A wedge of iceberg lettuce was bathed in vinaigrette and topped with crumbled bleu cheese. I was disgusted. I wanted sour cream! I wanted buttermilk! I wanted creamy calories I could afford back then, back in the seventies.
Fast forward three decades; I wanted this salad for dinner tonight!
"Your tastes change every seven years, you know," I preached to Elizabeth, sitting together at Zanata's bar, sharing the Sampler. There was brie and cherry marmalade to spread on crusty bread bread. There were olives and warm pecans. Beth was gaga over the small peppers filled with goat cheese until I stated the obvious.
"Oh, but I don't eat goat cheese," she said, putting the half eaten pepper down on her plate. "Uh, yes you do," I replied, stifling a Cheshire cat grin.
"That can't be goat cheese. I don't like goat cheese."
"You might not like tangy, goat cheese but you obviously like lusciously mild, goat cheese, and this one is excellent," I explained.
As I crumbled the cheese for tonight's dinner salad, I thought about the truth in that old wife's tale my mother passed on to me from her mother. I grabbed a fork and vigorously beat the dressing, wondering if Elizabeth might like to try this salad.
I laughed out loud; silly to even ask...
She doesn't like blue cheese.
Salad with Blue Cheese
Two chilled wedges of iceberg lettuce
Three tablespoons olive oil
One tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
One ounce blue cheese, cut into pieces One ripe tomato, quartered and salted
Whisk together the olive oil and the vinegar until emulsified.
Stir in the salt and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing between the layers and over the tops of the lettuce wedges.
Arrange the bites of blue cheese across each wedge. Serve with tomato and freshly ground pepper.
Serves two as a side salad, one a full dinner salad. For a little seventies flavor, add handfuls of French's, crispy Fried Onions.
STORE WARS! Help Zanata win for Cystic Fibrosis; stop in and vote before May 5th! Plano, 15th Street Best Bar-Restaurant!
As a blogger who left her heart in Florence, it's easy to be envious of other bloggers living in foreign cities they love; cities boasting beauty with every forward step or sideways glance.
"If I had a better lens and we lived in Paris, I could take photographs as striking as theirs," I say to Spoke, kissing him on each cheek, shouting au revoir as I leave for the arboretum.
You might say it's become my little Parisian hideaway, this space of dense beauty with benches throughout on which to sit and savor, to think, or watch people stroll.
How beautiful the arboretum was during Dallas Blooms!
I returned a second time to the festival, anticipating even more shots but the cherry blossom trees were by then hard to spot, a single bloom not to be found on their branches. Wisteria had begun to pale and tulip beds, though still beautiful, were losing their fullness.
I sat in the warm sun at a cafe table across from Crape Myrtle Allee, the arching canopy of trees which I showed you last fall. The sweeping alley is my favorite spot in this park, perhaps in all of Dallas.
It was then, with the briefest sideways glance, that I saw her and I took this photo.
He told me as he filled out the brackets (in ink) just like he and my dad used to do as soon as the chart hit the local paper. Spoke would tell me his pick before the tournament started so I could be an honest witness to his winning predictions.
Win, he did!
My dad couldn't believe how often Spoke got it right, whether it was the ACC or the NCAA tournaments. "Ernie, sometimes you've got to go with the underdog," he'd say as my dad time after time would stay loyal to the ACC or just pick a favored team.
As he got older, my dad would wait and fill out his picks game by game as teams were eliminated. It was then, less about the game and more about the guy-time.
Spoke went to watch ball most weekends during the regular college season, hauling clean laundry, a few grocery items and if Daddy was lucky, something special from the 3906 kitchen; a pie or bread pudding or cheddar cheese cookies which by halftime, he'd have eaten half of from the small, rusty holiday tin which was passed back and forth year round.
My husband continues to fill out his basketball picks, two seasons now without my dad. I think he always will.
Spoke fills me in during regular games and the tournaments; we talk highlights and scores, coaches and injuries, even the draft, but in a way, in some magical way, it very much remains their guy-time.
I didn't spot my friend at a corner table when I arrived at The Alligator Cafe so I sat at the bar and checked out the menu. Top item; Fried Green Tomatoes, $5.95. No reason to keep reading; I'd start with those and have plenty of time to look at the rest later.
The place is different from Frankie's Lil Europe which was the cafe in this quaint corner of Casa Linda, the last time I was here. Different but yet very much the same; casually inviting, doors to the front and doors to the courtyard wide open, and the very large fountain still begging to be brought back to its glory days.
It wasn't long before my friend and I were digging into a plate of tomatoes. Diggin 'em too. Crunchy but light and like good green ones should be; super sweet. I dug for a pen from my bag and wrote myself a reminder; make green tomato pie.
Around seven, there was Andrea, smiling and singing to the crowded cafe, my real reason for coming and my first opportunity to see her since she returned from her three-month stint at the Waldorf in Shanghai. Welcome home, girl!
Andrea sang Route 66. I ate a few large shrimp, each bite dipped in tarter sauce.
She sang Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay as my friend ate catfish.
My sister arrived. Andrea sang a Mavis tune as our table was topped with collards, white beans and crawfish.
Gentleman John Street, straight from Louisiana, was backing Andrea and giving us a few soulful solos of his own.
Andrea sang a tribute to our mom!
Tony brought more Gulf shrimp and a gorgeous smile.
Andrea sang Happy Birthday to my sister in English and Chinese!
Between sets she hung out with some of her admiring friends.
It was such fun, this evening of Cajun, Creole and Blues, that I found myself back at the cafe two nights later for Dawson's 10:00 turn at the mic.
Kicking back, I listened to Twenty-Nine Ways, Stormy Monday, It Don't Mean A Thing If ItAin't Got That Swing. There was Van Morrison's Moondance and there was a little Tina Turner with I Can't Stand the Rain. There were more Fried Green Tomatoes too. I met Bill Eden on the saxophone and Alex Seriano on keys.
Andrea sang At Last for me!
At 1:00 it was time to go home...
I'll be back to try the crab claws, lots of hushpuppies on the side. I'll try blackened tilapia and the cucumber-tomato salad, and I'm sure to be swinging by to pick up hot Po'Boys to-go.
But mostly, I'll be waiting for the awesome Ms. Dawson to return.
The Alligator Cafe, Casa Linda Plaza Dallas, 214.821.6900, eatgator.com They really do serve alligator.
I believe each day gives us something; a few minutes of afternoon light casting intricate shadows on a dining room wall, or a delicious Pesto because the basil got knee-high.
Maybe some things broke my heart.......
I write about them all.
My name is Becca. I live in Dallas but I left my heart in Florence, Italy. I'd like to thank you for reading.