Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WIAW #5: eating for a hurricane

As most of you probably know, Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast a couple days ago. As you also know from m last entry, I've been in Disney World. And wouldn't you know, the hurricane cancelled my flight, and I'm stuck here in Disney for an extra 2 days (which means I'm going to miss Halloween- kind of like last year!)

Gee, darn. I know! ha. So this week's What I Ate Wednesday is more Disney food. Although to be honest, I'll probably be eating eggs and toast for the first few days that we're home, so I'd probably share Disney food this week anyway.

One problem with extending our vacation (aside from the fact that the weather has turned super cold here and we don't have any of our toasty warm New England fall clothes with us) is that it's another 2 days of seemingly unlimited food. I'm getting very scared of what the scale will say when I get home! At least I'm now used to more exercise from all the walking we're doing, so I'll be more likely to increase my exercise at home, and I know I'll be glad to return to my normal diet. Only eating restaurant food gets to me after a few days.

Cherry danish, Clint's choice. This was actually my favorite bun of the whole week! I had my usual decaf coffee with skim (well, 1% at Disney, they don't have skim here) milk and Clint had half a cup of black coffee- very unusual for him, but we couldn't find any tea bags or hot water (the hide the teabags now, I guess people used to swipe them. Not that I ever did, oh no.) As with every Disney bun, we split it.

 Over breakfast, I gazed lovingly at my new cookbook, purchased at Animal Kingdom the day before. I know, who buys cookbooks at Disney World? This girl! All the napkins you see stuck in it are marking recipes I can't wait to try. I didn't think to bring my tabbies on this trip, since I didn't bring along any Cooking Lights that'd need tabbifying, and I certainly didn't expect to buy a cookbook here.

 Then we moseyed on over to Epcot. I have to say, we've been exceptionally lazy this trip. I'm not sure if we were tired to start with, or worrying about the hurricane is taking its toll, or we're just getting old (boooo), but there are some days we didn't show up to the park until after 10!!!  Usually we try to be there in time to witness the opening show (failed at that so far, but it's been partly because the buses are super slow lately). However, if we're late, it means the food festival might be open when we walk by- we're now staying at the Boardwalk Resort, which means we can walk to Epcot but we enter at the International Gateway, not the main entrance, so we have to wait through the World Showcase (where the food fest is) which doesn't open til 11.

This particular day, we were late, so Clint grabbed an Irish Coffee as we passed Ireland. It's iced coffee (sweetened and milkified somehow) with potcheen added. Potcheen is apparently some ridiculously strong spirit made from barley and malt (which makes me think beer-like, but Clint says vodka) that you can't actually sell IN Ireland, it's only for export. You can taste that this coffee was alcoholic, but as I never sweeten my coffee, all I could really taste was the sugar. Still tasty, however!

Our lunch reservations were for 2pm, so we had a little second breakfast at noon.

Chicken souvlaki from Greece and a glass of moscofilero. I think I need this pita recipe, my pitas are good but definitely not like these! Also? Clint seems to have a change of heart regarding tzatziki! On one hand, yay! On the other hand... I may have to share my tzatziki in the future :(

We had lunch in France, where I enjoyed a very decadent Croque Monsieur

and Clint had a chicken florentine crepe (mine was better ;) )

I had a bite of my mom's mango sorbet (she dug in before I could photograph! oops)

Then we wandered. Our plan was to do one of the wine seminars, since we'd already done one and really enjoyed it (3 wine samples, probably about 3/4-1oz each, then someone from the winery talks about the wine), so Dad offered to run over to the food fest HQ and buy the tickets, but we did not consider the massive crowds that day, so all the wine seminars for the rest of the day and the next day were already sold out. Oops! So we went to the different countries, watched the France movie, and then once we'd digested lunch, we started in on more food- we'll call it "dinner" but it's a very loose term in this case.

Clint and I split everything, more or less equally.

We skipped dessert at the French restaurant so that we could try the baklava from Morocco. So good! I'm not sure why I spent so many years of my life thinking I didn't like baklava.
 Now, the food fest has passport books, where you can go to each booth and get a stamp. When you get all the stamps, you can go to the HQ for a completer stamp. Oooh! Yes, I mean like an inkpad kind of stamp, really unexciting. But we take this seriously. So at the Fife & Drum (which is actually a permanent snack booth at Epcot, so I always think it's a little odd that they join in the food fest, even with their usual coke products and turkey legs), we'd planned to only get a stamp- the special food fest menu additions were 2 frozen drinks using Red Stag whiskey. But I was thirsty and it was like 5pm by this point so I figured I'd try the frozen Red Stag lemonade. To my complete surprise, it was actually tasty! Also my most expensive food fest purchase at $9. It reminded me a lot of my Vermontucky Lemonade, just without the maple. I may not have shared this completely equally with my husband.
 Potato pierogi and kielbasa at Poland. I had the pierogi last year, but I don't remember that it had kielbasa with it. The pierogi was just as good as I remembered, and the kielbasa was, as kielbasa always is, delicious. The caramelized onions were a nice addition! As much as I like sour cream, I could have done without it in this dish.
 One of our favorites: beef empanada with Malbec. I think Clint was most excited about the empanada of all the things available (except maybe the chipotle chicken sausage from Canada, since that really is the best thing at the food fest), and it did not disappoint. I need to get this pastry recipe, when I've done empanadas the pastry is always more like pie crust, but this was not as buttery, and had almost a yeast-raised texture to it.
 I got the malbec because that's kind of a joke at work now- we get a lot of people in asking for malbecs, which, correct me if I'm wrong, don't often come from MA. We just don't have the climate for that varietal. One day a rather rude customer came in looking for a malbec. He grabbed a bottle of Chrystleton, which is elderberry and apple, and totally NOT in any way like a malbec (incidentally, I'm about the only employee that likes the Chrystleton, and now I get made fun of for it. Oh well, more for me!). He harassed many of us (luckily, not me) and everyone was so disgusted we still remember malbec guy. So I felt I should have a malbec.

We missed the wine seminar, but you don't need to sign up for free sampling! We tried Troy & Sons whiskey from Ashville, NC. I tried the normal colored stuff, Clint tried the clear stuff. I don't know the difference between them, but my non-whiskey drinker self could almost drink the whiskey-colored stuff but not the clear stuff.
They've been handing out free Ghirardelli milk chocolate caramel squares at the food fest HQ... so we're averaging one a day (each!).
 Back to the food! Beef filet with braai sauce (what is that? besides delicious. I need a recipe) and smashed potatoes with a glass of pinotage. I need to go back for a second helping of this beef filet before we leave!

From China, chicken satay. We were going to skip China and just get the stamp (since I generally don't like Chinese food, except for potstickers, which we had at lunch a few days before), but I saw some guy walking around with this so I wanted to try it. It was good! The chicken was cooked nicely, was not greasy, and the peanut sauce was quite tasty. It came with pickled cucumbers and mango. Of course, this is more Thai than Chinese... oh well.
 Another of our favorites, ropa vieja and frozen cherry lemonade (with Bacardi rum) from the Caribbean. So good! It's shredded beef in a slightly spicy, super tasty sauce. The olives add a sharp brininess that I love. The rice wasn't exciting but went well with the beef. And the cherry lemonade was kind of amazing... and I was nice and let Clint have most of it.

 Then it was time for dessert! At Champagne and Desserts we couldn't decide which to try, so we got the trio (which also saves 75 cents- $1.50 for each or $3.75 for all 3). Yogurt panna cotta with mango and raspberry purees, lemon custard with blueberry compote, and chili chocolate mousse with salted caramel sauce. I ate most of the panna cotta and I gave Clint the lemon custard (I like lemon but he  loooves lemon) and we fought over the chili chocolate mousse. We are both huge fans of the chili-chocolate combo!
 We did our best to lick the cups clean. It's too bad the spoons are so big compared to the cups, it's hard to get those last little bits!

And now you can see why I'm afraid of the scale! Well, my khaki capris still fit, and they're my big indicator of weight changes. My weight goal is my wedding weight (8lbs to go, as of the day we left for this trip), and I wore these khaki capris that summer, but not the next summer. To balance out all the food, we're walking a lot. I wanted to keep Clint's Nike running app on all day (since our pedometer is broken), but he said it eats up too much battery. On previous trips, we've always taken the boat to Epcot or Hollywood Studios, but this time we walked. It's about 1.5km to Hollywood Studios from our hotel and about the same to The Land, which is where we usually go first thing in Epcot, to ride Soarin'. And it's 1.3 miles around the World Showcase (not counting Futureworld at all) and we did that loop at least 1.5 times each day we went to Epcot, plus all the back and forth to the food fest HQ. Our favorite ride (Soarin'), which we go on twice a day, involves a half mile of walking (a cast member told me that). And that feels like nothing compared to all the other walking, so... again, I really wish our pedometer was working! Or that I could estimate distances better. This is the first year I've chosen to wear my sneakers (the year I had a bad bone bruise and my doctor demanded I wear sneakers doesn't count) most of the time, so my feet don't really hurt- until today, when I agreed to take the boat and had to wait about 15 minutes for it to show up. I'm just walking from now on! I would have been to our destination before the boat even arrived if I'd just walked.

Next week's WIAW will showcase homemade food! I'm already kind of done with restaurant food, I want something I make myself! Something like... fish kibbe from the cookbook above ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WIAW #4: Disney's Food and Wine Festival

Time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Or rather, What We Ate Wednesday. Clint and I are sharing a lot of food so that we can try more things.

Because we are at Disney's Food and Wine Festival! Yay hooray! I've been coming to Disney World since I was 4, and since high school, my parents and I come nearly every year. In 2008, Clint and I came down in October for a friend's wedding and we got our first taste (haha) of F&W. This was Clint's first exposure to Disney, so of course he loved it. I convinced my parents to switch their September Disney trip to October to take advantage of F&W, and ever since then, we've come in October. (It's really great being off the academic calendar!)

Now, this is an eating trip. I'm not counting calories, and we'll worry about what the scale says and how tight my pants are when I return. Luckily we walk several miles a day (and Clint's trying to squeeze in a daily run) so in the past, the damage hasn't been too bad.

Today I present to you: What We Ate At Our First Day At The Food Festival, Plus Tea Plus Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. i.e. lots of deliciousness.

We arrived at Epcot around 8:15am- it opened early for resort guests! I love these early opening days (well to be honest, I don't like getting up an hour earlier.... but it's nice to get a lot done before it's very crowded).

 We always eat breakfast at The Land, after we go on Soarin' and before we go on Soarin' a second time. Favorite ride, perhaps? Clint and I shared this: OJ for him, coffee and low fat milk for me, and home fries, bacon and biscuit for him and french toast (with honey, no real maple syrup here! pancake syrup, ew), sausage and eggs for me.

 We eagerly awaited 11:00am, when the World Showcase and the Festival opened. First stop, Craft Beers. Devil's Triangle IPA for Clint, Berry Weiss for mom, dad and me.

 Next stop, Hawaii. Clint got the Kona Porter and the tuna poke, of which I had a sip and a small bite, respectively (I didn't love the tuna). You can see my beautiful pink berry weiss on the right. Who doesn't love a pink beer?!?
 Mom got a pork slider with pineapple chutney from Hawaii.
 Ok, here's the best dish at the F&W: chipotle chicken sausage with sweet corn polenta and onion jam, from Canada. Also apple ice wine. The polenta here is creamy and sweet, and I'm sure this serving is probably like 800 delicious calories. Let's walk more!
 Dad got mead at Ireland, very tasty.
 Clint and I split the coq au vin with mac and cheese and a Pomegranate Kir cocktail at France. Delicious!! This is a very, very close second to the chicken chipotle sausage.
 From Morocco: Amazigh red wine (like a light shiraz, only a little more bitter, very interesting) and beef kefta pocket with a vinegary cabbage slaw. I have a recipe for something similar that we love- I haven't gotten around to blogging it, but it can be found here.
 Jen emailed me a couple days ago to tell me about the new frozen beer in Japan. I was intrigued so we got it! I don't love it, but I'm glad we tried it. It's a regular Kirin Ichiban beer with frozen head. The problem I found with it is that I'm used to frozen/slushy stuff being sweet, so this was a shock to my palette- even though I know beer isn't supposed to be sweet. It was just unexpected. However, the slushy beer on top seemed to keep the liquid beer cool for longer, which is a bonus in Florida.
 Then we got to the Florida Local kiosk, and I left the beer to Clint when I found their lime wine from Florida Orange Groves winer. Lime wine?!? I know! It tastes like a very light key lime juice, although still super limey (i.e. super good, I love lime). I need to check the alcohol content, because as far as I could tell, it wasn't alcoholic at all. But of course it is, since it's wine.

The lime wine is on the right, on the left is their white sangria, which is super sweet- maybe even more so after drinking the lime wine. I liked it, but I took a couple sips and gave the rest to mom, little ms. sweet wine drinker.
 Clint got the beef taco at Mexico, which was very tasty and a little spicy.
 Mom got the flan at Mexico- look how it's caramel colored all the way through! Very unlike what we're used to in flan. It kind of tasted like gjetost, which was awesome because mom and I love gjetost.
 Clint got shrimp on a barbie in Australia, which I actually did not taste at all- I had this last year, and remember it as being good, but VERY salty.
 Then we left Epcot and headed over to the Grand Floridian. After a spot of shopping (new Lilly dress for me!) at the hotel, we sat down for tea.

At the Garden View Lounge's afternoon tea, you can order a la carte items (scones, strawberries and cream, pastries, tea sandwiches, cheese, etc) or order a pre fixe kind of thing. I used to always order the Buckingham Palace (a pot of tea of your choice, plate of tea sandwiches, scone and jam tart, and pastries), and when we went a month after my wedding, we ordered the Grand Tea (same as Buckingham but also a glass of champagne). But a couple years ago, I tried pate for the first time with Gal M and Gal R, and fell in love. So now I order pate almost whenever I find it, including here. I get the Prince Edward tea:

Pate with stilton and bleu cheese, a glass of port, and tea (Shanghai Rose tea)... (and I didn't actually eat any crackers, the pate is so filling)'s a closer shot of the pate platter...
...and scones with devonshire cream, strawberry preserves and lemon curd (and here is a cup of mom's gingerbread tea).
 Mom and Dad both got the Buckingham Tea, and here is the sandwich plate that comes with that (I don't even know what everything is! But that little tart is a caramelized onion tart, and I kind of wish you could order a plate of just those, so yummy).
 Dad ended with strawberries and cream, as did Clint. Very pretty! We had to wait a bit to get these, the waitress said they had to run down to the bakery and we were like, what, why? There's no pastry with these. But probably for the decoration.

 The scones are my favorite part. I actually had 2 helpings of devonshire cream, Clint doesn't care for it, so ignored it on his scone plate and I put it to good use!
 Check out the lemon curd! Have you ever seen lemon curd like this? It was almost like frosting! I'm used to the more translucent kind.

Then it was time to change into our Halloween costumes and go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom!

We got lots of candy.
 Lots. I'm not kidding. This is my pile.
 This is Clint's pile.
Clint had 107 pieces of candy (including the peanut M&Ms, tootsie roll and Butterfinger that he ate, and the 2 Almond Joys and 2 Peeps that he gave me). I haven't counted up mine yet, but I was good- I only ate 2 tootsie rolls, 2 caramel apple Werthers (seriously, these things are delicious. I may have to buy a bag), and a twizzler. Mom just told me she got 136 pieces- but she told the guy handing out the Werthers that she loves them so he gave her about 15.

I can feel a sugar high coming on for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best pulled pork yet

No witty titles on this one, I am getting down to business.

We love pulled pork over here. Pork is our meat of choice, since we are recent converts and need to make up for lost time. Like many others, as children we were introduced to pork as "the other white meat", "other" indicating that it is dry, leathery and either tasteless or weird-tasting, and overall, rather unappetizing. (that being said, chicken was often dry and stringy, so it's a lost cause either way).

My conversion began about 9 years ago, during my 3rd year of grad school. One of my friends was engaged and she and her fiance bought a condo (incidentally, right next door to one of our other friends, which meant we all knew how to find her new place!). This friend happened to be marrying an excellent cook, which was great for her, and also for all of us (although less often). He cooked a few of us dinner one night, and the dinner was salad, pork tenderloin, smashed potatoes, onion cherry compote, and green beans. I am too polite to say, ugh I hate potatoes and pork. Instead, I helped myself to a huge portion of green beans and minimal amounts of pork and potatoes. Then I actually tasted the pork and had to go back for 2nds and 3rds. You see, this was my first introduction to properly cooked pork.

Brian pan seared the pork and then baked it, then used the drippings in the pan to saute onions and make a sauce/compote thing, adding dried cherries. AMAZING. It was so simple, I believe he cooked the entire thing before I finished my glass of wine (and I drank quickly in those days, my friends, as I was only 23). The key was not overcooking it. A slightly, barely pink center is good, that's what you want. If it's white all the way through, it's overdone and will be leathery. But I never knew this! I copied his recipe many times after that, and then started branching out to my own pork recipes.

But ever since, I keep pork tenderloins on hand. They're just so easy! Season, sear, bake til they're around 150, voila! What, like 15 minutes?

So, pork. Today's recipe doesn't use a pork tenderloin though, but tenderloins were the gateway pork for me. Ok I really only buy tenderloins, loins or chops (bone in or boneless), I don't get adventurous with other cuts (mostly because I don't know how to properly cook them, and I don't want to waste a lot of money on meat that I might screw up). I do use a variety of cooking methods for this small selection of cuts.

We're fans of pulled pork (I think the first time I had pulled pork was maybe in 2004 or 2005? Again, anti-pork before that, like, completely and entirely. What was wrong with me?!). Being a recent convert to pulled pork, I don't have any sort of stand-by pulled pork recipe to fall back on, so I have to search for good ones. In the past, I've found decent ones, but the stuff you get at a bbq place is always far better than mine.

Until last night!

I found this recipe on tastespotting (as usual). Clint voted for pulled pork because we had an ancient, freezer-burned 3lb pork loin in the freezer dated 2009. I'm sure some people would not have eaten it, but maybe it's my Yankee upbringing that turns wasting food into a mortal sin, I decided pulled pork would be a good way to use it. Braising is often the cooking style of choice for tougher meats, and the medium/low, slow cooking made me more confident that it would be thoroughly cooked and safe to eat. I did not time this ideally, I started thawing it in room temp water around 11am, and I kind of forgot about it until 2, so by the time I started looking for recipes, I had about 4 hours in which to prepare this. Most of the recipes I found wanted 8-10 hours in the crock pot, but I didn't have 8-10 hours. I'm still not good at converting crock pot times to oven times, but the recipe I found had all of the above, including 3 hours in the oven at 300F. Due to sewing machine malfunctions, it braised for 3.5 hours.

Not only was it thoroughly cooked and safe (18 hours later, I'm still fine), it was delicious. This, my friends, is my go-to recipe for pulled pork. The sauce is a very simple but flavorful affair of maple (be still, my heart!), bourbon (even better!) and other deliciousness. It takes about 2 minutes to put the sauce together, then you plop the pork in an oven-safe pot, pour the sauce over, and bake/braise. Then you pull it, reduce the sauce, and serve. It took us a total of 4 hours, but in the end, the hardest part was pulling the pork (it was hard to get it out of the pot because it kept falling apart, but when pulling it, it keeps sticking to the forks and is annoying. I always nominate Clint to do that part.)

Oh yeah, and I recommend keeping track of what's in your freezer, so you don't end up with 3 year old pork loins like we did.

Maple Bourbon Pulled Pork
recipe from I Adore Food.

1 pork loin, about 2-3 lbs, trimmed of fat and connective tissue
1/2 cup maple syrup
3T bourbon
3T cider vinegar
3T whole grain mustard
2T soy sauce
1/4t cloves
a few grinds of black pepper
1 onion, cut into slices
3 garlic cloves, minced (I actually just smashed these and tossed them in, I'm a little lazy when it comes to mincing garlic)

Note: I omitted the salt, since I was using regular sodium soy sauce and it was fairly salty in the end.

In a bowl (or the pot you're going to use), whisk together the liquids and spices. Put the pork in the pot, and if the sauce is in a separate bowl, pour over the pork. Otherwise, roll the pork around in the sauce to coat on all sides.

Cover the pot and stick in a 300F oven. Braise for 3hours (or more, if you get distracted by the feed dogs on your sewing machine not working), turning the pork over every 45-60 minutes or so.

Remove from oven. Place pork into a bowl, let it cool a bit, then start shredding with two forks. It should be tender enough that it starts falling apart while you're trying to move it (this makes moving it difficult, but it's a sign that it's nicely done). Meanwhile, reduce the sauce (this part is very easy if your baking pot is something like Le Creuset or another stovetop-to-oven material) over medium-high heat until it's nicely thickened.

Mix some or all of the sauce with the shredded pork.

Serve the pork on a roll with some extra sauce over the meat (what I do), or mix all the sauce with the pork and serve on a roll or just on your plate.

I used a 2lb pork loin and got 8 generous helpings for approximately
308 calories, 9.4g fat, 15.4g carbs, 0.3g fiber and 34g protein per serving. Nooot great, but delicious enough to justify it.

But wait, there's more!

I've also been on the hunt for a good slaw recipe. I'm an even more recent convert to cole slaw. I'm not big on mayo, so up til about a year ago, I always avoided cole slaw. But then I had some really delicious cole slaw at The Publick House in Sturbridge, MA (I think they add pineapple) and I started eating cole slaw if it was an option. Clint, however, won't do mayo, so I keep looking for mayo-free slaw recipes, with little luck til now. One interesting version was an asian slaw using fish sauce, which was good the first day, but.... kind of rotten-fishy after that.

Yesterday I was in luck, because I found this delicious apple slaw. I also finally cut the cabbage properly so it's not impossible to chew.

Apple-Cabbage Slaw
recipe from Food Opera

1/2 head of red cabbage
2-3 apples, grated or thinly sliced

1 apple, peeled and cored and quartered
3T rice vinegar
1.5T olive oil
1T lime juice
1/2t brown sugar

Remove the core from the bottom of the cabbage. Slice on a mandoline, and slice to that the core side is flat on the mandoline, to get nice, thin strips. Add the grated/sliced apple.

In a blender or food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients. Blend til you get a nice puree (look below, it's kind of like applesauce). Adjust flavorings if necessary (it wasn't for us), then add to the cabbage and apple and toss.

you can see the dressing in the middle, very applesauce-like!
This is so crisp and delicious! I love the sweet, vinegary appleyness of it. We each had 2 servings last night- 2 big servings.

This makes 8 generous servings, 92 calories, 2.8g fat, 17.6g sugar, 3.3g fiber and 1.1g protein (approx) per serving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WIAW #3: Date Night

For my third What I Ate Wednesday post, I bring you... date night!

We don't have date night very often. We used to, back when we were a double income household, but it was one of the first things to go. However, it's important to relax and have an enjoyable evening every once in a while, and when I worked all 3 days of Columbus Day weekend and made Saturday-like tips each day, I felt I'd earned a night out.

It was last Thursday, and it was the one day that week I didn't have rehearsal, but I worked 1-5:30, so I spent my morning trying to catch up on packing for my upcoming trip (which promises super exciting WIAW posts!!), emails and other things. I started out with my normal breakfast. My egg was a double yolk one (this dozen actually had 3 double yolks in it... a record?). I had raisin toast with cinnamon sugar, coffee, water, and my usual slew of vitamins (thank you, CVS, for having them buy one get one free).

As usual, I lost track of time so I quickly scarfed down 2 laughing cow wedges, a giant Mutsu, and some Cape Cod crackers before heading off to work.

I tried to avoid snacking since we were going out for dinner, but I was hungry when I got home and Clint was still at work. Also, I was dumb and had made caramel corn, and I just can't resist, especially when it's pumpkin spice caramel corn (recipe coming soon!). Seriously, this is probably the main reason I can't fit into my size 8 jeans yet.

And at 7, we decided it was about time to head to dinner! We went to a small Italian/Lebanese restaurant around the corner from our house, called Le Mirage. It's a 7-8 minute walk (at my speed, more like 10 min at a normal person's pace), and it was chilly, but the parking around there isn't great and walking would make us feel less guilty for getting an app AND dessert. Also, this is a BYOB restaurant (part of why we went, knowing we can still drink but not get charged an arm and a leg for it), and if the two of us finished a bottle over an average-length dinner, neither one of us would be in great shape to drive.

We started with baba ganoush dip, which was delicious and smokey from the "fire roasted" eggplants.

I got pasta, which is downright strange for me. I rarely eat pasta, so much so that I bought 2 boxes of spaghetti 3 years ago when a friend came to visit (knowing she likes pasta, and tends to eat much early than I do, so I wanted a quick dinner so she wasn't starving) and one box is still unopened in the pantry. But this penne had a gorgonzola cream sauce and walnuts, so I couldn't resist. I'll get the kibbe next time.
You can see this dish is quite enormous. I had it for leftovers for lunch AND dinner the following day. note: pasta with cream sauce doesn't reheat well. I never remember this.

This was our wine, Lost Acres Vineyard Rock Wall Red.
Lost Acres is in North Granby, CT, very near my family's home- this home, I mean:
We've been to Lost Acres twice now for a tasting, and the Rock Wall Red was the one I liked best out of the ones we tried, but I didn't loooove it. Well, last night I kind of loved it. It might be that I'm becoming more accustomed to New England reds, which are lighter than their California counterparts, or maybe it was just perfect with the baba ganoush (it was, actually). We really enjoyed this one last night. The reason we selected it from our sizeable wine collection (we get comments from nearly every person who comes to our house) is because we have 2 bottles. Also, my parents go there often so could easily get us more. We really hoard our bottles, always "saving them for a special occasion". Which is silly and we know it, so we're trying to drink up. It's just too bad we came to this conclusion after I decided I wanted to lose weight.

Then we had dessert: chocolate hazelnut cake. This restaurant has lots of cheesecakes, but I can't do cheesecake. For me, it was this or the cannoli, since I have a real weakness for cannoli. Clint, on the other hand, does not. I can't remember what his other choice was, but this was delicious.

 Then we waddled home, warmed by the sugar, fat and alcohol. When we arrived at the restaurant (which is small, maybe 10 tables in the front room and I'm not sure how many in the back room), there were 2 tables. When we left, I think we were it. We weren't there all that long though, we just got a relatively late start.

I wish we could do date night more often. This whole dinner, including tip, was $59, and I think the bottle was $15 from the winery (but my dad bought it for us). It's not a huge amount, and we don't need an app *and* a dessert, so it'd be under $50 that way. And it provides us (me) with a meal the next day. So it's not that bad, but it definitely adds up. If we can revive date night, this place and Joey's will be our regular spots.

What did you do for your last date?