“Fun fact: A dog’s willingness to meet eyes with humans is one of the things that separates them from wolves.” —Renee Jaques, Huffington Post
Last weekend was Mr. Wallace’s birthday, and seeing as he has reached those echelons of middle age where one begins to decline to divulge which particular birthday one is celebrating, the shindig was fairly low-key. We drove a short distance “down the shore”, which for those unfamiliar, is dumb, regional Jersey-speak for: bitch, please, you went to a brown-sand beach that ain’t exactly the Caribbean, okay?
But it’s a perfectly decent stretch of sand (and mussels shells! So many mussels shells!) abutting the Atlantic Ocean, and a cute beach town complete with a bustling boardwalk has built up around it. We found a nice hotel to keep us sheltered for three nights. We experienced a real You Dumbasses Didn’t Read the Fine Print moment, though, when we realized upon arrival that it was a dog-friendly hotel. Staying at such an establishment was a first for both of us, and reader, we need to talk about it!
A bit of brief background: Mr. Wallace and I are Cat People. We are cat parents to three elderly, insufferable felines; since we began cohabiting we have fostered no less than eight kittens (five of which we named after Supreme Court Justices), and I spent a couple years as a weekly cat volunteer for the wonderful shelter where we adopted said elderly, insufferable cats. We like dogs fine, they are cute, we have dog-sat on occasion for friends, but owning one has literally never crossed our minds. So we entered the dog-friendly hotel world a bit clueless. But we left delighted.
It was such a heart-warming, utterly hilarious experience. Every hotel patron, even the ones without a dog in tow, was so nice. Something about the dogs’ presence made everyone be so incredibly pleasant to each other. Someone even complimented Mr. Wallace’s Boston Red Sox cap. That’s huge, seeing as we live in Yankee territory; wearing such a hat in public is usually an exercise in taking one’s life into one’s own hands. Also, I made all these canine friends!
There was Peanut and her brother Buddy, who wanted a sip of my Chardonnay (I declined). There was Edie the adorable Frenchie who hung out with me by the pool until her dads decided it had gotten too hot to stay outdoors. Paris the miniature poodle, who I call The Elevator Dog because I only saw him in the elevator.
And then there was the morning by the pool where I thought I busted my spleen attempting to conceal what would’ve been uproarious laughter. The middle-aged couple lounging on adjacent pool chairs, minding their own business, basking in the summer vibes, got a rude awakening when their daughter – I’d guess she was around twelve? – came down with a cute dog on his leash and indignantly announced that Bandit had pooped on their bed. Because of course the dog who poops on the humans’ bed is named Bandit. What else would his name possibly be? Immediately the parents met this pooch misdeed with groans and choruses of “Ohhhh, Bandit!” while Bandit himself looked on obliviously. The father then asked his daughter if she’d, uh, transferred Bandit’s treat to the toilet, and she gave him a look of which only pre-teen girls are capable and replied, “Um. No.” Her tone clearly indicated that such acts were way above her pay grade. The father’s face initially flashed mild annoyance that was quickly interrupted by this wide-eyed OH NOOOO look as he likely realized the housekeeping staff was going to walk in any minute now and discover dog shit on the white bedspread. He bolted out of his chair. It should be noted that Bandit was still sitting serenely, seemingly quite pleased with himself. I, on the other hand, had my face buried in a beach towel and my fist between my teeth, trying to not audibly howl with laughter, aware that some things are only funny when they aren’t happening to you.
Should we be doing more of this though? Should we be engaging in momentary joyous distractions from our fears of a roasting planet and rising kleptocracy with more unabashed dog hotels where man’s best friend is welcomed with open arms and allowed to steal all the shows? I suppose the highly allergic and those mauled by Cujo copycats when they were children are disinclined to agree. And I respect that. But if you like dogs, or even just don’t mind them, I highly recommend seeking out a brief stay at such an establishment. It will make you smile.
Blueberry Pancakes with Chorizo Maple Syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (shake well if using buttermilk)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbs granulated sugar
- About ½ pint fresh blueberries, plus more for garnish if desired
CHORIZO MAPLE SYRUP:
- 1 tbs canola oil
- 8 oz. fresh chorizo, removed from casings if necessary
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 1 cup maple syrup
- Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Whisk vigorously for 2-3 minutes. You’re trying to whip air into the mixture, which will make your pancakes fluffier. Whisk in 3 tbs butter.
- In a small mixing bowl, evenly combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Gently mix or stir the dry ingredients into the wet. You’re going to be tempted to smooth out the batter to get rid of the lumps. You must resist this temptation! Lumps are fine, I promise! If you overmix, you’ll have tough, dry pancakes and no one will like you anymore. Leave the lumps, it’s okay, you can ignore your perfectionist streak this once. I feel you, I’m here for you in this.
- Let the batter rest while you preheat your griddle. I start mine over medium heat and let it go a few minutes. You know it’s ready when a flicker of water sizzles and dances. Brush the surface with some of the remaining 2 tbs melted butter, then spoon the batter in ¼-cup full ladles. Immediately sprinkle, or neurotically place, blueberries on top of the pancake. How many, how they are spaced, that’s all up to your preferences. Keep cooking this side until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancakes carefully and cook until the other side is brown. Adjust the heat as needed. Repeat with the remaining melted butter and batter in batches until done.
CHORIZO MAPLE SYRUP:
- In a small saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat, heat the canola oil and add the chorizo. Cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until the chorizo is cooked through. If your chorizo is really fatty, drain off about half of it. Mine didn’t yield much fat so I didn’t bother. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the mustard and soy sauce, then add maple syrup. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Hold it over the lowest heat possible until time to serve. You could also remove from the heat completely and then reheat while your last batch of pancakes cooks.
- To serve, place pancakes on your plate, then spoon as much or as little maple syrup as you wish, making sure you get lots of chorizo bits on your pancakes. Garnish with extra blueberries if desired.