Friday, June 19, 2009

Breakfast, Then Dessert

What’s better before attending a festival and spending money on crafts than a good breakfast?

Nothing, that’s what. So before Mike, Joanie, Chuck, and I ventured into the throngs attending the Strawberry Festival in Billings, MT, Mike and Joanie took us to their favorite breakfast joint – Sarah’s. The first thing we learned is that this small restaurant used to be called El Burrito, but when it was sold to Margaret and her sister (also not named Sarah), they renamed it Sarah’s to honor the former owner, Sarah Rodriguez.

This is one of those order-at-the-counter, find-a-seat, help-yourself-to-the-salsa-bar-for-the-right-level-of-heat-to-eat-with-the-corn-chips-on-each-table, and retrieve-your-food-when-your-name-is-called kind of place. Just what we love. After being introduced to Margaret, we turned our attention to the menu posted on the wall. The list of breakfast items was short—chorizo and eggs, machaca (shredded beef) and eggs, a Mexican omelet, and huevos rancheros with green chili sauce.

Now I love huevos rancheros, but we came for the off-menu special--Big Mike's Monster Breakfast Burrito. Since we were standing next to the namesake of the Big Mike’s, we asked about the Monster Burrito’s origin. It seems that Mike, who is somewhat shy, approached Margaret after he felt that he had reached the status of “regular” at her restaurant and asked if she would prepare a kicked-up version of the breakfast burrito.

Start with a large flour tortilla. Add scrambled eggs. Add fried potatoes. Add cheese. And add the secret (well, it’s not a secret any longer) ingredient, good spicy Mexican chorizo. Fortunately, Margaret complied with the request.

This is the breakfast of champions.

So, Chuck and I joined Mike in the burrito blast. With his meal, Chuck also had a serving of refried beans topped with cheese. Joanie’s meal (right) that morning was corn tortillas topped with scrambled egg and a generous serving of salsa.

While we waiting for our names to be called, we greedily ate two baskets of tortilla chips with salsa. I, of course, chose the hot salsa which was so hot (but so good) that I had a coughing fit. Pride led me to try and fool my dining companions by claiming that I swallowed wrong. Did I succeed? I suspect not. But when my burrito arrived, I also gave it a generous application of the same salsa.

Spicy chorizo and spicy salsa. There is no better way to start the day. This was a mighty fine breakfast burrito that was full of filling and full of flavor. Chuck only let me have one small forkful of his refried beans, which were the style that I like – not a smooth puree but with some recognizable pieces of bean mixed with pureed beans. But I did think that the beans lacked seasoning – like some of the hot, hot salsa.

Sarah’s is the kind of place that would make me a regular, and I give it 4.0 Addies.

Fortified for a morning of walking, we headed across the street and joined the crowd at the Strawberry Festival. Withing a few minutes, it seemed as though much of the population of Greater Billings had decided to celebrate this beautiful spring day with a stroll through the Festival's offerings.

As is the usual format for local festivals, there were tents with information about several different causes, raffles, craft booths (artwork, photography, quilts, metal creations, and a variety of jams, preserves, and health products), and a broad selection of different ethnic foods.

An architectural structure which caught our attention was at the center of the festival. Skypoint is a tent-like structure (center of photo, above) over the intersection 2nd Avenue and Broadway.

The largest sail can move to let the sun through or to cover the intersection if it rains. This is part of the plan to revitalize downtown Billings and attract more people to downtown. Skypoint was completed in 2002 and was originally named the "Defining Element," until it got its current name in a naming contest. It was built as a new icon for the city of Billings and to hold events such as the Strawberry Festival.

We caught these two onlookers either feeling a bit warm or eagerly awaiting some of the food choices or strawberry shortcake.

And speaking of "caught," we spied this strawberry attempting an escape its role as supporting actor/actress in the festival's main attraction.

Looking like a chorus line of beauties, the shortcake servings have been joined by the strawberries and are awaiting the adoration of their fans.

An appreciative audience applauded loudly and long.

No comments: