Monday, March 29, 2010

You Oat to Try This #1: Baked Oatmeal, Uptown Kitchen Style

As this blog has grown in popularity (i.e. as readership approaches the double digits...approaches, not reaches), several people have begun to recommend oatmeal items to me that are neither "real" oatmeal nor an oatmeal recipe. For example, an oatmeal milkshake at a restaurant in Chicago (taste test coming soon). Therefore, I have decided to add a third category to this blog, joining traditional oatmeal reviews and I Am Not Lazy recipes. This section will be called "You Oat to Try This" (unless someone can suggest a better title, which shouldn't be hard, frankly), and it will relate my thoughts on oatmeal-related items that I eat at restaurants, parties (what, you don't serve oatmeal at your parties?), and...jury duty. Or something. I expect these posts to be brief and infrequent, but I think they are a necessary addition. Or as much as any blog can be a "necessary addition" to the internet. I won't score these items like normal posts, just because that's a lot of work, and I can barely keep up with this blog as it is. (Blogspot's spell checker just identified the word "blog" as misspelled. The irony is suffocating.) Instead, I'll just offer some general enticing information so that, if you ever find yourself in the same location, the question of "Should I order this?" will already be answered. (As a side note, I am watching Quantum of Solace, the most inexplicably-titled movie ever, while I write this, so this post will probably be full of aerosol cans that shoot bullets instead of hairspray, alluring foreign women with eyebrow-raising names like "Strawberry Fields" (my Jane Doe-ishly-named self is full of unmeasurable envy), and thinly-veiled suggestive euphemisms. Just an FYI. Because obviously the thing that makes James Bond unequivocally cool is his well-publicized morning bowl of oatmeal. Oh, right, that's a major plot twist of the next movie. Sorry.)

For the inaugural post, I present to you baked oatmeal from Uptown Kitchen in Granger, Indiana. For most people, this is not an area of the country that they would oft frequent (with good reason). However, as an alum of a-nearby-university-you-have-probably-heard-of-but-I-will keep-to-myself-because-I-am-a-somewhat-private-person-and-someday-a-stranger-might-read-this-and-I'm-just-going-to-pretend-that-they-can't-use-Google-and-figure-out-area-universities-in-five-seconds-and-I-don't-like-saying-where-I-went-to-college-anyway-because-I-always-feel-like-I'm-bragging, I am in the area every few months to visit friends who are still in school or stuck around after we graduated. A couple of weeks ago, I went back to meet with a few said friends to see Brian Regan, and we ("we" including frequent blog stars (Blall-stars? Don't worry, that won't happen again.) AL, RS, and me, anyone would do this without me) got breakfast at Uptown Kitchen the next day. HV had puffed up the baked oatmeal a great deal, so there were high expectations all around. (Please note that, for once, I cannot blame the poor quality of this picture on my camera. I actually didn't bring my camera, so this was taken with RS's Droid.)

Surely, your first question right now is "what is a class-fest like Uptown Kitchen doing in a trash heap like the Great Indiana Northwest?" And I agree. Organic eggs! Gouda cheese! Scallions! TOFU! Everyone knows that these things only belong in the Big City and/or Europe, along with parallel parking spaces, boots of the non-cowboy variety, drinks other than Mountain Dew, and walking more than a block to get somewhere. But Granger is making an attempt to be classier. It's adorable, really. (Bond just picked a lock. That is not a euphemism.) So now there is a new development with boutique stores that sell things like baby clothes made of fair trade, organic, un-dyed cotton, vegan candy stores, a grocery store with a real organ, and a roundabout that befuddles the locals a daily basis. (Through this post I have discovered an entire documentary about roundabouts on YouTube. I highly recommend it.) Nestled in this playground for the pretentious is Uptown Kitchen.

Now, I love a good brunch, so I was very excited about this visit. All in all, it didn't disappoint. Notable items, in bullet form because I'm distracted by the dramatic slow-motion shooting scene unveiling before my very eyes:

  • The baked oatmeal is available with add-ins of apples, cinnamon raisin, or blueberry. I got cinnamon raisin (I'm a sucker for all things cinnamon), and I think HV got blueberry. (That's relevant.) It comes with sides of brown sugar and steamed milk. The sugar wasn't really necessary, but the milk was a nice touch.
  • It was really good.
  • If you don't believe me, my friend liked his, too. He's from the aforementioned Big City, so he would know.
  • If you don't believe me, why are you reading this?
  • I also got toast and an egg. They were both good. I could really taste the difference in the organic egg. (Lies.)
  • They had extraordinarily smooth butter. Probably made directly from a cow kept in the kitchen.
  • I really must work on my "running in slow motion down the hall while fireballs explode around me" abilities. I sense I probably won't be very good at it the first time it happens.
  • They had really cool dishes. You can't really tell from the picture, but my bowl was kind of lopsided. I won't say that it made my food easier to eat because that implies that eating is often difficult. But both HV and I liked our off-kilter dishes so...think what you will.
  • They had really good coffee.
  • It's been a month, so I don't remember what my other friends got, but they all seemed to enjoy their food immensely. I think.
  • Bond just crash-landed. Not a euphemism.
  • If you read the menu, you surely noticed that they also have normal oatmeal. I have to admit, I was tempted, but since we had gone for the explicit purpose of trying the baked oatmeal, I could hardly back down. Perhaps that will be for another time. (A sequel!) (James Bond can't find the stationary. Strawberry Fields is helping him look. This is a euphemism.)
  • These bullet are not formatting properly, sending me into a five-minute fit of rage.
  • In conclusion: Should You Order This?


    That is all. I hope you enjoyed this spin-off post. Speaking of spinning-off*, I ran this folksily-named race last weekend, during which I was rudely tripped by one of my fellow 26,000 runners, causing me to gracefully slam into the sidewalk. Just wanted you to know that I played through a bruised shoulder, elbow, and knee to bring this to you.

    *Not really.

    Finally, as always, a link that will change you life. This one is pretty NSFW, so I apologize. Basically, the writer sends preposterous replies to Craigslist ads. It's a bit of a disappointment that most posts degenerate to rude name-calling, but the rest is really quite something.

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