Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grown Up Food

How great are date nights?  Before we had kids I totally took for granted how easy it was to have a lovely dinner out.  Now that we've got's a whole different story!  We rarely go out to dinner (since our kiddos are in bed by 7:30)........and when we do, they had better have chicken nuggets and french fries on the menu, or our 5 year old will not eat.

We do manage to go to dinner a couple of times a month (without kids!) with two other couples that are some of our dearest friends (we love you guys!).  We always have a fabulous time, and we've had a great time exploring some fantastic restaurants in LA.  Our current favorites are Craft (gotta love Tom Colicchio) and Mastro's Steakhouse (we are in no way vegetarians).

Monday night we went out to dinner for our friend's birthday to Gjelina, in Venice.  We had heard great things about this place, so we expected some great food!  And no chicken nuggets anywhere to be found on the menu!

First off we ordered drinks.  I am not a wine drinker at all (although I would love to be, it's just not my thing), but being a German, I am absolutely a beer drinker!  When we go out we love having Chimay ale (you've got to try it if you've never had it before), but at Gjelina the only Beligium ale they had was St. Feuillien.  Let me just say that as soon as I find this at the store, I will be buying some!  It comes in giant bottles, so it's good for a couple of people.

Most of the dishes are small tapas style we just ordered a ton of stuff to share as a table.  The menu changes everyday, so you'll only find stuff that is in season and at it's best.  The boys ordered some oysters (not my thing), which they almost always do.....while the girls were checking out the many dishes on the menu with burrata (one of the most divine cheeses ever invented).  We had an heirloom tomato salad with burrata, an eggplant caponata, as well as a beet salad (sorry, not my thing).  But the highlight of all of the salads for me was grilled nectarines with burrata and arugula, and simple!  I am so going to make this at home!

Then we started trying some of the pizzas........pomodoro (wood fired with only a tomato sauce on top.....and you place some cheese on top......great for the lactose-intolerant hubby), and a gruyere pizza with caramelized onions and arugula.  But the favorite was a mushroom toast with truffle oil.  Seriously, I think we were all dreaming of this the next day, it was that good!!

Ok, I admit that on the dark patio, using only my iphone.....the food pictures are not the best.....but you gotta believe me that this was delicious!!  Then came some meat......the boys had been waiting!  We tried three different meat dishes.......a grilled skirt steak (pretty good), some braised pork meatballs cooked in a tomato sauce (really good), and a crispy pork belly served with polenta (amazing!!).

Last but definitely not least we had a couple of desserts.  Yeah, even after all that food, we always manage to save room for dessert.....

But can you believe that none of my dessert pictures came out!!??!!  I'm the Sweet Swiper after all........I'm supposed to do dessert!  Ack!!  We had a Butterscotch Pot de Creme with Salted Caramel Sauce that was simply out of this world!!  It's amazing how great a well done pudding can be.  And anything tastes better with salted caramel sauce! (well, almost anything)  Let me just say that I've located the recipe, and as soon as I have it made at my house, that will be going up on the blog :)

Great night out......great food, great friends!  The hubby's #1 complaint.....the music was just waaaayyyyy to loud where we were sitting!  He's got very sensitive ears, and at one point resorted to stuffing paper in his ears to keep from getting a headache.  So an almost perfect night........

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