Monday, January 30, 2012

Off the Map: Into the Desert in Muumuus We Go

The Chop & Chick -- Matt's Big Breakfast, Phoenix, AZ
Matt's Big Breakfast

When the thermometer hits the freezing mark, many New Yorkers flee for the Florida beach or the Arizona desert.  This kind of logic is how we find ourselves on a plane to Phoenix in the middle of the January chill.  The only difference lies in the fact that rather than for some relaxation and Vitamin D, we are heading to Arizona to eat. 

We are essentially the vulture version of snowbirds.
The First of Our 90,000 Cactus Pictures
In truth, we probably would not have ever made it to Arizona had it not been for our mutual college friend's choice to live near Phoenix, thus providing us with a tour guide, a hotel, and most importantly for our automobile-inept ways, a driver.
Being Chauffeured Around Gives Us the Chance to Take Some Scenic Highway Shots
It is due to both her graciousness as a host and her ability to navigate that we find ourselves in the middle of downtown Phoenix on our way to taste our first Best Thing I Ever Ate Southwest delicacy.
Toto, I Don't Think We're in Manhattan Anymore
As we make our way down the cacti-surrounded sidewalks, we find ourselves on our very own exotic species nature walk, which we insist on photographing at every corner.
"Winter" in Arizona
When our friend announces that we could probably find a lot of prickly pear cacti in the area, we have only one logical follow-up question:
"Do They Come With Tequila?"
With nary a margarita in sight, we instead find Matt's Big Breakfast and are greeted by a throng of people waiting outside its doors.
Looks Kind of Like a Car Wash from a Distance, Don't You Think?
As our friend signs us in with the provided pad and pencil, we take a seat on one of the surrounding benches, Ginger stationed in the sun and Vodka hiding from any shred of its rays.

"Is my face blue?" Ginger asks.

"No... why?!"

"My sunscreen is supposed to turn blue when UV rays hit it," Ginger explains, whipping out the sunscreen bottle to confirm this fact.  What she finds is a berry-blue bottle cap, which had been white just this morning.  It seems that the TOP of the sunscreen container turns blue in sun; not Ginger's face.

Crisis averted.
Idiocy Lives on in the Desert
After approximately forty minutes, our name is called and we shuffle into the ironically named Matt's Big Breakfast, ironic because the place is almost smaller than our apartments.  Although this wait time is long by our standards, we are not perturbed for two reasons:
1) we were able to check our own progress on the sign-in pad, and
2) the staff at Matt's Big Breakfast does not dilly-dally -- the service is so quick that it leads to rapid table turnover, despite the scarcity of the tables themselves.

Well played, Matt's Big Breakfast.
Sun-Drenched Special Board
Settling into our cozy diner-like table, we order Guy Fieri's Best Thing I Ever Ate WAKE UP CALL choice: the chop and chick (two eggs and a skillet-seared Iowa pork rib chop).
And Meanwhile, Watching Over the Proceedings....
As we discuss whether or not we would allow Guy to brand our establishment with a graffiti tattoo, our beverages arrive: apple cider for us and chocolate milk for our friend.
Gotta Love a Water Jar
Said friend, not being used to the rules of this eating tour (don't dare touch your food until Vodka takes a boatload of photographs of it) reaches for her milk as Vodka reaches for her camera.  This action results in a literal slap on the wrist from Vodka.

"Sorry, it's my first time," our friend states, retracting her hand until the proper number of pictures have been snapped.
Five Hours Later, the First Sip Was Taken
We barely have time to wax poetic about the deliciousness of our drinks (tangy/tart and creamy/smooth, respectively) before our breakfasts arrive.  When a plate of sourdough toast is placed in front of her, Ginger says with ample enthusiasm, "Ooh, we get toast!  I love toast."
Never Before Has Toast Received Such a Warm Welcome to a Table
"THAT'S the part you're excited about?!" our friend asks, gesturing at the enormous waffle and pork chop which have also appeared.

"But look at that butter," Ginger defends her toast-centric tastebuds.  Indeed, the toast proves to be almost unbearably perfect, both because of the smothered-on butter and the side of berry jam.
One-to-One Toast-to-Butter Ratio
However, it is not the focus of our Best Thing I Ever Ate eating today; for that, we have our chop and chick.
A Bi-Polar Breakfast Plate
First of all, the chop and chick is not something any of us would ever order for breakfast if left to our own devices because, after all, who eats a pork chop as their first meal of the day?  And perhaps if the chop and chick consisted only of the chop, we would still feel this way.
Pork Chop in the Morning, Pork Chop in the Evening, Pork Chop at Supper Time
However, the combination of the pork chop, scrambled eggs, and crunchy hash browns ends up being almost too astounding for us to fathom.
Three Unexpected Peas in a Pod
As Vodka commandeers the steak knife and cuts the chop into pint-size pieces, Mother Hen-style, Ginger and our friend stab together trifecta bites of delectability.
Vodka Showing Her Maternal Side
While the scrambled eggs are fairly standard, both the pork chop and the hash browns are superior to any we have ever had.  The chop is moist and succulent, which astonishes those of us who equate pork chops with being dry and flavorless.
Perfect Pig
The hash browns are cooked to a crisp and rival even our gold standard in this food group, McDonald's.  And the combination of the three elements is nothing less than tantalizing.
The Better to Bite You With, My Dear
"I'm just going to add a little salt," Vodka, who has made it her business to keep salt miners employed, says while sprinkling a bit on top of the plate.

"No!  It's SO salty," Ginger tries to stop her.

"Is it?!" Vodka asks, clearly having upped her salt tolerance by a few teaspoon degrees over the past year.

Moving onto the waffle, it is quite simply to-die-for.
In a Word, Wafflicious
The sweet cream butter and fresh maple syrup take the already-amazing plate to heavenly proportions, and we are once again certain that we have never before tasted a waffle so melt-in-your-mouth delightful.
We Like Anything Sprinkled with Sugar AND Bacon
The side of bacon, while also tasty on its own, is even better when paired with bites of waffle, bringing a salty char to the proceedings, and it is all we can do not to collectively lick the plates.
"Quick, Someone Create a Diversion So We Can Lap This Up"
"I now understand the muumuus," our friend states as we wrap up our meal, referring to our billowing, waist-forgiving attire.  We pay our check, which is remarkably low for the level of food we have consumed, and we begin to make our way outside as the ever-efficient waitstaff clears our table for the next party.  When a fork tumbles off of the chop and chick plate onto Vodka's muumuu, our friend gets a look of panic in her eyes.

"Did that just demote them to four stars?" she asks.

But lucky for Matt's Big Breakfast, a bird in the mouth is worth two on the dress.

Matt's Big Breakfast's The Chop & Chick and Waffles: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

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