Tribute to the Highway Cafe

I have a love for Cafe food. Food cooked on a grill, grilled cheeses, melts, burgers. Good, old coffee shop breakfasts – eggs fried on a grill, pancakes, french toast. I owned the coffee shop in the Culver Ice Arena for a couple of years way back when. The best part of running that little place was cooking on the grill. I could do 30 burgers at a time with my prep table ready with the fixin’s. It was amazing and my grill menu was a hit. I had a bit of experience when I took over and added some items to the menu that were instant favorites like the melts: tuna melts, patty melts, grilled ham and cheese and club melts.

I have a thing for cafe food. I’ve read Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, many more times than I should ever admit – probably going into triple digits. I love a place with regulars coming in every day. Hearing the goings-on in the community, be it a small town or an ice rink – it feels like the center of things in that particular area; the hub.

Cafe food is a big inspiration in my home cooking. I have cast iron griddles that I’ve had for several years now – and truth be told I have a particular affection for my cast iron because it reminds me of cooking on a grill. I even found, at Surfas in Culver City, a baster, which is the round lid that you can place directly on the grill for melting and steaming. My baster is great for fried eggs, melting cheese quickly – it bastes and melts, keeping the moisture in. One great hat-trick!

Many inspirations for cooking come into my life daily, but the Cafe – I can say, is one I use on a daily basis. Griddle, I suppose would be a more accurate word for it, but I prefer to use “grill”. Menus from coffee shops are a favorite of mine – great inspirations for my own versions made in my home kitchen. Just one of many, many inspirations for home cooking!


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