It is Easter. I am Catholic, sort of. The only bath I ever took in front of an audience of hundreds occurred in a Catholic church, and that makes me “officially” Catholic. So, like all “feast days”, today, I feasted.
I may have overdone. Not that I know many limits. But after Lent and all, I was ready to cut loose, okay, looser. Lent? You know, the season of fasting that occurs between Mardi Gras, which is literally translated as “Fat Tuesday”, and Easter. Who knew Mardi Gras had its roots in Catholic tradition? Remember, Catholics drink real wine, in church, every Sunday, but only if they’ve confessed their sins since the last time they drank wine in church on a Sunday. Only the Catholics would give you incentive to confess your sins; a drink of wine during mass being incentive. Okay, it’s a small drink, but still, only the Catholics. Whether you know it, or not, there are exactly forty days between Ash Wednesday, which is the day following Mardi Gras, and Easter, and this is Lent, a time of deprivation, reflection, abstinence, contemplation, and solemnity. In other words, practice for hell.
I struggle with Lent every year. I try to use it as catalyst to, if only temporarily, mend my wicked ways. I try to figure out what I could give up, or perhaps just tone down to an acceptable level of moderation, for forty days, that would be a meaningful sacrifice, and yet tolerable from a pagan’s point of view. This year, not really in the mood for full on deprivation, I decided I’d be more moderate in a few of my “problem areas”. I decided I’d drink less beer, maybe only one a day, perhaps a large format beer on Friday and/or Saturday, as a reward for surviving another workweek. I decided I’d limit my bread/grain to one per day, excluding beer, of course. I usually only eat sprouted grain breads and whole, organic grains, but even with those boundaries, I’ve been a little cray cray and my tummy has been as flat flat as I’d like like. I decided that butter, too, needed to be moderated and planned on less than one tablespoon of butter a day, no more than a cube a week, for all cooking, sautéing, baking, and slathering. I’m half French. I could drink melted butter. I can hear my arteries clog after most meals. Another problem area, as of late, has been bad language, so, here, too, I thought I could control myself and abstain from obscenities for a full month and a week and some days. Finally, bacon. Even though I usually only eat uncured bacon, and only for my weekend hangover breakfast or with my burger, again, I’ve been a bit out of control lately. More hangovers? More burgers? Both? Again, a limit of one piece per week. I normally buy a pound, cut in half crosswise, and freeze individual slices in individual little bags so I can cook just one at a time without thawing out a whole slab. I’ve been grabbing two or three little single, slice baggies, two or three times a week.
To recap; beer, bread butter, bad language and bacon.
I made it about three hours and the “b’s” started cascading like the cherry blossoms from a tree in a spring breeze. I don’t even remember the order, but all five “b’s” were involved. I’m pretty sure it started with bad language and quickly progressed to beer. Then bread, butter, and bacon. To say Lent is over is an understatement. This is how I celebrated the end of my moderate attempt and completely failed execution of moderation:
I went to breakfast with my elderly mother. We decided upon a dining venue that I have been dying to try, Napa Valley Biscuits. One very cool thing about “Biscuits” is that they occupy a space that was once an old Italian grocery store and delicatessen where I secured my very first job, ever, other than working for my dad in his shop sweeping floors, dusting things and doing “garbage detail”, meaning, emptying all the trash bins into the dumpster in the alley behind the shop. The other cools thing about “Biscuits”, well, biscuits. And! Chicken and waffles! I love chicken and waffles and have made an attempt to devour any chicken and waffles offered in all of Northern California, and parts of the Southland, too, including the “original”, Roscoe’s in Long Beach.
Mom wanted to celebrate Easter by having breakfast out, but, she wanted to avoid “the crowds”. So, to rephrase this as carefully as possible, she wanted to celebrate Easter by eating out, but not with a bunch of church-going Christians. And, as Biscuits is immediately across the street from the largest Catholic church in Napa, offering several masses every Sunday, and probably even more on Easter, this meant we were there shortly after they opened at 7:30 AM. On a Sunday. Which, last time I looked at a calendar, falls way too close to Saturday night, which in my world is filled with fun, friends, and adult beverages. Oy.
So. Chicken and waffles, obviously. And, by far, hands down, the best I have ever, ever, ever had across all chicken and waffles ever sampled. Ok, devoured. But, wait, we had to have biscuits, too. I could see Chef Curtis making biscuits from where we were seated in the dining area, how could we not have biscuits? So an order of biscuits with the intent of taking some home, for later. Best biscuits ever. And the homemade raspberry preserves atop the melted butter, yes, BUTTER, was perhaps a more religious experience than the ascension of Christ. Blaspheme. But, damn, they were good. Oh, but wait; the waitress really, really, really wanted us to try the cardamom donuts instead of the biscuits; a plate of fresh cardamom donuts with the donut holes rested atop, hot and not too sweet and pleasantly spiced. We went for the biscuits, traditionalists, but were given a couple of cardamom donut holes to sample. Oh my God! Damn! Did I just swear? I swear they were the best thing I’ve let pass my lips in, well, about three minutes! That good! Really, a must try!
I over caffeinated.
All of the above was served with a very welcomed, always brimming, always hot, filled with real half and half, bottomless cup of coffee. So while I only had “one cup”, I probably consumed five or six. It was fucking early for a Sunday, I wasn’t even focusing yet. And I drove. Did I just swear? The coffee was that good. I was resurrected. Hallelujah! Amen!
There is only one, small, sad thing about our lovely breakfast experience at Napa Valley Biscuits, and I knew this going in because I did some reconnaissance on their website; no alcohol. Normally, this would be a deal killer for a weekend breakfast venue, but, the food and the service was so libidinous, who needed alcohol? But as soon as I got home I cracked open a bottle of Korbel Brut and pretended to mix it with OJ. Why dilute a good thing, right? It was hot, today, and Mom wanted her mimosa on the sunny deck out back. There she sat in her gabardine slacks, long sleeve collared shirt, sunhat and fucking cardigan, sipping her mimosa. I was in a skirt and a cami, shedding layers of clothing and downing “mimosas” faster than I could “mix” them. Mom is napping, I’ve moved on to beer. I’m inside, by a window, with a breeze, and almost cool. I may need one more, large format, to do the trick.
The first brew, though, kind of blurs a line; Lagunitas limited release Cappuccino Stout, “brewed with Sebastopol’s own Hard Core Coffee”, so carbonation and caffeination. Boing! Quick, spell boing backward. Oh, and large format, meaning a 22 oz. bottle of brewing perfection, usually found in the “specialty” beer section of nicer grocery stores, and, no, not the 40 oz. variety of vomit beers, like Budweiser, Coors, PBR – yes, I said it, PBR sucks, I am way too old to be a hipster. At fifty, I am likely on the downward slope, or as I like to think of it, the fun part of the roller coaster. With limited time, I cannot squander it on piss water beer, or fake food, or television twelve hours a day. Just sayin’, you either kind of agree with me or you’re gonna be a hater.
An hour later. Beer numero dos. Something I picked up today at Vallerga’s, one of the several nice, independent markets in Napa, the Oak Town, Deep and Soulful Brown Ale by Calicraft Brewing Co. out of San Jose. Saint Joseph, it’s a good brew! I’m Catholic, I can use a saint’s name in vain if I choose. Catholics can be so much more creative in “swearing”! Jesus, Joseph and Mary had a little lamb!
So, I’ve overdone; too many carbs, too much caffeine, and too much carbonation, it’s okay, it’s a feast day. I only have two things I have to accomplish today; set my alarm for tomorrow and pack my suitcase for two weeks of work in the Southland. Piece of cake! Cake? I haven’t had cake yet! Dammit, where’s my cake?