Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Sad Day in SB for Foodies & Friends

So when I started this blog I had the highest of hopes.  I'm 23. I love food, writing, and apparently juggling.  What could go wrong?  Let's just say I should keep my day job because I have dropped quite a few balls recently.  Instead of being my baby this blog has become my badly neglected red-headed stepchild and for that I apologize to my one follower.

I've been driven back to this page by less than happy circumstances; to grieve the loss of a good friend and an eye opening experience known as the GrapeVine Fine Food Market.  This little shop, literally "around the corner" provided friendship in the form of a charming South African mother and daughter named Claudette & Charlotte.   They gave me much more by means of supplying an exotic array of foodstuffs and thoughtfully made meals. It was a little piece of foodie heaven on E. Canon Perdido St. And now it's gone.

I slave away all day at a non-profit organization for little money and even less culture.  Ok I'm being dramatic.  I like my job but when you work in a place that is constantly giving to others you will find that they tend to neglect themselves  a bit.  This is the only explanation I can find for our lunchroom vending machine which boasts 75 cent cans of Diet Coke and some questionably old popcorn bags. Really? This isn't nourishment.

I stumbled around in darkness for awhile when I attempted to find lunch in the neighboring community.  I can only eat so many $10 sandwiches and seriously, who said that basil should be on everything?!! It was looking like I would be brown bagging it. Bad news. While I am very much into elaborate Sunday dinners and special holiday rendezvous, I lack a knack for the simple art of making a quick and delicious lunch.

Imagine my elation when I discovered the GrapeVine. I walked in to dark wood accents, copper ceiling tiles and shelves stocked with Russian chocolates and specialty pasta sauces. I'm really not exaggerating when I say I felt like a kid in a very sophisticated, very gourmet candy store.  I was greeted by Charlotte and Claudette who soon enough became my friends, noticing my new haircuts and trying to set me up.  It's the kind of relationship you just can't develop at your local Subway.  I started looking forward to 12pm so I could hurry over and get a seared Ahi sandwich with Wasabi mayo or whatever else their awesome lunch special was.

I won't lie, it wasn't cheap.  But then again, nothing in SB is. For the quality of the food you were really getting a steal.  For $12 instead of a turkey sandwich and Diet Coke I could have a bratwurst with a side of Caesar salad, or my beloved Ahi sandwich with a side of fresh watermelon.  Another favorite was a grilled chicken and Tiger prawns salad. I'm getting nostalgic just writing about it.  They introduced me to some of my favorite products which I will have to search out elsewhere like Rachel's Pomegranate Acai yogurt or Lemongrass DRY Soda.

Just as we all know that the good die young, so in SB the best will inevitably be evicted.  This January after enjoying their special Christmas chocolate selection and missing them over the holidays I rushed over during my first day back at work.  I kid you not when I say there was a crowd (about five people, but on E. Canon Perdido thats alot, were not talking State St. here) at the door all sharing my confusion at the closed doors.  Seeing a small yellow sign in the window my heart sank when I read how being unable to pay their rent in full, they had quickly been ushered out by the SB Trust for Historic Preservation.  Bye bye to another good establishment downtown.  I was downtrodden, but not surprised.

Maybe they were too generous. I can't imagine that seared Ahi is cheap to make. Maybe that's why all the other turkey sandwich-establishments charge me so much for so little.  I feel silly being sad about the loss of a store, but like I said it really was different.  I've bonded with more strangers on the street over the closing of this place than I've even said hello to before this event. I think that speaks for itself and I hope as they go on to whatever new culinary adventures are in store for them they remember that. As for me I'm sure I won't be lacking in my daily basil intake and walking a little farther to find something special in the SB food scene.