We had our Sunday all planned out. I would wake up early, get in a workout, then head on over to the park with Akemi and Lulu for the monthly French Bulldog Meet-up. After an hour of fun and frolic (definitely Lulu, possibly Akemi, certainly not me) we’d drop Lulu off at home and then head over to the farmer’s market with our pug Jelly. After loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables, we’d head back home, drop Jelly off, then pick up our other pug, Bubba, and head off for a picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park.
That WAS the plan.
I slept in, long past any hope of a workout. By the time we got to the park, the sky was overcast and it had started to drizzle. Then, it started to rain. Then a thunderclap so loud it froze the dogs in their tracks signaled an early end to the festivities. By the time we made it back to the car, it was pouring. Jelly missed out on the trip to the farmer’s market and the picnic ended up being relocated to a friend’s home which meant Bubba’s outing was canceled as well.
I’m sure my dogs were as disappointed as I was last evening after capping off a two-night dining “extravaganza”. My friend Tomomi was in town from Japan and I thought it would be nice to take her out for a nice meal. She’s done the same for me when I’ve visited Tokyo so I wanted to find just the right restaurant. Only problem – I rarely go out for dinner anymore, and certainly not to some of the city’s higher end places I used to frequent back in the day. I am out of the proverbial loop. And so, after eliminating the restaurants I brought her to the last time she was in town and the restaurants that were fully booked on the nights in question, I decided to roll the dice on two places: Lupo Restaurant and Le Gavroche.
Dinner at the Lupo was fine. Solid starters (burrata cheese with garden beets and micro tomatoes, and a nice, crispy pork belly mustard croustada), followed by a couple of slid pasta dishes (a nice agnolotti and a Bucatini that, while well-prepared to an al dente bite, simply resisted any sort of melding with the tasty Amatriciana sauce, leaving them two distinct components on the plate). We were going to split a main and I had my eye on the Short Rib Brasato with mascarpone polenta, but was talked out of it by our waiter who highly recommended the night’s special: a veal osso buco. Well, in hindsight, taking a waiter’s recommendation is equivalent to purchasing one of those Staff Picks at your local bookstore: you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed. As I was on this night. The veal was a little dry while the accompanying risotto Milanese was an enormous letdown. Still smarting over my osso buco over brasato gaffe, I skipped the typical-looking desserts.
The following night, we ended up at Le Gavroche, a quaint French restaurant I used to visit years ago. Since my last visit, it’s undergone some notable changes, chiefest among them being the menu that has taken on a more molecular cuisine-inspired approach. Some of the dishes being presented at our neighboring tables looked downright intriguing – the liquid nitrogen sorbet with herbs, Hay smoked arctic char served still smoking under its glass bell – but we had opted for the a la carte menu: two soups and three mains. As usual, I’d taken a sneak peak at the dessert menu so I could plan ahead. I had my eye on the chocolate ganaché. My pea soup was fine, her soup – kale and kohlrabi – was robust and delicious. The mains were a mixed bag. The sous-vide venison was surprisingly tough, difficult to cut and almost impossible to chew. The Muscovy Duck Breast, on the other hand, was tender and incredibly flavorful – probably the best thing I’ve eaten in weeks. Our vegetarian selection – wild mushroom with crispy polenta, crispy sage and parmesan crisp – was about par for a vegetarian dish.
Finally, it was time for dessert – and, specifically, that chocolate ganaché. I’d been really looking forward to it. Alas, it turns it wasn’t available and so, after dismissing the likes of the too-fruity blueberry parfait, apricot souffle (which would have required a 20 minute wait), and the unconvincing blue cheese mousse with figs, I settled on the carrot cake with carrot ice cream.
While the ice cream was great – subtle in its carrot flavor yet not overly sweet – the cake itself was clumpy. And – perhaps most disappointingly – light. It was the perfect dessert for a dieting young lady – which I am not. I ended up satisfying my sweet tooth with a couple of aerated chocolates from Beta 5 when I returned home.
So, overall – meh. I think that, next time, I’ll just say screw it to the fine dining and head on over to Campagnolo’s for some terrific pizza.
Interesting to see all your responses to our “Which space program will you be joining?” poll. Yes, you can only pick one. I mean, really. How the heck can you work in the Pegasus Galaxy AND serve on the Battlestar Galactica? Not surprisingly, joining the Atlantis expedition and becoming a member of the SGC lead the pack. Given the choice, I’d probably join an SG team as well. As several of you have pointed out, it would allow you to do your off-world adventuring AND make it home in time to watch your favorite t.v. shows.