April 5, 2007

No Bread? No Worries!

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It’s that time of the year again. Yes, the snow is melted (knock on wood), prelims are upon us one last time, and Slope Day is right around the corner. However, for Jews across the world, this week also marks the beginning of Passover, in which no bread or leavened products can be eaten for eight whole days.
That may not sound so difficult, but when you spend your day in Libe Café eating scones and coffee cake, and your evening at CTB, where basically everything is leavened, you realize just how crucial bread is to your daily life and realize that giving it up takes some serious planning.
With nothing but matzos in my apartment, I decided it was time to venture out into the world of eateries and find a place in which I could have an inexpensive and fast meal (the way college students like it) and not feel depressed that it did not include deliciously baked or breaded treats. I also decided to bring some friends who weren’t celebrating Passover so as to test the versatility of the chosen restaurant. My first thought was Hal’s Deli on the Commons; because it takes after those fabulous Jewish delis in NYC, I figured it would have some kind of special Passover offering in addition to the normal menu, and I was right. What I didn’t figure was that it would close at 8:00 p.m., leaving me and my friends with grumbling stomachs and no Passover friendly place in mind.
Dreading the thought of returning home to matzos and peanut butter, we wandered around for a bit and finally ended up at Smoothie Hut (which no longer inhabits our lovely Collegetown; instead, Smootie hut is now in the Commons).
Upon entering, I noticed how much smaller this Smoothie Hut is from the one I frequented in Collegetown was there were only two small tables and a small window counter with stools on which to sit. This lack of seating space created a somewhat uninviting atmosphere, and I began to wonder whether Smoothie Hut would end up being unsatisfying.
Contrary to its name, Smoothie Hut offers way more than just smoothies. In fact, it has two large blackboards displaying its wide selection of wraps and salads. If you don’t want a wrap or salad on the menu, you can create your own by filling out a form which lets you pick from every ingredient Smoothie Hut offers, making the possibilities endless.
Being that the wraps were off-limits and that most of the salads included crispy noodles, I decided to create my own salad and began furiously checking off boxes on the form. My final creation included lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, raisins, mandarin orange slices, pineapple slices, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and grilled chicken, lightly tossed together with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This may sound like a weird array of ingredients, but I assure you, when put together, they are quite good.
My friend Jane also decided to create her own meal, choosing to make a wrap that featured corn, carrots, water chestnuts, rice, mandarin oranges, peanuts, tofu and the spicy Thai peanut dressing. Claiming that she created an off-beat wrap on purpose, she had no idea what to expect taste-wise, but was extremely pleased with the result.
My other friend Matt decided to take the more conventional route and order the Barbeque wrap (grilled chicken [or tofu] with rice, Monterey jack cheese, green peppers, onions, bacon bits and zesty BBQ sauce) off of the menu. While the description sounded tasty, Matt was not overly pleased with his wrap, complaining that the large pepper chunks overpowered the rest of the flavors in the wrap and that it was not as satisfying as it could be.
Of course, since we were at Smoothie Hut, it was only fitting that we order smoothies to accompany our dinner. After browsing the menu, both Matt and I ordered the Big Red, which is made with strawberries, bananas, non-fat yogurt and orange juice, and is wonderfully smooth and delicious. Other tantalizing smoothies include the Very Berry (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, pineapple and non-fat yogurt), the Mango Tango (mango, pineapple, banana, O.J. and honey), and the Fuzzy Navel (peaches, oranges and orange juice).
All in all, Smoothie Hut proved to be a fine place to go during this bread-free week. In fact, I was so pleased with my meal that I felt a pang of sadness due to the disappearance of Smoothie Hut from the Collegetown scene.
However, lucky for me and those who rarely make it down to the Commons, Smoothie Hut is featured on that wonderful website Campusfood.com so we can all enjoy wraps, salads and cold smoothies on the warm, sunny days still to come.