Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Describe It As…

watching with half an eye. I am sure that you have suffered from the same condition. You have on the TV, but really aren’t paying much attention unless something comes on the screen that commands attention.

So early one evening, I have on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and Guy Fieri is visiting a diner in a town in Texas that I had never heard of and didn’t intend to visit. All I recall was his being accompanied by Matthew McConaughey (Yes, the actor who just won the Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, a movie that I haven’t seen and have no intention of seeing.) So I went back to reading my book without watching further. Well, to my surprise, here we are in Georgetown, TX, and having breakfast at Monument Café, the same restaurant visited by Guy and Matthew.
“Monument Café…was opened in 1995 by a guy from New York. If you have a good imagination, visualize a roadside diner on steroids…..you have the Monument Cafe… The Monument clients include a heavy dose of senior citizens….or, as I like to call it, the ‘Blue Hair’ crowd. All the older ladies were gussied-up in their ‘Sunday Best’ for the mature gentleman on their arms…” (eclecticramblings.wordpress.com).

Since the café was almost empty during our visit, we didn’t have the opportunity to see these elderly couples (other than ourselves—although my hair isn’t blue), nor did we have—as David Letterman used to describe it—a “brush with greatness”—since Guy Fieri and Matthew McConaughey were nowhere to be found.

“The word ‘monument’ is based on a Latin root that means ‘to remind.’ Monuments typically remind us of special people or commemorate important events. Georgetown's popular Monument Cafe is a living testament to the classic roadside diner cooking of a bygone era, offering simply prepared fresh food, sold at affordable prices. The cafe opened in a small original location in 1995, and overwhelming success necessitated the move to a much bigger new building not far from the historic courthouse square in 2008. The new space boasts classic retro diner styling with accents of dark wood and chrome, Art Deco light fixtures alternating with ceiling fans,
black vinyl booths, and tables with sturdy schoolhouse chairs. The menu is simple and straightforward with everything made fresh, from scratch, every day. The atmosphere is small-town friendly with attentive service to match” (Virginia B. Wood at austinchronicle.com).

“Monument is in some ways a completely typical Texas Diner. There's the black-and-white checked floors, the booths lining the windows, the specials chalk board with the day's pies, soups, and lunch features hanging above the counter. And the menu is pretty typical too: there're all kinds of burgers and fried chicken; there's meatloaf; there's fries, and onion rings and green beans; there's fresh lemonade.

“But that's sort of the tail end of the typicalness… Take the kids menu: nearly every time chicken strips appears on a kids menu, no matter how inspired the grown up food is, it's the same frozen crap from one place to the next. Here, the chicken was fresh, the breading home-made, and the taste was on an entirely different plane than is the usual… What it says to me is that local doesn't have to mean health food, that supporting organics can lead to inspiration in menus that have been deadened by years of increasingly industrialized food production. It says that just because food isn't fancy or exotic or expensive doesn't mean that it can't provide first rate eating” (grubbus.com).
Sitting back in our storage locker in Pennsylvania is a copy of Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans. This book will never find a place in Monument Café’s kitchen. As they say on their menu: “…We serve only fresh (never frozen or canned) meats, vegetables, and desserts. Everything we serve is cooked in this building by our employees (and when we say ‘cooked.’ we don’t mean ‘heated-up’ or ‘thawed-out’). We make our own biscuits, tortilla chips, and salsa. We make all our own desserts, from scratch, every day. We don’t bake our own bread (yet)… We do hand-bread our chicken fried steaks, onion rings, and okra. We hand-cut our French fries. Our orange juice is fresh-squeezed to order by our staff (it is not pasteurized, reconstituted, or irradiated). And we use only real ingredients in all our cooking: real whipping cream, real butter, real yard eggs, and 100% canola oil for frying” (themonumentcafe.com).

For such a large restaurant, I found the breakfast menu to be surprisingly small. There were a few combinations of “yard” eggs with meats, two styles of pancakes, and a waffle. And there were two dishes that can be found on many Texas breakfast menus—Huevos Rancheros (fried eggs served on fried corn tortillas accompanied by peppered bacon or sausage and refried beans) and Migas.
What are Migas? Chuck asked me the same question. “In Tex-Mex cuisine, migas is a traditional breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs mixed with strips of corn tortilla, diced onions, sliced chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese, plus various spices and condiments (e.g. salsa or pico de gallo). Migas is typically served with refried beans, and corn or flour tortillas are used to enfold all of the ingredients into tacos. In some areas, it may have been traditionally eaten during Lent. One common variation is to add chorizo to the standard ingredients” (wikipedia.org.). And, in response to Chuck’s question, I reminded him that he had eaten migas at Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe. My memory drives him nuts!

I had looked at the on-line menu and was intrigued by the gingerbread pancakes. But to my annoyance, these were no longer on the menu as presented to us at the café. (I really do find this discrepancy between what you find on-line and what you find in person really maddening.) So instead, I opted for the café’s version of corned beef hash.
I have had some really disappointing experiences with house-made corned beef hashes to the extent that with many I have found myself unable to finish. But I give Monument Café credit for an extraordinary version. Finely chopped bits of corned beef were cooked with onion and red bell pepper, and then, instead of the potatoes being mixed with the beef and veggies, the hash was served on a bed of very crisp hash browns—the same hash browns that I chose (over grits) as my side.

Instead of toast, I selected the biscuit, which I thought more resembled a roll than a biscuit. But our server added on a small bowl of cream gravy that, while it didn’t contain any sausage, had enough black pepper to provide real flavor.

Chuck chose the waffle plate with ham and added a side of hash browns. Michael Stern at roadfood.com wrote that the “(w)affles are elegant, not the big, dried-out Belgium-tread manhole covers served by so many cafés nowadays.”

Frankly, I thought that this was a pretty puny waffle. It wasn’t until we returned home and I started doing additional research for this blog that I learned the secret of Chuck’s meal. Guy Fieri dined on something called “pig ‘n waffle” that was nowhere to be found on the menu. This is a “do it yourself” meal. You are supposed to cut the waffle in half, place the ham steak on one half, top with the other half, and pour maple syrup over the waffle sandwich. Too bad we didn’t know this in advance. Perhaps I’d better start paying more attention to the TV.

As we were leaving after our 3.5 Addie breakfast, our attention was drawn to a chalk-board advertising Monument Market which adjoins the diner. So we took a moment to wander in and peruse their offerings.
The Market has as its mission to sell fresh, locally processed, seasonal, and unprocessed food.
Items for sale include grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork and chicken, fresh-caught Gulf seafood, all-natural dairy and cheeses, pastured eggs, organic-standard vegetables and fruit, grains/flours/gluten-free mixes, local-roast coffee, and Texas wines and artisanal beer.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.


eyad ammar said...

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شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

eyad ammar said...

اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بالخرج
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم

eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك
شركة نقل عفش بابها
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بحائل
شركة نقل عفش بالظهران
شركة نقل عفش واثاث
شركة نقل عفش