Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Turophile's Delight

Or Why My Ass is as Big as Texas...

With Valentine's Day safely behind us I feel comfortable gushing about the meal my man dished up to make the holiday perfect.

We went back and forth on the idea of going to a fancy restaurant, finally deciding that we'd rather not fight the crowds, or feel rushed, or -- oh, let's face it -- we didn't make a reservation in time. No biggie. On to Plan B.

We stopped by Weggies to select the ingredients and here's what Frank prepared:

He softened chopped shallots in a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, white wine and butter, then carefully melted a few ounces of Chèvre into the mixture until a thick, creamy sauce was achieved. Fresh rosemary and cracked, black pepper was thrown in, followed by big chunks of lobster tail, which took just a minute or two to cook through.

I just adore Chèvre. I think I'd eat a shock-absorber if it was covered in Chèvre.

The lobster mixture was poured over a bed of seasoned rice (which he had embellished with sautéed shittaki mushrooms, diced celery, minced garlic and fresh thyme). A fluffy, broiled crabcake was served on the side. As if we needed anything on the side. Perhaps a side of antiarrhythmic drugs would've been more appropriate. A side of treadmill. A side of a permanent girdle.

To cut the richness he served a chilled 2005 Saint-Péray white from the northern Rhône wine region of France.

For dessert -- oh, yes, we actually ate dessert -- he made CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES! I confess to making that request. I see the word "cheese" and go into a trance.

Must. Have. More. Cheese.

Everything was divine. It was a scrumptuous Valentine's treat.

Mind yer head

Admit it: Aren't we all just a teensy bit keraunothnetophobic?
Farewell, USA 193; please don't land on me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not exactly Louvre-worthy

But a thing of beauty, nonetheless. This 2003 Bordeaux is from the Médoc appellation, and as we wine snobs like to say, it was freaking delicious. It was fruity, and chocolatey, with none of those "pencil shavings" or "peat" flavors that are sometimes attributed to wine. The last taste I want in my mouth when I'm sipping a fine wine is "manure nugget".

Come to think of it, that's the last taste I want in my mouth. Period.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

France away from France

What kind of gourmand (and bona fide wino) would I be if I didn't share with you one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore? The Brasserie Tatin is a neighborhood joint where we go when we're in the mood for a taste of Paris. This place is quite similar to the Restaurant Le Bosquet. Not too formal, not too expensive. The food is marvelous, and the wine list isn't too shabby, either.

We ordered the Prix Fixe, which consisted of Les Hors d’Oeuvres: escargots in a puff pastry for Frank, and broiled scallops in a bourbon cream sauce for me; Les Plats: steak frites for Frank and a lamb shank for me; and Dessert: Marjolaine Le Bec Fin for us both.

This is the way the dessert is described on the menu: "Hazelnut meringue layered with chocolate mousse, hazelnut buttercream & whipped cream, glazed with ganache."

This is the way I describe it: Perfect.

Our clever server, Divya, talked us into ordering a bottle of wine instead of settling for the minute portions offered as the prix fixe wine-pairing. She actually had to wrestle me to the ground, holding a butter knife to my throat before I gave in. Uncle! Uncle! Okay, I'll do it.

The host/owner/sommelier extraordinaire Marc Dettori recommended the Saint-Julien Bordeaux, Chateau Talbot 2002 because it was "soft and beautiful". He was right on the money. We both enjoyed it immensely: Frank, with his one-glass-allotment, and me, with the rest of the bottle.

What was the occasion for this delectable outing, you might ask. Simple. I had just visited my favorite salon so I needed to take my hair out to dinner.

Does a girl need a better reason than that?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Room with a 'View

Ahhh, yes: The Interview. Many are wondering how I fared on my first interview in 15 years. Here is the blow-by-blow account of the entire event, which I am forever referring to as The Debacle.

First, The Outfit. I selected a black, knit dress that fell to the knee with black, leather boots and belt. The only embellishment was simple, silver jewelry. Very understated: Elegant without being flashy, professional yet playful, neither too young nor too old, neither too stuffy nor too casual. These were the adjectives I imagined as I dressed. Sassy! Classy! Chic! My boss took one look at me that morning and complimented my attire by saying, "You're looking very Goth today."

Yes, that's exactly the look I was going for: Gothic. Look, it's not like I had a leather whip tucked under my belt. The black dress just happened to be the only one that fit. It was either that or the ultra-tight bronze skirt that makes me look like a malformed sausage link.

Next, The Hair. I took extra time styling my 'do and then -- god help me, what was I thinking?! -- I decided to try a new product that should be called Helmet Head for Hos. Suddenly my fluffy, breezy, shiny, Breck-girl locks were molded to my skull like a wax wig, and there was no way to undo the damage. Especially not by applying a bit more goop, as I tragically discovered. When I got to my desk a co-worker smiled pathetically and asked, "What happened?"

After that, The Drive. Thank goodness I gave myself 2 hours to reach the office in Washington, DC (even though it's only a 15 minute commute from my office in VA) because I got terribly lost after taking the wrong exit and found myself in a trash-strewn, burned-out, chop-shop wasteland where men think nothing of yelling, "Hey lady! Hey lady!" Really, what is that all about? Am I supposed to pull over and ask them what they want? "Oh, hey there scary-looking stranger, are you talking to me? Wow, that really is a gun in your pocket! Here, take my purse and car keys while you're at it."

Next, The Arrival. I got to my destination with 8 minutes to spare, and as luck would have it -- good luck for a change -- there was a parking space right out front. The HR person met me at the front desk and exclaimed, "You look beautiful!" Let me just say to any HR people out there: What a BRILLIANT thing to do! Seriously, I suddenly forgot that I had been driving around for 2 hours with my heart in my throat, and that my hair looked like crap, and that I was dressed like Johnny Cash. It was a nice little boost to my confidence. I sailed into the interviewing chamber like a runway model.

Then, The Interview. Things started off beautifully with the three of us -- me and 2 interviewers -- laughing, chatting and swapping IT horror stories. I thought I had it in the bag, as the saying goes. We were all smiling, nodding, saying the right things, such as, How soon can you start? Is two weeks soon enough?

And finally, The Debacle. We were wrapping up, when suddenly one of the interviewers decided to ask 2 technical questions that completely derailed me. Up until that moment I was calm and confident. Suddenly the room began to fade in and out, black and white, my brow began to sweat and it felt as though I was looking down upon myself from the fluorescent light fixture, where I could see my hideous hair-do and watch my nervous gestures as I feebly tried to distract them. I mean, answer them. It occurred to me that I might faint, and I hoped that if I did faint I would do so in a lady-like fashion, none of this legs akimbo and my dress scrunched around my ears business, as has happened in the past. Don't worry... That wasn't during an interview; that happened at Memorial Stadium. Yes, I sure do like to please the big crowd! I began to wonder if fainting might help me get the job -- the ol' damsel-in-distress ploy -- no matter where the dress ended up. Still, I'm certain my chances would be slightly better if I didn't expose my enormous bottom on our first meeting. Though clearly I was doing that anyway.

I stuttered and stammered through what seemed like an eternity, but was really just a few minutes. Both men were looking at me with a queer sort of curiosity usually reserved for meat products formed using tofu. They both pushed their chair back, slapped their hands on their lap and proclaimed that they had enough information, very nice to meet you, someone will show you out, etc.

Lastly, The Debriefing. Mary Beth and I headed to The Dubliner in order to dissect the entire episode. The Guinness stout helped to ease the embarrassment as I recounted the last, crucial five minutes of the meeting. Mary Beth assured me that it wasn't as bad as I imagined, but I think that was just the booze talking.

It's been exactly a week since that fateful day and I haven't heard a peep, so I guess it wasn't meant to be.

C'est la vie! Me and my bronze skirt are ready to dazzle the next prospect. Now who's in the mood for a sausage?