Leaving Long Island for a bit was entirely necessary and, as per usual, Southwest Airlines gave me a quick, on-time, and uneventful flight. After the disaster I’d suffered through with U.S. Airways the week before, it was refreshing to have such a spot-on aero experience (for those who missed it, my flight left two hours late from Williamsburg, so I missed my on-time connection in Philadelphia only to discover that my options were waiting two days in the airport–at my own expense–or driving the four hours back to Long Island–at my own expense. When I retrieved my bag, which was inexorably loaded on the next flight to Islip, it had been rifled through and picked over. Awesome. Thanks a lot.). Anyway, it was great to return south, however briefly. Similarly to when I left New York City, I find myself missing people–my southern family–much more than the place.
After the particularly anticlimactic Mobile Moon Pie Drop (“OK, it’s coming down but there’s no count down. Is it time yet? They’re just chattering. Oh wait. It stopped. Um … Happy New Year!) a few of us started the first morning of 2011 with an odd, hopefully non-portentous, brunch: leftovers from 2010. Medium-rare hanger steak, fried local eggs and some crunchy toast seemed as good a meal as any to start the year. We added some orange juice for health, prosecco for happiness and strong coffee for determination.
Eating (and writing) at Trattoria Centrale is one of the things I miss most about The Magic City. Geoff and Brian do such a consistently wonderful job of serving simply delicious food in a comfortable environment. Over my four days, I ate breakfasted in Trattoria Centrale twice. Sunday, I revisited my favorite brunch item–the breakfast za, with its sausage, potatoes, and perfectly poached egg–and was lucky enough to try Emily’s dish of eggs, sausage and pesto on a bed of creamy polenta. I was skeptical at first, but once all the elements come together, it was sublime. When Kim and I were there working, Geoff would steam up what he called The Kim Special. It is essentially a really wet, sweet cappuccino.
Urban Standard was my home away from home, and I missed the hell out of their red velvet cupcakes and Brandon’s expertly pulled espresso macchiatos. It was (and as it turns out, is) one of those places where practically everyone knows my name (and are usually glad I came). The fish sandwich with pickled onions is usually a safe bet, too. This cupcake help revive my spirits after a positively disgusting bowl of Yeti Chocolate Pudding at The J. Clyde the night before (it was nothing but a big ol’ vat of sickly sweet mess. No delicious Yeti Stout flavor.)
This post has just a few of the things I miss about living in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to spend time (never enough) with people I miss. Upon returning to Long Island, I remembered that I hadn’t been to the beach since September. I bundled up and headed to Dune Road. The sand crunched with a bit of lingering snow and the roiling surf was rougher than expected. It would have been a perfect walk if not for the blistering wind. After a few minutes with it to my back, I realized what an awful return trip I’d have so I turned back toward my waiting car.
How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Was it delicious?
Skip produces The Gourmetro. He was ready for a cold walk on the beach, but the wind was intense. Intense! Important Disclosure: Trattoria Centrale paid once paid him a one-time sum to reword their website. That was a while ago now and has nothing to do with how much he loves their food. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.