Ah, IKEA... the home of the chic, cheap and poorly constructed. Looks fab in the store, goes together without too much suffering, but just try to move one of those freestanding closets from your old to new apartment... it groans and dies a bitter, splinter-filled death before your eyes.
But every 12 months or so, the catalog looks sophisticated, hope springs eternal, and I hop on the bus for another trip to the mothership.
Home delivery is only $99, but short on cash and anticipating a visit from one of the parental units, this spring's IKEA foray forced me into hoisting an eight-foot, 50-pound burrito-shaped rolled mattress up and down through the New York City public transportation system.
I clearly needed appropriate fuel for the trek. And lo! The IKEA cafeteria promised refreshing lingonberry juice and tender meatballs the likes of which I'd never experienced. I stood in line among the masses wondering how I'd bypassed the übercheap IKEA caf for so long. Selecting their meatball special and a slice of chocolatey Daim cake (try the Chocolate & Zucchini recipe... it's a guaranteed winner), I snagged a cuppa joe and joined the roomie at a sunny table with a view of the turnpike. Heaven, truly.
The meatballs, frighteningly tender (what's in those things?) and without a notable flavor personality of their own, benefit greatly from their creamy sauce and the accompanying dab of sugar-sweet lingonberry sauce. On the same note, the lingonberry juice reminded me of what Kool-Aid might aspire to be. The Daim cake was sweet, crunchy and best washed down with the surprisingly good coffee.
Not fabulous food, but certainly comfort food, and the sugar, fat and carb fix did the trick. My bulky mattress burrito came home with no pulled muscles (lingonberry power?) and my stomach didn't cry out for another several hours. For the uninitiated, visiting the IKEA caf is like dining out in another world... a world in which all the furnature is cheap and all the meatballs bathe in white sauce... like maybe the food court of Target... but in Sweden.