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A&E >  Food

Running Tab: Breaking a seven-month ‘fast-food fast’ with a McRib; autumn cocktails; YaYa’s Dishman Hills Pils; Feast World Kitchen

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 17, 2021

On Friday, March 26, I made my way through the drive-thru at McDonald’s for an order of Chicken McNuggets, no sauce, for my 10-year-old nephew Shawn, and then next door paid for a Jumbo Jack with cheese at Jack in the Box for myself. It would be more than seven months before I would pay for fast food again for myself, and my “fast-food fast” was broken for my inexplicable love for McDonald’s McRib.

I had no overarching reason for the fast-food fast – perhaps moratorium is a better word than fast, but fast-food moratorium isn’t as fun to say as fast-food fast – other than I hadn’t purchased fast food for myself for a while after March 26, so why not continue? Now there are a few important caveats to this fast. I write about food for work, so I get to experience the best cuisine in Spokane – and I am far from starving, as my big dad bod will attest.

I’m saying now for the third time to be crystal clear that I didn’t purchase fast food for myself. However, I did continue to buy fast food for Shawn, on the rarest of occasions, and if someone offered to buy fast food for me, I didn’t say no. But this, too, was on the rarest of occasions – the number of times I can count on one hand. And if I craved fried chicken? I would go to the grocery store instead of KFC or Popeyes.

Admittedly, my fasting guidelines were a bit of a stretch, and the lessons learned and wisdom gained aren’t earth-shattering. I saved money not buying fast food all the time. I felt better, of course, which is a good thing as a Type 2 diabetic. Fast food, for me, is comforting and convenient after a long day or week at work, but, after a while, I enjoyed the challenge of cooking at home when I wasn’t dining out for work. I didn’t miss fast food that much.

But after 180 days or so, I thought to myself, “What will I eat to break this fast-food fast?” It had to be something special, but I didn’t give it too much thought. Driving over to Post Falls for Popeyes was in the running. Then I heard on the radio McDonald’s McRib was returning to the menu Nov. 1, and it was settled: The McRib it was.

Part of the appeal of the McRib is that it’s not always available. It might not even be available anymore for all I know. And, to be completely honest, McRibs are messy (I loathe messy food), but the mixture of oddly shaped boneless pork rib, too much tangy barbecue sauce, McDonald’s signature pickles, raw white onions that are literally from cutting board to McRib with no other preparation (thankfully, I love onions) all on a hoagie bun does it for me.

So, I had my McRib, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, right on schedule Nov. 1 after work, and the seven-month fast-food fast was over. As my diabetes counselor told me many McRibs ago in San Diego, everything in moderation.

Autumn-inspired cocktails

If the McRib is a vice, so are autumn cocktails as of late, and I’ve had three new standout seasonal libations during dinners in recent weeks. The maple syrup Old Fashioned at Rusty Moose (9105 West U.S. Highway 2, (509) 747-5579, rustymoosespokane.com) is super-smooth and -sweet – and paired with the maple hazelnut crème brulee it is maple heaven in Airway Heights.

The seasonal menu at Tavolata (221 N. Wall St. (509) 606-5600, ethanstowellrestaurants.com) includes the cocktail Awkward Family Gathering, aka “Thanksgiving in a glass” (white rum, Oloroso sherry, Nocino, squash, rosemary and orange juice), as well as the pasta dish radiatori (lamb Bolognese bianco, matsutake mushrooms, oregano and pecorino). Both are reasons to be thankful this season.

And Jerry Dicker’s newly reopened Steam Plant Restaurant & Bar (159 S. Lincoln St., (509) 777-3900, steamplantspokane.com) boasts the Sailors Delight (Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum with Butterscotch Schnapps, hot apple cider and whipped cream). The menu says it’s garnished with an orange wedge and a cinnamon stick, but ours were not. Nonetheless, this hot cocktail is delightful.

Check back next Wednesday in Food for more details about Steam Plant.

YaYa’s Dishman Hills Pils

YaYa Brewing Co. (11712 E. Montgomery Drive, Spokane Valley, yayabrewing.com) launched its new pilsner, Dishman Hills Pils (love the name!), a fundraising collaboration with Dishman Hills Conservancy, on Friday with a party at its brewery and tasting room, and the turnout for the celebration from 4-8 p.m. was busy and steady.

Ten percent of sales of the pilsner, which I give a thumbs-up, goes toward Dishman Hill’s efforts. YaYa co-owner Jason Gass was on-site, and we chatted about his upcoming collaborations, including Friday’s crepe and beer pairing dinner at Café Crepe Sisters in Kendall Yards and another to-be-announced event in mid-December.

Meantime, No-Li Brewhouse raised more than $27,000 in its No-Li Day Fade Huckleberry Lemonade Hard Seltzer case fundraiser Wednesday through Friday benefiting Spokane Quaranteam and Toys for Tots. “I am simply amazed but not surprised by our No-Li community,” Cole Bryant, son of No-Li Brewhouse owners John and Cindy Bryant, said in an email. (Cole and his brother, Jack, both work for the family business.)

Spokane loves its beers with, and for, a cause. Salud!

Feast World Kitchen

I’m continuing to keep my eyes on pop-up dinners, or the menu in general, at Feast World Kitchen (1321 W. Third Ave., (509) 608-1313, feastworldkitchen.org). I’ve ordered Noreen Hiskey’s authentic and flavorful Indian cuisine, and I was sad to miss Sudanese food last Wednesday. However, Ricky Webster’s pop-up Portuguese menu was available the next evening.

I don’t remember ever eating Portuguese food, but I thoroughly enjoyed everything prepared by Webster, including garlic wine-marinated pork (it reminded me of the Filipino dish adobe), mushroom soup, chestnuts and pearl onions (which is this week’s In the Kitchen With Ricky recipe in time for Thanksgiving) and egg tarts, which are available at Webster’s Rind and Wheat in Brown’s Addition.

I love the diversity of cuisine in Spokane – variety is indeed the spice of life – and it is getting better and better all the time.

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