Day 372 – National Raspberries N’ Cream Day

I am falling way behind here. I have to do some catch up work to get back on pace. After we hit the one year mark, I knew I wasn’t going to be quite so punctilious about posting, but now I’m a solid week behind on getting these posts written and up, so expect some quick ones over the next few days so I can get back on pace. Having the gift of foresight, I can tell you the quest is still going strong. I’m still celebrating every day on the front end, the back end just has to catch up now. For instance, today I will tell you about National Raspberries N’ Cream Day which I celebrated last Monday.

National Raspberries N’ Cream Day last year was a good memory for me. It was my niece Kate’s graduation party from high school. We went to go celebrate her and I brought her a trifle filled with Raspberries N’ Cream. A year later, Kate has finished her first year of Nursing School at the University of Rhode Island and is well on her way to a successful college career. I never really feel that old until I see my nieces and nephews going to college. I can’t stop picturing the little babies that we would hold in our arms and make laugh with funny noises and peekaboo. Now they are in college (even graduated!) and probably doing the things we did in college and beyond. That thought alone will age you ten years. In any case, last year was quite a day and I was happy to bring some Raspberries N’ Cream to the party. Kate decided not to have a graduation party this year (I guess that will come in another three years), so for Raspberries N’ Cream Day, it would just be a small celebration at home.

When I made my Raspberry Cream Pie, I had purchased a whole slew of raspberries and to my delight, the leftovers were still nice and fresh and I could use them for Raspberries N’ Cream today. I also had heavy cream so I could make some fresh whipped cream. I’ve gotten quite good at making fresh whipped cream over the last year – I can crank up a batch in minutes with minimal mess and almost no stress. That’s on my resume now. I looked at the raspberries and the whipped cream and I thought it just needed a little more texture to make it great, so I grabbed some Graham crackers and crushed them up by hand. Then I built a little parfait by just rotating in the raspberries, the crushed crackers and the whipped cream. They came out looking good. 


Raspberries N’ Cream are a nice little summer treat that delivers big on sweet delights. The raspberries are on the tarter side although the whipped cream (which was made with copious amounts of sugar) balanced it all out. Lola and I had a moment of reflection about her Mom who taught Lola (and by association, me) how to make whipped cream. She was also a known lover of raspberries and she would pick up fresh ones at Clements and then snack on them when she had a rare moment alone to enjoy.  We thought how much she would like this little snack.  It was all her favorites served in one glass (she fancied Graham crackers as well). It was another small moment out of the blue where we ended up missing the people in our lives that are gone. That’s one of the powers of food on our memories – to recall the memories of those we miss.  

An easy holiday to celebrate but no less a great celebration.  Outside of bringing us memories from the past, today’s celebration delivered on fresh summer tastes. Raspberries N’ Cream represents the joy of summer desserts. Light, fresh and refreshing.  Perfect ending to long days in the sun. When we celebrate Raspberries N’ Cream, we are cheering for all the joys of summer. Today we cheered loud and hard, and our calls were met with the tart and sweet delight of what we love. We hope summer goes on forever.  

Next up: National Frozen Custard Day

Day 371 – National Root Beer Float Day

Today was National Root Beer Float Day and I was ready for this one. I had vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I just happened to have a bottle of Virgil’s Micro-Brewed Root Beer in the fridge. I had bought this for Lola thinking she might want it with her burger with dinner from the night before, but she did not so it was just chilling in the fridge waiting for some vanilla ice cream. All I had to do now was enjoy it. I was working today, so I had to leave the house at 11 and I thought drinking a Root Beer Float before 11 am was a bit too much, so the plan was to have it after work, maybe while we watched the new episode of Game of Thrones. I like when days have a good solid plan like this.

When I got out of work it was about 7 PM and Lola was over at Jeff and Becky’s house for a Sunday night barbecue. The whole family was there and it was right on my way home, so I was going to stop by to see if the party was still going on. It was, although when I got there you could tell it was winding down. Jeff was tending to a fire for s’mores which meant the kiddies were circling him like sharks. The adults were all sitting up on the deck and chilling around the table. Within minutes, Becky had hooked me up with a plate of food – fresh cheeseburger, tortellini salad, Caprese salad – it was all awesome and what a way to walk into a party. It was a nice way to end the night.

Earlier in the day I realized that the day was also National Sisters Day and I thought it fortuitous that Lola was getting together with all her sisters on this day (and Tina too!). That doesn’t happen that often and it was happening kind of randomly too. I thought I could spread some holiday love on this day so before I left for work, I tossed a box of stuff in my car that I had hanging around my office. It was actually a bunch of stuff from a website called Woot.com. They are a website that sells a special deal every day offering you a deep discount on something or other. It’s a fun site and you can really find a bargain on there very now and then. Every once and awhile, they have a Woot Off, which means they offer really fun stuff for just a limited time and even better prices. When they sell out, they sell out and then they switch the offer to something new. Usually on those days, they offer what they call a “Bag of Crap” which is essentially a grab bag of stuff from their warehouse. It costs $5 and then $5 to ship, and you never know what you will get. They sell out in minutes too and there are tales of people winning televisions and other big prizes, although usually, it’s really crap. I have been lucky enough to order two of these over the last year and I have kept the bounty from those purchases in my office waiting for the proper time to unload it. National Sisters Day would be that day. When I walked into Becky’s house, I had my box of crap under my arm.

When I first walked in, I was seized by the kiddos who were happy to see me (and I was happy to see them). I started to unload my crap. I gave Brickie a Blu-Ray disc (some movie about an assassin at the White House) and I gave Eva an iPhone case (to which Eva quickly pointed out that she now needed an iPhone). When I made my way upstairs to the deck, I started to spread the Sisters Day joy to all the Mellow sisters. I gave away iPhone holders, a Pedi Egg, a scissors/cutting board combo, a pilates DVD, a generic-type Fitbit and a tiger iPhone case.  I felt like the Sisters Day Santa Claus. I had enough crap with me to give something to everyone and naturally the kiddies lined up for whatever they could get. I think they were the most confused because I was giving them things they had absolutely no use for. I gave Wavy a bag that said “Stay out of my Crap” which I think she may actually bring to school, so I’m a bit of a trouble starter. But it was a fun way to enter a party and I may continue this tradition as a means to bring fun wherever I go and to get rid of crap I have acquired over the years. It was nice to see all the sisters together especially on a warm summer night with the sun setting in the distance. A good end to the weekend. But soon it was time to go. Game of Thrones was on at nine and we were not going to miss it.

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When we got home, we quickly got ourselves set up for our trip to Westeros. Lola changed into her jammies and I got down to making a quick Root Beer Float. I scooped in the vanilla ice cream, cracked open the Virgil’s, then poured it over the top. I had asked Lola if she wanted one and she did not, although she reserved the right to take a sip of mine. I am always cool with that. The first Root Beer Float that I had ever had was enjoyed exactly a year ago when I had one at the Newport Creamery in celebration of the day. I remembered it was better than I thought it would be, so while I wasn’t super-excited for the Root Beer Float tonight, I wasn’t dreading it. It would be refreshing. And it certainly was. It was actually fabulous. I am not sure if it was the Virgil’s which brought some quality root beer flavor to it all, but it just tasted good. It mixed so well with the vanilla ice cream I could finally understand the enjoyment of it all. It made the ice cream get kind of crystalized which brought a new texture to it all – I think it’s the carbonation that effects it. I drank some, scooped some out with a spoon, then went back to sipping it. It was really a great treat and the perfect beverage to watch the Stark reunion that was happening before our eyes. I think I can say it now – I’m a fan of Root Beer Floats.

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I learned to love the Root beer Float today, so that’s a good day. It’s a classic that I have always turned my nose up at because I was never a huge fan of root beer. However in this form, it’s something different. There may be more of these in my future. I also got to celebrate a sisterhood that has meant a lot to me over the last ten years (actually more like 16 years). A group that I have gone through a whole lot with. The good, the bad, the really bad, the sad and as always, the funny. It’s quite a crew and it was nice to take a minute to toast what they mean to each other and to all those whose lives they touch. It’s quite a group, and I am glad I could reward them with gifts of such awesome magnitude. Although I should have just given them Root Beer Floats.

Next up: National Raspberries N’ Cream Day

Day 370 – National Oyster Day

Now that I’ve looped around after a whole year of these shenanigans and am on my way to year two, I am concerned I may have to repeat myself. I’d like to celebrate something different every day, but ultimately, I am a slave to how the holidays fall. If today was National Oyster Day, then I would have to celebrate National Oyster Day. Moving forward though, I’ll try to mix it up what I can, if I can. Today however, I could not.

I was working for most of the day which didn’t make finding something new to celebrate any easier. I headed in at about 9:30 and I wouldn’t be done until about 7:30. I had the thought of going out for oysters after work to one of the local restaurants around here, but tension was still high in the house. When your wife is barely talking to you, you don’t really float the idea of going out for oysters especially when that’s pushing your own agenda with a disregard for hers. It just didn’t seem like the right move so I’d have to fine some other way. My instinct was to stop at Clements on the way home and pick up some oysters that I would shuck and eat. That seemed reasonable although I wasn’t sure what selection they would have available at that time of night and I knew I’d be paying top dollar for it as well.

That was my initial plan, but then when I was at work, on my lunch break, I went to the Farmer’s Market that is conveniently located on the field adjacent to the Vineyard. That’s where I get my lunch every Saturday, usually a potato, egg, cheese and sausage calzone from Olga’s Cup and Saucer. When I was at the market, I noticed that the folks at Matunuck Oysters had a booth there. I had seen their sign before but never really took notice. Those are the folks that run an oyster farm in Narragansett Bay but also have an amazing restaurant (where coincidentally we celebrated our 9th anniversary a year earlier). I walked over to see what they had going on and not surprisingly, there was a giant bin of their fresh oysters all iced up and ready to sell. They were priced at a dozen for $10 which was a bargain too – they would likely have been twice that at Clements if not more. The guy working the booth had wandered off as Farmer Market workers tend to do, so I decided to hang out and wait for him to come back while I ate my calzone. That’s when an annoying old man came over and started asking me questions about oysters. I was standing on the customer side of the booth and I was in a Newport Vineyard uniform eating a sandwich, but still this brash old man was hitting me up with the questions. I told him I thought the other guy would be coming back in a minute, but this didn’t seem to stop Old Man from demanding my customer service at the oyster booth. When the real oyster man got back, Old Man redirected his barrage of questions at him and in doing so, also jumped ahead of me in line. This was clearly someone with no regard for the laws of society or civility. He asked the oyster man, who was already visibly annoyed with Old Man, if he could open the oysters for him. The Matunuck guy clearly explained that he couldn’t do this because if she shucked oysters, it would make him a foodservice booth and he would get in trouble. That made perfect sense to me, but not to Old Man who could only scour at this news. Old Man then asked me how I was going to open them. None of his goddamned business! Sorry, but I only get a few minutes for lunch and Old Man was blowing up my spot. Old Man finally went away in a huff, most likely to ask the organic farm people if they would make him a salad. The oyster man and I traded knowing looks of relief with each other, but then we got down to business. I asked if I were to keep the oysters in the fridge for the next seven hours would they be ok, and he assured me they would be. He did warn me not to put them in the freezer because that would kill them (just good info to share). I bought my dozen and almost bought a shucking knife too on the oyster man’s suggestion, but then I shied away from that thinking it was only more clutter for our kitchen gizmo drawer. I walked back to work, put the oysters in the fridge in our break room and then went back to pouring wine.

I trudged through the rest of the workday and ended up getting home at about 8 pm. As always, I stopped at Clements on my way home and picked up a couple of things for dinner to accompany the oysters. When I got in, Lola was out in the yard. There was still tension between us but things had warmed a little. I had apologized a few times that morning and had sent a text from work saying I was sorry, so I was taking steps at building the bridge towards making amends. But we still needed a little space until we were both ready to get back to an understanding. While I was alone in the house, I decided to shuck the oysters. I am not a good oyster shucker and in fact, I’ve only done it once before when brother-in-law Pete showed us how to shuck for National Oyster Day 2016. We broadcasted a Facebook live video of his talents in action (I reposted the video below). Pete’s a talented shucker and I watched his video again to prepare myself. He made it look so easy and after watching him, I thought shucking would come right back to me. It did not. I was using a butter knife, my first mistake, so I didn’t have the right tool (the oyster man was right). The knife worked, kind of. I was able to get it into the shell and pop them open, however it didn’t always get the oyster free from the shell. Then I started breaking shells and things were going downhill from there. In the end, I was able to salvage about 8 of the 12 oysters and have them opened for eating. I was ok with that kind of productivity yield for me, although had I been working in a restaurant, I might be forcibly removed from shucking duties and placed on corn husking.

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I did not have any mignonette sauce which is the vinegar based sauce that goes very well with oysters. That’s how I like to eat them but I didn’t have any shallots in house and forgot to buy them at the store. I did have some cocktail sauce that I got from Clements but that’s not really my style – too much horseradish – but Lola will lean that way. I squeezed lemon over the top of all the oysters and then I decided to gulp one down. They weren’t so bad, but my bad shucking deterred from the overall enjoyment. First, in my trying to maneuver my bulky kitchen knife around a delicate shell, I left tiny bits of shell in some of them. That’s never tasty. Plus I knocked away a lot of the brine that was in the shell and that’s a big part of enjoying oysters. Then there was the fact that they were still stuck to the shell so you had to really work at eating them like you were a starving otter. A good oyster should just slide into your mouth. These did not and that was all my fault.

When Lola came inside, I asked her if she wanted an oyster. She was a bit apprehensive at first, but decided to give it a go. She too was not impressed for all the reasons listed above. She especially caught a lot of shell in hers and that was enough for her. She went off to take a shower (because she had bug spray on her – nothing to do with me serving her shelly, brineless oysters). There was still some tension in the air between us, but there were little gestures by both of us to bridge the gap. While Lola showered, I grilled up some burgers for dinner and I will say they wound up being particularly good burgers. I finished cooking just as Lola was out of the shower and I invited her to join me, although I understood if she wasn’t feeling like it. Thankfully, she was game (and hungry). We sat on our couch together and enjoyed our dinner and watched some old Game of Thrones. Everything was still not hunky-dory, but we were a bit closer now. We were in the same space together which meant there was progress.

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At some point over the years, we became fans of oysters. I’m not sure how that happened because it’s not usually the type of fare I usually go for, but every time I try them, I just like them. I like the briny taste especially when it combines with the tartness of the vinegar from the sauce and lemon. They are refreshing and every single time I order them now, I am happily surprised. I am a fan of oysters. There, I said it. I have come out of my shell. I’m a fan and I am already thinking about the next time we will get to have some. Today was about celebrating oysters and I tried to do that as best I could. I bought them from our local oyster man. I shucked them myself as a reward after a long day of work. I tried to offer them to Lola as a peace offering. And while things went awry at the shucking part, I still had the happy thought of fresh oysters running through my head throughout the day to keep me going. I can’t explain it, but they are just good and deserve all the celebration we can give them. I tried today. I really did. But no worries, there’s always another day. Next time I’ll just have to bring a shucking knife.

Next up: National Root Beer Float Day

Day 369 – National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

It was National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and my ten-year wedding anniversary and I was super hungover. That’s what happens when you go out the night before to celebrate your birthday (and National Watermelon Day) and you think you can drink like a 21-year-old. I was feeling every bit of 49 years old this morning. I woke up at the crack of dawn but felt like the crack of Tony Orlando. I had a pounding headache. I was hot and sweaty. My belly was rumbling. I felt like I had swallowed a demon and the only way to exorcise this Beelzebub in my belly was to set it free. As the sun started to climb in the sky, I was bending the knee and vowing allegiance to the great porcelain god in the bathroom. I’m an idiot.

Whoever heard of a 49-year-old getting sick the morning after his birthday? Just when I think I take strides at maturity, things like this happen. In any case, this feeling of being hungover had taken siege of me. I couldn’t even kiss Lola when she woke up (you know, the puke breath and all). I was slow at getting to work. I was slow at work. I was slow leaving work. It was just not one of my finer moments. Remember how I said it was my ten-year anniversary? Well my loving gift to the one I love was being a lethargic pile of poo on our special day. Remember when I said I was an idiot?

We didn’t have any plans. We weren’t sure where our life would be on this day thanks to all the chaos of earlier in the week. Because of that uncertainty, we made a pack with each other to celebrate at another time. We weren’t going to go big today. But it was still a special day so at the very least, we wanted to be together. Lola was patient with my condition which was nice of her. I just couldn’t get out of my own way. On my way home, I picked up some stuff for dinner and I even bought Lola a bouquet of flowers (the least I could do). But when I got home, I was tired and just couldn’t concentrate on anything. Lola was opening her heart to me. She wanted to take a walk in the yard and sit out there to have a cocktail. That was the same spot where we were married just ten years ago. But I said it was too buggy. She wanted to relax on our couch and watch some home movies. On our honeymoon, we took a cross-country adventure and as part of that, we had taken some videos with a video camera. (Remember video cameras?) However, the camera had broken at some point over the years which meant we lost the ability to play back what we had filmed and the footage was never seen. Lola had taken these tapes and turned them into DVDs for our anniversary. It was such an awesome gift. So thoughtful. For years we said we would do this and then all of a sudden, Lola made it happen. However, I just couldn’t get comfortable enough to sit down and pay attention. My hungover-self just wanted to lie down which was a horrible way to celebrate your anniversary.

While I sat in my funk and messed around the kitchen doing my best to make something for dinner (chowder was on the menu and I couldn’t even get that straight), Lola disappeared upstairs. I wasn’t sure what she was doing but I thought it best if I stayed out of the way. As patient as Lola is, I’m sure my behavior was starting to annoy her, especially when she was showing such love. All of a sudden, she had popped into the kitchen and my gorgeous wife of ten years was standing there in her wedding dress – the very one she wore ten years ago today. She is as gorgeous now as she was that day. And yes, it fit too! She was so sweet. It was a spur of the moment gesture and it just made me smile. She even had the same necklace and shoes on that she had worn that hot summer day. I hugged her and I had a sense memory return of holding her on our wedding day – the ruffled feel of the dress, the warmth of Lola, the true love in my heart. After a bit, we wondered if I would fit in my wedding suit so I retreated upstairs and found it in the back of our closet. It fit, although some internal organs had some intense pressure applied on them from the clasp of the pants. I came downstairs and there we were – the same happy couple of ten years ago although a little bit aged, a little more seasoned, a little more wiser.

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This picture was taken by Becky on her back porch because naturally, when you try your wedding outfits on after ten years, you have to go out and visit your family to show it off. It was kind of a spur of the moment idea. We packed up some treats that we had in the fridge (didn’t want to show up empty-handed) and headed to Becky and Jeff’s house. We parked our car in their driveway, cranked our wedding song from the car, and then slow danced in their driveway until they took notice (or until we got attacked by the dogs). When they saw us, Becky and Jeff cracked up and we all shared a laugh. We talked about our wedding day – they were both in the wedding party and a huge part of the day – and we just shared in some sunset joy. Lola had a glass of wine. I was refraining. Then we drove to Katie’s house to do the same thing. That’s where we were met by Katie’s daughters who were really quite puzzled at our outfits although delighted as well. When Katie saw us, she got a little verklempt. It was another moment of fun and sharing our joy. The girls had to get to bed, so we were in and out like a flash and on our way home, we stopped at Cherie’s house. Cherie was working but Pete was there and we got to say hi to the kiddies who were also winding down for bedtime. Wavy was super excited to see Lola in a fancy dress and even went into her room and got a veil for Lola to wear. The night was just one of those moments of being close enough to your family that allows you to have some fun and share your joy. Tara was working and we did have the thought of going into Newport to say hi to her and pulling up a spot at the bar. She’d crack up. We thought people might even start buying us drinks if we were wearing our wedding outfits as we made our way around Newport. That sounded fun, but if you recall, I am an idiot and I was too hungover.

When we got home, we were hungry so after we packed up our wedding attire, I went to work at finishing up dinner. I had the chowder heated (it was from Clement’s so no, I didn’t make my own). I made two small little grilled cheese sandwiches to accompany it and it was all pretty good. Then we nestled in and started watching our videos and that’s when I became Idiot Supreme. First, in the midst of the videos, I got up and went to the kitchen to make cookies. I was driven to make them because it was National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, but I wasn’t really reading the room on this one. We were having a moment together and I got up to go do something else, as idiots will do. I wasn’t even making the cookies; I was using ready-made Tollhouse Cookie Dough. All I had to do was pre-set the oven then fire them in. They were ready in about 12 minutes, but that was even worse because I kept getting up and then sitting down to put them in and out of the oven. When they were finally ready, I had them cooling in the kitchen so I sat down to relax with my beautiful wife. About five minutes later, I started scrolling through Facebook on my phone. That was all Lola could stand and she was in the right. We had a bit of a quarrel. She went to bed and I stayed downstairs for a bit. I ate a cookie or two. They were good. I went up to bed later and tension was still high. We fell asleep with our backs to each other. Happy anniversary. I’m an idiot.

For what it’s worth, the cookies are good. Pre-made cookie dough is a good thing even if you just want toe at raw cookie dough. But as far as ease, there’s not much easier. They even score them nowadays so you just break off pieces and place them onto sheet pans. No more spooning out little dollops. It doesn’t taste the same as a fresh made cookie. There’s a processed food taste to it. Still, it’s a warm, tasty cookie in minutes and you can’t go wrong with that.

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That was my National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and it wasn’t one of my finer moments. Ten years ago on this National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, on our wedding, I was having the time of my life. I was surrounded by friends and family who came to cheer us on. I had a beautiful woman on my arm who was dancing up a storm with me and all her friends as well.  There was wonderful food, tasty cupcakes, great music and lots of happy drink. The last ten years have seen some tough times and has gone in a direction we could never have guessed. Through it all, Lola has been the one who soothes my heart and makes me feel I could be the best I can be. She’s my favorite person to make laugh. She’s my favorite person to cook for. She’s my favorite person to live life with. And I should have celebrated all that today. I should have had milk and cookies with her as a toast to our life. Instead, I was an idiot. So I am sorry Lola. And I love you.

Next up: National Oyster Day 

Day 368 – National Watermelon Day

Ok, I told you I wasn’t going to be as fanatical about posting as I used to be, so I haven’t been. I think I had to take a break from the grind of it all. The waking up early or staying up late just to get a post published in a timely fashion was wearing me down, especially after doing it for a year straight. I’m just going to be a bit more chill when it comes to that timeline, and frankly, I need to be. Make no mistake however, the quest has still been going on. Every day. I just have to catch up with the blog posts about it.

Thursday was National Watermelon Day but it also happened to be another day of great celebration: my birthday. I have long made a big deal out of my birthday. As a youngster, because I was the only kid with a summer birthday, I always felt that people would forget about me – lost in the carefree days of summer fun. There were no bringing cupcakes to class. No parties with school chums. No getting together with the extended family because we were already together at our summer cottage. I would therefore start my propaganda campaign a few weeks before my birthday to make sure people knew it was coming. Signs were placed around the house letting everyone know the day was coming. Walking around with a sandwich board telling people only a few more shopping days. Placing a countdown calendar in a place of prominence. I would just make noise so I wouldn’t be forgotten on my birthday (not that I ever was). By the time my actual birthday arrived, I would have driven everyone crazy, especially my Aunt Peg who seemed to be in the path of most of my signage. I imagine that some forty years later, all those kids that were around our house still have a vague sense that my birthday is an event in mid-summer. I guess my long-game of marketing paid off.

We had no big plans for my birthday. It had been a crazy week so Lola and I agreed to take it easy. I went to work with little fanfare and had a pretty standard day. On my way home, I stopped at the store and picked up a quarter of a watermelon. I love watermelon. I always have. I feel like there are always people around who have a true love of watermelon. My niece Kate had it (has it). When she was little, she would be a watermelon fiend and eat two or three pieces with great delight before you could stop her. My niece Wavy is like that too. Some people just stay woke to the delight of a good piece of watermelon. Juicy, sweet, cool and refreshing. The perfect summer treat and I am kind of glad that my birthday falls on this particular holiday because it just seems perfect to me.

When I got home, Lola had just finished baking and was in the shower. Every year on my birthday Lola makes me a special cake. Last year, as we were just starting this quest, she made me a watermelon cake that couldn’t be beat. It looked and tasted like watermelon! Whatever cake she makes is always a fun surprise. This year, I told her don’t make a cake, let’s just have a nice easy night, but Lola made cupcakes anyway. They were a pecan-cream cheese frosting cupcake that she found in recipes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Lady. Ree has been someone whose recipes I have relied upon over the last year and Lola thought it would be special to use her recipes again for my day. It was a nice little tribute to the trials and tribulations of my quest. We had made a plan to go to dinner at Pomodoro’s in Bristol which is a great little Italian spot with a BYOB policy which makes it a little more fun. Lola was getting ready to go out so I had a minute all to myself before we would need to leave. I cut off a slice of watermelon and put a candle in it as a little tribute to my own celebratory day. I enjoyed it outside looking out at the late day sun. It was cool and refreshing as it always is. I am very grateful there is watermelon in this world.

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This day was already as good as it could be with my cool watermelon and fridge full of awesome cupcakes, but now we had the chance to go out for a good dinner. Jeff and Becky were coming to meet us and our friend Matt would be coming too, so it was going to be a fun crew. We headed over the bridge and got there at about 6:30. There was about a 40-minute wait which is kind of typical (it’s a small place and not a lot of seats), so we decided to have a drink at the bar across the street as we waited. If you were to categorize this bar, you would file it somewhere between the classification of neighborhood bar and authentic dive. The air was heavy with cigarette smoke which meant that that smell has been lingering since the place went non-smoking probably over fifteen years ago. Matt and Lola ordered a mixed drink and I went for a bottle of beer. Apparently Matt and Lola have not heard about the dive bar rule of never order anything served in a glass (unless it’s straight booze), but the drinks were ordered so I didn’t stop them. There was a moment of awkwardness as we stood there at the bar with the ten or so patrons gawking at us, the sounds of Children of a Lesser God which was playing on the television filling the silence that overwhelmed the dank space. But then we saw there was a pool room in the back and we headed in there and had the room to ourselves. Jeff and Becky arrived and joined us in the pool room. They grabbed some draft beers (am I the only one that knows this no glasses at a dive bar rule?) and we had a great little time warming up for the night’s festivities. Eventually, the restaurant texted us that our table was ready so we marched across the street and sat down at a beautiful spot outside.

It was a great night of laughs and great food under a warm summer sky. Naturally we had five bottles of wine for our party of five, so conversation got lively and the laughs were loud and frequent. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately, they were out of clams for their mouthwatering clam appetizer where you end up taking loaves of bread and sopping up this wonderful broth, but we made up for that with giant plates of stuffed veal, fettuccini carbonara and plenty of leach balls (inside joke). It was one of those long nights where night settles in around you and you barely notice – you are too involved in having fun and being in the moment. At the end, Lola had brought some cupcakes so the server brought them out with candles lit and I was serenaded with a lovely version of “Happy Birthday”. The cupcakes were nice and sweet and the pecan flavor was bursting through. Really moist cake and cool frosting – perfection. We had an extra one and gave it to the server who seemed genuinely thrilled. I think we got home at about 10:30 capping off the end to a pretty great day. It’s nice to be celebrated.

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I have to say National Watermelon Day is always one of my favorite holidays. I’ve been celebrating it all my life (and not even knowing it). Having Lola around to make my day even more special makes it that much sweeter. While I have always been an advocate of birthday self-promotion, as this birthday moved in, I was kind of celebrated out. I didn’t have any big plans for the day and frankly, we didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything on a grand scale. However Lola always makes it special even in the slightest of ways. A dinner with friends, a house full of cupcakes and a heart full of love. Everyone should be so lucky and that’s how I felt on this day. Plus I got to have some watermelon too,

Next up: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day 

 

 

Day 367 – National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

I’m going to keep going. That’s what I have decided. No real reason just that I wasn’t ready to give up on this just yet. There’s more celebrating to do.

Part of the decision comes from just reflecting on the past year and all the fun turns life took for me just because I decided to celebrate. Since I hit the one year mark, I have been reflective of what all this means and what it has brought me. I feel the holiday gods aren’t done with me just yet. They want me to be like Navin R. Johnson and find my special purpose. There’s something more to this all. Something bigger. I have to keep going to see what that is.

I’ve been looking back over the last year. There are just so many happy memories. Getting oyster shucking lessons from Pete. Riding rollercoasters in kiddie parks. Sucking back sardines on Thanksgiving. Walking into Saturday Night Live with a York Peppermint Patty over my head. A polar bear plunge on New Year’s Day. Private Karaoke with Lola in NYC. Each memory spawned from the fact that I was out to celebrate whatever day was happening. I just followed the path that was in front of me and adventure happened. Why would I stop doing that?

I may not be as fanatical about it this go around. I may take it easy every now and then. I may not feel obligated to stay up into the night to write my posts. I may not go halfway around the world (or off the Island) to find a mysterious ingredient. I may just make do with what I have. But I will celebrate. Overall, I feel my quest was achieved successfully. I did it. It’s over. It’s no longer a quest. Now it’s more of a journey. More of a streak. I’m ready to see just how far I can go.

Today was National Ice Cream Sandwich Day and I happened to have an ice cream sandwich in our freezer. I had made it from some cookies that I had baked for National Sugar Cookie Day. It had vanilla ice cream in the center. I had wrapped it up tight in plastic wrap and it has been chilling in there for a few weeks. When I got home from work, I sat down to talk to Lola. It was muggy out and our house gets hot in that kind of weather, so we were hot. I decided to go grab the ice cream sandwich to help beat the heat. I cut it in half and we shared it in our family room talking about everything.


I forgot how good the cookies were. They were sweet and sugary. The recipe had called for almond extract and that flavor lingered throughout the cookie. They were soft-batch and even though they had been in the freezer for weeks, there was a chewiness too them that was good. The cookie on an ice cream sandwich can’t be too crunchy otherwise the structural integrity of the sandwich is in jeopardy. The vanilla ice cream was perfect too, a flavor that mixed well with the cookie. It was a damn good ice cream sandwich and it had just been sitting in our freezer. Lola was surprised too. In fact, she was talking while she took her first bite and the bite made her pause her train of thought just to say that this was a good sandwich. Success.

Last year on National Ice Cream Sandwich Day I had secured some sandwiches from Tricycle Ice Cream. They have super-special flavors with custom cookies and only sell their fare at local farmer’s markets and events out of their tricycle cart. We had Cherie come over and have a tasting party with us. It was a cozy little night. Tonight was a bit different. Tonight was just a small respite from the heat of the day and that reminded me about what some of these celebrations are. They aren’t always big and grand. Sometimes they just give you reason to pause and appreciate. That’s what we did tonight. Let’s hope we still have more of those to come in the journey ahead.   

Next up: National Watermelon Day and My Birthday!

Day 366 – National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

Ok, now what?

I would have liked to have said that I had a big plan for what to do when I reached Day 365. A big party in celebration of it all that would feature some of my finest from the year that was – Animal Cracker Truffles, Raspberry Popovers, Potato, Eggs and Hot Dog Subs. I would invite all those who have supported me along the way (and there have been so many). We would toast to innocence with some Gin Rickies and then toast to now with some Devil Dog Shakes. There would be fireworks, streamers, maybe even a parade. That was the grand idea. In reality though, I just kind of trickled over the finish line. I barely made it. But I made it.

Monday was Day 365 – the last day of my quest. It was also the day before a very daunting deadline which was coming on Tuesday. It was the day Lola and I have been fighting to prevent from coming. Heading into Monday, we were ready for the battle. We both woke up early and began sorting through our files and briefs before we had even finished our first cup of coffee. I let work know that I would be coming in a little late because we had to meet this deadline and together we started piecing together a plan. We’d write up the story with proper annotations. We’d plead our case using all kinds of lawyer-y words like pro se, interlocutory and quid pro quo. Lola would head to the courthouse to file the injunction. Then we got an email at about 9:30 am. Everything had been put on hold. This was a temporary victory and we still have a much bigger battle in front of us, but the August 1 deadline had been cancelled. We jumped up and danced around the family room. We hugged each other. We took a deep breaths. It was a moment of relief. We could feel some weight drop off our shoulders, almost hearing the thump as it hit the floor. When we finally relaxed, I hopped in the shower and made my way to work. Lola took a minute outside to do some writing.

It was still the last day of my quest and I had to do three things:

  1. It was National Raspberry Cake Day, so I had to make a cake.
  2. I did not have any raspberries, so I had to go shopping.
  3. I still had to write three blog posts and post by end of day. It was important to me to get that all done before the day was over. I wanted to really hit that one-year deadline.

I went to Trader Joe’s after work. This last week has been somewhat a reflective time about what this last year has been. I get caught up in the nostalgia of it and where it has all taken me, so going to Trader Joe’s felt not unlike the Rites of Passage part of the television show Survivor when they walk to the final challenge and pay tribute to all those who have been eliminated before them. I walked through the aisles of TJs remembering the times I had been here in search of random ingredients. I remembered my friend who had given me a cookie. It was a bittersweet trip and I hugged a cantaloupe in the middle of the store because I was getting emotional. I got everything I needed except for Cool Whip (which Trader Joes does not carry) and pretzels (which I plum forgot). In true Rites of Passage form though, stopping on the way home at the Dollar General and at Cumberland Farms for an ingredients emergency seemed appropriate for the quest too.

When I got home, I got right to baking. The Buttermilk Raspberry Cake came together in no time and before long, it was in the oven doing its thing. I was supposed to coat the berries in sugar but I forgot that step so after it was done and cooled off, I sprinkled it heavily with confectionary sugar. As a cake from the oven will tend to do, it made our house smell particularly good and Lola, who was on the couch, could smell its goodness. I cut a piece for both of us and served it to us on the couch. We had a small toast to 365 days. Lola was so proud of me as she has been throughout the journey. She was my biggest cheerleader and helper along the way and in many ways, this whole quest was a love letter to her. She was also there at almost every bite and often, as she will, provided the most colorful descriptions of whatever we were feasting on. The cake was fabulous. It was a bit tart from the berries but the cake was nice and moist and the sugar on top balanced that out. Lola gave me that reaction that I have grown to love over the last year – the eyes roll up, her hands flail outwards to hit something and she exclaims in delight, “Oh my god!” She has been a great audience for all of this.

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After cake time, I retreated to my office. I had written part of my National Wing Post, so I just had to finish that up. I got that done and then took a quick break to play some NHL 2003 Hockey which has been the official video game of this whole journey. It just helps clear my mind. Then I went back and finished up my National Cheesecake Day post. I cranked through that. Admittedly the last few posts were not the strongest of my posts along the way, but I was on a deadline. All I had left to do was write my National Raspberry Cake Day post. When I started writing it, I kept thinking of the scene in Rocky II when he finally wins and all he could do was shout out to Adrien, his wife at home, that he did it. I am not a fan of Sylvester Stallone but the Rocky movies really know how to hit you emotionally. I had just shared the motivational scene with Lola in Rocky II when Adrien tells Rocky at her hospital bedside to go win. It’s when Mickey pops up and goes “What are we waiting for!??!” and the “Flying High” music kicks with the dramatic bell tolls. Gives me goosebumps every time. In any case, those movies have been in my head and it was the only analogy I could seem to muster in my blog. I posted at about 11:30. I had done it. Lola was in bed. The house was quiet. And I just sat back for a second in the peace of the moment to consider it all.

I really didn’t know what was next. I didn’t know if today should be the celebration or if Day 366 should be. I did know that I started everything a year ago by making a pie for National Raspberry Cream Pie Day and that was my plan for the one year anniversary. I still had some energy so I decided to bang out the crust before I went to bed so at 11:45 on the very last day of my quest, I was in the kitchen making a pretzel pie crust. I had to grind up the pretzels in the processor which was kind of noisy, so I was worried that I would wake up Lola, but the AC was on upstairs and probably (hopefully) blocked out any noise. The pie crust, as I knew, was easy to make. Crushed pretzels, brown sugar and butter that you mix together and press into a pie pan. Then you bake it for ten minutes. When it came out of the oven, I placed it on a cooling rack, turned off the oven and went to bed. The end of 365 days of celebration was here.

I woke up to a bunch of messages of congratulations across social media. I figured that might happen because of my flurry of postings on the night before so everyone was waking up to me having crowded their feeds. I can’t explain how lucky I feel and how special it is to have had such support along the way. So many cheerleaders and so many people that have been eager to join me in my pursuit. I would get encouragement from people I have never even met – friend of friends and even straight-up strangers. People have been behind me from Day 1 and that’s what kept me going. So as I crossed the finish line, I felt all those who cheered me on along the way crossing with me. That was celebration. I still wanted to start where I began which meant making a Raspberry Cream Pie, so before work, I cranked it out. I looked back at my post on Day 1 from last year and I oddly had not linked to the recipe. I could see how I was still figuring out what to do. I still am. In any case, I kind of remembered what I made so when I looked online for a recipe, I think I found the same one from a blog called Jamie Cooks It Up.com. It came together in no time at all and I had a whole pie ready and in the fridge to set before I left for work.

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On Day 1 of the quest last year, we happened to be going to see author David Sedaris in Newport who was doing a reading at the Jane Pickens Theater. We had gotten tickets long before the idea of the quest was in motion but because it was my first day and perhaps motivated by excitement, I decided to bring him a pie to celebrate. I gave it to him (actually I gave it to his assistant). Turns out that they ate it backstage and he even gave me (the anonymous pie maker) a shout out on stage. The quest was off to a pretty big start. David wasn’t in town today so I couldn’t give him another pie, but I decided to email him and wish him a National Raspberry Cream Pie Day. He had emailed me to thank me for the pie, which was nice, so I had his email address. I just felt like he was the first sign of magic on this whole quest, so I wanted to tell him that I had done it.  I emailed him the following:

Dear David,

On behalf of all your friends in Newport, RI, I just wanted to wish you a very happy National Raspberry Cream Pie Day.

I’m not sure if you remember me, although I can’t imagine you have been gifted a raspberry cream pie at too many of your readings. If you have been, then the literary celebrity life is more than I could ever imagine. That night was one year ago today. You were wearing culottes. I was the guy with the pie. Actually, we never officially met. I saw you on stage and also sitting behind a table dutifully signing books for your adorning fans. I talked to your manager or publicist or pie grabber – whoever was there to usher you through the night. I thought he was going to take the pie with a grateful smile and then throw it away as soon as I left the room. But then when you came on stage, you mentioned my pie in your opening remarks. You said that it had come from someone in the audience, that it was delicious and you gave thanks to the pie maker. My wife woo-hooed. I tried to hide underneath my chair.

That was a year ago. It was also the first day of a project that I was about to embark upon. I was going to spend a year celebrating every National Day. You know, the ones you hear about on social media or as the fluff pieces in the middle of the morning news programs: National Avocado Day, National Bowling Day, National Raspberry Cream Pie Day. I’m just writing you to tell you I did it. 365 days and every day was celebrated in some form or another. And while everyday wasn’t as momentous as that first day, I will say that it took me on a bit of an adventure. Not only was it a year of celebration, but it was an eventful year outside of my quest. About a week after your Newport show, I lost my job at a place I had worked for 19 years. That wasn’t part of the plan. I kept pushing on. More ups and downs would come. There was unemployment and job searches, there were bills to pay, there was Trump, there was sickness and there was hardship. That’s life, I suppose, but what I learned over the past year about celebrating every day that it makes you see the positive side of every day. Even though I’ve been knocked for a few blows over the last year, I am a bit happier. A bit more alive.

I know you and Hugh have both been worried over the past year about what happened to the pie guy. It’s probably kept you up at night. I’m happy to say he’s ok. I made another raspberry cream pie this morning (Day 366 celebrated) and you’re welcome to swing on by for a piece. And if you can’t make it, that’s ok too. Really, I just wanted to say thank you because you may not know it, but you were one of the reasons why this whole journey started out with a such a bang. When I think back at all the amazing things that I have experienced over the last 365 days, having you mention my pie on stage in Newport is right up there.

Enjoy National Raspberry Pie Day!

I sent it off to the universe being happy that I had that kind of closure and synergy on this whole year. Then he wrote me back. It’s always startling to see an email to you from someone of some renown. He did remember my pie. He even offered me tickets to his show in Tanglewood later this month. Apparently me and David are pen pals now. It was another reminder of what the world gives you when you celebrate life. There’s magic out there and we should all be looking to celebrate it every day.

At the end of the night, Lola had gone to bed. We had a bit of an argument and kind of kept out of each other’s way for part of the night. That happens, especially to couples who are tired and going through big life events. But then she sent me a text to tell me to come up to bed. We would work through it all. And to tell me to bring some pie. So on day 366, I got to enjoy a nice raspberry cream pie in our bed with the one who has made this quest all it could be. The pie is great. It’s still one of Lola’s favorites (and David Sedaris’ too). It’s a bit tart because of the raspberry, but the creamy texture brings some sweetness to balance it all. The pretzel crust brings in the sweet/salty finish.

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It’s been a great year. I may just have to do this again. There’s just too much to celebrate.

Next up: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day 

Day 365 – National Raspberry Cake Day

I did it!

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365 Days of Celebration. I did it. There’s been highs and lows, adventures and tales, lessons learned and taught. I have had laughs, heartaches, smiles, and joy. I’ve learned to live more, love more, be more. I’ve found my writer voice. I discovered my inner chef. I’ve become my own adventurer. I’ve entered the arena and dared greatly.

Today’s celebration was Raspberry Cake Day. I made a Buttermilk Raspberry Cake from a recipe I saw on SmittenKitchen.com. We had a piece tonight and it was one of Lola’s favorite. A great way to end the 365.

I’ll have more in the next few days on what this all means. Today however, I’m just holding my head high. Thank you all for the encouragement and for putting up with all this.

Shall we go around again?

Next up: sleep 

Day 364 – National Cheesecake Day

This was it. My last chance to make my very own cheesecake. Cheesecake has come up along this quest multiple times. There was Blueberry Cheesecake Day (I bought some from Gregg’s), there was Pumpkin Cheesecake Day (I ended up going with Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s) and there was Cherry Cheesecake. For that one I made a cheesecake, but it wasn’t the kind of cheesecake I imagined. It was one of those no-bake kind which is essentially cream cheese. It was good, but it didn’t have that consistency of a cheesecake that’s baked. When I saw National Cheesecake Day was coming, I knew I had to nail this one. It would be my last chance.

It is Day 364 of this quest. I’ve done this for almost a year straight. Every single day. I really don’t even know what happens next or where I go from here. It’s been quite the year and I think I’ll be reflecting about it all over the next few days and sharing some thoughts. What I do know is that these last two weeks or so have been the hardest of the 364 days. It wasn’t what I was celebrating that was difficult. It was life itself as if the world was conspiring against me to stop me before I hit the finish line. I’ve heard about this happening to noble questers. The way the ring pulled at Frodo. How Galahad battled the forces on his way to the Grail. How Indiana Jones had to look away from the Lost Ark. Your final tests block your way to see if you got the strength and gumption it takes to reach the end. The long trudge of all this celebrating is wearing on me and I have had the very real thought of quitting over the last few days. But I can’t. I’m committed. I’ll push on.

I thought today was going to be easier in regards to achieving the day of celebration, although it ended up being not as easy as I thought. I had taken the day off from the Vineyard so Lola and I could get some of our affairs in order. She has been manning our battle stations by herself and today was a day for me to help. Our living room looks like Darby Shaw has been holed up in here hiding from Victor Mattiece. There are boxes of papers and documents spread across the room. There’s a printer at the ready. There are documents on all surfaces dotted with post-its connecting the story together. My goal for today would be to jump in come together with Lola so we would be ready for Monday. Even though it would take most of the day, in my mind I thought I would still be able to squeeze in some time to make a cheesecake. I was able to make it, but it was precious time lost. Apart from my cake-making break, we both sat in our living room from morning until a little after 8:30 PM trying to get everything ready. At that point however, our heads were mush. We weren’t making sense and we were starting to get snippy with each other. It was time to quit for the day and let the tales of Westeros sweep us away.

When it was cheesecake time, I decided to use a recipe from the folks at King Arthur Flour. They usually have great recipes with clear instructions, and they seem like nice people. This recipe was titled Easy Cheesecake and with a quick read through, I noticed they weren’t kidding. Best of all, you baked the cheesecake so the end result would be that creamy texture that a good cheesecake should have. I started with the crust which was your typical graham cracker crust recipe. I had decided to make the cheesecake in a springform pan because most cheesecakes seem to be made that way. When I saw the ingredient amounts needed to make the crust, I didn’t think it would make enough to stretch across the whole pan so I doubled the crust recipe. That gave me plenty and I pressed the graham cracker, sugar and butter mixture across the bottom of the pan and then all the way up the sides. It looked good. Then I realized the amount of filling I made was not commensurate with the pie crust amounts and I didn’t have enough ingredients to double the filling recipe. Essentially I had a pie crust that went to the top of my pan and a cake that only went half way up the pan. It looked weird. I thought maybe the cake would rise up, so I still had a little hope as I tossed it in the oven. When I checked 20 minutes later, the cake had risen a little but not as much as I needed. The cake essentially had a crown of graham cracker crust around it.

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It was a hard thing to cook because after the thirty minutes when I was supposed to take it out of the oven, it still looked like it wasn’t set enough. I kept it in for an extra ten minutes which seemed to work but then I felt like I burnt the crust (even though I used a cake shield). I let it chill on the counter and then when it was cool enough, I put it in the fridge to chillax for the rest of the day. After the King of the North said howdy-do to The Queen of Dragons, I went to the kitchen to cut us a piece. I gave Lola a piece with some strawberry topping. I put chocolate sauce on mine. I had also made some fresh whipped cream to serve along with it. I hit each piece with a dollop of that.

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The crust was actually pretty tasty, it was just super thick (and towered over the cake by a good inch). It made you realize the portion of cake to crust was not in balance and you need the moistness of the cake to balance out the cookie crunch of the crust. It was tasty, it just needed more cake. The cake itself was good too and I was proud that I had finally made a cheesecake that tasted like actual cheesecake. The adding of the strawberries and chocolate helped too as it brought more flavor to the party.  The whole thing was sweet, creamy and delicious. It wasn’t exactly the New York Style Cheesecake I was hoping for, but I’m getting close. I told Lola about my crust concerns and she disagreed. She thought the crust was great and she was happy to have extra. She’s easy to please.

So like the 363 days that came before, National Cheesecake Day was not without its challenges. I screwed up the recipe ever-so and just had to deal with my mistakes. It didn’t cook properly so I had to use my judgement on when it was ready or not (and I may have burnt the crust along that path).  It is easier for me to deal with those issues now. Now that I have the yearlong experience, making last minute adjustments or corrections is no big thing. It’s all part of the game I’ve been playing. It’s one of the things I learned along the way – to be resourceful and to not sweat the small stuff. Mistakes happen. I still had a delicious piece of cheesecake with extra crust which Lola likes. I got to share it with her after a very long day of chasing our Pelican Brief and it gave us a nice little treat to cap off the day. Plus I got one more day closer to the finish line. I made it one more day. I think I can make it all the way now, especially now that I have a belly full of cheesecake.

Next up: National Raspberry Cake Day  

Day 363 – National Chicken Wing Day

Where I come from (New Haven), there’s a place that’s famous for wings. I never quite figured out if they are widely recognized throughout the lower forty-eight for amazing wings or if they were just a Connecticut thing, but either way, they serve some of the best wings I’ve ever had. The place is called Archie Moore’s and it’s been in New Haven on Willow Street since 1898 (although at some point in 1913, they moved the operation across the street). It was named after the original owner and upstairs tenant, Archie Moore, who was decidedly not the boxer of national notoriety. During Prohibition, Archie’s was a beverage house, serving only coffee and tea, although for those in the know, the widow Moore kept a gin still across the street to keep her special patrons happy. My mom tells me that my grandfather knew every place to get a drink in New Haven during Prohibition, so I like to think that Pop would be one of those lucky patrons to be let in on the secret stash, but you can’t be sure. Archie’s was on the other side of town from Fair Haven (where my grandparents lived) and probably not one of Pop’s usual haunts. Still, you go to the speakeasy, it doesn’t come to you.

Last year, after one of our visits to Connecticut to see my Mom, I took Lola on a very small food tour of New Haven. I think we first stopped at Modern Pizza for some of the world’s best pizza, and then we went to Archie’s for wings. I like to show off some of the places that make my hometown famous. We had done Pepe’s Pizza before and that was the same day we went to Libby’s for Italian Ice. That Italian Ice was life changing for Lola – she had never had such a delight. On this trip, the menu called for wings. You may not know this about Lola, but she loves a good wing. She likes spicy things and buffalo sauce is right up her alley. She still talks about wings that we used to get up in New Hampshire at MoJo’s (which is a rib joint). I had a feeling she’d like Archie Moore’s. It was a Saturday, although early in the night, and the place was surprisingly empty. We scored one of the two window seats that overlooks scenic Willow Street (which really isn’t very scenic at all unless you like seeing old neighborhoods). I think we ordered a dozen of their Buffalo Wings – we weren’t super hungry – and they came out in no time along with some nice refreshing beers as well. It ended up being a nice little date night out of nowhere. Plus, I converted Lola to being a fan of Archie Moore’s. I don’t know if that’s because of the wings or because it was a fun little date night, but she has a fondness for Archie’s now not unlike everyone from New Haven.

I would have loved to celebrate National Wing Day at Archie Moore’s but that wasn’t going to happen. It was another day of work at the Vineyard, so I was unavailable from morning until about 7:30 at night. Heading into work, I knew this and my plan was simply to pick up some wings on the way home. Clements has a pretty nice wing bar with 6 or seven varieties and it’s always a good option. As the day went on though, I started thinking about wings and I really wanted to make sure we had some good ones. That desire came out of hunger and not necessarily one based on making the most of National Chicken Wing Day, but that too was a factor on my choices. When I started thinking about Clements’ wings, I realized that their wings are great in the middle of the day when they are coming fresh from the fryer, but when you get there at 8 pm at night (especially when they close at 9), your selection isn’t the best. That’s just how it goes at any buffet. I decided that I should just order wings from a restaurant on the way home so I could guarantee they’d be made fresh and hot. But where should I order them from and what kind? This is what goes through your mind when you are hungry and stuck at work. There are about 1,000 pizza places in the one mile trip home (that’s how it is here) and they all sell wings. I decided to get a little variety. For Buffalo wings, the classic, I ordered from The North End Pizzeria which is right up the road from our house. Then for some variety, I ordered wings from Fieldstones Restaurant which is about halfway between our house and the Vineyard. It’s not a pizza place. It’s actually a full-service restaurant with good food and drink. A great spot for locals. I seem to remember someone saying their wings were good, so that was good enough for me. I called in and ordered two kinds: garlic parmesan and Thai Chili.

I went to Fieldstones first and I knew they wouldn’t be ready. I had called ahead and they said my order would be ready in about 20 minutes and I was there in ten. However, that was part of the grand plan because I could grab a cold beer while I was waiting. A server greeted me at the front and went to check on my order, meanwhile I grabbed a bottle of Bud Light from the bartender who served it right up with a pint glass on the side. I poured the beer into the glass and then poured the beer into me. I was super-thirsty and it tasted so good after a long day. I probably drank it too fast and I likely got myself flagged as a problem drinker, but it was worth it. I sat down and waited and the wings were ready in no time. I then went back to the car and headed to North End. The wings were ready there but there was some kind of shenanigans happening at the counter in front of me. It was a new person working the cash register and the customer was ordering the most complicated sandwich order ever. An Italian hoagie with extra provolone cheese, seven olives, the skin of a slightly bruised artichoke and the spit of a feral alpaca – something complicated like that. It was taking so long. I just wanted to yell out “I WANT MY WINGS!,” but I remained patient as best I could. Someone came from the back and took care of me. I was out of there minutes later as the clerk and the customer started discussing fair barter agreements for their king of all sandwiches.

When I got home, Lola was out for a walk which was a good thing. I knew she was inside all day working on our legal briefs and strategies. That’s not a joke. We have a deadline coming up on Tuesday and this meant that Monday is going to be a big day, so Lola was doing all our prep work. That’s super draining, so I am glad she was able to pull out for a minute and get some fresh air. I got ready for our wing fest so she could eat when she came back in. I set up some place settings and then unpacked each package of wings. The Fieldstone wings came in round plastic containers which I popped off the lid and put on display. The North End wings came in an aluminum container with a plastic lid which I went to pop off and when I did, I cut the very top of my finger on the edge of the aluminum. It hurt for a second and then started to bleed. I cleaned it up and fished out a Band-Aid to put over the wound. It was in an awkward spot, on the very tip of my left thumb, and the Band-Aid felt clumsy. I then realized that this was going to be a terrible spot to have a cut when I was just about to dive into food that I would eat with my hands which would get covered in buffalo and spicy chili sauce. I braved it out though. I got everything ready and waited for Lola.

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Wings are always best served as fresh as possible so when you get them to take home, you are going to lose some quality. I knew that going in but all things considered, these were all very good. Granted, by the time we dug in, I was starving. I started with the Parmesan Garlic wings which always sound so good. They had good garlic flavor and you could see the parmesan melted right on top, They were nice and meaty too. I liked them, but the problem is that Parmesan Garlic is a flavor that doesn’t mix well with the other flavors. Even though they were my favorite of the three, if you are having a smorgasbord of wings, I would say you either go all Parmesan Garlic or skip them. The Thai Chili was good too. The sauce was slightly more sweet than spicy, although there was slight heat in the background. They were a bit sloppy as the sauce was wet and sticky, but good. The Buffalo sauce was good too. I wouldn’t say there was much difference in the quality of the wings between the two restaurants. They both were good size wings, a decent balance of drumsticks and wings and lots of meat on each one. They all had crispy skins and nice moist meat. North End makes a good buffalo sauce too – we have had their Buffalo chicken pizza before and liked it, so we kind of expected them to be good. All in all, it was a good selection for variety and quality and I was pleased and satisfied when the frenzy was over (as was Lola).

Wings are kind of common place now and almost the basic ante for anyone in the appetizer game. The big chains famous for wings (Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters) have kind of stolen that magic of local places that built a reputation on their wings. The folks at Archie Moore’s and similar places are the forefathers of good wings and why they became a sensation. It was their recipes, their persistence and their legend that made wings something that all good bars must sell. Today, as we celebrate National Chicken Wing Day, I was glad to reminisce about the magic of a place like Archie’s. They paved the way for great chicken wings and we tip our cap to their efforts. While my feast today couldn’t come from the famous spots, I did get mine from the neighborhood places. I kept it local where the wings came hot, fresh and tasty. Wings are best served in neighborhood places and our neighborhood is full of hard working wing makers. Now if they would just sell Italian Ice.

Next up: National Cheesecake Day