Friday, March 30, 2012

Italy arrives in Decatur...

This past Monday, a restaurant in Decatur quietly opened it's doors, seeming to rely most heavily on the best form of advertising around - word of mouth.  So here goes my mouth (err...typing?).

IL FORNO
1423 E. Mound Rd. (Wood-Mound Plaza, next to Subway)
Decatur, IL 62526
 217-876-9900

Seriously.  I haven't heard any radio, seen any paper ads (but we don't get the paper), or any TV or Facebook buzz about them.  A hand-drawn marker sign posted by the road announced they were open, and so last night we decided to give it a try.

The sign outside told us it was a place to get some brick-oven pizza.  "IL FORNO" means "the oven" in Italian, and sure enough we were greeted by a giant brick oven as we walked in.  We expected a "hole in the wall" bar atmosphere that served pizza based on the outside, but were pleasantly surprised as we walked in.  This place would be a great choice for both a family pizza night in t-shirt/shorts, but with candle-lit tables and Tuscan decor - it's a great date-night option as well.

The range continues with the menu!  We were drawn in by their gluten-free choices, but distracted by the TONS of other options as well.  Appetizers even more creative than the garden where I guess they grow the olives.  Plenty of salad options that could be entire meals, chicken dishes, seafoods, sandwiches/paninis, steaks, many veal dishes, pastas/sauces/meats, a whole page of gourmet pizzas, and even a couple "dessert pizza" options.

My wife ordered the "Romano Chicken", which was a chicken breast served on a bed of three-cheese mashed potatoes, covered in a home-made Romano cheese sauce, and topped with several pieces of tender asparagus.  I went with a "Chicken (cant remember this word) Panini"...and holy cow it was awesome.  It was a chicken breast topped with several slices of prosciutto, served on a fresh ciabatta roll spread with garlic pesto sauce.  Mine also came with mashed potatoes that tasted ah. maze. ing.

I stopped eating after the first half of my sandwich. Usually this is because I'm so full, I don't want to become stuffed.  As full as I was, the reason I stopped was to that I could extend my sandwich experience over another day.  Heated up for lunch today was equally as awesome.

Our bill was about $25, because once in a while we eat like rich people.  The wait staff are very new, which means new jobs for Decatur - always a good thing.  The little old Italian couple and what I assume is their son in the kitchen - seem to have captured something awesome here.  I encourage you to check it out, and support the local economy while you do it.  You'll be very glad you did!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

shameless plug.

My daughters wanted to tell you about an exciting new book...

Monday, March 12, 2012

12 days is fast.

On the way to Vegas last month, I read an interesting article on fasting that stirred a desire in me to try a long-term fast. It seemed appropriate that my goal be 40 days, given the season of Lent, and so I would eat my last meal Feb. 27th, and fast until Easter. I’ll confess, it wasn’t a remarkably “spiritual” article, but a health and human body type focus. My fast began partially as an experiment to see what would happen to my body, and what God could do if I offered Him this exercise in self-control.

I ate nothing, drinking only water, and boy was I thirsty. :) As many say, the first 3-4 days were tough, as my “hunger” faded. What most don’t say after that, however, is the amazing amount of appetite that remains. I didn’t want to give up routines, or being a good father/husband. So I would still help prepare/clean up meals, and being close to food was increasingly tough. The hardest times were when I attended a youth pizza party, catered meal, or went out to a sit-down restaurant….which seemed to happen more in these days than the previous year combined. :)

My energy levels remained fairly consistent. I still did pretty much everything the same, minus heading to bed early the first few nights. On day 6, I did allow myself to take communion at church. The small piece of bread tasted amazing, and the juice was sweeter than ever! I felt cleaned out and healthy, and after a week even felt a bit more alert than usual. But as time went on, the impact became more and more pronounced.

Toward the end of my 12th day, I made the decision to move toward food again. I say “move toward”, because after 12 days of not eating, the stomach isn’t ready for a bacon-cheeseburger. I ate a little spinach and carrots, and because it was my wife’s b-day party, a few crackers with cheese-ball, and couple bites of her cake. (I paid for eating that cheese-ball a bit. :) )

I had lost 22 pounds in 12 days, which seemed a bit unhealthy, thanks to my high metabolism. My pants were sliding off, and people were asking me what I was doing to lose weight. It was hard to sit with my family, and still feel like I wasn’t quite “with them”, since as my 5 year old was saying, “Daddy doesn’t eat anymore.” My wife found out she was allergic to gluten, and was baking all sorts of new dishes – I could tell it was hard for her to not get any of my thoughts on this new menu for our home. I’d begun wearing socks at night, due to my feet being bricks of ice. The blood-flow had slowed to the point that even in the afternoon, my hands felt like cold fish. I could go on with more reasons, but don’t need to. The point is, I decided to stop. :)

I definitely recommend a fast of 1, 3, 5, or even 10 days. It’s right there with prayer in the Bible, but somehow we’ve let it go as something beneficial and God-given – not just for our spiritual, but our physical lives.

During this time, I gained a lot (except weight). I was reminded to have control of my appetites, since we live in a culture that goes way beyond satisfying hunger. We often “eat until we are full”, both literally and figuratively. I discovered fasting is not a magic spell to force God’s hand, but it does make it easier to get through the wall of “me” in my prayer life. I was even taught that perhaps the humility of choosing to stop, even though I’d told those who asked I was going to try 40 days – was good for my soul. Fasting is, after all, about letting go of self, not asserting self’s desire to succeed.

On a side note: This is best darned Naked Juice I’ve ever had. :)