Indulge me for a moment, as I wax poetic about something that's near and dear to my heart: good food.
When I was coming out of high school, I always had--somewhere in the back of my head--the desire to be a chef. It's not something I acted on, which I'm somewhat glad of now, as I'm sure I would not have the sheer physical endurance needed for the culinary world, but I still love to cook and can really appreciate well-made cuisine.
I readily admit: I'm a foodie. I watch Food Network incessantly. I've read all but one of Anthony Bourdain's books, cover to cover. I have a collection of cookbooks on top of my refridgerator. Hell, I've even played the "Iron Chef" drinking game...though I don't recommend it, if you have anything important to do in the near future.
It's kind of odd, as my favorite two cuisines are at almost diametric opposites on the spectrum.
Indian food is one of blending--bringing together a series of spices (a garum) into a blend that's standard for a household, which represents a personal flavor. Full of stewed and curried food, Indian cusine brings elements together into a singular meal, brought together by their commonalities.
Italian food, on the other hand, is one of stark flavors. In a well-made bruschetta, one can taste each individual ingredient for its full freshness and flavor, while simultaneously composing a greater whole of a simple antipasti.
It's because of this that I have a tendency to look for smaller, family-owned restaurants. It's no surprise that Jeet India and Giovanni's--both Fairborn institutions--are among my favorite restaurants.
What's most shocking to me, though, is the fact that I find myself recently enamored of a chain restaurant: Texas Roadhouse, of all places!
Starving and needing some dinner, the PlatinumChick and I headed to the newly opened chain-station earlier this evening, and my expectations were somewhat low. I've had steak and ribs at some of the best places on Earth: prime rib at the Jon-Benet Tavern in Butler, PA; ribs at Bob's Bar-be-que of Ada, OK...and I have rather high standards on both.
While I was expecting a pre-packaged, "Applebee's" steak, I instead got a tender cut of ribeye that parted before my steak knife like the red sea. I expected 'blinged-out' waiters with no knowledge of their menus; instead, I got a knowledgeable, friendly young guy who really knew his way around the kitchen.
Needless to say, I was impressed. For once, a chain got it right--the homestyle appeal, the food quality of a 'real' restaurant, and the love of food so common to fine cuisine. My commendations!