With covid meaning that we have now gone 329 days without placing our butts on barstools, the eating habits of Don Day’s Wife and I have changed. A lot.
I’ve always been a creature of comfort. Always a jeans and sneakers guy. One of the first songs I search for when I’m in a new karaoke bar is Howlin’ Wolf’s “I’m built for comfort. I ain’t built for speed.”
Comfort isn’t something that often shows up on our dining room table though. I am blessed to have married a woman with a multitude of culinary skills. It results in me dining internationally and extraordinarily well on restaurant-quality meals in my own home. But I married a chef not a cook. So often those dishes are fancy dishes not everyday dishes.
Other than covid and comfort starting with the same two letters, I’m not sure why our ordering-in habits have changed so much over the last few months but Chinese, Thai, Indian and even pizza have almost disappeared from our diets. They’ve been replaced by deliveries of chicken pot pie, meat loaf, jambalaya and goulash. And I’m loving it.
The origins of the term comfort food may provide some of the reason for our change. The earliest reference I found was from 1966, when a story in the Palm Beach Post said, “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother’s poached eggs or famous chicken soup.”
“Emotional stress”…yes, that’s it. That’s what 329 days of not putting my elbow on a bar results in.
Our change to eating comfort food didn’t, however, come easy.
“I’m going to order in a chicken pot pie for dinner tomorrow night”, I announced.
“Why would you order in a chicken pot pie, I can make you a chicken pot pie”, was the response I expected and received.
I came back with a risky retort. “Well yes, I know you can but when is the last time you did?”
I knew I had her but I also knew that I was in deep caca (perhaps an exclusively Canadian term but I’m sure you’ll understand it) if I didn’t quickly follow it up.
“Actually, Honey, it’s research for the blog. There are four different people delivering chicken pot pies in town. I thought we’d try all of them over the next couple of weeks and I’d write about the best.” (my sympathy for those who don’t have a blog to blame for their misgivings).
I then of course had to follow-up. We had to eat chicken pot pie and chicken pot pie and chicken pot pie and you know what four times (eight times counting leftovers) over the next 17 days. The nice part was, there was a very obvious winner. One chicken pot pie stood out over the rest. And that first chicken pot pie has now developed into a serious relationship with the company who made it. The two people who run this business we now refer to as the king comforter and the queen comforter. We’re now eating their comfort food once a week (twice considering their portion sizes and those leftovers).
“My boyfriend, Felipe (Toby) Nieto (the king comforter) has been a chef in San Miguel for ten years; his last venture with his brother sunk when the pandemic really hit”, Cristina Khalil Wilson Zermeño (the queen comforter) told me.
“We were both looking to create something of our own that really represented the nostalgia and comfort that traditional home-cooking provides, the kind of comfort that you get at grandma’s or when visiting your hometown”, continued Cristi.
“I created The Feast Co. concept a few months ago with the sole purpose of providing authentic comfort food, always staying true to the traditional and ancient form of each dish. And Toby, well, he does what he loves and does best, he cooks! He just has a natural sense of flavor and composition. He cooks everything on our menu; most items he’d never even tried and yet our clients are constantly amazed at how authentic his dishes taste.”
Cristi is correct. Chef Toby really does have a gift for creating comfort food. And, just as important, he knows how to create comfort food that travels well. We’ve had seven different dishes from The Feast Co. So far, they’re seven for seven.
Our latest comfort and joy was chef Toby’s meat loaf. The meat was the right grind, had the right amount of filler (very little), and a nice and light spicing. The rich red sauce had just a hint of sweetness.
And then there was what made the meatloaf extra special (and a great next-day leftover with a burrata salad). The Feast’s meatloaf has something Don Day’s Wife’s or his mother’s or his grandmother’s meat loaf never had. The Feast’s meatloaf is wrapped in thick rashers of smoked bacon. It takes simple meatloaf to complex new heights.
As good as Chef Toby is, huge plaudits also go to his partner Christi’s administrative skills. Her menus are concise and informative. She answers messages almost instantly. Orders arrive on time and piping hot. Paying for things is simple.
Our world can use a little more comfort now. The king and queen comforters deliver it direct to your door.
You’ll find The Feast Co.’s menu on their Facebook site. To order call 415 126 1921, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message them through Facebook. And please allow 24 hours notice.