Food Column: A vacation to remember
It was one thing when the giraffe deliberately turned its back on me, but the fact it then proceeded to pass, well… gas, right in my face was somewhat of an affront. However, I did see the humor in it, racking the situation up to another enlightening, if not fragrant, adventure.
I still smile when I recall this episode and the many others I had when I took a vacation a few weeks ago. This particular get-away was legit…I actually left the Northwoods.
I had great motivation. My good friend Debbie Robson invited me to Madison for a few days. She wanted to help me fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions which was to get massage.
“I know just the place,” she told me a few weeks before and I decided to take her up on the offer.
Debbie has always been a special friend of mine. I can distinctly remember the first time we met and it was strangely enough, over a head of cabbage. When I was 11 or 12 years old my mother gave me some change and told me to go down to the local grocery store and pick up a head of lettuce. At that time Debbie was a cashier at this place.
For some reason, I bought a head of cabbage which my mother made me take back. The thought of having to return this vegetable terrified me but when I explained to Debbie my blunder she nonchalantly told me to go exchange it, no problem. I have never forgotten that small gesture of kindness.
We are about four years apart in age, a lifetime when you are a teenager, but after we both graduated from high school we became close friends. But life has a way of taking you down different paths and when I moved up north we lost touch.
Then, a couple of years ago my good buddy and Debbie’s husband, John, passed away and we reconnected through that tragedy. It was if there had never been a gap in our friendship and like true good friends we picked up as if we had never been apart.
I’ve witnessed this comrade go through some tough life changes these past two years. A move into Madison, empty nest adaptation and a pervasive grief that was all consuming at times. So when she invited me down to the big city, with the offer of setting me up with a massage, I accepted.
And I am so glad I did. Even though I practically grew up in Madison, even graduating from the university there, it has been quite a while since I’ve spent any time in this beautiful city. Oh my it has changed and with that lots of construction. But my friend knows her way around our state’s capital like the back of her hand, plus she’s a phenomenal driver so I felt like I had my own personal chauffer.
We packed a lot into our time together too. We visited the arboretum where hundreds of crabapple trees were blooming; we got massages; went shopping; ate delicious food at a variety of restaurants; had long conversations over a glasses of wine; visited other friends and in general just had fun. Truthfully it has been a long time since I have had so many laughing moments as we recalled old times and made new memories.
The other day I once again found myself reminiscing about that vacation, realizing thanks to my good friend, just what a wonderful success it was. One of my favorite times was when we ate at a little restaurant on the west side of the city and I tried a BLT Wrap. It was delicious and I’m including a recipe for those this week.
I also will never forget that fragrant moment when Mr. Giraffe, who lives at the Henry Vilas Zoo, decided to give me his unique salutation. While I know this may seem a little far-fetched I’m hoping this type of gassy greeting is the way giraffes naturally welcome people they really like. And in case it isn’t, I’m not taking it personally.
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups shredded lettuce
3 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs. mayo
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
4 burrito tortillas
In a large bowl combine bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. Mix the cream cheese, mayo and mustard together then combine with bacon mixture. Salt and pepper to tase. Place one fourth of the mixture on a tortilla and wrap like a burrito. Keep refrigerated before eating. These also make a great appetizer, just cut into inch wide slices and serve.