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A Good Deed and Some Good Eats

Posted Jan 31 2010 10:17am

Yesterday was a day filled with good eats and an awesome cause.  I’ve been a little down lately (part of that breakup roller coaster I’m sure you all know about) and had a stressful week at work (actually, stressful last 2-3 weeks and this week won’t be any better), so I knew I needed a busy weekend with lots of good stuff that would simultaneously make me happy and make me forget how sad I am.  Of course, when the opportunity to volunteer for the Greater Boston Food Bank came up, I knew that not only would it be a fun event, it would be a chance to do good for other people, something that always makes me feel good.  I have a pretty long history of volunteering and those experiences were some of the most rewarding of my life, so this was a no-brainer.  I started off my day with these Oat and whole wheat flour cinnamon blueberry muffins, which I whipped up the other day on a whim.  I topped them with almond butter and a dash of raw agave.

This month is Super Hunger Month and the Food Bank held the first day of their Super Hunger Brunch yesterday.  It’s an exciting time for the Boston Food Bank- they recently moved into a brand new facility and have distributed more food in the 4 months since they’ve been there than they did in the  8 months of 2009 when they were in their old facility, which is an AMAZING feat, especially as they are in greater demand with the economy the way it is.

The Super Hunger Brunch was an event held in select Boston restaurants (And some in Brookline!)and each restaurant served a brunch that was either 25, 35 or 50 dollars.  This clearly depended on how fancy the restaurant was- mine, Sel de La Terre- was 35.  The brunch was a prix fixe menu and each patron would come to my volunteer partner and I (Hi, Grace!) to pay.  The restaurants provided the staff and the food, but all proceeds went to the Food Bank.  One of the things I found out was that just one brunch for 35 dollars could provide 140 dollars worth of food- isn’t that incredible?

At the end of the event, we tallied it up and we’d raised 1,330 dollars, or enough to provide over 5 thousand dollars worth of food!  It was such a wonderful sense of accomplishment.  I will definitely do it again next year-  I just wouldn’t wear sky high heels next time.

Of course, one of the other cool parts was that we got to sit right next to the kitchen and watch the food being prepared and see it all come out. Please pardon the terrible photos- the lighting was terrible!

Actually, let me rephrase that:  Sitting next to the kitchen was both a blessing and a curse. We didn’t get to eat until about 2:30, so watching (and smelling) food being churned out of that kitchen was quite torturous, although I got a ton of ideas for new recipes and combinations to try, that’s for sure!  It was definitely very interesting to see how they worked and to see some of the great presentation.  I tried to take some pictures and of course, had to explain to Grace that I am a food blogger, lest she think i was completely crazy.  Sadly, because it was so dark, none of my pictures of the kitchen really came out :( Believe me when I say that it was ridiculously close, though!

Let me just assure you that it was completely worth the wait.  I had never eaten at Sel de La Terre, although I have enjoyed a delicious meal at L’espalier- the restaurant with which they are adjoined.  I’m always looking for tasty new restaurants, so I was pretty excited to try the brunch.  Grace and I had been looking at the menu all morning as we handed them out to patrons, so it’s safe to say that the anticipation and our expectations had been building.

We started out with a bread basket, which, to be honest, I ate a lot of- I have a problem when it comes to bread.  However, I really should have refrained because as far as moderately priced restaurants go, this bread basket it SORELY lacking. I’m glad, however, that I didn’t let this bias my opinion of the rest of the meal.

I started with the celery root soup, which was truffled and then topped with a dash of honey.  Alongside this, on a miniature wooden cutting board, was a very crispy little potato croquette.

*sigh*I gave up and put on my flash. I also tried to hide the fact that I took a bite out of the croquette before I remembered to take a picture!

The soup was delicious.  It was creamy, with a perfect texture, and the flavors were spot on.  The little croquette beside it was just the perfect little bite of heaven.  My only complaint was how oily it was, but honestly, it was so good I overlooked the little bit of oil that it left behind on the board.  So good.  The potato mixture…well, I have to try to recreate it.

My next course was very very simple, but the flavors were terrific.  I have a general idea of what was in this, but I wish I knew for sure, because this dish would be something i’d love to create for myself.  The little skillet held potato hash (it was vegetarian- no bacon grease- I asked), which was topped with an extremely soft boiled egg, a little paprika and then a homemade english muffin on the side.

While I enjoyed this dish very much, there were a couple of things that made it less than perfect.  All afternoon we’d been watching this course come out and ours were missing the microgreens on top, which would’ve been great to put on top of the English muffin before layering the other ingredients on top.  I will say that the egg was VERY VERY undercooked.  I know they wanted the runny yolk to mix with the other ingredients, but the egg white was just extremely runny.  I like runny eggs, but I was a bit nervous that the white was so raw.  The yolk mixed beautifully with everything, but the whites, not so much.  Occasionally, i’d find little bits of white just sitting in the dish like blobs of gel.  That kept the dish from really being five- star for me.  The flavor was perfect, so if that egg had been cooked even a tiny little bit more, it would have been perfect.

We did, however, end on the PERFECT note.  The major dessert that people were ordering was a rich chocolate one, but of course, I had to order the non-chocolate dessert- an assortment of sorbets, ice cream and cookies.  On the suggestion of our server (Who was terrific, btw!  The wait staff at Sel De La Terre seem to be the cream of the crop!) I selected the guava sorbet and the graham cracker ice cream.

The cookie, however, was a surprise.  My heart sank when I saw that it was a coconut macaroon (typically, I HATE coconut, unless it’s in a pina colada), and I dug into graham cracker ice cream first. HOLY MOLY.  The server was a genius. I had a bite of guava and graham cracker together and it was the perfect marriage.  Timidly, I picked up the macaroon.  It seemed unfair not to just give it a shot with a tiny nibble.

As you can see, that tiny nibble turned into quite the bite.  This macaroon was just something else.  Everything from the taste to the texture was absolutely perfect.  If you, reader, could understand the sheer hatred and disgust I feel for coconut, you’d know how good this macaroon must be.  It was the perfect ending to a really rewarding day.  If you live in Boston, I would definitely recommend this restaurant.  Besides, they supported a truly awesome cause, so definitely show them a little support!

After much discussion, Christie and I have decided to continue with our yoga challenge.  I’m going to go ahead and blog about what I read this morning because it’s entirely relevant to my situation right now.  Yesterday’s was also a good read, though I should mention that it actually made me want to dance, so I did.  In my apartment.  Like a crazy person.

WARNING: This part is a little emotional and personal, so if you don’t want to read it, skip over it!

I digress. This morning’s reading discussed something called “Vairagya,” which, essentially, means letting go of things that hinder you or hold you back.  This concept of “letting go” is hitting me in a very sore spot right now.  Like I mentioned before, this has been a really tough week for me.  I thought I was doing really well with the whole “moving on” thing and in a flash, with one unfortunate shuffle of the itunes, it hit me hard. I hate feeling this way. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to be hurting.  I don’t want to feel pain.  There has been only one other person in my life that has caused such emotional devastation and I had hoped to never feel it again.  I guess I was naive.

Sometimes I am in so much pain I’m not sure what to do, so I turn to yoga.  I get on my mat and focus on what I’m doing with my body because concentrating on that makes me forget and brings me peace for a while.  I’m not stupid- I know that this is only temporary.  I know yoga is supposed to give me the tools to deal with this, but right now, I’m not letting that happen.  Most of the time I feel like screaming.  Just screaming and screaming and screaming.

And the worst part?  Knowing that the person who has caused this doesn’t care.  It’s like an extra little punch in the stomach.  It’s too much to bear sometimes.  And I can feel the rage bubble up.  I can feel it simmering beneath the surface, but something is keeping it from coming out.  Something is holding it back.  I wonder if i let that rage go- outrage and disbelief and sheer anger that I could love someone so wholly and completely and give so much of myself (so much that I started to lose sight of myself) and it was all for NOTHING.  In the end, I was nothing.  I wasn’t good enough.  I meant jacksh*t. Words cannot adequately express how badly that hurts. That after all this time together, this is what it has come to.  So, how, I ask Mr. Rolf Gates, the author of this book, the hell am I supposed to let it go?

I don’t want to feel like some days i’m just moving just to move.  I don’t want to have to “fake it until I make it.”  So when I read about Vairagya, all I could wonder is “HOW?”  Right now, I can’t seem to answer that question.  Maybe time?  I really don’t know.  And if I can’t let go of how I feel, where does that leave me?  It’s a really scary thought.

For a really thought-provoking and insightful post on Day 8, as well as an explanation about the recent “hitch” in our challenge, please read Christie’s post.

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