Thursday, August 30, 2007

Speaking of Waffle House...

It's that time of year again, folks. Yes, you guessed it: the second annual I Love Waffle House Essay Contest. You blog faithful will surely remember my poetic mastery of the 100-word essay for last year's competition, which was not only (wrongly) overlooked, but lost out to an (assuredly inferior) essay submission by my older sister. We weren't speaking for a while, but Emily and I buried the hatchet when she offered me her free waffle coupons.

But this year -- oh, this year! The powers that be have graciously increased the word count to 300 AND provided guidance for those parties so overwhelmed with love for WaHo that they simply wouldn't know where to begin. The topic? What is your favorite Waffle House song and why? The prize? Not just a WaHo prize pack, but a JACKET. This was made for me.

It will be mine. Oh yes! It will be mine.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy National Waffle Day!

Today, August 24, is National Waffle Day! [Not to be confused with INTERnational Waffle Day, which falls on March 5, or National Waffle Week, Sept. 2-8 this year.] In honor of this momentous celebration of what may well be the best breakfast food ever, I treated myself to a Waffle House lunch at the intriguing new Waffle House on Sidney Marcus Boulevard.

What first caught my eye about this particular unit, located at the corner of a big-box strip off of I-85 in town, was its shape. Instead of a long, rectangular building, this is a tall, square-shaped structure. Pat Warner, director of Waffle House communications, informed me back in 2005 that the restaurants are built using one of two layouts with the grill out front and a maximum capacity of 44 patrons. On the inside, this one actually reminded me of my friendly Yankee WaHo road stop in Clarks Summit, Pa. As at every Waffle House I've ever been to, the seating area forms an L-shape around the kitchen; but at these newer locations, the bathroom is a right-angle hallway off the long end, making the customer area a U-shape, as opposed to just extending the long end of the L straight back and having the bathroom adjacent to the employees-only section of the restaurant. (I hope that made sense.)

So, with that mystery solved, I set about ordering my usual -- waffle; hashbrowns scattered, covered, chunked -- when what should catch my eye but a revamped waffle selection! (Swank new locations around Atlanta, usually company-owned, often serve as test locations for new menu items; this one had a biscuit menu, too!) I asked the waitress what the new "Lite" buttermilk waffle was all about. Turns out it's made with buttermilk as opposed to the sweet cream in the original recipe. When I asked if she'd tried it, she replied that she hadn't even entertained the notion because she hates buttermilk. Fair enough. Ever curious, I decided I'd try it...

Minutes later, my waffle arrived, crisp and brown and made with one of those awesome irons that stamp the Waffle House logo into the waffle. (See photo at top.) I cut my waffle into little squares, as is my custom, and dug in, hoping for a delicious revelation in breakfast-time nutrition. Sure, the cooked waffle looked as though it had been made with a lighter batter than the original recipe, but I think the real key to the lite-ness of this edition is the fact that it is SO SOUR you can't eat more than three bites. You know how you check, double-check and triple-check a carton of buttermilk every time you use one because it smells like it's gone bad even if you just bought it? Yeah. That's what this tasted like. (Not only that, but the underside of my waffle and its insides bordered on uncooked. Goo.)

In the end, I summoned my waitress and put in for an original sweet cream waffle, calories be damned. Go big or go home, right? Before the jukebox tune was through, a golden, pillowy waffle was placed before me, steaming hot off the iron. Heaven.

Oh Waffle House, what would I do without you?