Yesterday was my trip to Boulder to see Michael W. Twitty. The whole day was pretty amazing, but a couple of standout things happened. I got kind of a late start because once I got back from taking E. to school, I was just tired. I even contemplated not going at all because I felt like I really needed another night’s sleep, but I just decided to lie down and see what happened. I wanted to spend the day in Boulder, but the event wasn’t until 6:30, so I had plenty of time. I ended up half dozing for about 45 minutes, but my feet were cold, so real sleep was impossible. I finally just got up, got ready and headed out. A little cash in my pocket and a tank full of gas and I was ready.
I got to Colorado Springs at nearly 1 p.m. and realized I was feeling kind of shaky. The bagel at 6:30 that morning was long gone. A few weeks ago, I happened to watch an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and they profiled a Springs restaurant, The Spice Island Grill, and one of their signature dishes, curried goat. Now, I love lamb, but I’ve never had goat, so I wanted to give it a try since I was already in the area. Unfortunately, I had not brought the address with me, so had to stop the car and find it on my semi-smart phone (I really do need to upgrade soon). A couple of false starts, and I found it, got parked and went in.
I arrived at that quiet time after the lunch rush when things are starting to wind down and the energy hasn’t quite picked up to go toward dinner. There were only a couple of parties, a couple on the far side of the dining room and a table of 4 men about my age, who looked like they were about finishing up. The hostess/manager/owner (I recognized her from the show) seated me, and I went over the menu. I already knew I wanted the goat, but I checked out the rest. I will probably be coming back. They have lunch portions, so I’ll do that. It’s way easier for me to run up to Springs for lunch when Eli is in school than to try to organize dinner.
The men were engaged in conversation and when the manager came out to check on them, it was obvious that they were regulars. One of them ordered something to go, and she then took my order and I took in the surroundings. Aside from being a little chilly, the place was nice, small-ish, but airy and colorful. I read the local alternative newspaper and waited. Beverage was first, ginger lemonade, made in-house. I could drink that all day! The lemon and ginger were just balanced for a perfect mix going down.
Next, I had a cup of pumpkin soup. It was yummy, warm and welcome in my chilly state. The pumpkin came through but it wasn’t overwhelming, which I liked. Then I got my goat (pun intended) with a side of Jamaican rice and “peas” which are what we call kidney beans. The goat was fall-off-the bone tender, very flavorful, but not spicy at all. The “curry” was not Indian flavored, but just rich, homey and satisfying. The rice and peas were very similar to a Cajun red beans and rice, but fluffier. The Cajun version, in my experience, has more moisture. I really liked them and I really liked the goat. I’m surprised that we don’t eat more goat/lamb in this country. It’s got to be cheaper to bring to market than beef, as it’s one of the most popular meats in areas of the world that don’t eat beef.
I was about halfway through my meal with another couple of diners came in; two very professionally dressed young men, who sat down at another 2-top to my right. They, too, appeared to be regulars because the manager just said, “I’ll have your plates right out,” and they never even ordered. They chatted about work or whatever, doing the usual restaurant thing these days of checking the phone, etc. But when the food came, phones went down and conversation stopped. In fact, the sudden quiet was what got my attention. They were completely focused on the meal. By the time they came up for air, I was about done. One of them sat back a little and I said by way of conversation, “It must be good. The phones are down.” They both kind of laughed and asked me if I had been there before. I said no, first time, and explained about seeing it on the show and being on the way to Boulder, etc. Interestingly enough, they were headed down to Pueblo! A little more chit-chat and they said they were looking for someone to write grants for their business, which is a rehab/treatment company. Well, I happen to have a friend who does that and mentioned it. I offered to take their card and mention it to my friend if they wanted. They did. Then one of them asked me if I had any recommendations on places to eat in Pueblo, and of course I immediately drew a complete blank, but finally was able to give them the name and location of our favorite dive Mexican place with the best chile rellanos. He was very appreciate.
We chatted a bit more, then headed off our respective ways. I thought was was so cool that on the way to an evening of learning about food and history and justice, a different kind of food experience had brought me together with a couple of otherwise strangers and perhaps I might be able to give them some help with their business. I love moments like this. They always remind me that we have far more similarities than differences and that if would only take a moment to talk to one another, even the differences aren’t that different. All because of sharing food.
Next up, an evening with Michael Twitty.