My ‘Next’ Dinner, in Photos

Next is a ‘special-occasion’ restaurant in Chicago conceptualized by executive chef (and master of molecular gastronomy) Grant Achatz. It’s not your normal restaurant. You don’t make reservations; you buy tickets months in advance (which cover gratuity, taxes, and — if you want — beverage pairings).  You don’t order off a menu; you are presented with a multi-course culinary experience of Achatz’s choosing. And the restaurant doesn’t have a ‘type,’ per se.  Every four months, the cuisine offered shifts radically. From vegan to Thai to steak, to the food of Paris in 1906.  Hence, one wonders what’s ‘Next.’

I’ve had tickets to Next on three occasions.  Through a series of unfortunate events — one of which involved my boyfriend of two years breaking up with me three hours before our reservation — I had never actually gone before. So I was a tad nervous when my good friend AKD sold me her tickets that she was sadly unable to use. I figured the third time would be the charm, or serve as a final strike … and a sign I should no longer attempt to go to this restaurant.

But attempt I did, with my friend Heddy. The current theme is Modern Chinese, and it was wonderful, from amuse-bouche all the way to dessert. Unlike my trip to Alinea — Achatz’ other restaurant, which has appeared on the top-10 of all North American dining establishments (along with French Laundry, Per Se, Red Lobster, etc.) — I had bites of food that were simply sublime. The focus, I felt, was a little less on the pageantry and more on the taste bud engagement. So quickly, I’d like to share photos of my experience — mostly for AKD so she can live vicariously, but also to capture this once-in-a-lifetime meal for posterity.

Ordinarily I try not to eat much meat, but when dining out, especially at noteworthy restaurants, I tend to let this tradition slide, because I want to eat the meal as the chef intended. And it’s a good thing, because if I’d avoided mammals this night, I would have missed out on a lot.

I am using (in quotations) the descriptions provided for us at the end of the meal on a nice ‘fortune’ slip, but the description narrated by the waitstaff  at the time was infinitely better. Also, we missed photographing a couple of the courses. ALSO, because this is my awkward life, they told me to be discreet with my camera, so some of the pictures are snapped hurriedly (and all without flash, of course).

The "playbill" welcoming us to our evening and describing the 'Modern Chinese' concept.

The “playbill” welcoming us to our evening and describing the ‘Modern Chinese’ concept.

 

This 'centerpiece' of Chinese okra, cilantro, parsley, and ????? was crushed using a French press to create ...

This ‘centerpiece’ of Chinese okra, cilantro, parsley, and ????? was crushed using a French press to create …

... this savory, room-temperature broth

… this savory, room-temperature broth

'Scallop Dumpling with Watercress and White Fungus ... Pork Dumpling with Jujube and Cuttlefish ... Congee as a Hot Foam with Pork Floss.'   The 'hot foam' was some of the best stuff I've ever eaten. Buttery, rich, amazing. And the dumplings, while they look like standard gyoza, were not dough at all, but actually made from the processed scallop and pork, respectively.

‘Scallop Dumpling with Watercress and White Fungus; Pork Dumpling with Jujube and Cuttlefish; Congee as a Hot Foam with Pork Floss.’
The ‘hot foam’ was some of the best stuff I’ve ever eaten. Buttery, rich, amazing. And the dumplings, while they look like standard gyoza, were not dough at all, but actually made from the processed scallop and pork, respectively.

MISSED PHOTO: ‘Monkfish with White Asparagus in a Roasted Spine Broth’  This was a beautifully presented soup.  The monkfish was tender, the asparagus was al dente and as wide as hearts of palm.  Refreshing.

Ice made from fresh coconut water was ground tableside ...

Ice made from fresh coconut water was ground tableside …

...to create this, probably my second-favorite dish of the night. 'Crab with Green Chili Paste and Fresh Coconut.'  Amazingly good salad.  We wanted to gnaw at the coconut itself but were lacking the hammer and nail.

…to create this, probably my second-favorite dish of the night. ‘Crab with Green Chili Paste and Fresh Coconut.’ Amazingly good salad. We wanted to gnaw at the coconut itself but were lacking the hammer and nail.

'Tiger Salad with Cold Skin Noodles and Seitan; Tingly Squab with Tarragon and Sumac; Skate Chops in the Style of Muslim Lamb'  The squab (which is just pigeon, right?) was fried lightly and utterly delicious. Another one of my favorite things of the night. The skate chop was one bite if intense flavor -- a bit heavy-handed on the paprika. And the salad was a nice, light accompaniment.

‘Tiger Salad with Cold Skin Noodles and Seitan; Tingly Squab with Tarragon and Sumac; Skate Chops in the Style of Muslim Lamb’
The squab (which is just pigeon, right?) was fried lightly and utterly delicious. Another one of my favorite things of the night. The skate chop was one bite if intense flavor — a bit heavy-handed on the paprika. And the salad was a nice, light accompaniment.

 

'Shrimp in a Duck Yolk 'Sand''  This one was most outside of my comfort zone. Duck egg hard-boiled and mixed with salt created the 'sand,' into which was nestled a cripsy shrimp-shell head and tail. And raw shrimp meat.  (At least it looked raw, but I still gobbled it up.)

‘Shrimp in a Duck Yolk ‘Sand”
This one was most outside of my comfort zone. Duck egg hard-boiled and mixed with salt created the ‘sand,’ into which was nestled a cripsy shrimp-shell head and tail. And raw shrimp meat. (At least it looked raw, but I still gobbled it up.)

'Beef and Broccoli in Liquid and Solid State'  Inspired by the familiar dish, this was a deliciously rich consomme, followed by dehydrated broccoli spheres and slabs of leathery beef brushed with chive butter. A touch better than carry-out.

‘Beef and Broccoli in Liquid and Solid State’
Inspired by the familiar dish, this was a deliciously rich consomme, followed by dehydrated broccoli spheres and slabs of leathery beef brushed with chive butter. A touch better than carry-out.

'Duck in Layers'  Let me try to remember this pyramid of flavor. There were smoked greens, fried duck egg mixed with red cabbage, walnuts, and chives , red plum jam, two dipping sauces -- hoisin and mustard -- and roasted duck meat, which was cooked perfectly, but was also the most 'ordinary' thing served.

‘Duck in Layers’
Let me try to remember this pyramid of flavor. There were smoked greens, fried duck egg mixed with red cabbage, walnuts, and chives , red plum jam, two dipping sauces — hoisin and mustard — and roasted duck meat, which was cooked perfectly, but was also the most ‘ordinary’ thing served.

MISSED PHOTO: ”Pulling Threads’ with Sweetbreads, Taro Root, and Banana’ First, we were told veal sweetbreads, and plantains (v. banana). This was like the best Sweet-and-Sour whatever you will ever have. The sweetbreads, taro, and plantains were cut into chunks and caramelized. We were instructed to dip the pieces in a citrusy glaze for six seconds, and in so doing, a crispy shell appeared around it. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

MISSED PHOTO: ‘Frozen Rice Soup with Legumes and Whipped Vinegar’ Sweet peas, puffed jasmine rice. Crunchy and slightly sweet and cool. 

'Dragon's Beard Candy with a Pressing of Honey'  At this point, we were pretty full. This was a lot of chewy sweetness.  It was accompanied by 'Black Sesame Butterfinger,' which tastes exactly like it sounds. Like a Butterfinger, but with a sesame flavor (vs. peanut)

‘Dragon’s Beard Candy with a Pressing of Honey’
At this point, we were pretty full. This was a lot of chewy sweetness. It was accompanied by ‘Black Sesame Butterfinger,’ which tastes exactly like it sounds. Like a Butterfinger, but with a sesame flavor (vs. peanut)

'Fortune...' Finally, this huge fortune cookie, which contained our menus for the evening. Clever presentation, and light almond cookie, as you would expect.

‘Fortune…’
Finally, this huge fortune cookie, which contained our menus for the evening. Clever presentation, and light almond cookie, as you would expect.

And that’s ‘it!’  A great meal that was both inventive AND delicious. And now I’m starving.  Off to fix breakfast …

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Cheese, Glorious Cheese (In Which I Torture Myself Ever-So-Slightly)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days in Lent in the Christian calendar. I’m Episcopalian, which is kind of similar to Catholicism in some ways but wildly different in others. Sufficient to say, we are among the religions that observe Lent by “giving something up” and/or doing something to better oneself or one’s community.

I used to give up meat, but that was before I stopped eating all mammals entirely.  Anyways, I always just found myself enjoying trying new vegetarian recipes … not really the point of the exercise. So last year I went on a 40-day cheese fast, which is harder than it seems. I’m talking cheese in all of its forms.

It was a bit of a struggle, which of course a Lenten discipline is supposed to be, so I’ve opted to do it again this year. And to remind myself just what I’ll be giving up, here are the top-five cheese-related items I will miss. Aside from just sharp cheddar and Triscuits, of course.

Blue cheese olives – Pretty much the best reason to drink a dirty martini.  I had one last night at the top of the Hancock Building with friends who are moving away from Chicago in a few weeks.  The olives contained within were my last official cheese before Lent.


Goldfish crackers – Yes, these count.  Giving these up won’t be as hard this year because I’m no longer working at my old company, which stocked our snack drawers with these little guys.  Just have to avoid them at the grocery store.

Hot and Spicy Cheez-Its – Every try these?  They are aMAZing.  If you don’t initially like from the first taste, try again.  Trust me.

Any Mexican food – Since I don’t eat meat, cheese figures pretty heavily into any Tostadas or burritos that I might enjoy.  Here’s to the “good fat” of avocado that is a close second favorite among topping choices.  I must say, the timing of the Taco Bell taco with the Dorito shell is not ideal. 
 

Baked Jalapeno Cheese Crunchies from Trader Joe’s – An almost-worthy substitute for Elmer’s Chee-Wees, which are only available in Southern Louisiana and don’t ship that well.

 

 

…and the Other Gold (In Which I Wine and Dine with my Oldest Friends)

“I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was twelve…Jesus….does anyone?”
–Stand By Me

Last weekend, I trekked down to suburban St Louis (technically Southern Illinois) for an all-too-brief mini-reunion with my oldest friends. Some exposition: I met Rebecca on the first day of kindergarten in 1979; I linked up with Karyn and Emily in Jr. High band (they played clarinet, I trombone) at some point in the fall of 1987. I met all other members of the gang in the interim. Our friend Callista lives in Swaziland, Africa, and was therefore unable to zip to Illinois for a weekend, but the rest of us met up for laughter, food, wine, and Erasure-soundtracked dancing.

So, yes, I’ve known all members of this 8-gal posse for at least 24 years. Ooooof. Is that really possible?  Not that we’ve aged so much since meeting, but that we remain so close-knit despite the miles, the life shifts, and the simple reality of the human condition.

It’s especially amazing considering I moved away from these fine ladies in the summer of 1988, when my Dad took a job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A transplant to the buckle of the Bible Belt immediately before beginning high school?  Seemed like an unmitigated tragedy at the time, but I quickly took the Girl Scouts’ advice and made new friends while keeping the old.

I kept in close touch with my StL-area gals despite the lack of email, the expense of long distance, and the scarcity of visits. We made mix tapes. We wrote actual letters. We talked when our parents allowed. And I have never taken their friendships for granted.

Anyhoo.  Last weekend. Our friend Mike (one of the honorary male members of our gang) joined us as the founder of our feast. He and his wife are both professional chefs and split time between Dubai and Dallas, Texas (I’m not sure how they tell their differing homelands apart).

Mike prepared pounds and pounds of beef tenderloin along with cod for the non-red-meat eaters (i.e., me).  He also made simple preparations of interesting produce that allowed the flavors to shine. Mike introduced us to the wild world of gourmet salts, treated us to Hungarian dessert wine, and reminded me how I tried to cheer him on at a seventh-grade track meet. (He still placed last, but I refuse to believe this was my fault).

Rebecca’s girlfriend Lori, shouldering (literally!) four lbs of beef tenderloin

Mike cooks while Nicole looks pretty

My enviable plate (clockwise from left: roasted Jerusalem artichokes, cod, artisan bread, spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, green salad. Melange of mushrooms in the middle (prepared as a topper for the tenderloin but I partook of a taste)

Not bad for a bunch of late-30-somethings

Dance Party USA, proving that some things never change as you age

Our little group has always been, and always will until the end.  It’s a blessing to have a group of friends that has known you forever. And thanks to my geographical upheaval at age 13, I actually have two. This is something for which I will always be thankful – I know it doesn’t happen for everyone.

‘Hoppy’ New Year (In Which I Cook for Good Luck)

Eating black-eyed peas with rice (also called ‘Hoppin’ John’) on New Year’s Day is a tradition among Gulf-Coasters; it’s said to bring prosperity and luck in the new year.  It’s yet another tradition in my family as well, as both Mom and Dad have Southern roots (Mom was born and raised in New Orleans, Dad was born in Mississippi and then relocated to a town north of NOLA before high school).  So I spent much of this afternoon smelling the unmistakable scents of black-eyed peas (the legume, not the Fergie, who probably smells of Electric Youth perfume, urine, and Jack Daniels) simmering on the stovetop.

Sometimes, in prior years, I forget to secure my BEPs in advance only to discover the stores are out of all varieties – canned, dried, what have you. This year, I had a bag of the best kind – Camellia brand – sent to me lovingly by my cousin.  How lucky for me! Indeed, just thinking about cooking up a pot is already working for me.

I also had a challenge because I wanted to make a meatless version. The old-school recipe uses ham hocks for flavoring, and I haven’t eaten pork in 3-1/2 years.  My Mom’s new take on the recipe employs a smoked turkey leg for the seasoning meat, but I’m trying to avoid eating too much poultry as well.  So after a good 30 minutes of Internet research, I found this vegan recipe that sounded like it contained enough seasoning to be tasty. I had to deviate a bit (which I typically don’t like to do on the first go-round of a recipe) due to some ingredient constraints.

I started by soaking the peas for several hours. This is a controversial practice but I typically feel it can’t hurt if one has the time.   Added them to a large pot with water and spices (thyme, a bay leaf, oregano).  I also added some veggie bouillon cubes for added flavor (and sodium – boom).

In a separate skillet, I sautéed what’s known in New Orleans and beyond as ‘The Trinity,’ or minced onion/celery/bell pepper.  Similar to mirepoix (just swapping the bell pepper for carrots), this trio of veggies provides the base for many Creole dishes.  Garlic got added a little later. (No jalapeno as the recipe called for because I didn’t have one.  I also used green pepper instead of a mixture of yellow and orange).

Once the veggies were nicely browned and tender, they  got added to the peas. At this point I added more basic seasoning – sea salt, ground pepper, Sriracha, crushed red pepper.

And last, as per the recipe, I added a cup of brown rice right into the simmering pot. Mom always cooks the rice separately and dishes out the Hoppin John over it, but even she said the traditional preparation calls for it to simmer together. And hey – it saves washing another pot.

End result – while I slightly missed the flavor and texture of the meat, this was a worthy (and healthier) substitute. Which is damn good, since I’ll be eating leftovers for days.  So thank you, Vegan Chef!  I will be back.

Finally, the accompaniments.  Typically one serves collard greens, which my palette can take or leave and they didn’t have any at my neighborhood market anyway. Corn bread or muffins are also a popular side, so I cheated with a box of Jiffy, which needs only one egg and one-third of a cup of milk.  And why there’s my trusty polar-bear Coca-Cola that helped me along today with its sugary high-fructose-corn-syrupy goodness.  Side note: I just learned from Real Simple that it’s better if you let ingredients come to room temperature before using them for baking.

And so I did just that. Voila. 

And in unrelated news, here is one final holiday tradition to leave you with that I forgot to share last week.  Every time I head home for Christmas, Mom has outfitted my bed with this decades-old Christmas Fozzie Bear, accessorized with a New Kids on the Block button.  Just ’cause. Happy 2012, everybody!

The Finished Products (In Which Tomato Juice Seems Downright Festive)

Christmas brunch went off without a hitch!  With the one downside being that I can’t blame my sleepiness on the tryptophan in turkey.

Bloody Marys (Maries?) were made, though only I partook …

Other preferred mimosas …

The finished casseroles and compote (Dad doesn’t love tomatoes, hence the asymmetry in the Southwestern casserole)…

But Dad did like his new winter hat …

… and my parents’ 14-year-old cat Benedict preferred to be left alone in his newly-discovered box.

What was your favorite Christmas/Chanukah gift this season?  Any new traditions put into play?

Trading Turkey for Toast (In Which I Ask if ‘New Traditions’ is an Oxymoron)

Webster’s defines ‘tradition’ as ‘an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior’ or ‘the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.’  Indeed, I just began a post with ‘Webster’s defines,’ like a bad fifth-grade report on gravity (though my elementary-schoolteacher Mom points out that these days, kids cite Wikipedia).

Tradition is most prevalent during the holiday season – what side dishes you eat for Thanksgiving. Where you hang the stockings.  What family member will always be late and therefore shouldn’t be counted upon to bring the appetizers.

As things change in my family – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse – we have found it necessary to alter our traditions.  After my brother passed away in 2004, we shifted the time and place of our Christmas – instead of spending Christmas morning in Northeast Ohio, we opened presents Christmas Day evening in suburban St. Louis. It was a way to all be together at Christmas but around different scenery that didn’t remind us so viscerally of who we had lost. Five years later, enough healing had occurred that we returned to Northeast Ohio for a Christmas-morning gift exchange (but in the living room instead of the den).

This Christmas holiday, my Dad is the interim rector in charge of celebrating services the local Episcopal Church. This means, among other responsibilities, that he’ll be officiating at four services – 5:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 10:30 pm, and 10:00 a.m. – in observance of Christmas Eve and Day. It also means my favorite carol, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing,’ is the recessional (the walking-out, end-of-service) hymn tonight, but I’m sure that is just a happy coincidence and not at all a case of musical nepotism.

So instead of Christmas-morning festivities, we’ll open presents in the early afternoon.  And instead of turkey or crown roast accompanied by a nice Pinot Noir, we’re having a Christmas brunch with mimosas and Bloody Marys.

For my contribution, I’m making two casseroles that Molly and the rest of the ‘Chill’ gang (a/k/a my high school BFFs) have politely eaten before.  One is my friend Hillary’s ‘overnight’ blueberry French toast containing such healthy ingredients as cream cheese, maple syrup, and roughly 37 eggs (before-baked view  shown below):

The other is a Southwestern Brunch Casserole from my favorite cookbook of all time (the recipes are relatively simple and always reliable):

And here’s a look at it, pre-baking (and pre-addition of tomato slices and paprika).  A little light reading off to the side there was provided by the Akron Beacon Journal, former stomping ground of my favorite author, Chuck Klosterman (how’s that for a digression):

Mom is making a winter fruit compote, which will be topped with ricotta, honey and almonds:

And we’ll be rounding it off with some turkey sausage links and cranberry bread.

But the point I wanted to convey here (and managed to wait until the penultimate paragraph) is not to make people hungry.  It’s to say that even as some of our traditions, travel destinations, and participants change, others hold true.  I’ll tell Mom I have a gift receipt for something before she even opens her present.  Dad will have silly esoteric gift cards on the items he’s wrapped (one year, all presents were ‘from’ new U.S. Cabinet members; the next year, all presents were courtesy of obscure New Orleans Saints players). A particular Mannheim Steamroller song will play that we all love to hate. Mom and/or I will quote Sesame Street’s Bert and ask for a ‘scissor’ to assist with a particularly snug bow.  At some point, an Old Fashioned or three will be consumed. A fire will crackle. And we will feel lucky to be sharing the holiday together. God bless us, every one.

What are some traditions your family shares, in the holiday season or otherwise?

Three-Day Juice Cleanse (In Which I Crave Doritos Even More Than Usual)

Inspired by the most unlikely of sources – Howard Stern sidekick and newswoman (and holder of my dream job) Robin Quivers –  I embarked this week on a three-day-long “juice cleanse,” otherwise known as a “juice fast” or “some hippie dippie way of cleaning out your system.”

While Ms. Quivers does a handful of 21-day fasts each year, I thought this would be a sustainable enough experiment to start.  I’d imagine most marathon runners began with a 5K (if not, indeed, with a single step).

The Queen of All Media

I knew headed in that this silly procedure wasn’t about weight loss (but more on that later).  I thought maybe the cleanse, undertaken here at the onset of winter, would provide me with some needed nutrients, give my digestive system a rest, flush out some toxins, and maybe, just maybe, make me a more energetic person, shave 10 years off my appearance, cure my anxiety, earn me half a dozen new friends, and give me a new appreciation for simple pleasures.

Perhaps this was too much to hope for.  Did I mention I also had a Groupon.

For those of you out there in the mood for a good (albeit boring) story or for anyone considering doing a cleanse themselves (three days or otherwise), this was my experience. Duh duh DUH.

Sunday, 8:00 p.m.  

“My last solid food until Thursday morning!” I think in a panic.  I eat pasta. Bagel chips smeared with cream cheese.  I have a glass of wine.  I later found out I was supposed to limit processed food, dairy, and alcohol in the two days prior to the cleanse. Ooops.

Monday, 8:00 a.m. 

I head to Peeled, the juice/cleanse bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.  They hand  me a box of 18 16-ounce bottles of various juice.  Like the ones below, but not quite as fancy.  I leave, feeling inspired.  Man, is the box heavy.

Photo Courtesy of The Fallout Girl 

Being a frugal city gal, I opt for the El into work versus a cab. But because I’m later than usual, there are no seats.  I stand, holding this quite-heavy box.  I drip with sweat.  My arms begin to quake. Chivalry rolls over in its cold-ass grave.  Once I mercifully reach my stop, it’s a long four-block walk into my office.  At least I didn’t drop the juice and waste my 99 bucks.

Monday, 9:00 a.m.

So the cleanse is laid out like this:  six drinks per day, so roughly one every two hours. In between, you are supposed to drink lots of water and green tea.  Yup, that is a ton of liquid, but I’ll get to that.

First is a green drink (veggies spiked with apples).  Second and third are cayenne lemonade and watermelon juice, respectively, which are both just as they sound.  Fourth is more green-monster juice, then another watermelon.  The sixth and final bottle is cashew milk, where you get much of the day’s sustenance and protein.  It’s a creamy, fatty reward for a job well done.

First up – green drink.  I take one sip and shiver.  “This is not going to end well,” I say to my work neighbor Carlos. If it just tasted like the important stuff – spinach, kale, celery, cucumber – it would be far more palatable.  The fact that they try to “improve” it with apple juice simply makes it taste like spinach brined in tart apple juice.

Cheers

My friend Hanna advised letting the green juice come up to room temperature and then chugging it.  I agree – it’s the best (if not the only) way.

Monday, 8:00 p.m.

Drinks 2-5 went off without incident and I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry.  Time for this cashew milk nonsense.  The first sip is a shock to my system and prompts me to shake it a little more diligently.  Then it morphed into a not-exactly-delicious Egg Nog.  A little creamy but definitely filling.  I felt relatively sated, but I already missed chewing.

Monday, 11:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1:30 a.m. 

While this three days of juice didn’t truly cleanse me out as Dr. Sendil evilly warned, I did have to do something about the 120 ounces of liquid I’d ingested that day.  I know, I know, Mom.  Too much information.

Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. 

I feel okay.  Not starving.  Man, is the green drink even more gross than I remember.

Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.

I want anything crunchy.  Doritos.  Pita chips.  Goldfish.  Carrots. Binder clips.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. 

“Damn it, Carlos, how can canned soup smell so utterly delicious!  How?  Please go eat that elsewhere.  No, seriously.  Wonder if I should be eating these juices with a spoon to fool myself.”

Soup Hasn't Spurred This Much Anger Since that One Seinfeld Episode

Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. 

Back on track.  Less cranky.  Less longing for snacks.  Just one day to go.  I start fantasizing about my Thursday-morning breakfast. Spinach, mushroom and goat cheese wrap from the healthy-ish place next door. I rarely get breakfast out – ever. But man, I’m going to deserve it.

Tuesday, 10:00 p.m

I also, however, find out that each day’s worth of the cleanse is roughly 1,400 calories, which seems like kind of a lot considering the amount of sacrifice involved.  That is 4-2/3rds McDonald’s cheeseburgers, people.  Three-plus Taco Bell bean burritos.

Pretty Much the World's Most Perfect Food

Wednesday, 8:00 a.m

I’m a little light-headed but feel strong. I can do this thing.  As God is my witness, I will never (feel) hungry again!

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m

Fourth drink of the day, final green drink overall.  I will not miss you.

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m

Swing by my friend Beth (#1)’s house to help with her dog. Nearly eat a Beggin Strip.

It Looks Delicious, Right?

Find it increasingly hard to resist the little cup of pistachios on her counter.  Convince myself that if I have a couple of pistachios, it is basically the same as cashew milk.

Nibble on a couple of pistachios.  And in this world, ‘a couple’ means 17 or so. It’s really all Kermit’s fault.  Damn you, Kermit.

Awwww, Nuts.

Okay, so by my count, that was 70 hours of no chewing, no solid food, nothing but juice prepared by the fine folks at Peeled. A failure by two hours, technically speaking, although I really shouldn’t have chewed any solid food until tomorrow morning.  Better cut back on my grand breakfast plans.

But here’s the deal, folks. Other than feeling a sense of accomplishment that I can actually go 70 hours without crunching on nonsense snacks, I don’t feel really anything different.  No heightened energy like some people reference.  No glowing skin. No spring in my step. No desire to wear my skinniest jeans (not that I even know what those are these days).  I just feel … okay.

So it was all in all, I suppose from my point of view, a failed exercise.  Yes, I felt better today than yesterday, but it’s all relative.  It’s the Collective Soul/Creed analogy that I will get to in a later post.

Honestly, the best part was probably the workout my biceps got carrying that damn box.

Catch you on the solid-food side.