Sunday, April 28, 2013

that seafood joint

It doesn't smell like a pier stand or a seafood joint you might run across on the East Coast but it kind-of feels like one.  The menu is both straightforward and odd and the food is great.

I say joint partly because that's the name; 20 Feet Seafood Joint.

Spoke and I checked it out Friday night.  I grabbed the dry Riesling from the fridge and we headed toward Casa Linda, our mouths watering at the thought of a really good seafood spot having opened close by. 

(20 Feet is currently BYOB and I do wish they'd consider staying that way though if I'm honest, come August, a cold Hendricks and tonic with cucumber could hit the spot alongside a bowl of those famous Green Room Mussels.)

We couldn't wait to eat but we took our time, hoping to grab a different table as soon as one opened up, to escape the ceiling vents blowing cold air upon us, which granted, I'll surely appreciate in the summer as I sip that gin and tonic and try to cool down... 

Once comfy, we split an order of Fish and Chips, cutting the last, third piece, right down the middle, threatening our better half if they tried to edge out any bigger chunk of the plump, snow-white cod.  I'd read about the fries so I was expecting them to be exceptionally good.  They were; hot and crisp with a light touch of herbs.  The Lobster Roll, served chilled, we saved for last, and it was about as good as I'd heard; simply dressed meat bursting out of a buttery, almost brioche-style, bun.

Tables all around us were sharing Blue Point Oysters.  If I'd had a large conch shell to put up to my ear, I do believe I'd have heard it summoning me to make this the place, the joint, where I get over my fear and learn to enjoy raw oysters. 

Until then, there's so much to entice me and all of you at 20 Feet Seafood Joint; Caesar salads with shrimp, salmon, or pork belly, five types of Po' Boys, chowder, clams, and main dishes like Blackened Shrimp Scampi with Parmesan Grits.  Check the counter for daily specials.  

Did I mention Falafel, Ramen, and the Mexican Shrimp Cocktail? 

The restaurant is just down the road from the Dallas Arboretum which I frequent and that's a good thing for I love to walk the entirety of the vast park.  You see, I fear, 20 Feet could quickly mean 20 pounds. 

20 Feet Seafood Joint
1160 Peavy Road, Dallas, 75218, 972.707.7442
Look for the pale blue Jolly Roger flag flying high!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

mad about la cafe

I was sure a day would come when I would be able to return to the café, confident I could handle the memories of those many hours spent there with my mother, enjoying wine and food, watching people and watching afternoons turn into evenings.  We had favorite tables and favorite chairs, sometimes preferring a window, most often a seat by the fire.  We knew which tables wobbled and which corners were always drafty. 

The first La Madeleine was built in Dallas and I have precious memories of sexy breakfasts there with Spoke when we were love-struck-giddy and ravished, and time stood still as we shared full baguettes and cup after cup of strong French coffee.

This café is in my mother's suburban neighborhood and she loved it. 

One afternoon many years ago, right around Easter, we met at La Madeleine and spontaneously celebrated the results of her recent cardiac workup for atrial fibrillation.  She was happy and relieved.  I was happy and relieved.  A few days later I wrote her a poem and stuck it in the mail.

Hippity Hoppity
All's well
the Doc
Stolen afternoons
sharing the good news
Hippity Hoppity

The Doc in the poem is now my cardiologist and as I left his office last Wednesday, happy and relieved, and with a half-hour to spare, I knew it was the day for me to bravely return for the first time since her death, to our café. 

I sat by the fire. 

I did not cry.

Poem, Easter 2004

Monday, April 1, 2013

call me frances

The film Bella opens with the line, and I'm sure you've heard it before, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans." 

Has your life turned out the way you envisioned it? 

Would you choose to do some things over if you could?

I was considering all of this at the Easter Brunch table Spoke and I hosted.  We were a relatively small group and of the people present, the totality of our life histories included loves, deaths, children, divorces, good health, illness, good fortune, tragedy...

We had great conversations for at the table sat many people of faith; people who believe that from bad comes good
Our guest ChuChu, a lovely lady from Ethiopia, lost her house in a fire last year.  She has lived in Dallas for fifteen years but has only one cousin in town so when she arrived for brunch yesterday she exclaimed, "I have a family now."

It was my Frances Mayes moment.  That would be Frances from the screenplay Under The Tuscan Sun, not Frances Mayes the author of the book which is very different from the film.  (Loved them both.)  The character in the film, in one short scene, cooks for several people and she's obviously completely in love with feeding the people she loves.  It is the beginning clue that by the end of the movie, she will realize the bounty and the richness of her life, though it's not the life she expected from the start. 

I was equally as happy as Frances when I planned and prepared this Easter Brunch of deviled eggs, French cornichons, ham, shrimp and scallop cakes, potato-Parmigiano gratin, chilled rice with smoked salmon, spring salad with pistachios and warm, breaded rounds of chevre, white beans made creamy with crème fraiche and Herbs de Provence, biscuits and croissants with orange marmalade, lemon cake, fresh strawberries with whipped cream, all preceded by champagne and wine, followed by espresso...

(Put me in a movie!)

That Eddie, Ellie, Ernie and Colleen are no longer with us, in its way, opened our door at 3906 to new friends and good has come from bad

I heard God laugh on Sunday but for the first time in several years, I am looking forward to the next holiday.