Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hoosier fusion

Grew up in Indiana, I did, and there are, frankly, precious few things I miss from that portion of my life.

Frigid winters and hot, humid summers? Nope -- frigid winters and mild, dry summers in Idaho are a modest improvement. On the other hand, breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches are hard to come by outside the Midwest, and this is unfortunate.

So, what to do? Go to Vegas, of course. There, the well-informed will find Hash House A Go Go (two locations, plus one in San Diego), where Indiana-inspired breakfast is the specialty. Tip: One order for two people is more than adequate.

Let us be clear -- Hash House is not Cracker Barrel re-heated. My breakfast was a hand-pounded breaded pork tenderloin the size of a catcher's mitt smothered in a tomato-cream sauce with a maple-syrup reduction that looks like it might have been made of Velveeta. It does not, however, taste like it. The flavors are sophisticated and complex, particularly for a breakfast that might total 3,500 calories. Buried beneath the catcher's mitt are griddled mashed potatoes, a full homemade biscuit, fresh spinach and heaven knows what else. The scrambled eggs on top seem like an afterthought.

Not insignificantly, there's also a sprig of rosemary the size of a sapling sticking out of the meat. We saved it to replant in our back yard. Kathleen ordered the corned beef hash, which does not come out of a can. It's fresh corned beef with cheese and fried potatoes, a biscuit and eggs, plus, of course, a small tree.

In two days, we went from the sublime (a tasty-but-sparse dinner of tapas that left us hungry and cost about 75 bucks) to the ridiculous (a delightful performance by a trio of Australians pretending to be the Bee Gees) and back to a little of each -- Hash House A Go Go's delicious breakfast that could have fed several African villages for days. I haven't any words to describe the mariachi band at a Mexican restaurant in the Mandalay Bay that played the pina colada song. For the money, Hash House was the top of the ticket.

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