride to eat, rather than the other way around. Today, though, I did it a little differently than before.

I was a tad depressed this morning, so I watched a Jamie Oliver cooking show in which he made some apparently scrumptious risottos. He was visiting Venice, and met with the so-called Italian risotto king. My interest in the day on hand was awakened and I decided today would be a risotto day. But I was NOT going to drive to the markets...I was going to ride my bike.

I took off late morning, heading for the organic Farmers Market in Oakland's Jack London Square. My goal here was to acquire asparagus and celery. That was all. After that, I headed north, to Berkeley's Berkeley Bowl West. There are only two grocery stores I enjoy more than this one. One is a massive Tesco's near London's Olympia. The other, the so-called mega-Wegs, in suburban Rochester, New York. BBW is a foodie Disneyland. Here I found the special Carnaroli rice that Jamie says is the ultimate for risotto. I then headed home, with my food stuffs stuffed into the Jandd panniers I haven't used in 8 years...the last time I attempted the End to End ride that's on next year's schedule.

The picture above is from that same ill-fated journey. I had spent a grueling day on my bike, along the stunning but insanely-challenging-for-a-cyclist Cornish coast. As I rolled, slowly, into the town of St. Agnes, in which I had no lodging reservation, I realized I was crazy-hungry, on this Sunday afternoon. The first place I came upon was the Railway Inn. It was here that I was treated to the Sunday meal of my youth. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and three veg. YOU have never been happier than I was at that moment, sitting outside at a picnic table, with everything I ever wanted from life.

I am hoping to reap similar rewards from next year's adventure. Between now and then I am going to train for them...with meals like tonight's. More to come.

Mangia.

Gotta run...gotta ride!

2 comments:

Rachel said...

mmmm risotto sounds wonderful! i'm definitely one of those who runs/rides to eat, too. a life without good food is not a life worth living.

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