Happy lazy sunny Sunday.
It has been my practice for some months now to walk downtown for a movie on Sunday mornings when I have no errands to run, no work to do. I wake up at eight or nine, have a cup of tea, read the newspaper, check the movie times. Usually there will be a movie showing around 10:30 or 11:00, and one theater downtown has $6 showings on weekend mornings. While drinking my tea - the slightly spicy Chandernagor from Mariage Fréres with a touch of sugar and milk - I watch a Food Network chef make fried chicken in his kitchen with his actress wife. In her funky eyeglasses and sparkly beaded cardigan - so different from her onscreen persona - she dips buttermilk-marinated chicken into a mix of spices and flour before slipping the chicken into the hot oil - and immediately my mind, which had been fixated on cheeseburgers, springs to how soon I can get my hands on some fried chicken.
In the darkness of the movie theater before the film begins I ignore the pre-show advertisements and think about whether I should make my own oven-fried chicken, or head out somewhere to buy some, either at Ezell's or KFC or maybe even out to Atlas for their honey-drizzled fried chicken, which comes with smashed potatoes and whatever vegetables are in season at the moment. Or I could go to the Baguette Box on my way home and have a Crispy Drunken Chicken baguette. As one of our clients would say, ding ding ding ding! Baguette Box it is.
The Baguette Box is an airy, well, box of a room, at the end of a street bustling with shops and cafés and pubs and restaurants, just before the street goes over the freeway and crosses into downtown. The menu is handwritten on chalkboards; the small room is decorated with paintings and photographs of dogs. (The logo on the window is of a bulldog - or perhaps a boxer - holding a baguette in his mouth). There is one long communal table and three small round tables. This place is an offshoot of an upscale Vietnamese restaurant not far away; their signature sandwich is the Crispy Drunken Chicken baguette - the crispy drunken chicken is on the menu at the original restaurant, too - and they have sandwiches made with fried tofu or lemongrass-marinated steak in addition to ones made with gravlax or braised pork or meatloaf or tuna salad. There are french fries, or french fries dusted with truffle salt, and salads.
I order a crispy drunken chicken baguette. I sit back and read an old James Bond that I threw in my bag on the way out the door and drink my Thai iced tea, which is a weird shade of orange, sweetened and made creamy with condensed milk. The sandwich arrives, chunks of fried chicken, a few bits of lettuce and sweet caramelized onions. The chicken is slathered with a tangy-sweet sauce, and bits of vegetables fall out with every bite. It is not Bobby Flay's buttermilk-marinated, spice-seasoned fried chicken, but it is very good all the same, the chicken moist and tender beneath the sauce and the crisp skin, all held together with the baguette that threatens to fall apart in my hands. Oh well. I have a fork, and plenty of napkins, and perhaps a new Sunday routine as well.