August 19, 2009

Best. Birth Week. Ever. :)

Today was my 36th birthday, and it turned out to be a pretty good one. Despite the sweltering heat and the constant sweating and the looming threat of rain, the day was pretty pleasant. I went out after work with some coworkers to a bar that had long been on my 'list,' then met my awesome BF for dinner.

He had a few ideas up his sleeve, and asked if I'd be in the mood for Cambodian food. I don't know the first thing about Cambodian cuisine, but I was game for just about anything. Then he also offered another option, which was 5 blocks from the wine bar I was going to with the girls. I took into consideration the heat, humidity, and the fact that it was a 'school night,' and opted for the nearby Italian place, Puttanesca.

It was in the neighborhood where I used to work when I was at Montel. I'd been once or twice for lunch, but always tried basic stuff. It was good, but I'd heard dinner was GREAT. The BF had also long wanted to try this place. It did not disappoint!

I started out with the Insalata di Barbabatiole, aka warm beet salad (pictured at the top of this post). It came with green beans, goat cheese, leeks, candied walnuts, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Sumptuous! The beets were perfectly cooked, the goat cheese was mild and flavorful, and the vinaigrette was not too sweet. I cleaned my plate, except for the candied walnuts, which were not really my thing, at least not with the beets.

Kevin's salad, one I'd also considered, was the Insalata di Pera, or pear salad: thinly shaved Bosc pear gave just the right crunch to a bed of arugula, crispy bacon, tangy Gorgonzola cheese, and roasted walnuts. He shared a bite and it was absolutely perfect. He thinks I should make it for the upcoming Recession Recipes party--I might have to give it a shot!

I ordered the Branzino, which came over a bed of tomatoes, roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach. The menu said it was a tomato-oregano broth, but I swear to you it was rosemary, NOT oregano. I'd bet real money on it. I would have preferred oregano, but it was still good. The fish was absolutely succulent, and the smattering of clams and mussels were spot on--not a single grain of grit anywhere (which I've had happen in some really nice places). It looks like a huge portion of fish in the photo, but it was much smaller than it appears--it just looks bigger as it's perched on top of the bed of spinach. I thought the spinach was a bit too salty, so that was the one thing I didn't finish (and I loooooove spinach), but everything else was great. Yum.

BF ordered the steak, cooked medium. It came with a Barolo wine sauce (yum!!) and was so juicy, it almost didn't need any accompaniment. However, who are we to waste a tangy, puckery red wine sauce? My BF awesomely shared TWO bites with me--one with sauce, one without, so I could compare, contrast, and eat more of his steak. He's great like that. ;) He also apparently liked the spinach a lot more than I did (but maybe I was just saving room for dessert...?)

And we did still have room for dessert--there was no hemming and hawing this time! My BF had read a review about some apple or pear dessert with amaretto (I looove amaretto!), but the server said they didn't make that anymore. The BF opted for his favorite, chocolate "souffle," and I got the warm banana tart, as the phrase 'with port wine reduction' was practically screaming my name. I put quotes around the soufflé because it was really just a molten chocolate cake, and not a delicate, fragile, puffy piece of dessert. Still tasty, but not really a 'soufflé.' It was very small, though, so I only took one small bite. I'm great like that, too. ;). The banana tart was worth going back again--there was a whisper-thin layer of caramelized crunchiness on top of the bananas, which were ripe and soft and delicious. This whole meal was delicious from start to finish, and definitely worthy of a birthday splurge.

PS: Birth Week is only half over--there's still so much more fun stuff ahead!!! Woo hoo!

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1 comment:

Axelrod said...

Funny... one of my favorite pairings is warm beets with candied walnuts. <3
And birthday week isn't over! We get to celebrate all the way until Thursday.

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