Monthly Archives: May 2009

Manhattan Clam Chowder. And Hot Dogs.

The Beast and I made hot dogs for lunch on Sunday. I wanted to BBQ them and he wanted them steamed. He won in the end because he offered to prepare them which meant that I could sit in my sun room reading the latest Life & Style. He even steamed the buns. After our lunch, the Beast left for work. This is when my Sundays really start to roll. I do a little grocery shopping, maybe some laundry, eat fancy cheese and olives and watch either Jamie Oliver or reruns of Sex in the City while reclining Roman-style on the couch. And eventually I end up in the kitchen where I put together a nice Sunday night dinner. Last Sunday, I decided on Manhattan-style clam chowder. The Manhattan part means it has a tomato base rather than a cream one. I got the recipe from a former colleague  at Swan restaurant. It’s very easy to make:photo[1]

-Get out your Creuset or other such pot, cut up streaky bacon, and cook it until it’s nice and crispy.
-Set your bacon bits aside and drain off any fat.
-Then add more fat, in the form of a couple of knobs of butter.
-Add (diced up of course) a carrot, two celery twigs, two garlic cloves, and an onion. Get nice and brown.
-Then add two diced Yukon Gold potatoes and let them soak up some of that goodness in your pot.
-Then add a glass of white wine, and toss in all that crispy bacon.
-When that’s been nearly soaked up, add a can of nice plum tomatoes (mushed up), and two cans of clams (all the juice too.)
-Stick in a bay leave, and let the whole thing simmer for a while.
-Don’t forget to season everything as you go along.
-Right before serving, add a whack of fresh dill

With some nice, crusty buttered bread this is a meal fit for a foodie or a beast. Throw in a couple episodes of the HBO series Rome and who knows what will happen:

Foodie: How do you like the chowder?

Beast: I forgot how much explicit sex there is in this series! Countless breasts, a few female full-frontals–do they show penis? I can’t remember.  

Foodie:  I believe so.

Beast:  We should count them.

Foodie: I’m getting seconds. Do you want more?

We paused our show to get more chowder, and in the kitchen the Beast had a food epiphany:

Beast: Are you going to take the left-overs to work tomorrow for your lunch?

Foodie: I have a salad all made up to take (I used left-over bacon that I fried up for the chowder and added it to an arugola salad with some fresh pear and goat cheese. It will be either really tasty, or gross.)

Beast: (Looking over at the hot dog buns we’d left out after our lunch) Because I have an idea–

Foodie: Oh no you don’t! I’m onto you!! You want to put the clam chowder onto hot dogs don’t you!

Beast: It will be like a chili dog but it’ll be a chowder dog!

Foodie: No. I won’t allow it. I’m taking the chowder. I’m doing you a favour you know–clams and hot dogs in your stomach all at once? No. Just no. Not even the Romans would stoop so low.photo

Beast: But they were just eating stuffed door mice!

Foodie: No way bucko.   Now let’s go counts some cocks.

The chowder was even better at lunch time.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***

McDonald’s

The Beast and I met at the Dundas Street West subway station after work so that we could take the Roncesvailles street car home together. I needed his help carrying trays of plants home from our corner grocery store. Our deck is littered with empty terracotta pots waiting to be filled with herbs and other green things.

Foodie: What do you want for dinner tonight?

Beast: I have no idea.

Foodie: How about spaghetti?

Beast: No thank you.

Foodie: Well, if we decide what we’re having now, we can pick up groceries and then we don’t have to leave the house again. I only suggested spaghetti because we have all the makings for it at home. This is what being an adult is like you see. You have to plan–

Beast: We could just take the streetcar all the way down to Queen Street and get McDonald’s.

My initial reaction was to scrunch up my face in a “I’m not that kind of lady” way but the scrunching gave way to contemplation: If we got McDonald’s, dinner would be taken care of, it would be cheap, and because I can’t remember the last time I had a Big Mac, it would most likely be delicious.

Foodie: Yes. I say Yes! Let’s go to McDonald’s!photo

The Beast ordered two double cheeseburgers, two junior chicken sandwiches and two pies–one apple and one strawberry. I ordered my Big Mac and large french fries. It cost $15 and change. I sat at our table while the Beast waited for our order to be prepared. And that’s when I had the feeling that we’d made a terrible mistake. Everybody around us looked so sad: old people were dining alone; overweight teenage girls talked on their cell phones while their little kids ran all about the place–even outside to Queen Street; families ate in complete silence, except for the occasional whine from a young girl old enough to know about verb usage: “me ice cream!” But the scene that nearly put me over the edge was a woman who left her dirty tray on the table and walked out–even though there were people waiting for a place to enjoy their dinner. Thank goodness the Beast came over with our goods.

Foodie: You see that woman? She just left an entire tray of garbage on her table! Who does that?

Beast: (silence…he’d already consumed one of four sandwiches.)

Foodie: I feel funny in here. It’s not like Harvey’s on the Queensway. That place is filled with people who are pretty darn pleased about eating delicious food, and pleased about the human condition in general.  But this place…it’s filled  with despair.  Nobody’s talking to each other. They’re just eating like animals.

Beast: (eating like an animal)

My McDonald’s meal inspired me with a few revelations: I’m glad I decided not to have kids when I was 16, and that fast food is really fast.  Convenient, and cheap too.  We were finished eating by 6:00pm, there were no groceries to buy, no dishes to be done, and we had a leisurely walk home. While the Beast made noise in his music jungle, I had time to pick up a few plants, plant the plants, scrub my fingernails clean of dirt, watch The Bourne Identity while painting my nails pink, drink cheap wine, and fall asleep during the bonus features. But next time, I think I’ll take my Big Mac home to eat, or try another location.  Suggestions are welcome.  

Foodie: *

Beast: **

We got Deluxed

The Beast and I met outside The Black Hoof last Tuesday for his birthday dinner. But the Black Hoof is closed on Tuesdays. Like a little baby African gazelle trying to escape the hungry clutches of a very hungry lion or hippo or zebra, I reacted quickly and recited names of other restaurants within walking distance in hopes of soothing the Beast’s disappointment at not being able to eat balls or brain.

Foodie: What about Foxley? We haven’t been there in a while! Or some place new, like Pizza Libretto?

Beast: I know where I want to go and it’s right around the corner.

Foodie: Oh goodie! You want to go to Grace, right?

Beast: No. California sandwiches.

Foodie: What?! It’s your birthday dinner! You can choose anyplace you want!

Beast: I just did!

Foodie. You know what. You’re right. Let’s go to California. I’m sorry. It’s just that I was excited to do a new blog post (California–been there, done that), and I’m letting my own motives get in the way.

Beast: What I really want is steak. And mussels too with frites.

Foodie: This is progress…this is good!

Beast: What about that place run by that Cuban lady on Ossington where we went and you had the fish and I had the steak that one time?

photoThat place is Deluxe. And the lady is Corinna Mozo. I couldn’t have been happier to take the Beast there. Much to my surprise we were warmly greeted by a former colleage, Svetlana–a Bulgarian beauty who’s humoured me at wine tastings with her inspired and uncanny wine descriptions. She’s now managing Deluxe. As we settled into our adorable window table, two glasses of sparkling wine (Cava, I think) appeared before us. Capably serving the near-packed house were two more former colleagues, who both went out of their way to say hello and make us feel welcome. I think the Beast may have been a little shell-shocked by all the attention. I had to act fast.

Foodie: What’s wrong?

Beast: Nothings wrong. I’m just reflecting on my life. I’m 26 now and I haven’t accomplished anything.

Foodie: Oh boy. It’s going to be that sort of night then, is it? Why don’t I order you some food right away. I bet your blood sugar is just low. How about the oysters? They’ll be so nice with the bubbly!

Beast: (sighs) Okay. They’re supposed make you want to have sex you know.photo[1]

Foodie: There you go kiddo! You’re sounding better already!

Tonight they were shucking little guys from BC called Kusshi oysters-served with a Champagne-shallot mignionette.

Foodie: I love tiny oysters better than big, fleshy ones. But you know what, I don’t care for fancy sauces. I want a squeeze of lemon and that’s it.

Beast: No, not even lemon. Just the oyster in all its glory.

The menu at Deluxe is well-curated: they have 5 or 6 selections each of appetizers, mains and desserts. Before we’d indulged in our last oyster, the Beast and I knew exactly what we’d be eating: To start, mussels in a curried broth and the Cuban pressed sandwich: a decadent layering of of gruyere, grainy mustard, cornichons, red onion and a whack of cider-cured pork shoulder. I’d follow with the sablefish served with fingerling potatoes and steamed clams in a smokey “chowda” sauce. And the Beast would get his steak frites, along with a little watercress salad. Svetlana came over to find out what we’d be drinking with our food.

Svetlana: (in a thick-but-charming Bulgarian accent that sounds a bit French) Listen, you need to try this Ontario Riesling–and don’t let the name of the winery disinterest you. They’re out of Beamsville and they’re called Organized Crime! The name refers to some sort of feud between two feuding Mennonite churches who were fighting over a pipe organ. Anyway, this Riesling is oily, slick and woolly, sort of like a Newfoundland fisherman’s sweater.

Foodie: Wow. I don’t know if I can afford not to try it. He (nodding to the melancholy Beast) will stick with beer, but I’ll try whatever wines you want me to, especially anything from Ontario because I want to be converted. Convert me Svetlana.

Svetlana: Perfect! After your riesling you have to try this Cab Franc. I like to think of it as a young girl in a skirt running in a flowered meadow. It’s so perfumy and beautiful!

The Beast’s eyes widened ever-so-slightly.

Svetlana: We also have this Ontario Pinot Noir and you’d never guess in a million years it wasn’t French. It possesses Italian rusticity at first but then opens up like a Burgundy–like a French man who lives like a peasant but who’s still snooty when he goes into Paris for a visit. It’s from Lailey in Niagara. They also make a Syrah that’s like liquid steak in a glass.

Beast: I will try that thank you.

IMG_0872And then our appetizers arrived. They looked so impressive that the couple who sat down beside us said, “we’ll have exactly what they’re having.”

Beast: (quietly) They’re not having exactly what we’re having because they don’t know that these are just appetizers and that we still have more to come.

Foodie: They couldn’t handle what we’re having man. Look how itty-bitty she is.

Beast: And she took off her shoes. That’s disgusting. You know what? I think I’ll call my album, The First Punic Wars. And the follow up will be The Second Punic Wars.

IMG_0873

Foodie: How the fuck do you know about the Punic Wars?

Beast: I started reading some History of the Ancient World book. It’s yours I think.

Foodie: Ask me anything you want about ancient Greek or Roman history and I’ll tell you the answer. Example: Who were the architects of the Parthenon? Iktinos and Kallikrates. Snap.

Beast: When were the Punic Wars?

Foodie: Moving on, they’re playing really nice music. Did you notice?

Beast: It’s Johnny Hodges. He taught Sidney Bechet and he was an alto saxophonist in the 30’s for Duke Ellington.

Foodie: Well look at you! 26 years old and you know all about the Punic Wars and Johnny whats-his-name!

Beast: I know what you’re trying to do and I don’t like it. But go on–you might be getting through.

Our mains were both beautifully presented and delicious. I don’t have any documentation though because I got carried away with eating them. The Beast and I were so stuffed that we decided to skip dessert and go straight for espresso.

IMG_0876

Apparently this wouldn’t do for Svetlana because a delightful chocolate pot of some sort appeared alongside our caffeine. Somehow we managed to consume it in its entirety.

But Svetlana still wasn’t satisfied. She brought over three red wines for us to sample; the Lailey Pinot Noir, another Ontario Pinot from Rosewood Estates, and the liquid steak, aka, the Lailey Syrah. And then, much to my surprise, the Beast began to swirl the reds around in their glasses and sample them all.

Beast: This is the peasant one, right? She was bang on. It is floral.

Foodie: (mouth agape in shock.) I don’t remember which one it is but if you say so-

Beast: Which one’s the liquid steak? Here it is. (Sticking his nose into the glass’s bowl) It’s peppery don’t you think?

Foodie: Yes it is! This is so much fun! What a nice birthday you’re having!

Beast: I would have been satisfied with California sandwiches and a PBS documentary. But yes, this is very nice. Thank you so much.

Deluxe was more than nice. If we lived close by I have a feeling the Beast and I would make this a regular dining spot. You can eat like our skinny table neighbours did and share a few dishes, or you can dine like you’re preparing for the next ice age. Either way, the bill won’t scare you. The food, the wine, the room and the service are all extremely classy, but comforting. Sort of like the Parthenon with a few throw-cushions and chaise lounges in the cella and everything’s illuminated with Danish designer lights and everybody is filled to the gills with good food and unbuttoning their $200 jeans–some of which are strategically ripped– and sipping and swirling their Ontario vino with a little jazz by that Johnny guy playing in the background.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***

Footnote: The First Punic Wars were fought between 264 and 241 BC and the Second between 218 to 201 BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burgers at Allen’s

sunroomScene:  Sunday morning.  The Beast is getting ready for work and is in the shower.  The Foodie has just gotten out of bed.  She grabs the morning paper from the porch, prepares herself a cup of coffee and settles into the sun room in her favourite chair.  She suspects the Beast needs attention because he’s toweling off right beside her, but she does her best to concentrate on the Sunday Star.  

Beast:  Did you finish your Allen’s post yet?

Foodie:  No I didn’t as a matter of fact.  Did you finish putting away all those books in the living room?

Beast:  You know what?  You knew who I was getting into this relationship.  

Foodie:  What’s that supposed to mean?

Beast:  Listen, I am an intellectual!  And I probably have a mild case of ADD.  And OCD. That means that at any given time, I’m reading many important books because I’m interested in many things.  Is that a crime?

Foodie:  You know what?  I used to be interested in a lot of things too but now all I get to do in my spare time is cook and clean!  And now instead of reading Goethe in the morning, like I used to when I was smart…and…and full of angst, I grab Life & Style instead!  I NEED TO READ GARBAGE TO RELAX.  Is that a crime?

Beast:  We both have problems.  I’m not proud of myself you know.  I think we just need to be more accepting of each other.

Foodie:  How many stars are you going to give the burgers at Allen’s?

Beast:  I don’t know.  Two and a half?IMG_0848

Foodie:  Do we agree that they were delicious?

Beast:  Yes.

Foodie:  Do you agree that the service was really lovely?

Beast: Yes.

Foodie:  Do you know you’re standing naked in a glass room?

Beast:  I think I prefer skinnier fries though, not thick-cut.

Foodie:  Me too.  Would it be safe to assume that you like the supreme summertime burgers I make better?  (Simple, beef burgers seasoned with a little salt and pepper, served with a mix of both traditional and gourmet toppings including avocado spread, caramelized onions, and Kraft cheese slices.  They must be served on white Wonder Bread buns–or similar brand.  Just as long as they’re plain and white and they never go stale because of the additives in them.)

Beast:  Yes.

Foodie.  Well good.  It looks like we’re friends again.  Now what do you want for your birthday dinner?  I’ll make you anything.

Beast:  I thought you were taking me to The Black Hoof?

Foodie:  I am on Tuesday night, but I’m talking about tomorrow night, when my brother and his wife come over to celebrate all three of you being born in May.

Beast:  Steak and your mushroom risotto.

Foodie:  Sounds excellent.  I’m making stuffed peppers for the two of us for dinner tonight. So you better stop being naked in front of me because I have a shit load of work to do today. Groceries, LCBO, pick up cupcakes, make birthday cards, laundry…

Beast:  You really don’t have to do this at all.  I don’t even want to celebrate my birthday.  I just want somebody to buy me a tuba.

Foodie:  (Shakes head in disbelief.)  

End Scene.

IMG_0856I was a machine today.  I got everything done that needed to get done.  My stuffed peppers are in the oven now.  I’m a bit worried that they’ll be very dry because we ran out of tin foil. An hour into their cooking, I turned off the oven and rode my bike to the corner store to buy some.  They’re secured under foil now but the damage may already be done.

I also prepped dinner for tomorrow night, which feels great.  And now I’m about to taste-test that cheap FuZion shiraz-malbec blend from Argentina that everybody flips over.  It’s only $7.45.  I’ll tell you up front that I’m skeptical.  

This wine sucks.  I’m going to watch Gossip Girl.

Allen’s Burger:  Beast  **1/2     Foodie  **1/2

Shanging it at Madeline’s

We finally did it:  we went out for a non fast-food dinner, and it was glorious.   I caught wind of one of the many recession specials in the city last week via “Chuck,” a lovely young guy who’s a regular at the restaurant where I work.  Chuck works for Susur Lee and mentioned that Madeline’s (Susur’s newish restaurant) was doing a five course tasting menu from Shang (Susur’s other newish restaurant in NYC), for only $60 per person.  Even better was the dollar corkage fee Monday through Wednesday nights in April.  But best was when Chuck told me to include my last name when I made the reservation so that he could “V.I.P.” me.  I don’t know what that means exactly, but I needed to find out.  

So the last night that the special Shang menu was on offer, the Beast and I reserved ourselves a table.  

Foodie:  I’m going to ask about the corkage fee, just to make sure it’s for real.  Will you look at this table!  It’s an amazing table, don’t you think?  Do you think we got this table because we’ve been V.I.Ped?

Beast:  Stop being such a spaz!

Foodie:  I’m just excited!  We haven’t been out in eons.  The tasting menu looks amazing. Thank God there’s nothing formerly feathered being served because if there was duck or squab or pigeon, I mean, I’d have to try it but I’d be so upset about the whole thing.  We are in luck mister oh yes we are!!!  Let’s order cocktails!  

img_0751Beast:  (looks frightened.)  

Ordering was easy:  two Shang tasting menus, no allergies and no finicky tastes; one gin martini for the Beast and a rhubarb & gin concoction for me.  Our server was young yet professional, but not too professional as to make us feel funny for being in a fancy restaurant.

Foodie:  She was lovely, don’t you think?  You read all sorts of stories about bad service at Susur’s restaurants.  I’ve never had bad service here, or at Lee.  And she didn’t even make me feel funny when I asked if the corkage fee was really only a dollar.

Beast:  Why would she?

Foodie:  This is my first time corking at a restaurant.  Did you like that?  I just made that verb usage up.

Beast:  It’s good.

Foodie:  I suspect that corking can kind of be like a thorn in a server’s side because instead of us paying lots of money on a bottle of wine, which we would presumably tip on, we brought our own bottle in and we’re just being charged a dollar for it. I think servers get especially annoyed when people bring in a seven dollar bottle of some Argentinian malbec to save a buck. Civilized people like us bring in a special bottle that might not be available on the restaurant’s list.  That’s why I brought that bottle of Burgundy you gave to me in my Christmas stocking.  

Beast:  You did?  I thought you brought a normal bottle.  

Foodie:  Say again?

Beast:  Well I’m fairly certain I paid about $85 for it.  I wrote down all the words from that other bottle of Burgundy you have in the cellar (that’s the Ikea wooden shelf thing that sits on top of the fridge) and brought it into an LCBO and a nice employee told me you’d flip over this one.

I need to address this Burgundy bit.   Having worked in an Italian restaurant that only serves Italian wine (albeit, incredible Italian wine that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Toronto), I know next to nothing about wines from other countries.  I’ve heard that a place called France makes pretty good juice.  And I learned this unequivocally about a year and a half ago in NYC.   Michelle, one of best buddies, and I were there for our birthdays visiting a mutual friend, Brie, who at the time was working as a wine agent.  To celebrate our big day(s), Brie took us to the Waverly Inn for dinner.  (Mom, the Waverly Inn is like the coolest restaurant ever.  It’s so cool they don’t even have a listed address or phone number. Paparazzi wait outside because so many celebrities eat there.)  Anyway, the night will always hold a special place in my heart not only because the lovely staff treated us like Beyonce and her posse, and because of the incredible food (mac and cheese with obscene amounts of white truffle shaved on top tableside) but also because of the wine, in particular, a bottle of 1995 Burgundy, Nuit St. Georges, Cru Coron Pere et Fils (I wrote it down).  It changed my life.  It contained everything I crave in a wine:  red, bordering on ripe, black fruit, like the first cherries of the season and black currents, tons of herbal bits, a smack in the face of anise, and aged just long enough in oak to detect it, but not so long so that the wine tastes like dessert.  I became slightly obsessed with Burgundy afterwards. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to replicate the experience with purchases of bottles under $50.  The Beast, dear thing that he is, wrote down the specs from my night at the Waverly, which is how I ended up with a bottle of Burgundy in my bag.  

img_0752The first course arrived during our cocktails:  It was white peppercorn marinated skirt steak with pinenut brown butter, parsnip potato puree and some frisee greens.

Server:  Shall I open up your bottle of wine for you?

Foodie:  Ah, sure.  How do we do this?  Do I just give it to you out of my bag?  That seems a bit crass, no?

Server:  No, not at all.  I just have to bring it through the restaurant to make it legit and come back with glasses.

Foodie: Well then, here you go.

Server: (examining the bottle).  Very nice!  I’ll be right back.

Foodie:  Did you hear that?  Are you going to drink some too?  You can order beer you know.

Beast:  Not on your life.  

The Shang tasting menu was constructed in typical Susur fashion:  we began with the heaviest course and finished with the lightest.  We were both shocked at the substantial portion size of our perfectly cooked skirt steaks.  

img_0755The server came back, opened the wine without fanfare and away we went.

Foodie:  Okay.  Oh my God.  Oh my God.  I’m going to cry.

Beast:  Is it okay?

Foodie:  (Fighting back tears.)  This is perfect.  It’s what am always trying to find during the week for my home-time wine but I can never make it happen at $15 to $20 a bottle.  

Beast:  Wow.  This is good.  It’s delicious in fact.  What wrong?

Foodie:  I’m just so happy you like it!  You get it now, right?  And this calibre of wine would sell here for at least $250, which means we would never be able to experience what we’re experiencing right now; this combination of remarkable food and memorable wine, if it weren’t for us corking.

Beast:  How many more times tonight do you think you can use “corking” in a sentence?

img_0753The second course, sauteed black tiger shrimp served on artichoke szechwan ratatouille with a celery root blini, was just as satisfying as the first.  

Beast:  Whoa.  This is spicy.

Foodie:  Too spicy?

Beast:  No (gulping down water.)

Server:  How is everything here.

Foodie:  It’s wonderful.  This is nice and spciy.

Server:  Yes it is but don’t worry-we cools things right down with the next course.

img_0754And that they did:  sashimi of big eye tuna in a spoon with marinated artichoke, a potato puff ball, and a truffle vinaigrette.  It was hard to get the whole thing in your mouth, but worth every effort.

Foodie:  Oh look–it’s Arsinoe whatchimicallit.  She’s married to…you know…that director…Exxotica…

Beast:  Atom Egoyan.

Foodie:  Yes!

Beast: Stop staring.

Foodie: Don’t worry.  I used to serve them all the time and their little boy who’s so sweet-

Beast:  You know, just because you’ve served famous people doesn’t mean you’re friends with them.  

Foodie: Well, I think Renee Zellwegger might beg to differ–

img_0756The arrival of the fourth course saved the Beast from my “Serving Celebrities: an Autobiography.” monologue.  It was steamed tofu custard with creamed spinach, shitake, king erangi and wood ear mushrooms, and soya juice.  I must admit, I thought this vegetarian dish would be a flop-especially to the Beast.

Beast:  Okay, this is my favourite one.

Foodie: Are you fucking serious?

Beast:  Never in my wildest dreams did I think tofu could taste like this.

The Beast was bang on.  This tofu just sat on your tongue and then disappeared into mouth heaven leaving just a pleasurable memory of what it had once been.

Foodie:  You know what’s sad is that all the people who read my blog won’t be able to experience this because today is the last day.   But I think everybody likes reading more about our relationship than the food.  I think that’s what makes my blog unique.

Beast:  Ah, I don’t think it’s unique.  First of all, you lie about everything I say and steal my jokes to make you look more clever, and second of all, didn’t that Julie lady talk about her relationship in her Julie and Julia blog?  

Foodie.  Fuck that was a good idea.  (This Julie cooked all 536 recipes from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 days, and she blogged about her kitchen–and relationship–adventures and mishaps along the way. Then she got to write a book and now there’s a movie coming out starring Merryl Streep as Julia Child.)  Maybe somebody will make Foodie and the Beast into a movie!

Beast:  Dermot Mulroney will play me.

Foodie:  What?  No, Robert Pattinson will, from Twilight.  And I’ll play myself and I’ll get to kiss him.

Beast:  That would be really inappropriate.  You’re probably 15 years older than–

img_0758Foodie:  Oh look!  Here’s dessert.

It was a warm molten chocolate cake with hazelnut chocolate crunch and vanilla bean ice cream.  I must admit to being slightly snobbish when it comes to all these fucking lava cakes served up everywhere–only because I believe that one of my best friends, Giovanna Alonzi, makes the ultimate version:  her torta calda al cioccolato served at a restaurant called “Terroni” is my benchmark for every chocolate bomb.  The Shang molten cake was a very close second to Gio’s, which is still pretty darn good.

Foodie:  (To our server)  Would you mind bringing us two espressos and the bill please?  I didn’t realize we’d been here for so long and I know you folks have a pretty tight reservation program.  I’m sorry-

Server:  Are you kidding?  You two can stay all night!  

Foodie:  (To the Beast)  Do you think she said that because we’re V.I.Ps?

Beast:  (Just shakes his head.)  

Doesn’t matter.  From the food to the service to the corking, we had a perfect evening.

Foodie:     ****

Beast:     ****