Monday, August 10, 2009

Show food

I love pre-show anticipation, not just about the ribbons. Of course, I want to do well and bring home lots of high scores, but the way I see it, 50% is preparation and 50% is luck at the moment (I have had many quite colorful examples of bad luck, but that’s for another blog…). By this point in show season, either I know my mounts are prepared or I’ve canned the show season to stay home and train. So for me, show anticipation takes on another angle–the food.

Showing as a kid, if you told me a show grounds, I could tell you the nearest fast-food restaurants. Maturity, and a husband who can REALLY cook, has improved my culinary tastes. Add Linda, Secret’s owner, who believes both commiserating and celebrating require linen napkins, and pre-show anticipation becomes very sweet.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to pack to proper road-trip-stall-side munchies. We just cannot show without SmartFood White Cheddar popcorn. Animal crackers and trail mix are also essentials. Add some granola bars, apples, carrots and grapes, then wash it down with Smartwater for Ange and Coke for Linda, and we are set. Usually there’s a small bag of M&M’s somewhere, but white breeches require me to limit my quantities.

Of course we have to pack something for lunch, and my preference is good-old fashioned peanut butter and jelly. PB&J represents one-handed comfort food at its best. Today’s PB&J is a bit more grown-up than years past, though. To start, Doug bakes excellent bread. Last weekend, for fun, he took my leftover fruit and mixed it with honey and sugar, making an amazing jelly, so last weekend’s PB&J were especially tasty. Linda, not to be outdone, brought some chicken club salad from the farmer’s market.

Then there’s dinner, and of course I have my favorites. NJ has the most incredible Italian restaurant, Villa Barone's, and I’m sure the food tasted better coming from a very yummy waiter. In July, Linda and I split an appetizer, dinner, desert, and a bottle of my favorite wine. NJ also spawns an awesome ice cream parlor, Swal’s Ice Cream, on Main St in Allentown.

Lexington, VA’s long haul is softened by Southern Inn, which is hands-down my favorite restaurant ever. It’s so good, last weekend we went there twice. The appetizers show the chef’s amazing talent with cheese. The Cornbread-Stuffed Roasted Chicken Breast was incredible, and the Blueberry Napoleon was so good I actually used my fingers to get the last of the sauce (in public even). To top it off, they stock one of my favorite beers, Delirium Tremens. Does it get much better than that?

The schooling shows aren’t exempt either. We can’t haul to Blue Goose without the trailer drifting into Bruster’s Ice Cream on the way home. We are all card-carrying Sweet Rewards members. There’s a perfect trailer parking spot behind the shop.

At this rate, all that weight I carefully lost this spring will be back plus some. Good thing show season slows down in August, or I’ll never get back into my show clothes.

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