When journalists get together, we spend a lot of time comparing war stories and trying to one-up each other. My reporter friend Patrick, who spent three months embedded in Iraq a few years ago, always wins, because his stories are about, well, war.
But I've got some battle scars, too: Last week I ate fire.
The location: Buffalo Wild Wings in Palm Desert.
The mission: Down a half-dozen chicken wings during a happy hour birthday celebration with friends.
Feeling feisty and trying to prove I am not a weenie, I chose to have my wings doused in the hottest of the bunch: Better-Be-Ready Blazin' Sauce.
I thought I was ready, but whoa, were those babies hot! No wonder the menu warns you to “keep away from eyes, pets and children.” I needed extra napkins to wipe my runny nose and the drool that escaped when I attempted to gasp for air.
They were delicious, though — and surprisingly satisfying once the heat settled into my belly. I finished four, then offered the others (6 for $5.29) up to the table, where they were quickly nabbed.
Wings come with a little tub of creamy blue cheese dressing for dipping and cooling off the palate.
The birthday girl went with Mango Habanero wings, so, curious, I snagged one when she was opening her gifts.
The first bite yielded a sweet, fruity taste, and then WHAM, the pepper suddenly kicked in, sending me diving for my water glass.
But again, surprisingly tasty after the first shock. It's easy to see why folks gobble these things down by the dozen.
The menu also includes a nice selection of burgers, chicken sandwiches, ribs, wraps, salads, even desserts like cheesecake and apple pie.
Buffalo Wild Wings is a fun, loud place with polished wood tables and too many big TVs (mostly set to sports channels) to count. Located just in front of Westfield Palm Desert mall, it's a convenient meeting spot with good prices and a friendly vibe.
I didn't exactly fulfill my mission, but I think I earned my stripes. War is hell.