Tuesday, December 30

Food Tragedies I Have Known

2008 was a stellar year in many ways--Obama's election to President being the most obviously stellar occurrence of '08. It was a not-so-stellar year in other ways--can you say "economy?"

Restaurants in Boise usually have a tough time of it, since there are too many restaurants to do well--especially in downtown. This bad economic year has been especially bad for restaurants, so I would like to say a fond farewell to some of my favorites.

Tapas Estrella - My memory is foggy as to whether or not Tapas Estrella closed in 2007 or 2008, but I know it happened last year when I was busy with school. I've been craving bouillabaisse ever since I read The Debt to Pleasure last spring--the book has a 30-page detailed description on the making of bouillabaisse--and Tapas Estrella had an especially tasty bouillabaisse, which is kind of hard to come by in Boise. I may have to make a trip to the coast sometime soon just to satisfy my craving, because I'm not sure I'm up to the task of making bouillabaisse (or that I can afford it)! Estrella was also home to a sublime salad containing French lentils, golden beets, and frisee. And their garlic prawns were to die for. Adios!

Zutto - My first sushi experience was with Tyler at Zutto's old basement location, but I don't think I was adventurous enough to actually try anything other than a veggie roll at the time (I ate tempura prawns and gyoza with yummy sauce). Zutto was the home of many yummy avocado-centric sushi rolls, the plum blossom drink, tart sesame vinaigrette salad dressing (of which Cardini's makes a fair copy), and the much-mourned cajun roll with plum sauce. Zutto was also the home of unhelpful hipster servers, but I have to say in hindsight that its virtues (cajun roll) outweighed the iffy service.

City Grill - I didn't get to know City Grill very well during its short life, but I remember a few things very well, such as $2.00 macaroni and cheese appetizers. And I don't mean fried macaroni and cheese balls like they serve at Cheesecake Factory or Jack in the Box; during the City Grill happy hour, one could get a small bowl of homemade, baked mac & cheese with breadcrumb topping for frickin' $2! As if that weren't the best thing EVER, their hash browns or O'Brien breakfast potatoes (I can't remember which) were more like potatoes au gratin or hash brown casserole, with a million layers of potatoes, cream, and cheese. Oh God were they good. I think we all saw that City Grill was doomed, however, due to its being located in the old bank building at the corner of 8th and Idaho: the space where nothing survives.

Jalapeno's Grill #2 - Jalapeno's was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall down the street from my house where I used to eat almost weekly--usually to enjoy the Chile Relleno burrito, aka the best burrito in the universe. Jalapeno's closed their hole-in-the-wall, however their truck (Jalapeno's Grill #1) can be found in the parking lot of Dowdy's on Federal Way. I still go there to get delicious burritos and tacos, but the Chile Relleno burrito is either too complicated or too expensive to make in the truck. It just isn't the same without you, Chile Relleno burrito, love of my heart!

In addition to restaurants, some of my favorite foods have been discontinued from local grocery shelves.

Nissin Creamy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodles - I know it sounds gross, but it was my favorite breakfast food of all time. It's what I ate for breakfast every other day during school, alternating with scrambled eggs and toast. I can simulate the flavor by mixing an egg into regular chicken flavor ramen (which I tried for the first time today), but it's not quite the same.

Reser's Organic Macaroni & Cheese - According to the Reser's website, this hasn't been discontinued by the manufacturer like the creamy chicken ramen. However, my local Fred Meyer has stopped carrying it, and I can't seem to find it anywhere else in town. This stuff is fresh, like homemade mac & cheese that you bake in the oven. It kicks the ass of any boxed or frozen mac & cheese by far. I think I was the only person who ever bought it at the local Freddy's, but that's probably because they placed it in an out-of-the way spot, surrounded by vegan dairy substitutes, and any non-vegans who might have eaten it would have mistaken it for vegan mac & cheese. Idiots! Now my only solace is Kraft Thick & Creamy Cheese & Macaroni (which is often sold out) made with butter and half and half, for I cannot always afford the ghastly expensive white cheddar and asiago neccessary to make a good batch of homemade mac & cheese.

Vina Izadi Crianza - This hasn't been discontinued either, but Gernika hasn't been able to get it from the distributor for awhile, hopefully just for the season. Luckily there are many other tasty tempranillo wines from the Rioja region, such as Ramon Bilbao--mmm, peppery!

Hopefully 2009 will be a better year for food, or else I'm a-gonna riot!


Kelly said...

Our tiny Morgantown distributor is currently out of Dos Lomos Malbec, which I would love to celebrate with on New Years Eve. You should procure some in the grand metropolis of Boise. It's the best $9 wine I can find.

On a side note, Reed farted today and said "I pooped"(he doesn't really know the difference yet.) So Caleb told him: "You didn't poop. You tooted." To which Reed replied: "I pooted!"

Jenny said...

And I bet you laughed uproariously! :)

I wish I could get you and my friends Tricia and Ryan together. You all could talk about poop for hours and hours!

Mambinki said...

That salad dressing at Zutto's was the best ever. I have tried to remake it numerous times.

Ariella said...

I'm not really familiar with any of these dishes...

but happy new year, nonetheless!

Jenny said...


shannon said...

i was one of zuttos' many servers. and i was most certainly unhelpful.

Jenny said...

I'm sure you were infinitely more helpful than the snots at Happy Fish!