The last week or so has brought a couple of new adventures in food and cooking our way. The first, and probably more exciting, was the first real dinner date for J. and I since N's birth. We took advantage of his company's offer of a free holiday dinner a little late, and went out to Boca, my favorite Cincinnati restaurant. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I fantasize about their diver caught sea scallop appetizer in between our infrequent visits. Who'd have thought that something laid on top of brussels sprouts could be as memorable and truly sensual as this dish is? I didn't even offer to share this time, so excited was I to taste those brussels sprouts, but the last time when I was less selfish and allowed J. a taste, he snorted and said "well, that's just pure butter. No wonder you like it." Now you see why he didn't get any this time. There has to be a methodical plan when attacking this dish, to allow for the right mix of creamy scallop, (yes buttery) brussels sprout and baby green. I ended up with a little too much scallop at the end -- mine was a particularly fat one, lucky me -- but it was a fine, fine food experience anyway.
I won't detail all the minutiae of my meal, not so much because I'm afraid of boring you, as much for fear that you'd come away from this post needing something more than your refrigerator has to offer you. However, my concerns that I was going a little too heavy on the "rustic" or "comfort food" with my choices of a bean and truffle stew and chicken pot pie were allayed, and and dessert, while not spectacular, was highly satisfying. There were even humorous moments in the meal, such as when our waiter snatched away our bottle of wine before we were quite sure we were done with it and I think both J. and I were this close to following him behind the bar to snatch it back. We've finally convinced ourselves that there was probably only sediment left, but still.
Our next table neighbors were also quite a pair, obviously there to impress someone, and unlucky for them, they were seated next to us. She was concerned about showing how often she'd been there before by talking up this grilled bread that she enjoyed and ordering some "on the side." He made a big deal about making a "very carnivore" order, asking for his prosciutto appetizer "without all that other stuff." "Just bring me some prosciutto on a plate," he said. I'm sure the chef is really glad he came up with "all that other stuff" for you when composing the menu. He also ordered the steak plain -- maybe with whatever potatoes they could do for him. His wife piped up that he likes that gnocchi stuff, maybe they could include that?
Halfway through their dinner, the waiter brought out a plate for this guy that had (I am not kidding) four cut up pieces of a Slim Jim artfully arranged on it. The waiter barely kept a straight face putting it in front of him, saying "a gift from the chef for you." I am still picturing the chef sending a bus boy across the street to UDF when he got this order.
Suffice it to say, the best thing about our dinner was that it did not include crayons, cups with lids, or any form of shaped chicken or a pool of ketchup.
I'll fill you in on my further food adventures tomorrow.