Anticipating delicious inspiration

Published 11:08 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

I’ve always loved to eat. And more than that, I loved to eat many different things. I was not an overly picky child, beyond an odd dislike for what I perceived to be the weird textures of foods like chicken and dumplings and liver and onions.

And though I respect my mother’s ability to cook, there are only so many servings of the same chili, spaghetti or oven-baked chicken a young palate can take before it gets bored. And I was a child who got bored really quickly.

So trips to restaurants, though often few and far between, were little beacons of light that illuminated new flavors for me.

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As a youngster, I discovered waffles a la mode, which featured cherry pie filling, ice cream and whipped cream on the waffle, a meal that landed on my all time favorite list and is the reason I now have a waffle maker.

At another restaurant, I finally found eggplant parmigiana that actually tasted good — my previous experiences with the Italian classic usually featured an oddly bitter taste. Since then, eggplant is one of my favorite foods to cook with.

And a Japanese restaurant I frequented in college made such great sushi that I finally overcame an aversion to raw fish and I’ve since fell in love with its many forms.

I have a variety of restaurants to thank for my evolving taste buds. Unfortunately, the economy has stalled my culinary voyages. It’s a wonder there are still restaurants around, considering most Americans are doing a lot of belt-tightening, both around their waist and their wallet. Luckily great eateries still abound, and many reside in Suffolk.

In fact, a recent trip to Amici’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Suffolk, has sparked a newfound love of shrimp and grits.

But many of Suffolk’s best restaurants are way out of the price range of most Suffolkians. While they may boast some of the most creative flavors, very few of us have tasted them, because we couldn’t possibly afford to, especially with the economy the way it is.

That’s why this is the best time of the year for Suffolk’s foodies: Suffolk’s Restaurant Week is set for March 20-26. The event features fixed-price, three-course meals provided by Suffolk eateries, including Primo 116, Riverstone Chophouse, Vintage Tavern and seven others.

Since hearing about it from coworkers, I’ve been looking forward to getting my chance to partake in the event. And a quick perusal of the featured restaurants’ regular menus leaves me hungry for the inspiration their offerings will provide.

I plan to eat at a few of the restaurants, and then take that delicious inspiration home for me to use in my own cooking.

For more information about Suffolk Restaurant Week, visit