I aim to plan and consciously choose all of my indulgences. I have the knowledge and willpower to do so, but occasionally, I will have a substantial misfire.
I was in Boston, my home away from home, for the 2004 World Series reunion. I splurged nutritionally as I had intended, but I didn’t map out my large nutritional stumble while watching the game.
I had it all pre-navigated. My two men (12 and 14) and I love to experience travel through food. We think it’s the most efficient and interesting way to explore the culture of a city. We discussed the trip ahead of time and decided on three restaurants where we would fully indulge and eat like kings. We’d start with the team dinner at a fine steak and seafood house, follow it up with breakfast the next morning at a bakery, and finish it out with lunch at a tapas joint in the South End.
The first night the three of us shared bone in filets, swordfish steaks, oysters, giant shrimp, crab cakes, lamb chops, chocolate cake, apple crisps and cold vanilla ice cream. I enjoyed a few glasses of whiskey, neat, and my boys drank Sprite. We left the restaurant 1 for 1. Remember, this indulgence was planned.
The next morning, we went to a bakery suggested by a Boston-based chef friend. The boys picked up scones and French toast; I scored big with a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a crusty roll with spinach and tomato. The bite came complete with a Dijon mustard finish that struck a chord with me, managing to last all day. 2 at bats, 2 knocks.
After mobbing around on the T train all morning, making our way to Harvard and back to Downtown Crossing, we landed at our destination for lunch, Toro. Theo Epstein made the recommendation after I mentioned that my boys and I were on a food adventure. This is the guy who went out to get the “washed up” 2002 version of David Ortiz, so he’s proven his scouting mettle. If he thinks it’s a worthwhile trip, I’ll take his advice.
Back to food.
Rather than turn this post into a restaurant review, I’ll keep it simple. I had an out of body experience. Every small plate that arrived was visually captivating and stunning on the palate. We sprinted the gamut. From spicy curry beef empanadas to cauliflower with golden raisins and pine nuts to the pièce de résistance, roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade. This dish, holy fuck. Our waiter described it exquisitely as “like rich, hot, beef flavored butter.” I was now 3 for 3 and ready for my final at bat.
A theme throughout this entire trip was advance planning. My first mistake was not preparing for this final meal. I figured my boys and I would just eat at the ballpark and didn’t put much thought into it. I knew that the options would be plentiful and come in large quantities. I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but I quickly got off course.
I was running around at Fenway from this place to that, answering questions and meeting folks. My boys were on their own and already up in the suite by the time I arrived around the start of the first inning. They had eaten pizza, snacks and fruit, totally what I expected for them. I walked in starving, my second mistake. I reached for a plate and piled on decent looking veggies, a huge mound of guacamole, and the only available protein, stale fried chicken strips. I could have reached into my bag and opened a can of wild caught salmon. I didn’t. My defenses were down. I hadn’t snacked. I ingested that garbage and suffered strike one.
You know my stance on processed foods. Those frozen chunks of flour covered meat product provide little nutritional value. I had already experienced a whirlwind day filled with emotion and exertion, and the pizza under the heat lamp began to look lovely.
I advocate indulgence, but I advocate planned, quality indulgence. This was neither. I scarfed down a piece and the drugs hit my bloodstream. I couldn’t chew fast enough. Strike two.
The final pitch of the at bat came in and I chased it. I scarfed down a few more slices, knowing even as I did so that it wasn’t my finest hour.
3 for 4. In baseball that’s a hell of a day. Nutritionally, I expect 4 for 4s from myself almost always. I’m in control, so the high bar is appropriately set. Rather than dwell on it, I’ll do what Manny tells us to do after a rough at bat. “Turn the page, papi.”
I write this from the plane the following morning. I’ve turned the page. Today, I’ve ingested steel cut oats, fresh organic blueberries, a pile of kale, a chunk of a ham steak, a few fresh scrambled eggs and organic black coffee.
In my bag, I have a large salad with tons of fresh veggies, almonds, chicken, organic Hannah yams. I also still have that wild salmon I passed over for pizza in a box.
I’m back on track. I remember last night’s at bat and will make the adjustment without carrying the emotion of yesterday over into today’s game.
I hope you’ll share your stories of strikeouts or home runs in the comments section below.