Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lucky Number 13

ell, Bob and I celebrated our 13th Anniversary last night. We really went all out. We had a romantic dinner at the Café Escadrille; the gourmet room.

We arrived at 5pm and were seated in a lovely booth of red and gold fabric. The linens were white and well pressed.

Our waiter was Paul, a very nice man dressed in a tux and a good conversationalist. He prepared several of our dishes table side. His mad culinary skills come from the school of life rather than a traditional school of culinary arts. His passion shows in his cooking skills and timing. He loves what he does and it shows.

Before dinner, we made a wine selection. It was a lovely Red Zinfandel from the Rombaurer vineyard in the Napa valley. 2004 vintage. It was a full bodied red, fruity with a hint of vanilla and blueberry. It went very well with our dinner and was never acrid.

Brought to the table was a basket of assorted breads and a dish of butter.

Next, we ordered our hors d'oeuvres, Lobster ravioli in a lobster bisque and Escargot Bourguignonne (French helix snails in a Burgundy butter). The ravioli was very tasty, however this was a test as this was the first time either Bob or I had ever tried escargot. Lucky me, I had the escargot placed before me. Since I had never tried it, I examined the escargot tongs that were attached to the escargot plate. Remembering the dinner scene from the movie "Pretty Woman" with Julia Roberts, I decided to take my time and learn the finer points of this implement so as not to have a "slippery little suckers" episode. It was quite simple. With snail fork in my left hand and tongs in my right, I was off and running.

The snails looked very dark in the dimly lit room, almost black. I removed the first snail from the shell and took a bite. Interesting texture, not unlike calamari. Little on the bitter side. Basically two chews and a swallow. Bob was not overly thrilled with the taste; over chewed I think. It wasn't a bad experience and I'd probably try it again. Even Bob agreed that he'd be willing to give it another go.

I think Paul was surprised. He thought I'd had escargot before given my mastery of the tongs and fork. Nope, first time.

"So, what made you try it?"

"Well we'd been watching Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel along with Samantha Brown, and figured we'd give it a go."

"So you watch the Food Network and such"

"Yes we do."

"So do I."

Paul has found over the course of his culinary career that he's seen it all. Adults dumbfounded by dining objects, people placing fat from a steak right on the table cloth instead of a plate. EW.... I wouldn't even do that in the privacy of my own home. Gads!

So anyhoo, some interesting conversations...

Next was our Warm Spinach Salad. This was cooked table side. The dressing was a bacon vinaigrette of butter, brown sugar, and a few other odds and ends with caramelized onions. It's sweet, but not overpowering.

Our palate cleanser was a lemon sorbet with a sprig of mint. It was a delicate lemon, not overpowering and when eaten with the mint leaves...Trés bien.

Our entrées arrived. Bob's was a variant on "surf and turf", a cut of sirloin with a Maine lobster tail. Accompanying his meal was a side of artichokes and sauce Béarnaise and a baked tomato half with a "piped" squash filling.

I had a three pound Maine Lobster served "lazy man" style. For those that may not be familiar with this term, it means that they take the lobster meat out of the shell. My favorite sea dweller came ornately displayed in a delicate butter sauce. I savored every sweet, succulent bite. I guess I had shown my prowess with the snails, that I was not offered a bib. According to Paul, folks make quite the mess. I am happy to say that I wasn't one of them.

The sides that we ordered, were sautéed button mushrooms, these things were to die for, they were so delicious, and asparagus with Hollandaise sauce on the side.

It was about 6:45pm and Bob and I were finally joined by other couples. Since 5pm, we'd had the entire gourmet room to ourselves. So the entire wait staff seemed to be ours alone. It was nice. Our "bus boy" was a very nice French gentleman. I think he was delighted that we'd actually use some of our limited French. We spoke to everyone. It was just a lovely experience.

For dessert, it was Bananas Foster. Fresh sliced bananas flamed in a dark rum with Crème de Banana liqueur and brown sugar and butter. It is served over vanilla ice cream. It was delicious!

We paid our check and ate our after dinner chocolate. It was topped with an espresso bean-- very good.

We left at 7:15 pm with our bottle of wine. They re-corked the bottle and heat sealed it in a bag.

It was a fantastic evening. A great way to end our special day.

--- This just in ---

While Bob and I were dining last night, 4 gentleman came in around 7pm. As I looked at one fellow, I kept thinking to myself that he looked like Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox... turns out that it was!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007's been awhile

It's been an exceptionally busy September for me and I've been remiss in blogging about it.

The weekend of September 1st, we had our usual museum show followed by some filming for a museum project.

September 8th, I can't recall, it was something of a blur.

September 16th, we were working on a video project with the students of WPI and the Higgins. It was an equestrian shoot, so it was very busy to say the least...and I'll have to remind the students that I'm still waiting for those photos that they dangled in front of me.

September 21, I was transporting horses for a charity event. We put up a tent in the dark...on a slope. Not fun and certainly NOT recommended.

September 22, was a charity Medieval Faire for Miracles in Motion in Keene NH. It was fun and interesting. The horses had a good time. My wallet didn't...but it was for a good cause; a therapeutic riding center.

September 29...hmmm... another weekend that's relatively blurry. Oh, I remember now, Bob and I played tour guide for the Richard III AGM. We were invited to a lovely lunch and caught up with some old friends.

October 6, our monthly Higgins show.

This week, it's just playing house. Chores and such. The leaves are falling and I have a lot of raking to do. Bob and I decided that we were taking October off.

We were hoping to partake in the first World Invitational Joust in California, but our wallet was drained in September. We're hoping that we'll make the next one in April 2008. It should be great.

Update: Belt buckle

I won't get it until near the end of the year. I'm bummed. I was hoping to get it before the Euro goes up.