|August 29, 2011||Posted by Cheeks under Appetizers, Drinks, Holidays, Main Course, MEAT|
This past weekend was A and my first anniversary as marrieds. But it was also the sixth anniversary of our first date, and well past the seventh anniversary of our first meeting each other.
Yes, we got all googly-eyed and professed our undying love for each other…..or not. We’re not really that kind of kids.
Instead, we had a nice quiet dinner at Leopold, a newish Belgian restaurant in our ‘hood, which is oh-so-appropriate seeing as we got engaged in Belgium almost two years ago. It’s focused on small, sharable plates and more adventurous cuts and preparations of meat - veal sweetbreads, rabbit rillettes, steak tartare, merguez poutine, escargot. Some may say, eh, I say, ooooohhhhmmmmmmmm.
A couple glasses of a crisp, minerally French sauvignon blanc for me, a Finch’s pale ale and Allagash white for A gave us a good start to rosy-cheeked happiness. We started with an order of frites, accompanied by a perplexingly named (though delicious) samurai sauce. It seemed an aioli spiked with some red pepper and something tart, like caper brine. We then split three dishes – seared scallop with summer corn “risotto”, smoked rabbit with plum glaze and mustard spaetzel; and braised short rib with heirloom tomatoes and potato cake.
The creamy, light yet rich corn “risotto” and perfectly bouncy scallops were the highlight of the night. We loved the rabbit under the glaze, but found the exterior to be too heavily smoked for the rather delicate meat (although the glaze itself was lovely). The spaetzel was addictively chewy, if not overwhelmingly mustardy, and the candied leeks and onions nestled throughout were a tasty surprise. We also chowed rather remarkably fast through the short rib, which was meltingly tender and mouth-wateringly beefy, but were confused about the bland, dense potato cake. It seemed an afterthought, a hasty potato dish that hadn’t been tasted or tested. Good thing we still had frites left (OH, and they were delicious frites) and some drinks to finish.
All in all, a delicious, upscale meal that departs from our more usual meals, which center around our grill and whatever I can throw onto a pizza or into a taco. Yet, on the date itself we went back to the roots of this food nerd and had an all-out appetizer feast that lasted well into the darkening hours.
Going clockwise from 9:00, we had seared smoked turkey sausage; ”stripey jack cheese, which is a layer-cake of red Leicester, double Gloucester, cheddar, Cotswold, and one other; peppered salami; Trader Joe’s creamy hummus; a veggie spread of grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, carrots and broccoli; Carr’s water crackers; and an antipasti mix of pepperocini, french olives, kalamatas, roasted peppadews, and artichoke hearts.
Oh, but that’s not all, friends.
Oh yeah. Those are definitely bacon-wrapped dates (with a maple-balsamic glaze) sitting there all sexy-like next to the shrimp cocktail. If there is a better anniversary present than bacon dates, well, I don’t want to know about it.
We topped off the night by feasting on a batch of my Grandma’s Cheesecakes, which were the dessert at our wedding one year ago today. Sated into utter oblivion (a bottle of TJ South African wine helped in that department), we slept happy, content, and full.