A Little Dab of This & A Little Dash of That

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Day

   I was going to post this on the 17th for Random Acts of Kindness Day, but other things came up so here it is now.

     Like most people, I like things the way I like them.  I am enough of a control freak that I understand the philosophy of "if you want something done right, do it yourself." So if I have a taste for something, I will usually try to make it.  I like knowing what is in what my family and I eat.  If my girls eat a cup of sugar, it's because I used that much in a recipe, (doubtful) or more likely, they got into the brown sugar while I was in the shower.

     For the times I can't or don't feel like doing it myself, there are places that I turn to.  Most of them are smaller, mom & pop, independent type of places.  That's not to say that I don't go the supermarket, or a chain restaurant from time to time; but I prefer places that are personal, authentic, even dive kind of places. To me they have that certain quality that embraces and celebrates our humanity in this hustle and bustle cookie cutter world.

     I look for them, google for them, and try to spread the word once I find them, to ensure their continued success.  I know running an independent business in this corporate, handy dandy, instant gratification time is challenging to say the least.

     Below, you will find a few that I have discovered, but I encourage you to find your own wherever you live.  In this day and age, this is an easy, no-brainer, random act of kindness to practice often.  You will be not only helping the entrepreneurial spirit, that helped to make this country, but adding to your quality of life.  I think that when we look for the best in others we inadvertently encourage ourselves to give and do our  best.   When we acknowledge the dedication and hard work in each other, we acknowledge our humanity, and that for better or worse, we are all in this together.  Don't forget to shop with your reusable shopping bags; yet another easy random act of kindness to practice regularly.

Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Frankie's Deli  Lombard Illinois- An Italian deli and grocery that is family owned and ran since 1964.  Great sandwiches, frozen sauces, pastas, and gnocchi. Wonderful cannoli that is filled with the ricotta upon ordering. Go to www.frankiesdeliyorktown.com for more details.

Holl's Chocolates Parkersburg, West Virginia- Swiss born and trained conditor, Fritz Holl opened Holl's in 1986.  His son Dominique runs it today.  Amazing truffles.  Go to www.holls.com to learn the history and browse over the site.  You won't be sorry if you decide to order your own sampling.  Their "Truffle of the Month" is Tiramisu.

The Half Shell, Chicago, Illinois- Opened in 1968, this seafood joint used to be a hidden gem.  Located in the lower level of a greystone on Diversey Pkwy.  Great diverse menu that includes, crab legs, oysters, and house smoked fish.  Cash only, although if I remember correctly there's an ATM inside.  Not sure if it's still the case, but every meal used to be accompanied by a lollipop.  For more info, go to www.halfshellchicago.com.

The Reel Inn, Malibu, California-  The Reel Inn has been around since 1986, but the building has a long interesting history which you can read all about on their site, www.reelinnmalibu.com.  It is one of the places I miss most from my time of living in Southern California.  Huge chalk board fresh catch menu, and no place is more relaxed than The Reel Inn.  You will most likely notice the scent of cat in the parking lot from one of the many felines that flock here for scraps.  You might even be joined by an uninvited guest while you dine here.  Notice how silky and shiny Miss Kitty's fur is?  Note, if you are not the go with the flow type, this may not appeal to you, but you would miss out on a truly wonderful Malibu experience and dinner if this is the case.

The Riverside Cafe, Ellsworth, Maine-  I am a huge breakfast buff, and wherever I go I seek to find the local favorite breakfast spot.  I have come across many great ones, which I will probably someday do a post on, but for now, let me just rave about The Riverside Cafe.  Ellsworth is a small town northeast of Portland, and Augusta; on the way to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  I don' think I have to point what an incredibly beautiful part of the country this is.  So, if and whenever you find yourself in Ellsworth, stop by this charming local favorite.  I was here for my perfect breakfast, (buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and butter), but they offer gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; although their hours are varied, so check out complete details at www.maineriversidecafe.com.  They also feature live music on weekends!

There are many nooks, joints, and gems that I have found through my travels.  Some, I just happened upon, while others were courtesy of a friend or a guide.  Whatever your mode of choice, I hope this gets you excited to rediscover your hometown and all the other places your journey takes you.   

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