Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RVCC (Red Velvet Cheesecake)

The Cheesecake Factory – Boston, MA

     So the Rattlesnake on Boylston sounds a little pricey, but he knows I want bread and he knows where to get it. We stiffly shuffled through downtown Boston after closing up City Sports for the night and bust into The Cheesecake Factory. I’ve been before, but only once in Chicago and we sat outside. This was a new experience. Looking back, I seem to recall everything being gold and shiny. Is that accurate? The place must have left a righteous impression on my mind. The menu was literally 18 pages long I believe. 18. How in the world are you to accomplish such a feat with such an empty stomach? It’s exciting to be presented with so many options; yet choosing what you want is just as much a daunting task. Now, I’m looking for healthy options considering CRASH B’s was now less than a week away. The Navajo sandwich.  Warm fry bread stuffed with grilled chicken, avocado, tomato, lettuce, red onion, and mayonnaise. I had never had fry bread but I had heard about in “Losing it with Jillian” when Jillian Michaels (super crazy fitness instructor) visited a Native American family who was having serious issues with weight primarily because of the fried foods they were eating (namely the fry bread). With a weigh-in looming less than a week away, I pushed that thought aside and justified my selection with the fact that it was mainly protein and vegetables.

     Before the sandwich was delivered we were served the bread. Another tough choice. Do I decide what I want to eat first so we can order and it will get here sooner, OR do I dive into the bread. After minor convincing, I went for the bread. Literally. Went for it. Punched the basket clear off the table onto the floor. Luckily, I know Patrick isn’t the type to waste food… and we’re impatient. So we picked up both loaves, I wipe the tears from my eyes, and we eat them anyway… and then order more. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Two loaves. One French baguette type bread and one darker and sweeter bread. I’m not sure what the latter was, but that was my favorite. I’m thinking it was honey that make it sweet. Slather that thing with some butter… mmm! Plus the butter wasn’t super cold like it often is when it’s served at restaurants. Major bonus.

     Finally, my sandwich arrived. The thing had to be twice the size of my stomach. It was huge. I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to eat all of this.” It’s such a waste of time telling myself things like that because it’s never true. Ever. I dive in. The chicken is prime. Juicy with a few grill marks. Key ingredient… the avocado. Brings in a smooth texture to the whole mix. But then again, any onion other than a red onion would have made this sandwich completely different. The fry bread was amazing. Exactly what I expected. Lightly fried, warm, a little crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Cover that baby with cinnamon sugar (or peanut butter) and bring it back to me for dessert. No. We were at the cheesecake factory. There was no question about what was for dessert.

     Red Velvet Cheesecake. RVCC for short. Alternating layers of red velvet cake, cheesecake, red velvet cake, cheesecake. The top and outer edge boasted a sweet cream cheese frosting with white chocolate shavings. A prized commodity. The blend and balance between the cake and cheesecake was perfect. Dense cheesecake vs the light, fluffy cake. Heavenly.

Blue Shirt Café – Somerville, MA

     Finally! Finally I was going to allow myself to be immersed in Davis Square cuisine. I swear, at least one of my coworkers goes to Blue Shirt Café everyday and their food always smells amazing. SO, the Thursday before CRASH B’s, ie three days before I need to weigh in, Kena and I decide we want to get lunch. After perusing Blue Shirt’s menu online, it looks as though this would be a wise choice for me. No burgers or fries would go bounding by our table. I felt safe. I knew what I wanted before we got there. Well, what I wanted was their peanut butter smoothie… but 5000 calories and 25 pounds later, I knew that might not be a great idea (exaggeration). So I opted for “The Davis Square” sandwich. Nestled in between two slices of sourdough bread sat a decent three quarter inch thick chunk of solid chicken breast, plentiful fresh spinach, and huge tomato slices, and a sun-dried tomato spread. In general, I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of sun dried tomatoes. Well, at least that one sample I had at Costco eons ago kind of turned me off. Anyhow, they built up the sandwich and put it onto a Panini press, perfectly grilling both slices of bread to a deliciously toasted brown. The heat from the press just barely wilted the spinach and warmed the tomatoes. Do you ever notice how in some dishes there is just one ingredient that seems to pull everything together? One ingredient that would completely change how the dish tastes? For me, it’s the mayo in a BLT. In this case, it was that glorious sun dried tomato spread. I’m not sure what else was in the spread (perhaps mayo), but it was amazing. The way the spread warmed up and mixed with the juices of the fresh tomato and spinach was just miraculous. The warm chicken + fresh vegetable + the spread + the toasted bread… MMM. 1+1+1+1=10. It was such a perfect symphony of flavors. Next mission… peanut butter smoothie.

UBurger - Boston, MA 

     Every time people walk by the register at City Sports with a bag of UBurger goodies I drool. Not kidding. And the smell lingers for what feels like hours. I've been holding off for so long. Waiting for some occurance that warranted satisfying that craving. CRASH B's reward #1: Burger and fries (except for the reward #0.5 which was the 2 boxes of girl scout cookies I bought right outside the arena. Good strategy girls. Genius). After my race, Karl and I headed over. Again, overwhelmed. I seem to be more easily overwhelmed with food options than I used to be. Everything just sounds so good. After a few minutes I could tell the lady taking my order

wanted me to hurry up and she just started asking me which toppings sounded good to me and she helped me build my own. I felt like a kid that always needed her mom to cut up her chicken for her (I was not that kid in real life). Either way, I got a plain old boyguh, with pepperjack cheese, tomatoes, grilled onions, lettuce and grilled peppers. There may have been more. They may have been less. I don't remember... but hey... I just raced a 2k. It's acceptable to be delusional. I feel like we waited an eternity for the burgers but I'm sure it was only a few minutes. Thank goodness I had the girlscout cookies or I might have wasted away to nothing. The burger was great. Not the best I've ever had, but it was juicy and exactly what I had been wanting. A huge meat wad. Nothing crazy. The fries were even better than the one cold fry I nabbed from someone's abandoned lunch one day in the City Sports break room. They were hot, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, but also skinny. Every now and then skinny fries are good. Like biting into a stack of pretzel sticks. Just feels good. Had to leave my mark on the building. 

Tavern in the Square – Central Square, Cambridge, MA

     Went to meet up for some post CRASH B’s (see left image) celebrations. Not intending to eat there, I demolished some serious girl scout cookies, a bag of pita chips and practically an entire jar of peanut butter before I left. Then again, I know in the back of my mind, I’ll probably eat something anyway. Two baskets of mediocre microwaved rolls later, I see that Chris ordered buffalo chicken nachos for $11 and is willing to share. Largest plate of nachos I may have ever seen. It was gargantuan. One huge mound of chips, sweet corn, shredded carrots, fried buffalo chicken chunks, Wisconsin’s entire supply of melted cheddar and blue cheese, and a larger than life dollop of sour cream. A) I’ve never had shredded carrots in nachos, but it makes so much sense. Just like when you order buffalo wings, you always get carrots. B) Sweet corn? Why haven’t I ever thought of that? It was a winning combination. Every part of it. Grab a chip, make sure it has cheese, chicken, corn, carrot and a little sour cream… it’s like walking through a haunted mansion. Risky. Spicy. Unlocking secret doorways along the way. Different flavors with each bite. Even as the nachos got cold, they were still delicious. I was grateful.

The Upper Crust – Boston, MA

     Months ago I had a pizza craving and Groupon knew it. They offered a $10 for $20 Groupon for The Upper Crust where I spend $10 but get $20 worth of food. However, it still took me months to use the dang thing. I waited until the day before it expired. Close one. Poor Patrick was still debit card-less, so one evening post-workout we met at The Upper Crust. There were soooo many options. All we knew was that meat was for dinner. “The State House: Created for the meat lover, a combination of hamburger, pepperoni and Italian sausage.” Did it have any veggies on it? Didn’t know. Didn’t care. Might as well have been our obituary because we ate the whole thing. The whole “18 inch” large. I absolutely refuse to believe that thing was only 18 inches. Look at the picture. It’s twice as wide as me. Anyway, the crust was thin, but not soaked through with sauce like one may expect. The hamburger? Crazy. Never have I ever had hamburger on a pizza. It was delicious and interesting. Yes, interesting. The Italian sausage was full of flavor, and it looked like each little slice of the sausage link had exploded. As we licked the pizza tray clean, we both judgementally glanced at the table next to us. Three people, nibbling at a large veggie pizza with minimal toppings had maybe gotten 2/3 of the way through the thing in over twice the time it took us to deee-story our meat pie. Happy and proud. Pizza didn’t stand a chance. Lightweight problems. 

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