I miss real food. There I said it. After living here in Pullman for almost five years while going to school, I have had recurring dreams about food. The food never attacks me and I'm never actually eating, but the setting of my dreams has almost always been in a pizza parlor, Greek restaurant or a chicken shack that feels eerily familiar to the joints I frequented back home. I have come to realize that my body and mind are still very intimately yearning for a taste of home...a taste of my dear Windy City.
Here in Pullman (and gathering from many trips to Seattle, Portland and surrounding areas) it seems that most folks appreciate tasteless food. From horribly underseasoned french fries, steaks and seafood to really doughy pizza with what seems like a tablespoon of sauce, I have yet to find a restaurant that I could proudly call "eh" let alone good. The "fancy" restaurant in town boasts appetizers I sometimes buy as snacks from Costco, and one restaurant a town over even claims its overcooked, not very fresh pasta is the best in the area....I believe them.
My mother appreciates my sadness and longing for real Italian, mouthwatering pizza and delectable Italian beef, and for the second year in a row, she has sent Portillo's to my little neck of the Palouse for Ian's birthday. Mom, I know you read this blog, you are my hero. I shall construct a statue in your honor.
I grew up with Portillo's. Crinkle cut fries, Polish sausage, the greatest milkshakes in the world, Chicago style hot dogs (no ketchup people. please, no ketchup.)and dipped Italian beef sandwiches with sweet peppers and mozz are enough to make me at once weak in the knees and horribly nostalgic.
The package we received was insulated with dry ice, and they really crammed a lot into that box. Two 1-lb. packages of beef, two decent sized canisters of gravy, eight sandwich rolls, a decent amount of roasted sweet peppers and Marconi's famous hot giardiniera made for two very happy people in my household (and three very intrigued animals sniffing and licking the air around the stove).
This was a portion of my loot. I was a little skeptical about the meat being as great as the restaurant's, but my fears were quickly assuaged when I opened up that bad boy and saw tender, mouthwatering meat staring me in the face.
The gravy. Nope, you didn't read that wrong. 18g of fat in 2 tbsp. Heaven.
Meat swimming in a bath of luxury. Once the meat cooked all the way through, I placed some in the crusty roll along with the sweet peppers, mozzarella and hot giardiniera, and then I dipped the whole bastard in the au jus. I'm always dumbstruck when people don't order these beauties dipped...
My sandwich without its makeup on. Still beautiful in the morning, no?