A few weeks ago, Boyfriend and I went to see Dave Matthews play at Citi Field in New York. This was a big deal for a lot of reasons:
1 – Boyfriend is a huge Dave fan, and he’s seen him enough times that he can’t remember the actual tally.
2 – Zac Brown Band, who we both love, was the opening act.
3 – Boyfriend hadn’t seen DMB in concert since college.
4 – It coincided with NYC Restaurant Week.
I think you can imagine how excited I was to discover this out this last detail.
Since Boyfriend was already coming home the night before the concert, we planned to spend the entire day in the city – eating, drinking, and sweating in the 100-degree temperatures. After attempting to read through the exhaustively long list of participating restaurants and their menus, I had an epiphany. And that epiphany’s name was Bobby Flay.
I’ve never eaten at a celebrity chef’s restaurant, but the topic was on my mind after days of planning our Chicago itinerary and reading up on Rick Bayless’s restaurants. So to Mesa we went for their pre fixe, Restaurant Week lunch menu. And can I tell you? I haven’t been that full after a meal that involved not one bite of meat ever. Ever. We had delicious smoked shrimp cakes (that I was predictably nervous about, being very afraid of all things deemed “smoky”) dressed in a beautiful pineapple relish that balanced the heat out nicely. Boyfriend had red snapper that he assured me was fabulous but was, to me, just another fish I wasn’t interested in. And I had a monstrous chile relleno followed by the best bread pudding I’ve ever tasted, while Boyfriend enjoyed a chocolate strawberry shortcake.
But for Boyfriend, who loves all things spicy and most anything unique, the real gem of the meal was the cornbread. Made with both yellow and blue cornmeal and studded with kernels of corn and chunks of jalapeno, he took one bite of his first roll, looked across the table at me, and whispered, almost in awe, “when are you making these for me?” We ate the entire basket of them, in addition to a second basket brought over to replenish the first. I mentioned we were really full afterward, yes?
Several hours after cleaning our plates at Mesa, we made our way to Citi Field to watch the show. Halfway through, Dave played the song we were hoping he would – Boyfriend’s favorite song, and the one he was very much looking forward to hearing live for the first time in years. The song we’d sung loudly in the car on the way to the train that morning, and the song that is the first track on the DMB/Zac Brown Band playlist I made in preparation for the concert. What song is that, you ask?
Cornbread, of course.
Spicy, Cheesy Cornbread
Adapted from this recipe http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/jalapeno-corn-bread/Detail.aspx
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 – 3 tbsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and oil together. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add cheese, and stir until it’s well-distributed.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cut bread into squares and serve warm.