Omavore’s new home

6 Mar

Omavore has a new look — and a new address. Please update your bookmarks and readers to omavore.omaha.com.

 

Small town Sunday

5 Mar

Yesterday I went to my good friend Cara’s hometown, Brainard, Neb., for the town’s annual Community Fund Drive. Basically, it’s a giant sale in the town’s firehall that includes boxes of random items for $1, $2 and $3, a bake sale, a silent auction, lunch and then a live auction. I think the most expensive item that sold at the live auction was around $30.

Brainard is about an hour outside of Omaha, and it was fun to get on the road early and head out of town. Once I arrived, the first order of business was the bake sale. Cara loves rosettes, which are fried cookies covered with rainbow sugar, and I never turn down the chance for a kolache. The baked goods sell out within minutes, but we got what we were after. The rosettes are the brightly colored cookies in the photo below. They’re really good. Cara’s mom is responsible for making that beautiful pie right in the center.

After breakfast, it was time to start digging for stuff in the auction.

I scored, among other things, a box of vintage holiday signs, two vintage Nebraska coffee mugs and a pretty cool measuring spoon all in the same box for a buck. This bentwood side table, also only a dollar, is now living in my house.

This cookbook was part of a silent auction and ended up being pretty expensive — by expensive, I mean $10 or something — but I enjoyed looking at it. I love old church cookbooks.

We decided to pass on Tang and instead got two polish dogs with sauerkraut and two iced teas.

Many hours later, after all the bidding was done, we headed across the street to the town bar. I left the live auction with two giant stock pots and a box of vintage mason jars, many of which are green glass, that I plan to use on our deck this summer. Total spent: $10. I can’t even recount all the stuff the group bought, but one highlight was a vintage cabbage slicer that Cara took home.

No, we didn’t try the Queso “Tantalizers,” though I tried my best to convince Cara. Instead we consumed a couple of pitchers of red beer, ate some cheese balls and discussed all our awesome finds. Until next year.

Omavore on Instagram

2 Mar

My newest obsession: Instagram. (I realize, everyone is obsessed with it.) Find me at SarahBakerHansen.

Some recent snaps: hot chocolate in my favorite vintage mug, vintage James Beard reading, vodka infusion at Taxi’s Bar and Grille, Lucky Buddha beer at Saigon, Amsterdam Falafel.

On The French Cafe

28 Feb

My husband and I went on our first date at the French Cafe. I suppose I chose that spot for all the usual reasons that Omahans chose it for more than 40 years: It seemed romantic. Impressive. Fancy. Cultured. And I was an Omaha girl who wanted to impress an out-of-town boy. A long time passed between that first date and our second date (another story for another blog post) but years later, after we had fallen in love and settled together in a one-bedroom apartment on 13th Street, my husband insisted we go back to the French Cafe on a Saturday night.

We had already gone to dinner and had a drink. I’m fine with going home, I said.

He insisted again. I didn’t get it.

He asked for the same table we’d occupied on our first date. I still didn’t get it.

Then, hands trembling, he pulled a Borsheim’s box out of his pocket and asked.

It was as romantic as it sounds.

That’s us about an hour after our wedding, at the same table .

I felt sad, but maybe not surprised, when I learned yesterday that the French Cafe had closed. I know I’m far from the only person in Omaha who got engaged there, or who has lovely, romantic memories of the place. I remember going there as a little girl and being enchanted by the huge black-and-white photographs on the west wall. I stayed enchanted with them every time I went there, even the last time, for a drink a few weeks ago, when we were nearly the only people in the place. I wondered then what would happen to the French Cafe. I realized then that the city had largely deserted it.

The restaurant in 1980.

I can’t say I went there a lot. I think many Omahans can say the same thing. And even though the restaurant has floundered these past few years, making lots of changes and trying frantically to find itself, I don’t think I ever thought it would be gone.

The French Cafe kick started the Old Market. The Old Market: The first place I drove my red Pontiac Sunbird when I got my driver’s license. An escape that I’ve always returned to, even when we moved out of that one-bedroom apartment on 13th Street. A place where I first felt like I could be myself. A part of the city where I still eat many meals and drink countless glasses of wine with friends. The best part of Omaha. So for that, if nothing else, I will always remember, and appreciate the French Cafe.

It helped to make my Omaha what it is.

Vintage photo courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald. Wedding photos by my friend and OWH photographer Matt Miller.

Moonlighting as a fashion reporter

27 Feb

Last night, I live tweeted the Oscar red carpet with my sister and it was so much fun.

I love writing about food. But Omavore readers probably know by now that I also love fashion. So when my editor started to talk about Oscar coverage, I invited myself to the meeting and exposed my love for fashion. I wrote a story in Saturday’s Omaha World-Herald previewing the red carpet looks and was lucky enough to interview two of my favorite local gals: Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik and Cora Rasp.

They sent me their thoughts on the red carpet last night, and their best and worst dressed picks ran as part of two stories I wrote for a huge spread in today’s Omaha World-Herald.

This early afternoon, Sarah and Cora came down to the World-Herald and we talked on video about our best and worst-dressed picks. They both looked adorable (naturally.)

Click here for the video.

I pulled out a few stops, too: my one and only red lip gloss and my fiercest Burberry shoes.

A recap of Pho Friday

27 Feb

I meant to write this post last Friday, but the day became crazy and my computer at work went down. So I’m posting it today instead.

My second Food Prowl story ran in the World-Herald on Friday. It’s about pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. I had the pleasure of eating with Trinh Tran, her daughter Thuy and freelance writer Niz Proskocil. We had a great time going to restaurants around Omaha, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better trio of judges. What’s your favorite pho in Omaha?

While I was writing the story last week, I saw a post come across Block 16′s Facebook page:

“Pho-que sandwich today! Vietnamese rubbed and smoked brisket on a bolillo roll with cilantro, basil, lime, radish and sprouts with Asian BBQ sauce. Come get a Pho-que!!!”
I already had a lunch scheduled that day. But there was no way I was missing this sandwich. (And if you pronounce the name correctly, well, you’ll get the joke.) I took a couple bites the first day, and then ate the rest the following afternoon for lunch. It had all the flavors of traditional Pho: crisp sprouts, bold cilantro and tangy lime, and also had a powerful spice and chewy, delicious brisket. I loved every bite, and it just goes to show that the simple flavors of Pho can translate in lots of amazing and surprising ways.

Ethiopian in Omaha

25 Feb

A few of my friends have been talking about a little Ethiopian place in Midtown. We decided at the last minute last night to give Lalibela Ethiopian a try. Not only was it a really fun experience with incredibly friendly service, the food was fantastic. I gave my new iPhone a workout, and I think you’ll notice the difference. Lalibela Ethopian, 4422 Cass St.

You eat Ethiopian food with your hands, and pick each bite up with a torn piece of injera, Ethiopian bread. We ordered a vegetarian plate and a combination meat plate and had more than enough for four people. It’s worth noting that our bill was under $30.

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