Saturday, April 17, 2010

A break in the chaos

At some point in the last two weeks I've realized that I'm in over my head. Aside from working full time, going to school part time, planning two events, and attending miscellaneous other events, I am pseudo-mom while my mom continues to heal from foot surgery (on the one foot) and a fractured foot (on the other hand, well...foot).

So those precious few moments I steal away from the grind have become infinitely blissful.

Yesterday it meant a grown-up night out. Not flip-flops, beer, and bar food--which certainly has it's place!

My manager (who has become a sort of role-model and mentor) and the former manager (who has a very spirited stubbornness which resonates with me) and I met for an evening out. Things are getting busier at the store and we are waiting, with baited breath, for the owner's television show premier next week. So it was nice to get out of the shop and indulge in food, wine, and conversation. The makings of a perfect evening.

The best meal is not about complexity but about execution. Depth and dimension with an air of effortlessness. Our meal certainly was.

A glass of full-bodied red wine, a hint of spice and bittersweetness, for me. Forgetting, for a minute, the rules of wine pairing: white with seafood, red with pasta; I maintain that dining should, particularly on these kind of nights, be about what you like. So I chose red.

Cliche though it may be, some much needed "girl talk ensued."

The decedent scent of the dinner preceded the plate. Garlicky, buttery, milky, brothy, with just a hint of herbs and tomatoes. PEI Mussels in a creamy broth. The flesh of the mussels glinted a tantalizing pale against the bold, dark shells.

On the other side of the table: shrimp. Growing up I hated shrimp. They are still never my first choice and I will always turn down the cocktail variety. But I have grown to appreciate a warm, perfectly cooked shrimp-particularly if it is served with a delicious sauce. These shrimp were less than a bite, shrimpy shrimp. Lightly breaded, fried, and floating in a spicy yet creamy sauce. If I were ever to call shrimp "perfect" these shrimp may have been.

After that, the dessert was almost an afterthought. They chose a coconut cake, that appeared to be 98% coconut and only 2% cake. Not for me. I picked key lime pie. The lime filling was perfectly tangy with a lovely pile of whipped cream sitting prettily on top. But the crust! Nuts, chopped finely and mixed into the graham cracker crust, cut the tart lime with a rich and buttery crumble.

A few last sips of wine and we were off into the night.

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