A true feast ...
If there is anything worse than moving -- and I'm not certain there is -- it may well be attempting to move in that frantic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I'm nothing if not stupid, so my movers are scheduled to arrive bright and early December 3. In the mean time, I am trying to squeeze a full work schedule, a high-maitenance dog, holiday travel, and packing up four years' worth of junk into one seven-day period. Needless to say, I'm a mess.
Enter Kiri, Jill, Kendall, and Jen. Unbelievably, when I started musing aloud about "wouldn't it be sooo much fun to have a packing party, wherein you guys help me box up my crap," these four wonderful women did not go screaming for the hills. Instead, they asked when they should show up. (Is it any wonder they are my four favorite people in the entire Valley??)
When they arrived last night, however, I had a surprise for them. For once, I would not be serving liquor, hold the food. Nope, I intended to treat them to a full meal from my favorite neighborhood spot: QuikTrip.
Suffice to say I never quite bonded with this particular 'hood. When I moved in, I'd had visions of walking to Safeway for groceries, stumbling home from the funky bar on the corner, zipping over to Indian School Park. But it never quite materialized. Whenever I'd walk anywhere, I'd be followed by one of the neighborhood's overfriendly schizophrenics. The funky bar closed, replaced by yet another chain grocery. Meanwhile, light rail construction made it impossible to get to the park without walking blocks out of the way -- and dodging construction-angry motorists. So much for my urban adventure.
But I did find true love with something in walking distance ... that oh-so-cheerful gas station/convenience store at 3rd Avenue and Indian School.
My favorite Sunday ritual involved popping by QuikTrip for a friendly hello from the staff, a New York Times and a fountain drink, Fenske-style (7/8 diet coke, 1/16 Rooster Booster, 1/16 faux-cherry flavoring). Driving to work many weekdays, I'd pop by for more friendly hellos and a breakfast sandwich; at night, I'd grab a box of Runts and yet another Diet Coke. And, of course, there were more cheerful hellos. Has there ever been a more gregarious convenient store?
So what better way to say goodbye to the neighborhood than to cater my Packing Party with an array of QuikTrip's finest foods?
I thought it might feel weird to pick up a half-dozen selections from a store used to solo drivers grabbing a quick snack. But, in true form, QuikTrip was ready. They actually have little cardboard cartons sitting there for customers with big appetites!
So I got some beef taquitos, chicken taquitos, even veggie taquitos (for my vegetarian friend, Kiri), plus mozzarella-filled breadsticks, and ones with cheesy sausage. I even got a Southwestern Chicken Wrap from the cooler.
Before my guests showed up, I wolfed down half the wrap. It was damn good: Chunks of white meat, a generous helping of crisp romaine, and tangy dressing in just the right proportion. I also popped a few bites of taquito in hopes of figuring out which was chicken and which was veggie, for Kiri's benefit. I never did quite solve that one. (Was that chewy stuff cheese, or chicken? Beats me.)
Then my packers arrived.
Jen was a little less than enthusiastic about the food -- but not because it sucked. She just couldn't get over its origin long enough to try it. "I don't knooooow," she admitted. "QuikTrip?? And this is coming from someone who eats What-A-Burger all the time."
Kiri, for good reason, was even more skeptical. After all, none of us could swear that what she was about to eat was actually vegetarian. (See: that whole cheese/chicken conunundrum.)
But Jill, god bless her, loved the beef taquitos ... and the cheese ones. (Or were they chicken?) "These are all fabulous!" she pronounced. She was less impressed with the breadsticks, but thought the problem was that I'd picked them up twenty minutes before. "I think you have to eat these right away," she said. "I'm sure they were good at one point, but ..."
We'd been packing for half an hour when our friend Wayne showed up with pizza. (Apparently my friends didn't exactly trust me with the catering ... or maybe one secretly called after looking at the QuikTrip spread.) Good sport that he is, Wayne agreed to try QuikTrip's mozzarella-filled breadstick before digging into the pizza.
"It's kind of like glue," he said.
"Is is tasty glue?" Jill asked.
"It's spicy glue," Wayne said. Hmmph, not exactly what I'd hoped to hear.
But Wayne was still willing to give the sausage-and-cheese filled breadstick a chance. "I swear to God, it's like the dip at Sam's Cafe there," he said, "but in a breadstick!"
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Is that good? Bad? I don't know, and I didn't have time to find out. We had an entire 850-square-feet of crap to box up, and I wasn't about to attempt to sort out Wayne's feelings on Sam's Cafe in the mean time.
But I do know this: QuikTrip's Southwestern Chicken Wrap is really good. The rest of the stuff should have been eaten immediately. I'm going to miss having QuikTrip just around the corner. And I really, really owe my Packing Party friends big time.
-- Sarah Fenske