Friday, March 19, 2010

Taste of Home . . .

is the name of a popular cooking magazine. It is also the best way to describe my recent longings. I want a taste of home. Since moving to Illinois I've gone out for Indian food, Thai food, Italian food, diner food, and to coffee shops galore. With the notable exception of a great Italian food restaurant, , none of the food here compares to Spokane.

Spokane isn't considered a foodie city nor does it get a lot of attention for it's cuisine despite the best efforts of the Spokesman Review and their various online enterprises. Nevertheless, when I look back on my time in Spokane I think of good food and good coffee. I miss Frank's, of course. But there are other places I miss too. I miss Madeline's, , and I miss Thai Bamboo desperately, . I went out for dinner with friends last night to the best Thai restaurant in Champaign-Urbana it could not hold a candle to Thai Bamboo in service or in quality of food. Sigh.

Coffee is another story. If you ask people in the Midwest who they're favorite roaster is they will look at you like you have three heads. I miss Doma, , and Thomas Hammer, .

There's a place I go to here, almost everyday. It's a cafeteria on campus. First and foremost, I should probably note that it's very strange for me to go to a school that has a bazillion cafeterias, but I do. So, this place I go, my friend Devin introduced me to it. It's run by the hospitality and food service students. The food is pretty cheap, an entree is about $5, and it has good coffee. Every day of the week has a different flavored coffee and, yes, I know them all by heart. This place is near my office, so it's convenient. It's also kind of cute. It's a get away. Despite the fact that it's near my office not a lot of people from my office eat there so it's a good place to get away for a few minutes in the middle of the day. It's good for me in the sense that I eat lunch everyday. Sure, it costs between seven and ten dollars a pop, which adds up, but if I didn't go there I wouldn't get lunch most days so it helps keep me healthy and sane. Good, cheap food that I eat everyday shouldn't make me complain. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. It's just that my food experiences in CU leave something to be desired. Perhaps it's the simple familiarity I had with places in Spokane, even places that weren't Frank's. I know it's partly that I do miss the camaraderie of Frank's regulars and staff.

I know that, in my new home, I begin to understand why people love Starbucks. It's a taste of home. The coffee I had at Starbucks in Spokane is just like the coffee I had at Starbucks this morning and they all look the same. Its a false sense of continuity. No, that's not true. The continuity is intentional and real. What is false or, more accurately, projected, is the emotional significance I give that continuity.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Diner Whores

When N and I started going to Frank's on a weekly basis it wasn't to get to know everyone that worked there. It wasn't to get their numbers, invite them to our parties, and go to their parties. All of that just kind of happened. I can't speak for N because I've never really asked N why she started going with me to Frank's every weekend, but for me it was something that grew out of loneliness. When I get lonely or feel isolated I stop eating. I think the first time that N and I went to Frank's for breakfast was more of a whim than anything. It was a, "Hey, you know what I've wanted to do more. . ." But Frank's is an exceptional diner in two ways. First, the food is, for me and apparently most of Spokane, just the right balance of grease and delicious. Second, at least at the N.side Frank's there's not a lot of staff turnover which gives the restaurant a sense of community. You can tell that the staff know each other and are a sort of family. Because I was feeling isolated in my own life that sense of community appealed to me and the food at Frank's enticed me to eat. Also, it was time with N, separate from all of the stresses of our everyday life. It was like a little island we could escape to for an hour a day--with hashbrowns, hot chocolate, and coffee. Perfection.

Everything that has happened since has been sort of coincidence: building some sort of flirtatious friendship with Carl which led to a friendship with Leo which led to discovering the weird connections between Frank's and Tomato Street and Frank's and The Onion.

As fun as this trip down memory lane is, it does have a purpose. It is the necessary history and introduction to understanding who we, N and I, have become: diner whores.

This fact has floated in the periphery of my consciousness for a long time but was brought home, forcefully, Sunday night. At Carl's birthday party. Sorry, I need to pause for a moment because I'm still kind of surprised and confused by the whole thing.

Through a strange twist of fate N was out of town and C was back in town, but scheduled to leave Monday morning at 7am. So, on Sunday afternoon Leo called and invited me to come to his house for Carl's birthday party. I was driving home from an awful weekend in Walla Walla, Washington and was up for anything that would distract me (as long as there was someone to go with me because I'm just not very socially brave on my own). C said she would go with me and so, at 9pm, after leaving Erika's Oscar party and driving around Lefty's a few times because (1) I got the directions wrong and (2) C and I always seem to have adventures involving Lefty's, we made it to Carl's birthday party.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. The one thing I was genuinely, completely, and totally unprepared for was the fact that I would know half of the people at the party. I really expected the party to be, well, like it was (more on that in a minute) but I expected to be observing from a corner without really knowing anyone but Carl and Leo who would probably both be busy playing host to other guests. But indeed, I did know half the people there. The official list is: Carl, Leo, Aaron, and Noree. Entering the party and seeing all of these familiar faces, happy to see me, was the moment when I had to face the truth: I am a diner whore. Through a mix of cunning, perseverance, and happenstance, I have wormed my way into these people's lives. I think they might be my friends.

The party itself was hilarious but hard to describe. Carl, Aaron, and someone I didn't know spent most of the time playing cribbage. The people I didn't know played pool. Noree was high-larious and, um, focused on Carl. A little bit through the party Kolbi showed up, as expected (for me. I rather think that it shocked the hell out of her). Throughout the party people wandered up to Leo's bedroom for herbal entertainments. Because the house is within walking distance from Lovers,, all of the party decorations and gifts Carl recieved were definitely themed accordingly. For instance, the first thing that Leo presented us with when we walked in the door was a dark chocolate penis. My favorite party moment, by far, was when Leo and others brought in tons of breast ballons to the living room and Leo had his under his shirt--he looked like black Dolly Parton. However, Leo being a small, fit person and his clothing being appropiately fitted needed help removing his breasts. Things I never thought I would do. . .

I wish there was more I could say about the party, more stand alone moments of hilarity, but it was one of those things that needs to be taken in in its entirety. I didn't bring Carl a gift or a card. I really didn't know if I should since I haven't since him in, almost six months, I think. However, at one point during the party someone said something innocent, but my dirty mind did dirty things with it and I laughed, or rather, tried to stiffle laughter because I knew it was inappropriate. Carl turned from his cribbage game and said, "That's what I miss about you and N. You girls could make anything dirty. I haven't had anyone with a dirty mind around me for so long that I've stopped thinking like that. It's good to know that other people's minds are dirty too."

Possibly the best compliment I've received in ages and, really, could I have given him a better gift?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wait, you mean....a post????!?

So much has happened in the last several months, that I don't know where to begin. Frank's is still our Saturday fare, with the occasional weekday when requested by Leo. Mike just had a baby (Chanel) last week. Leo's got a possible love interest. Carl moved to Tomato Street. ADB is still A, but is more of a greeter and only works weekends. They just got new menus, and there are Frank's/The Onion gift card holders everywhere.

As for us: C's moved back to Colorado to pursue her snowboarding dreams, and though she's lonely at times, she's adjusting. J and I moved to a house much closer to my work/her school at the end of November. It's cute and actually rather convenient.

A Week Later...

Well, I didn't post last week because I didn't feel like I'd said much of anything. But today was brilliant, so I'm going to actually revive this dying blog!

Nicole, who is one of my greatest friends, came to visit us this weekend. She being the only person I know that ever dates, is staying with us while gallivanting about Spokane with a boy. Anyhow, she met us at Frank's and there the fun began.

After being seated (rather quickly, as Nicole got there first and got our names on the list rather early), J & I quickly forced her to tell us everything about her date the night before. As nothing illicit actually went down, she made up a fantastic story about getting it on in Zola's bathroom, thrice. The rest of our conversation included the Inlander horoscopes and "I Saw You"s, inappropriate jokes about chicken fried steak, Jesus: The Vibrator! and awkwarding waiters wherever we go. Then I looked lasciviously at the hash browns on the grill and J got a brilliant business idea. She essentially created Frank's: the strip club. In her head, we're the crazy aunts who have opened up a strip club, but instead of people throwing money at the strippers, they throw hash browns. And we'd have Friday Fry nights, where people would instead throw French Fries.

Obviously, Nicole and I laughed uproariously at this, at which point ADB (who will henceforth be known as Joe, since he's less of a dishboy now) mocked us for leaving him out of the joke for coming to Frank's "every day" and causing trouble. Honestly, I think he's just sad that we never let him join our reindeer games or dirty jokes. He's really more of an object to be ogled and interacted with when necessary, anyway. Well, ok. I'm not that shallow. We'd talk to him more if he were willing. I think we kind of scare him. He gets all snarky and evasive when we actually try to delve into his life. Not so much of a team player, that one. Though, we recently found out that he's from Texas. It's become a favourite pastime of ours to hypothesize why he moved to Spokane from Texas. We're thinking he followed a girl and it ended badly. I think he murdered his gran or kissed his cousin or something. One of those family things where it's easier to banish someone than to deal with the consequences. Or, you know, his family moved up here for something and he was an unwilling victim. He doesn't exactly have to support himself financially, from what we've gathered.

Uh, back to the point...

Frank's was fun today. We laughed a lot. We made inappropriate jokes a lot. We got to see most of the people we love. AND, we got to see a picture of Mike's baby! One of the waiters (who we may have previously judged to be much creepier than he is) offered, out of the blue, to show us a photo of her. How nice was that? Anyhow, I was impressed by him, and he raised a bit in my esteem today. Also, I think J's having a really difficult time reconciling the fact that he's the only one with a picture, and he's also one of the creepy ones. I think maybe he was having an extra-creepy day the one time it was just him and Leo and what'sherface.

And now Nicole's here, so I'm going to wrap up and sign off. Hopefully I will be better at updating again. Yay!

Peace out, happy diners.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Monday, Monday

As we've mentioned before, going to Frank's on the weekdays is always a different ball of wax. This Monday my beloved nine-year old niece was staying with me and so, naturally, I took her to breakfast at Frank's. Carl saw me come in and, shock of shocks, came over to say 'hi' and tell me not to be seated until he waved me over. I was, to be completely honest, a little startled at the special treatment because it was just me. In fact, as long as I'm being honest, I avoid going to Frank's alone because I'm not sure of my reception as an individual. I feel that the Frank's staff thinks of us Breakfast Bitches as a unit and while they handle the unit well and appreciate us I'm never quite sure what they will think of me as an individual.

Once my niece and I were seated I handed her a menu, pointed at the kid's section, and asked, "What do you want?" Her answer, was instant and she didn't consult the menu before saying, "A side order of bacon."

I think at least three heads swiveled to face us and after a long pause Carl just said what everyone was thinking, "You guys are related, huh?"

Breakfast with my niece was fun. She decided she wanted ice-cream coffee with her bacon (she did actually get other food) and so we ordered all of the necessary ingredients and made it right there at the counter. This got us some strange looks from staff and patrons alike but we didn't care.

It was slow as it was about 10:30 on a Monday morning and the breakfast crowd was dwindling. Because it was slow we, for better or for worse, got a lot more of the staff attention than we would normally get. Carl said that Hannah and I made the same small, contented sigh when we ate bacon. Doesn't everyone sigh contentedly when they ate bacon? Also, Carl juggled spatulas for Hannah. She was impressed and, I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with him. What can I say? I love men that know how to entertain children. Then, and I have no memory of how we got on the subject, we started talking about families and birth order and I found out that Carl is the third of four brothers. Oh God, it explains so much.

As fun as Monday was, I think that Saturday may take top honors for most fantastically awkward Frank's experience ever. I don't remember much of Saturday's breakfast because I was freaking out about the GRE's. I picked at my food and N tried to get me to think about something other than standardized testing. She recommended that, before the test, I go to Borders and by myself a romance novel for afterwards. Then Carl asked us what the point of romance novels was. He said he had tried reading one once and he didn't get it. N interjected with the fact that her uncle reads romance novels and her aunt swears that it makes him a better lover. At which point Carl proceeds to detail for us his philosophy of how to make love to a woman, which is: pay attention, she'll tell you everything you need to know. That information didn't help me on the GRE's but I suppose it's good to know in case I, in my turn, ever need to give someone advice on how to make love to a woman.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming back for more, you know why we're coming for you... Once we rock we won't want to stop. Not today or tomorrow...

J did a lovely job recounting the bachelorette party of doom and Frank's that followed (also the Melody and Mary visits), but I enjoy differing opinions/perceptions, so you'll have to suffer through what I remember as well. Mainly I do this to you because I'm the one who writes down the quotes when we're mobile and I've got nowhere better to put them. Muahaha. :)

[as a side note, J and I have started to include names in the blog, partly because there are conflicting initials, but mostly because we're lazy]

The Bachelorette Bash...
Originally, we were going to go to the Testy Festy to kick off the celebration, but it turned out to be more hassle than any of us were interested in, so we scrapped it at the last minute. This was actually rather fortuitous because we ended up going to dessert at the Couer d'Alene resort instead. We'd all been to Dockside before, but never as a group. On our way to the restaurant we passed the bar/nightclub portion of the place where the most gorgeous man in a black Stetson and blue pinstriped shirt was thoroughly eye-fucked by all four of us. I think that this was the moment we decided to go in after we'd had dessert.

Dessert was lovely. I don't remember much of the conversation. Something about us being able to see Lake Couer d'Alene and wishing that the waiter would either bring us waters or a straw large enough that I could siphon the water directly from the lake. J and I shared something fantastic involving whipped cream (mud pie?) and C and E shared a giant Reese's sundae. Absolutely delicious.

After awkward service from Dr. Quinn and the staff at Dockside, we meandered to the bar. Boy am I glad we did, too. We didn't see the attractive man in the Stetson, but we did see many others. I never knew how many pretty people spend Friday nights in Idaho. We drooled a lot. We also had a goodly amount of alcohol. J had a blackberry mojito, C and E did some shots and then all four of us shared something called a Derailer. It's much like a mai tai, but is served in a seven-cup glass with giant straws. It also had discounted refills, so we got a glass of something that was blue/green the second time around. Finally, after months of searching, we've found not one, not two, but three drinks that J will drink without thinking that they are cough syrup! Go us!

Throughout the course of the night, we racked up some quotes:
-Upon J's demise in many years during oral sex: I can see the headline: Incredibly popular Nicaraguan ambassador found dead -- husband oddly reticent. -J
-Because the straws were awkward: I'm going to become a unicorn at this rate. -J
-Screamed drunkenly from the back seat to attractive men crossing in front of us: Yum Yum gimme some! -E
-Sorry, Elvis Presley took over and I didn't know what to do. -?
-I did that to Mormons once. -Me

We also analyzed the people in the room, from the dancing grannies to the tramp that C had a lot of anger toward. It was an amazingly fun time. And the next morning, E came with us to breakfast!

J pretty much covered the meal times of the week, so I'm going to skip those and just give a slight overview of the party on Saturday night. We had a bunch of booze, a really nifty hostess, lots of things to be tasted and applied, nuts, lube, lotion, vibrators, vodka and glitter. And afterwards, the boys upstairs sent us down many many notes attached to a tape measure. I feel the need to transcribe one, but in the interest of laziness shall refrain. Suffice it to say, we had a damned good time and made some nifty new friends. (After weeks of avoiding our landlord because we're terrified that she'll ask us to sign a lease, who knew that she'd be so awesome?)


Sadly, I had to work all of last weekend and was barely at Frank's at all. J and I did a social experiment about how much Carl's mood would improve or not when C was there. The results were not exceptionally flattering to us, but followed our predicted trend. J filled in the rest rather nicely already. Wow, this is the shortest weekend blog ever.


I'll make that up to you by writing about today. At 4:50-ish, we dropped C off at the airport. She's got doctor's appointments and a date and such, so she's gone until Sunday night. J and I came home afterwards, took naps then went to breakfast at Frank's. I know I've mentioned that Frank's is different on weekday mornings than it is on weekend mornings, but today was much more similar than usual. None of the regular players were there (besides Mike, Joe and Amanda), so I was personally surprised at the amount of attention we got. Joe said hi to us and sat us at the counter automatically. He was talkative and slightly rushed, but overall rather changed from the ADB we once knew. A red shirt suits him well. Who knew that he'd be a people person? We also spent most of the morning chatting with Mike. I know it shouldn't be so much of a milestone, but every time we get one of the once awkward boys to talk, smile or both, I count it as a small victory. Meaning that the combination of the two boys talking and interacting with us was enough to make my Frank's dining experience well worth the heart disease.

Oh, and my brain has started creating awkward Frank's diner porn. The phrases 'coming down' and 'in the back' and 'behind you' will never again be innocuous. You will never think of gravy the same way again. Now, if only I could convince one of them to listen to my thoughts on whipped cream...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ahh, it has been too long since I have written. Poor N has had to bear the burden alone for quite some time now. I have no good excuse but I do have the truth. The truth is, up until last week, I didn't really have much to say about our weekend breakfast adventures. Largely because they had become less adventuresome and more routine. Not that I am against routine. I like routine but for all of it's good qualities routine isn't very easy to write about. It's hard to describe the comfortable happiness that comes from a healthy routine. (Obviously I mean "healthy" in the psychological sense of not damaging to yourself or others; not in the medical sense as Frank's and it's variety of ways to eat saturated fat, commonly known as the menu, are not healthy.)

However, last week was somewhat notable if only because it may have been the first time Carl has ever ignored us. Of course, C wasn't there, and he definitely perks up when she walks in the room/car/restaurant/whatever. He also seemed kind of pissed in general. Who knows?

This week was more fun. I'd like to think that this week we reached some new milestones. Before I go any further I should note that we had N, C, and I had guests staying with us all weekend and they went to Frank's with us as well. One of our guests was Mary. N's friend from birth. The other guest that shared in our Frank's ritual was my beloved cousin Melody, who has been my companion since birth and my friend since shortly thereafter (give or take my toddler years). I love Melody but I have to say she wasn't sold on Frank's and my stellar recommendation wasn't enough to satisfy her hunger or still her complaints. This morning Mary, Melody and I went to Frank's. C sleeps in on Sunday's and N had to be at work early so I was the only one of the Breakfast Bitches to represent and eating there with new people gave me the opportunity to remember what it was like when I wasn't a BB. Melody was frustrated by the wait and I could see her point, although I wouldn't admit it. I don't know about N but for me having Melody there definitely helped fit Frank's into the larger story of my life. The thing about long time friends, especially those that we have managed to keep from childhood, is that they carry our history with them. Having Melody at Frank's brought a lot of my past, a lot of who I have been, to Frank's. At the same time, bringing Melody to Frank's was a way of updating my history, adding a new sentence to the story, a new thread to the tapestry and all that sort of thing.

By far, the best part about breakfast this morning was the way Mary and Melody (I keep thinking of the cartoons) were instantly brought into the fold of the cooks and servers at that counter. When we write about Frank's similies about family inevitably come up which leads me to wonder. . .well, are they family now? Considering the fact that we gave Alex a Target gift card for his move to Colorado, which is more than I've done for some of my biological family, I'm inclined to answer in the affirmative.

Speaking of Alex going off to college, I should probably note some of the other changes at Frank's. Let's see. Mike is officially wearing the red shirt of a server and has a more official nametag than he did previously, although tape and sharpie still seem to be the keynotes of his public identity. He has also become more flirty since his transformation to server which is fun. Chilli is almost done dying her naturally dark blonde hair a deep, deep red. She looks fantastic. Alex, as aforementioned, is going of to Colorado for college. Noree now works at the Onion and she is missed. Joe finally responded to my friendly overtures this morning by actually looking in my eyes and saying, "Hi," back. Talk about milestones.

Some things have stayed the same though. Leo still spends most of his time in the back, either of the kitchens or the car, and he still makes time to come over and say "hi" to us which is sweet and kind and probably a reason I should stop making jokes about him being in back. Janie still runs the restaurant with her chateristic smooth efficiancy and servant leadership and Patticakes still works weekdays, for which I am thankful (she kind of scares me).

Oh! In a flash of memory I remembered what made last week fantabulous. Saturday morning, after E's pre-bachelorette party party in Cour d'Alene, we all went to Frank's. Having more good memories than alcohol left in our system the four of us might have started to sing our favorite verses from "What's Your Fantasy" by, um, Ludacris. We made Carl blush. It was fantastic.

The End.


Friday, July 25, 2008

My milkshake brings all the girls to the bar...

It's always different going to Frank's at night. Sometimes it's like they're just waiting for someone interesting to come in and liven up the place. Sometimes it's off and boring. Instead of being surreal, though, tonight was nice. The servers have all gotten used to us and opened up. Even the silent cooks are willing to share in the dirty commentary. Everyone took part in the muppet sex conversation, even. (The Muppets Ride Brokeback Mountain!) As we were leaving, all of the servers formed a nice familial tableau and waved to us, similar to the Beverly Hillbillies. I always half expect them to say "ya'all come back now, y'hear?"

Anyhow, it was nice to have all of the attention to ourselves. Yeah, there were other patrons, but we totally stole the show. Not because we were all eating gigantic meals (I had a huckleberry shake and C stole some of it. J had water and The Inlander), but because I think they genuinely like us. Mostly. There's something to be said for camaraderie.

Tomorrow will be interesting. J works from 1-8 and I work from 9:45-7, so we've got a window of Frank's time. Hopefully fun times will be had for all...

Until next time,