Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When honey and maple syrup meet...

Anytime I have to venture into downtown Miami I find myself moaning a bit, dreading the traffic and the strange one-way roads that appear to stop and start whenever they feel like it. Normally I would opt for the metro method, but I just couldn't be bothered today. So I crossed my fingers and hoped that three hours would be enough time to get downtown, eat lunch at a restaurant, and drive back to campus.

A few months ago I bought a Groupon for ten bucks. I received $20 to First and First Southern Baking Company. The menu seemed like any other southern menu, with a few healthier kicks involved. What I didn't realize was that there was not only a wide variety of baked delicacies, but a pretty good array of meals too. Of course I waited until the last day the Groupon was valid, aka today, to go over there and try out the food.

When I stepped inside, I immediately thought I was in Crowne Candy Ice Cream joint back in St. Louis. The smells were incredible. Empanadas. Cake batter. Fried chicken. The works. And to top it all off, the Cooking Channel was playing in the front window. Julia Child was chirping away, telling the world how to best make a French stock for beef soup. Everything was so bright and inviting. Exactly how I picture my bakery to be one day. The cases held homemade cupcakes of flavors I would never have considered, along with a few others that I've managed to play with. But I had to eat lunch before I could stare at and/or drool over the baked goods.

Obviously I opted for the most Southern meal on the menu. Chicken and waffles. With honey maple syrup. YES, I said....honey maple syrup. The two best liquid forms of sugar out there, and they have been combined to go alongside one of the best breakfast and one of the best dinner time flavors. I skipped out on the side of macaroni and cheese, and chose to get a nice helping of green bean casserole. There really is only one way to make green bean casserole. Oober creamy, with a crunchy top. So that would be the determiner for how good this place really is.

About ten minutes, and two segments of Julia Child later, I am surprised by an incredible plate of food. I'm not sure why restaurants choose to give you a huge helping of main course and a HUGE helping of side, but for some reason, the South has given us the concept of smaller portions for sides. I am greeted by a warm, golden (homemade) buttermilk waffle sitting underneath strips of fried chicken in a secret battered recipe. From what I could tell, there was definitely some paprika and cayenne involved. The green beans were invisible underneath the layer of fried onions sitting on top of the mini casserole dish. Inside, I found each green bean smothered in a white gravy sauce, and bits of (I believe) mushrooms were found every few bites. But I could hardly tell, they may not have even included them...which would be great.

Every bite was great by itself. Chicken, awesome. Waffle, awesome. Green bean casserole, fantastic. But what brought it all together was that amazing medley of honey and maple syrup. They just started a ménage à trois of goodness in my mouth with anything I bit into.

I could have stayed there all day, but I knew the garage fee would cost more than my meal did. So I grabbed some cupcakes to give a try, and I will obviously try to recreate the recipes on my own if they seem worthy. I will return to try to the Mojito Cake on a day they actually have it, and I WILL try everything on that menu before leaving Miami.

Did I almost forget to mention they have gift cards? Well, they have gift cards. ::cough cough::

Now, drool over this picture and envy my adventure. Or, invite me along when you decide to venture over to First and First Southern Baking Company.