Tag Archives: hempstead

Mickie’s corned beef hash, herring with lingonberries, Elgin hot sausage

(No, not all together, though I wouldn’t swear that such a combo never crossed Steve‘s lips in bachelor days.)

The in-laws from Israel, last seen here, were back last week for the run-up to Passover. I always try to hook them up with a little Americana, so we had an excessive breakfast at Mickie’s Dairy Bar, whose excessive breakfasts are even better — and more excessive — than the ones at The OP. A momentary worry that my breakfast would not be excessive enough prompted me to order a side of corned beef hash, the true test of any diner. This was superb — maybe the best I’ve had. (The red flannel hash at Henrietta’s Table is the other contender, but it’s so socioeconomically elevated as to not really be the same dish.) Mickie’s corned beef hash is hardly hashed at all — the beef comes in big oblong chunks, and the potatoes in fat, crispy discs. All are coated in a smoky, peppery rub. It is the kind of corned beef hash I imagine cowboys might eat, outdoors, at the beginning of a day they know will be long and exhausting, especially if they are worried that their breakfast might otherwise not be excessive enough.

Then Passover started. We spent it in Hempstead, Texas, ancestral seat of Mrs. Q’s maternal side. It is the Watermelon Capital of Texas (more precisely, one of at least five municipal claimants to the title) and the only way to get wireless there is to pull up in the parking lot of the Super 8 and check e-mail until a chambermaid notices you — thus limited blogging. The good thing about Passover in Texas is that it’s a great place to eat big pieces of meat. More specifically: the good thing about giving a talk at UT on Passover is that you can stop for Elgin hot sausage on the way back. Now I like a Wisconsin brat as much as the next man, but there’s no comparison to the satisfying snap of the casing on an Elgin hot, or the tender, peppery beef filling, with a texture closer to meatball than kielbasa. And you can have it shipped to your house!

We’re back home since Tuesday night. On CJ’s request, we stopped at Brennan’s on the way back from daycare yesterday; he likes the cheese samples, I like the herring with lingonberries from Hughes Seafood.

I have, just once, been to a smorgasbord in Sweden. There must have been a wide variety of food on offer, but in my memory, that’s all been crowded out by the awe-inspiring combinatorial explosion of herring. Herring in mustard, herring in wine, herring and onions, herring and curry — and, most exotic of all, herring with fruit. People of America, follow the Swedes — you don’t have to adopt cross-country skiing or six weeks of paid vacation, but please, listen to me, and start sweetening your herring. If you need further instructions, buy a pound of herring with lingonberries from Hughes Seafood. And you too will sing my herring-sweetening tune.

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