I love both national food and unusual holidays because they add a fun element to creating food. And some of them are real hoots that present me with challenges. Like International Owl Awareness Day on August 4th, or National Humiliation, and National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Days which both fall this month. Bizarre holidays like those can make for a real stretch in relating them to food. So sometimes I take the coward’s way out and skip those days or find another one to write about.
January 20th has a lot going on since it’s Martin Luther King Day and our Presidential Inauguration Day. In the food and bizarre holiday realm it’s National Buttercrunch, National Granola, National Penguin Awareness, and National Cheese Lovers Days. All at once.
A colleague laughed about the impossibility of incorporating all of those days into one post. Normally I would have shaken my head and agreed, but I’ve been binge watching “How I Met Your Mother,” lately and before I knew it the words, “Challenge accepted!” flowed from my mouth. Once I realized what I’d done, I quickly added the condition that Inauguration Day be omitted since we don’t have one this year. Terms were agreed to and the challenge was on.
I started with buttercrunch because it’s sweet and it was coffee time. I like to have a little something sweet with an afternoon espresso so sweets were on my mind.
Buttercrunch is a candy made from a base of butter and sugar. It’s similar to toffee, but usually uses less butter so it’s a little crunchier. Candy makers often incorporate nuts, especially almonds, into it, and many varieties include chocolate.
Good! I could check that one off.
Then I moved to Granola, which comes in a myriad of forms, including as a cereal, trail mix, yogurt and pie topping, snack bar, and more. It’s made of rolled oats, nuts, and honey and is baked until it’s crisp. Other popular additions include raisins, apricots, dried banana chips, and chocolate bits like M ’n M’s. There are tons of granola varieties available—more than I can mention here. But p.o.p. candy sells a few buttercrunch granola bars that are delicious!
So, that got me past the buttercrunch and granola hurdles. I felt some relief, but the Penguin thing preyed upon my mind. Until…I remembered a farm-to-table diner a friend and marathon enthusiast had mentioned frequenting. It’s called The Penguin Diner in Bethany Beach, Delaware. It sounded promising, but I worried the odds were against finding all of the remaining challenge elements.
A little research and a chat with friendly General Manager and Executive Chef, Tedy Dolby, revealed my find was going to be legen…wait for it…dary! The Penguin Diner specializes in burgers and cheeseburgers and their special Crab Mac and Cheese, thereby satisfying the Cheese Lovers Day requirement. I’d found another Check!
But—and this is a big but—they are also known for their delicious breakfasts, including their Granola Encrusted French Toast made with fresh brioche. And their executive chef, Tedy Dolby, is African American!
Check! Check! Check! Got ‘em all. In the immortal words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge defeated!”
And there’s more! The Penguin Diner is celebrating National Penguin Awareness Day on January 20th with a “March of the Penguins” promotion. Proceeds from every meal sold that day will go to the World Wild Life Fund for their Save the Penguins Campaign! So if you’re in the area, be sure to drop by to enjoy their farm-to-table fare and lend your support to the Penguins.
If you’re not able to pop over to the Penguin Diner, but you’d like to enjoy some Granola for National Granola Day, watch for our free recipe giveaway on January 20th.
Picture Courtesy of Simon Howden / Free Digital Photos