Year-end deadlines, Christmas shopping, counter-productive weather--the odds are stacked against a year winding to a relaxing, peaceful conclusion.
All the more reason to take a breath, slow the pace, and take a moment for a simple pleasure...like a real lunch.
I've done my share of cubical-bound, simul-surf-noshing, of delivered sandwiches that seal the deal on seeing natural light for the day, of fishing for comfort in paper-pint containers of overpriced soup. But you (yeah, YOU, reader!) can only spin your wheels so hard for so long.
August sits in a tunnelish space with a snug front parlor, flanked by dark wood beams and low lighting; which makes walking into the glassed-in garden room that much more of a welcome kick in the head.
Basking in weather-blocked sunlight is just a cherry on your mid-day sundae, as there are some great eats to be had here, noon or night!
Even with the abridged lunch menu, The Office Alpha Asian and I struggled to make choices, knowing in our hearts that eating-induced comas are less socially acceptable in daylight. She wound up with the cuppa soup and half sandwich special:
On that day, 'twas Curried Pumpkin Soup and Salumi Panini with roasted tomato, mustard, pecorino, arugula; $13. Alpha was happy with this combo of toasty and soothingly creamy, and after a proffered spoonful, I was actively coveting her soup.
Tick-tock! By now, friends/drinking buddies/loose acquaintances/clients/distant relatives have made their way out of the woodwork to pounce on your unsuspecting, holiday-bewildered self, and good 'ol standards and practices dictates that they must each get a well-thought-out bauble...or bottle.
(By the by...I am currently not and have never worked for Murray's...all this super-schillin' merely demonstrates how pathetically dependent I am on them for tokens of good tidings and moments of personal indulgence.)
For those in need of a more potent yuletide fix:
Compass Box Whiskey: Sorry kids, these are not single-malt, but vatted malt (i.e., blended) Scotch whiskeys--don't let the lack of trendiness deter you, though. The Peat Monster is a great find for all the gruffed-voiced loves in your life; the almost floral Hedonism and Asyla will help to ease the Scotch-uninitiated; and winter nights are that much cozier with Orangerie and a square or two of dark chocolate.
Four Roses: No need to cross an ocean for solid brown booze--described as a "high-rye" bourbon, Four Roses has a spicy, fruity complexity that was practically made for spiking eggnog and dipping Grandpa's dentures.
Psst. As sure as foodgossipwhores will squeal and clamor for the next big thing, Pig was ALWAYS big and, God willing, will always offer a great taste-to-value-ratio. So let's just take a moment to be glad that good 'ol pork is having its moment in the sun, so that dedicated eaters can enjoy the collateral porcine fallout.
Ryan Skeen is a name oft-whispered amongst the fans of offcuts and burger-delirious. Having carved himself a niche doling out lamb ribs, beef cheeks, and fatback-enriched burgers at Resto, he's moved on to give the Irving Mill a much-needed jolt, delivered on the presupposed slick of barnyard indulgence.
For those who hate change, not to worry! It's a larger restaurant than Resto, so that more of us may simultaneously partake of treats in a warmly (READ: dimly) lit room swathed in rough-hewn wood.
Plus, some of the signature highlights have trotted right over from Resto (give-or-take some glamour-tweaking); behold, the beloved pork-jowl toasts (think uber-rich croquettes), dotted with skooshed egg and caviar:
I don't think the Creator intended for any of his critters to turn up as toast...but after a couple of unctuously rich, crispy bites, I doubt He/She would mind. In fact, He/She might be pissed they didn't think of it first.
And, of course, the modified-Resto burger:
I like a good burger as much as the next glut, but I'm by no means an aficionado, and was uncertain that I'd be able to discern a marked difference between Resto's Fatback Mountain vs. Irving Mill's Beef Flap Fantasy. But lo, there were remarkable changes, and for the better!
Being from Hawaii, Thanksgiving gets a little sticky, as it's too far to go home for too short a period of time.
Which is why fellow Oahu ex-pat Max instituted Big Gay Thanksgiving, where he throws his doors open to feed stray friends and orphaned family. Naturally, most of these folks are from the West coast, but the mix changes and fluxes every year, and it's always a great warm-and-fuzzy gathering, completely a-gog with food and booze.
We done ourselves proud! As the Max and I surveyed our spread, artfully arranged by Grand Mistress Alex, we can't help but marvel in thanks that every year, cranking out a kick-ass Thanksgiving gets a little easier.
Stuffed mushroom caps
Crisp flatbread with tapenade and tomato bruschetta topping