Saturday I fly to San Antonio for an International Fundraising Conference. I’m not even embarrassed to tell you that I am most looking forward to the reservations I’ve had for months to Boudro's, this supposedly amazing restaurant my friend said we have to visit. I can’t wait!! (In case you were wondering, my plan is to have the Duck Three Ways: Soy espresso glazed duck confit with huckleberry blood orange sauce, served with a crispy duck springroll, smoked duck enchilada and jalapeno corn pudding) I’m also excited for airport reading time, in-the-air reading time, and hotel-after-long-day reading time. Plus, I’ll attend fundraising sessions and hopefully come home with some fundraising swag. But really, the food!
I’m hopeful that the restaurant lives up to the hype. I’ve had some pretty memorable eats and drinks in my lifetime, and although this list is irrelevant to reading….. here are some of my top meals:
Mr. B’s Barbequed Shrimp at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans
New Orleans is one of my very favorite destinations. Whenever I hear that someone is soon to be in NOLA, I encourage them to head to Mr. B’s. When you order their BBQ Shrimp, they’ll place a bib around your neck right before they place a platter of jumbo shrimp and French bread in front of you. The shrimp is drowning in a sauce like you’ve never tasted before. It’s sweet and smoky and you’ll drag your bread through it and stop just short of licking the plate. I first experienced this dish on a family vacation with my sister and parents, and since I was in high school, I suppose it’s somewhat likely that I did, in fact, lick the plate. Most recently, I had a serving of it when hanging out in New Orleans with my sister a few years ago. The recipe is on the website, but I’m nervous to make it, because what if it doesn’t live up? I’d probably just better go back.
White wine flight, fish flight, and chocolate flight at Flight in Memphis
Early on in my OSF career, I attended a Donor Relations Conference in Memphis with my boss and fellow new Donor Relations Coordinator (now one of my besties, Ashley). Blessedly, they allowed me to choose the restaurant for our first evening out, and I’m proud to tell you that I brought my A game in restaurant research. I had a wine flight, seafood flight, and finished up with a dessert flight (vacation calories aren’t a thing, and conference calories are even less of a thing!) If my memory serves me, it was a beautiful night and we were able to eat outside. We stuffed ourselves and learned more about each other. Next time I’m in Memphis, I’m there!
Soprano sandwich and High Rock Kit Kat at High Rock Café in Wisconsin Dells
On our Puerto-Rican honeymoon-turned Wisconsin Dells honeymoon, Jeff and I still were able to pack in a lot of fun experiences, including an AWESOME day zip-lining. On the van ride back to our cars, the tour guide recommended High Rock Café, and encouraged us to be sure to get the homemade Kit Kat dessert. Sold! Exhausted, flushed, and happy (and ravenous!), we feasted on amazing early dinner followed by the recommended dessert. Afterwards, Jeff (who acts like he doesn’t care about food one way or another) even had to admit that it was one of the best dinners he’s ever had. We took Vinnie and Veronica last year and while it was a whole different experience, the food was still fantastic. So was the High Rock Kit Kat!
Pecan Crusted Halibut at Le Radis Rouge
Today you might go to Tony Roma’s in Bloomington and have a hit or miss steak-chain meal. But 15 years ago, you would go to the restaurant at the Chateau and dine on food that would knock your socks off, including Jumer’s famous cinnamon rolls (in the bread basket!). Throughout my college years and just after, I would forever be dragging my family there for my birthday or any other celebration so that I could enjoy my favorite dish, the pecan crusted halibut. I can still taste it. Their duck was awesome as well. We had some wonderful family dinners there, and God bless my dad for not flinching at the bill. He probably knew the French restaurant’s days were numbered in Bloomington-Normal.
All of the food – Cracked Pepper wedding tasting
While I thought the food at our wedding reception was delicious, there’s no way it could ever compare to what was set before us at our tasting. Everything the chef brought out – from the carrots to the salmon to the rosemary spuds, the bbq chicken, the salad – it was all fantastic. Jeff and I left the tasting room grinning from ear to ear. We were getting married, and then we were going to get to eat that meal again! (…and again, the afternoon after our wedding. Still good!) Our choices, paired with our niece Taylor’s truly phenomenal desserts helped us feel better about not offering an open bar. Hopefully we were forgiven!
Pain Perdu – somewhere in New Orleans.
Really I’m just envisioning my family sitting outside in New Orleans – a light breeze, the trip only just beginning, eyes sparkling with our relatively new discovery of the coolest city ever, luggage bulging with eclectic treasures purchased all around the French quarter – and four thick slabs of French toast glistening with butter displayed in front of me, ready to be inhaled and washed down with chicory coffee and probably alcohol of some sort. But it wasn’t French toast like you’re thinking! I don’t know what it was, other than sweet and flavorful and quick to disappear.
Iced Miel Latte – Thirty-Thirty Coffee, Peoria
Luckily, my best coffee experience can be relived again and again anytime I’m in Peoria and feel like treating myself (and am ideally not pregnant, as supposedly my fetus should only have so much espresso) – this coffee confection is sweet but thanks to honey and cinnamon as opposed to pumps of flavored sweet syrup. There’s a difference, and you can taste it. My mouth is getting all watery right now just thinking about it. I bet even the fetus could kinda go for one.
(Note: I have another coffee experience that ties for first place, but I remember virtually nothing about it, other than when I was just in my infancy of discovering coffee drinks, I suggested that my dad and I split some iced orange mocha thing during one of our vacations. We took it to go and finished it as we were walking in about four sips flat. We looked at each other and considered running back for another one (or two! Or three!). I wish we had!
Oh my gosh, I’m only about halfway through my list! This will need to be a two-part blog post, as I don’t want to drive my readership (of 5 people) away with unnecessarily long blog posts.
I want to hear about your favorite dining experiences!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.