The mysterious deliciousness of the Shamrock Shake has arrived. Although I sadly fall for other McD’s options, I’ve never tried one of these. I’d rather be drinking a Grasshopper and eating at a local restaurant so they have yet to rope me in with this suspiciously- colored beverage. Instead, let’s me lay these five items on you that you need to try before succumbing to the slimy green minty beverage of this fast-food giant.
#1. Tomato Soup at the Early Bird Café– Stopping at The Early Bird last week for a last minute lunch, I decided on the safe chance of the tomato soup. Expecting the same “tomato soup” you find at mostly every other establishment to be laid in front of me, I received a creamy bowl of tomato soup made from a family recipe Brooke Fitzgerald, the owner, received from her mother. It looked slightly peppered and seasoned, but when I dug my spoon in, I found the bottom was filled with diced onions and stewed tomatoes. And what I tasted was even better. A delicious stock of that tasty cream-based soup you know is not good for your thighs, mixed with the vegetable-based soup that never has a ton of flavor; this union produced a tasty lovechild of chunky tomato soup. The only disappointing thing about this soup is not knowing when it will re-appear on the menu. Brooke rotates soups and sandwiches on a daily basis, offering her customers something new and different every day. So while I don’t know when this month the soup will be served again, I like a challenge, and I enjoy the serendipitous moment when I drop my homemade lunch on the floor just as I look up to see a FB post that they are serving my (newly) favorite tomato soup.
#2. The Tres Leches Cake at El Super Burrito/Lupita’s Bakery. Pastel de tres leches has never been my favorite but when we lucked out with a hand-delivered plastic case of it in our office one day, this little treat started to change my mind. I tested it out later that week on an aunt visiting from Chicago, who frequents every hole-in-the-wall eatery she can find in the big city. We showed up at El Super Burrito to snag the last three pieces on a Friday night, a steal at $1.00 a piece. The cake is saturated with a sweet, milky recipe of three milks and topped with a not- quite- frosting whipped cream with a chocolate swirl. A great counterpart to end any salty Mexican meal.
#3. The Zeppelins Diet– Through trial-and-error in many visits to Zeppelins, I’ve managed to tailor their menu to two items that never disappoint. And thus, The Zeppelin’s Diet was created. Regardless of the amount of visits (per week) that may occur, this is my tried and true plan. Parmesan Fries and The Moneytree. At first glance, this may seem like a boring choice, but when see that they did something a little different with your basic fry, you’ll start to convert. Crispy fries topped with parmesan cheese, olive oil and the kicker, basil, arrives at your table in a cone. The smoked onion ranch dipping sauce that accompanies these fries is the real secret. Created with ingredients that I suspect may be illegal, this dipping sauce paired with the basil creates the foundation for my diet. The Moneytree, concocted with St. Germaine Elderflower liquer, Tanqueray and simple syrup is the right amount of lightness, fragrance, and fancy to balance the fried-ness and completes the ying of my yang of the Zeppelins diet.
#4. SixFeet Under Lounge– I’ve seen the flatbreads ordered, and the table side Casear prepared. I’ve heard the burgers are great, and the steaks are even better. But at the Six Feet Under Lounge, I go for the Linguine with Scallops in the diablo sauce. The pasta is cooked perfectly, and accompanying scallops have a buttery sear. But the real key to this dish is the diablo sauce. With a creamy tomato base, this sauce packs some heat but doesn’t drown out the scallops. And if you are there on the right night, you can enjoy live, local music with your meal. But as I write this, I hate to say that I can’t find this item on their menu any longer. The bread pudding, and a new discovery (add this to the list) “Bacon and Egg” that contains confit of pork belly, bacon powder and soy truffle caramel to name of few of its’ enticing ingredients, are still on the menu so not all hope is lost.
#5. Whenever I order off the Zins dessert menu, I know I’ll be in for a treat. But when I ordered the Cap n’ Crunch Fried Ice Cream, I was even more surprised. I received your traditional fried ice cream speckled with accompanying bright red and blue crunch berries, and a berry compote with chocolate sauce. It was an early birthday lunch, and I couldn’t imagine anything more celebratory. While it may have been missing whipped cream and honey, the fresh berry compote of local berries and swirl of chocolate was the perfect match. I always like what I receive from the dessert menu here because while there is an adventure and risk taken in every dish, the risk always pays off. Apple Fritter donuts, the Gooey Louie, and the no-fail Chocolate Bread Pudding, my list here goes on.