At long last, chicken and waffles

I was starting to think I’d never try them. Back in New York, every time I brought up the idea of going to Harlem to get chicken and waffles, something came up. Either no one felt like going, no one was available, it was too far, other brunch plans came up, there wasn’t enough time. Always something.

Little Skillet: just a little walk-up window

But then I moved to San Francisco and found out that one of the 100 things I had to try here before dying was chicken and waffles at a place called Little Skillet. The food gods were in my favor, or so I thought, because it was just a few blocks away from work. I’d easily be able to pop over during my lunch break and finally basque in the delicious, fried, wonderfulness that is chicken and waffles.

But then, on two separate occasions, I went and came back chicken-and-waffleless. The first time it was at the hands of my ol’ nemesis, the “cash only” sign. I rarely have cash but I looked anyway and found a two-dollar bill and some euro cents. I left, empty stomached and dejected. Then the second time, with fresh-out-of-the-atm bills in my wallet, I went over during a lunch break with one of my coworkers… just to find out it had closed 15 minutes earlier, at 2. I won’t even get into how ludicrous I think it is to close a lunch place at 2pm, but just know that I’m not ok with it.

I wanted to give up but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to wait till I got back to New York (still about another month away) and I didn’t want to look up other places in the city. I wanted chicken and waffles dammit, and I wanted them from Little Skillet. So, for the third time, I went. I had cash and left early, and thankfully, the food gods rewarded my commitment to the cause. I had my chicken and waffles.

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Mama knows best

Earlier this week, when I opened the cupboard and found nothing but dust bunnies, and knew that the only thing in my fridge was a bottle of mustard and a root beer ice pop in the freezer, all I wanted was a plate of good food that tasted like home. Not a big going-out-to-eat ordeal with a hostess to walk us to our table, a long menu to sort through, and servers to listen to. I just wanted a good, simple home-cooked meal… from someone else’s kitchen. And because we recently sold our kitchen table (in preparation for moving), I also wanted to eat it at someone else’s table.

And for that, we went to Mama’s Food Shop. It certainly didn’t taste like anything my mama ever made (i.e. because it was actually de-friggin’-licious) but the slamming screen door, ceiling fan circulating warm air and the homey dishes our food was served on made it feel like I was over at someone’s home. Somewhere far away from the city, in the south maybe.

Mama’s is simple. You can have basics like chicken (roasted or fried), meatloaf, tilapia and pork shoulder. With that you get sides: collard greens, mashed potatos, corn bread, mac n’ cheese and potato salad to name a few. There’s no waitress. but it’s definitely not fast food either. You just order up at the front and take your plate to your table. It’s no frills and it’s great.

Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese

There were lots of veggie side options but I went in with the ol’ go-big-or-go-home mentality and got the  fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. I’m not a huge fried chicken fan in that I rarely order it and don’t even really crave it often but this fried chicken was incredible! I’m not only going to crave this from now on, I’m going to dream of it when I sleep and fantasize about eating buckets and buckets of it when I’m awake. (If my eyes are glazed over and I’m drooling, now you know what I’m thinking about.) The chicken meat (I went with white over dark) was tender and juicy, but what made this fried chicken phenomenal was hands down the thick, crunchy, batttered, seasoned-with-herbs-and spices fried skin. Not rubbery or fatty, just perfectly crisp with little bits of rosemary like I’ve never seen on fried chicken before. This was NOT the colonel’s recipe, that’s for sure. Continue reading