Comfort food is different for everyone. For my husband, it’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. For me, a giant bowl full of pasta (like this one we found in Fussen, on the border of Germany and Italy) makes me feel worlds better about life. But for me, nothing beats the combination of feel-good food in my favorite place: my home town.
My home town smells like sage, chapparal, oak trees and hay. It’s not so small that everyone knows each other by name, but we know each other by sight, and we know each other by the shared sense of this place is special that bonds everyone lucky enough to live there. And while there are everyone’s old favorite cowboys-at-the-counters diners like Ellen’s Pancake House and Mother Hubbards, it’s the new restaurants in town that are serving up what I need.
Cafe Succulent in Solvang is one of the rare restaurants that not only survives the ebbs and flows of tourist town commerce (so many places go under within months), it’s expanding. They specialize in comfort food with a southern/western/Santa Ynez Valley twist, like this meatloaf above. The thick slab of perfectly seasoned meatloaf (they learned the recipe from a local rancher) rests on a buttery southern-style biscuit, topped with house-cured bacon. Follow that by a sunny walk through the faux-Dutch streets of spilling-over-flower-boxes and couples holding hands, and you can’t help but feel uplifted. And if you don’t, there are at least a hundred wine bars within walking distance. Win-Win.
Nachos are one of my ultimate comfort foods, and while the best I’ve had are at Kauai’s Brennecke’s Beach Broiler, the close second comes with a real lime juice Margarita at Dos Carlitos in Santa Ynez. If you sit outside, the breeze carries the scent of the hills – and if it’s blowing the other direction, the scent of the feed store in back. Not a bad thing if you like the smell of livestock and horses, which I do.
Yes, I could tell you about the comfort foods I’ve had around the world – meat pies in England, daal in India, cold soba in Japan, fettuccine a la carbonara in Rome – but for me, comfort is one part a plate full of goodness, and two parts feeling like I’m home.
What is your ultimate comfort food? Tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear it. And if you’re so inclined, link up to the WanderFood Wednesday link party.Add a comment