Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friends, Farewells & Fabulous Food

Port Cafe Friends by Patricia Govezensky

My life has been blessed and enriched by the friends I’ve met as I've skipped along the Yellow Brick Road to Happy Destiny. The older I get, the more joy I receive from sharing experiences, events, hobbies and stories with the beautiful women I am grateful to know.

Two of my newest friends from church, Kathleen (pictured 2nd from the right in the photo above) and Bonnie (far left) are moving away from Austin….reluctantly. Rather than wallow in their departure at my own personal pity party, I organized a small group of us to celebrate our friendship by feasting together one last time.

Joanne (above far right) suggested we gather at the Eastside Café, located at 2113 Manor Road, and what a wonderful idea it was, too! I’ve heard about the Eastside Café for years, but had never eaten there. The restaurant was rather nondescript, situated in a simple, but nice Craftsman style house. Our party of six met for an early lunch, and we were seated immediately.
Making a decision about what to order was nearly as tough as saying goodbye to my two beautiful friends! I started off my lunch with a cup of Chicken Artichoke Heart Soup (not pictured), which I wolfed down so fast there was no time for a picture, along with a yummy Jalapeño cornbread muffin. As an entrée, I selected the Sesame Catfish, consisting of a fresh, baked Texas catfish fillet breaded with sesame seeds, parsley, and bread crumbs. It was served with garlic aioli, and the flavor was delicious. For a side, I ordered the squash, which deserves its own merit. Baked to perfection, the butternut squash was an unexpected treat, covered with a sauce that is hard for me to describe - an Asian flavor, perhaps sesame ginger – that complemented the natural sweetness of the squash.

One of our guests of honor, Bonnie, ordered the Grilled Tuna Steak Sandwich. Marinated in orange juice and fresh ginger, the tuna steak would normally sit on a white or whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions, and soy ginger mayonnaise, but Bonnie opted for no bun in lieu of homemade French fries.

Bonnie’s employment with Freebird’s Corporate Office is the reason we were graced with Bonnie’s presence in Austin, but it is also the reason she’s now leaving us after only a few short months.  In honor of the wonderful service and friendship Bonnie offered us while here, I’ve decided to boycott Freebird’s for not properly acknowledging the gifts and talents of this vibrant, funny and intelligent woman and keeping her in Austin! I'm sure they'll go bankrupt shortly....HA!

Our ambitiously awesome Ambre, (yes, I spelled that right), who had to get back to work for a meeting before our group pictures were taken, had the Smoked Salmon and Shrimp Cake Salad tossed with lemon remoulade dressing, which looked scrumptious. We are...(cough)...sooooo glad...(cough, cough)...that she was able to share with us her stories of the odd foods she’s seen on Austin menus lately, such as frog legs, alligator and...(cough)...Rocky Mountain Oysters. (Adventurous eater that I am, I have eaten two out of those three “delicacies”, but I do have my limits.)

And, let us not forget supremely sweet Cindy, who appeared to be having an intimate relationship with her plate. She raved about the flavors of the Artichoke Manicotti. Her dish consisted of carrot pasta filled with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, pistachios, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. It was topped with sun-dried tomato cream sauce and parmesan cheese. At one point, after swallowing a bite, Cindy announced with an expression of exquisite satisfaction, “I am soooooo happy!” Take a peek at the dish that titillated Cindy’s taste buds.

Our other dear, departing sister (oh, that doesn’t sound quite right), Kathleen the Cake Queen, who is moving within the next week or so, ordered the Chicken Artichoke Heart Soup and the Butternut Squash. Kathleen, who has been one of the nursery leaders at church, watching over all those precious little bitty children of God, will sorely be missed! I understand her need to move closer to her aging mother, but I selfishly wish I could keep this sweet, lovely sister here. Kathleen is a certified Wilton Cake Decorating Instructor, ergo the title, The Cake Queen.

Last, but not least, our joyfully jaunty Joanne, the only one of us who had eaten before at Eastside Café and dares to wear the most gorgeous 4-inch heels I've ever seen, selected the pulled pork enchiladas for her entree, which looked divine! Those enchiladas must’ve been really good, too, because there was not a crumb left behind. Nummy!

After lunch, we hugged and hugged each other, knowing that those dear friends, who are leaving, remain in our hearts and we, who are left, are forever changed for the better.

A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

7 …peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.

Three Friends by Rolana Ceckauskaite
Build Your Choir of Friends, Y'all!