Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eating my way through San Jose: Lobster corndogs, duck fat fries, and inexpensive elegance


I just finished a book of blog ideas called No One Cares What You Had For Lunch, so of course I'm going to tell you what I had for lunch. Well, not exactly. But I am going to write about food in San Jose. It seems like all I've done since I got here is eat. Library conferences are like that. Every time you turn around, a vendor is sponsoring a break, lunch, or reception, and I've always found it hard to turn down free food. I'll be lucky to fit into my jeans when I get home. But fear not--I'm not going to bore you with details about all the food-related events I've gone to. Instead, I'm going to bore you with my observations about food around here.

First, a restaurant recommendation: If you're ever in the convention center area of San Jose, be sure to eat at the Sonoma Chicken Coop at least once. Their theme is "inexpensive elegance", and they live up to that promise. The food is delicious, beautifully presented, and reasonably priced. I was so impressed with my beautiful chicken salad that I took a picture of it! (see above) I'm pretty sure I've never done that before, but then I'm pretty sure I've never been served something garnished with an orchid before either.

Now for another theme I've noticed: Expensive inelegance. Well, not exactly. But I've been to a couple upscale restaurants in the last few days, and they usually have at least one menu item that's an upscale version of distinctly downscale cuisine. Today's example (which I'm not making up): a lobster corndog. Really! What's next? A deep-fried twinkie with Grand Marnier sauce? The same restaurant also served (are you ready for this) duck fat fries. I noticed that no one asked for ketchup.

I'm not sure what this trend says about American eating habits, but I find it fascinating.

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