When the first hot, humid days of summer arrive, hunger pangs alter. An appetite in summer can turn on and off without much warning.
Salads would seem to be a wise choice, but then all of a sudden, a hot fudge sundae can appeal as an adequate dinner. Memories of heading to the drive-in with Mom and Dad come along with the lightning bugs in the heavy evening air, and you find yourself at the drive-up window at Dairy Queen, ordering a Blizzard. Snacky stuff, convenience foods, leftovers and takeout come to the fore.
Basically, summer is a time when you're apt to say "I deserve this," whether that's a good idea or not.
Some recent finds:
- The blueberry muffin from the Willy Street Co-op. This muffin has some legs. It doesn't taste like super-sweet cake but it's not a severe, bran/whole-wheat style muffin either. It's only slightly sweet, but deliciously crumbly, and the blueberry flavor comes through. A fresh juice from the juice bar -- anything with a shot of ginger would be my pick -- completes breakfast.
- I'll admit I like the new "French Toast" bagels at Einstein Bros. Yes, it really does taste like French toast, and with a "shmear" of the honey almond cream cheese, it can taste like one of those awesome stuffed French toast casseroles that thoughtful people (who should really be cultivated as friends) bring to brunch potlucks. It's a little softer than some bagels, and like French toast, it has a slightly eggy finish.
- Glass Nickel's meatless Mediterranean lasagna doesn't leave you wondering where the beef is. Just because it's meatless doesn't mean it's a "white" (no tomato sauce) lasagna; chunky tomato sauce amped with some (but not an overwhelming blast) of basil pesto and fresh spinach form the heart of the meal. But face it, the three cheeses -- ricotta, feta and mozzarella -- are the creamy stars of the show. It comes with a side of garlic bread an a very fresh iceberg lettuce salad, and the hefty square of lasagna could easily do for two meals. It could be argued that it's even better reheated the next day.
- The best you can do at Wei's Food to Go cart (corner of Main and Pinckney, in front of the Tenney Building) is the cold rice noodle salad. It's available topped with either barbecue pork or, even better, an egg hard-boiled and steeped in tea. The salad comes with cucumber and celery and a sweet-and-spicy fish sauce.
- Sub sandwich giant Milio's nods toward the summer weather with three new salads: "Ultimate Greek," "Mandarin Cashew" and "House Garden." The Mandarin orange boasts oranges, naturally, and cashews, cukes and provolone on mixed greens and comes with choice of (packet) dressing.
- The Spice Yatra cart is back on the Square at Mifflin and MLK Jr. -- proprietor and cook Sunil Gopal found a new kitchen and is back on the spice journey with kadai chicken, vegetable curry, fabulous vegetarian samosa that pack real heat and more. The adage about spicy food cooling you off in summer because it makes you sweat? Maybe so. This just tastes good.