Just because you aren’t going somewhere exotic this year doesn’t mean you have to suffer in your dining choices. Many of us travel far and wide for a good bite, yet are completely unaware of the options that are all around us every day, bringing attention to how even our local restaurants develop their menus to appeal to what we want. I would compare this behavior to the example of residents of Manhattan who have never visited the Empire State Building.
Many of us eat lunch when at work, but how many actually enjoy lunch? When visiting Chicago this year, I couldn’t get enough of the numerous small dining options available in the shopping district of the Miracle Mile; yet the locals seemed to be gravitating towards the more well known brands. One can’t help but to roll one’s eyes at another diner waiting in line for a $5.00 foot long sub when another block away there is the best little German restaurant with a $5.00 lunch counter serving heaping portions of sausages, braised meats, salads, and sandwiches in 2 minutes or less with a smile and a sincere “thank you.”
On a recent trip to the San Francisco Bay, I stumbled into a foodie’s paradise of gourmet shops in the Ferry Building. This area of the wharf was (just as it sounds) a former ferry building; now converted into what I believe must be heaven on earth for gourmands the world around. There were artisanal cheese shops, salami stores with hand cranked meat slicers, groceries serving hand-picked fruit and melons, and lots and lots of cafes. I wondered if the locals even knew about this place that I wished I could take with me in my suitcase back home with me. These gourmet markets aren’t essential to a good meal, but when you are eating an aged prosciutto and ciabatta sandwich with arugula, olive oil and aged parmesan shavings with a side of fries cooked in duck fat; it’s easy to say they can’t hurt.