Go me, it’s my birthday!

Today marks the official beginning of the end… of my 20s that is. That’s right folks, I’m turning the big 2-9. (Shocking, I know, since it feels like I’ve been coasting at 22 for ages now.)

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to make like Feivel and head west, to California, where I’ll be visiting old friends, new places and hopefully forgetting about the closeness of 30.

Nothing puts the happy in happy birthday quite like chicken and waffles ON TOP of a cupcake.

Nothing puts the happy in happy birthday quite like chicken and waffles ON TOP of a cupcake.

But really, the celebrating started a few days ago when my ah-ma-zing roomate and dear good friend bought me chicken and waffles cupcakes from Yaya’s Cakes in Crown Heights.

Yup, go ahead and let that settle in your head: chicken and waffles cupcakes. Vanilla buttermilk cupcakes topped with vanilla maple buttercream, a wedge of waffle, a hunk of fried chicken and a spicy maple drizzle. Every bit as over the top and delicious as they sound.

Now, THAT’S how you properly kick off a birthday! Next stop, sunny California!

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Comfort on the bucket list

In the almost four years since I first moved to New York I’ve made good progress on my New York bucket list.

          – Go to a Knicks game. Check.

          – Visit the Statue of Liberty. Check.

          – See a TV show taping. Check. (Letterman and The View!)

          – Visit all five boroughs. Check.

       – Meet Jay- Z. CHECK. (Ok, so this wasn’t on the list but it happened, so ha! Take that, bucket list!)

And now I can finally cross off one more thing, something that had long been sitting toward the top of the list: eat chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth’s in Harlem. CHECK CHECK CHECK!

chicken and waffles

Amy Ruth’s chicken and waffles aka The Rev. Al Sharpton

But unlike visiting the Statue of Liberty or going to Staten Island, eating at Amy Ruth’s is something I won’t be content to do just once and be done with. No no nooooo. I want to eat at Amy Ruth’s again and again, until I can’t stand the sight of another fried chicken topped waffle, until all of that delicious southern style comfort food offers me comfort no more. And that day, for the record, I’m sure will never actually come.

Officially on the menu as The Rev. Al Sharpton, Amy Ruth’s chicken and waffles are a serious affair. The waffle itself is massive, probably about eight inches in diameter and maybe an inch and a half thick. Doughhy and pillowy soft while still maintaining a slight toasted edge on top (perfect for little pools of butter and maple syrup!), the giant waffle was topped with two large pieces of golden, crunchy-skinned fried chicken. Some people perfer to keep the syrup strictly on their waffles, but not me. I like to slow-pour it all over the chicken and the waffles, so everything gets a sticky sweet coating, and each perfect forkful is a combination of sweet and savory, juicy and crunchy, sticky and amazing.

My NYC bucket list still includes seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and going to a baseball game (Yankees or Mets, I don’t really care), but one thing I’m not crossing out is going back to Amy Ruth’s for more chicken and waffles.. I’m keeping it on the list as a fixture so I have an excuse to go back a million more times.

Amy Ruth's on Urbanspoon

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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