Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Things That Make You Go Yum - OKC Edition

At The Poet House

When I rolled through OKC recently for a few days, I was expecting, well, not much.

Oklahoma City?  I have friends there, and thought the book tour was a great opportunity to go visit.  I expected to feel kinda bad for them, stuck in the middle of nowhere, some tiny city, with nothing but pick up trucks and Fox News addicts.

The amazing thing about travel is the constant challenge to assumptions.  Go to a foreign country, or just another American city and you may find that your idea of places are nowhere near their reality.

Veggie sausage and veggie gravy

After getting an efficient and cheap shuttle from the airport, I landed at the famous Poet House.  There awaited me the warmth of poet friends old and new and a coffee cup with some Maker's Mark.  We stayed up too late, but in the a.m. I rolled up and out and across the street to the Red Cup Cafe.

Possibly/probably the ONLY vegetarian hippie cafe in OKC, they had me at a "Black and Tan" (chocolate AND vanilla latte), or when she asked, "And how many shots of espresso would you like in that?"

The Full Plate was a southern vegetarian version of the Full English - how could I not be hooked?  They had yerba mate, too, loose.  And a great playlist and a big vacuum that seemed to suck in every arty hipster or academic in town.


Rob on the mic
That night, I had my Red Dirt Poetry feature.

I didn't know what to expect, so when I arrived there and the house quickly filled up (oh, poets are ON TIME in other cities!) with a very diverse crowd - from teens to seniors and 31 other flavours - I was nervous and excited.

The open mic artists were so honest and each came with their own unique voice.  The tiny WOWps slam had 3 beautiful poets competing for a slot, and was also very high level.


On top of all that, the Meat Santa was present, bringing packages of meat to OKC poets.  Fresh, local, organically fed and raised meat.  If you gotta eat meat (I don't) then that's how to do it.


Picture of Yippee IAAfter a late night, my friend C woke me to the smell of some fantastic coffee.  Locally roasted yummy coffee by Elemental Coffee Roasters.

This was just one aspect of the many-faceted local foodie scene C wanted to expose me to.  Our day started off as a snow day, with kids at home and subsequently in tow, but we still managed to do EVERYTHING on the uber list of OKC landmarks and fun places as we ate multiple meals in rapid succession.

Oklahoma City has a large Vietnamese population and Pho places abound.  We went for pho - often vegetarian un-friendly, so I opted for a pho-alternative.  C, Miss M, and I were wowed by the fresh soy milk and the gilled sugar cane. Of course we couldn't finish everything, so we packed up the remains for later.

Two doors down we found a tofu store -- all kinds of tofu and veggie things!  We got some taro bao to add to our ever-growing supply of food and leftovers.

Directly after lunch, C wanted to take us to...


Bread pudding muffin.  Tasted like dulce de leche bread pudding.  Great coffee.  Hummus red onion blue cheese bread.  Cake bite lollipops.  Yum.  Prairie Thunder  had all of our eyes bigger than our stomachs, which means more LEFTOVERS!

After a driving tour of some of the neighborhoods and the new park being built that has the cool sculpture installation commemorating the opening of the land in Oklahoma, we regrouped for - what else - dinner!


I am not a taco person.  Maybe it's cause vegetarian tacos tend to be boring.  Big Truck Tacos is about a year old.  They have a restaurant, two trucks and a store.  They've been on network television.  They are smart - you can tell by reading the menu.  They love food.  They are not afraid of melted cheese.  All of these things are good.

After a family dinner - which meant being able to order lots of things and also queso dip all over my dress - I said, "We're coming back here for lunch tomorrow, right?"

Standouts - besides the queso - which is literally a BOWL of melted cheese! - would be the Crispy/Cado tacos (yup, fried avocado) and the "Fifth" - a rotating taco you just have to trust is something you want to eat.  (Usually not veggie.)

This is my favorite place.  I will be back.  C and I spent some quality time in the store, and I can now often be seen in my BTT hoodie.

Oklahoma City was impressive.  There wasn't a lot of any one thing, but there was at least one of everything you might want.  And it seems to only take ten minutes to drive anywhere.

Slightly against my will, on a freezing cold day, C took me to see the memorial.   I didn't want to see it, but I went.  We got a super fast personal guided tour from the head ranger who carefully explained the significance of the parts of the memorial while keeping us shielded from wind in the tiny spots of sun.  The memorial itself is quite beautiful and serene.  It is a place of reflection and openness, and as described by the literature and the designers and the ranger, healing.

You may not know that not one, but sixteen buildings were destroyed during the bombing.  OKC is not a big city.  Sixteen buildings is a tremendous number.  Near the memorial stands a tree that burned on the day, yet still survives.  It has been incorporated in the memorial, as have other remnants of the destruction.  Forgiving and healing while not forgetting seems to come natually to this community.  It was clear from my short time there how interconnected everyone was, and how strongly they are aware of it.

This is a good place.  I'll be back.


Alliance Française said...

Beth, you make me weep. Miss M asked how you were recently, and commented on what a great time we had with you. I wear my BTT sweatshirt non-stop! Did we tell that the BTT gals are opening a homemade hot dog place this spring (read: they will grind their own meat)? No news on veggie dogs, but I'll keep you posted. And Elemental is opening a coffee shop downtown where, in its beta version, I had the best. latte. ever. We will try to keep it zesty here in OKC. So glad you made it!

E. Amato said...

Awww, thanks! I did have a great time with Miss M and her partner in crime, Mr. T! And I'm so happy for her! Please lobby the BTT girls for some veggie hot dogs! And to use meat from the Meat Santa!

Gave the Elemental coffee to T&A in Dallas and they LOVE it.

OKC is zesty!

And I have two green spatulas for you! xo