Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Even better than 'scrumtrulescent'

Tonight I had THE BEST MEAL I'VE EVER EATEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE (or TBMIEEIMEL for short).

That in itself is no small feat. Sure, I realize I'm no Bobby Flay. And I know no one is going to ask me to be a guest judge on "Iron Chef" any time soon, but I like to think I have somewhat of a distinguished pallet. I mean, psh, I subscribe to Bon Appetit.

And if that doesn't give me enough culinary cred, I'm a veteran cruise-goer. As in, floating fine-dining that easily expands your waistline by three-inches in seven days because they employ some of the best chefs in the world and it's impossible not to eat your way through the entire ship. Plus, well, gluttony is my favorite of all the sins. And in that respect, I'm a well-seasoned sinner. (The only sin I do better is taking the lord's name in vain. And frankly, if he didn't want us to do it so much, he should've made "Oh God" less applicable. I mean, it works in so many situations -- pain, frustration, ecstasy, excitement, sympathy. The only word more versatile is, well, the F bomb.)

There wasn't any one thing that made this meal TBMIEEIMEL. Everything just combined perfectly so that when we walked out of the restaurant, I felt compelled to exclaim, "That was THE BEST MEAL I'VE EVER EATEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!" And although that endorsement should be all the description necessary, I find it unworthy somehow. Like it doesn't do the five courses enough justice. Like it doesn't capture the essence of exactly how good this meal was. And, unfortunately, even my reliance upon making up word won't quite cut it in this case, either. I mean, "awsomenesstastic" isn't quite right. Not even my favorite fake word, "scrumtrulescent," works in this case.

It was even better than that.

The ironic thing (and, yes, I seem to be having a lot of irony in my life lately) is that I wasn't even all that psyched to go out. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's nothing better than a holiday that makes it okay to splurge on a fancy meal. It's just that we could use that money toward SO MANY things right now -- replacing one of the failing appliances in our kitchen or the outrageous fine we just received for my outdated vehicle registration, for example.

But my mom sent us a Valentine's card with a little cash in it toward a night out. And Jerry's mom called before our reservation and said, "Buy a bottle of wine on me." And it wouldn't be right to let our parents down. Especially when they are the most awsomenesstastic parents ever.

The other ironic thing is that I wasn't that sure about our restaurant choice. It's a small unassuming place a few blocks from our house. A few weeks ago when we were deciding where to go, I picked it out of sheer convenience. With Jerry's new schedule, staying out late on a week night isn't fair to him, so it seemed like the obvious choice.

We had been there once before when my mom visited, and the food was excellent, but I wondered if it could compare to last year's Valentine's feast at the restaurant our friend owns. I mean, a steaming pot of cheese fondue for two is kind of tough to top.

I didn't even know what I was in for.

The restaurant actually had a special Valentine's Day menu where you can choose from two selections for an appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert. One item from each category jumped out at me immediately and, despite its hefty price, I didn't even need to look at the regular menu. Besides, if ordered a la carte, I knew the meal actually was quite a deal. (Not to mention I saw a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries on a dessert tray on our way to our table and knew I had to be having those.)

The first course was an explosion of flavor. It was a beautifully arranged ravioli dish with "hand-harvested" mushrooms of some sort. When our server set it down in front of me, I could actually smell the roasted nuts that the chef sprinkled on top. It was a-maze-ing.

The second course was a smooth crab bisque served at the perfect temperature, accompanied with fresh bread, topped with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese and pads of butter shaped like rose buds.

The third course was an Asian pear salad with beautiful greens, sugar-coated nuts and two slices of warm brie. I am an avid fan of brie, but warm on a salad? GENIUS.

By the main course, I didn't think I could eat any more. Even though the previous portions were reasonable -- the soup was served in a dainty tea cup, for example -- I just felt full. But when my giant sea scallop-topped lobster tail came out, and the aroma of all that delicious goodness hit my nostrils, it was as if everything in my stomach magically shifted to one side to make room. And I'm glad. Because I can tell you, in all seriousness, that I reenacted the deli scene from "When Harry Met Sally." Only for real. It was like great sex on a plate.

And then, just when I didn't think it could get any better, I was presented with three of the most perfect chocolate-covered strawberries ever with a fantastic orange cream sauce. And I don't even like orange flavor all that much. But this? THIS orange cream sauce? Divine.

As our waiter continuously returned to our table to check on us, I kept wanting to tell him that I hope the food is this good in heaven, but my mouth was too busy discerning all the flavors in everything to bother articulating anything. I mean Cognac-glazed pureed sweet potatoes in a ramekin? Where do I even begin? (I mean, other than by taking the lord's name in vain for lack of anything better to say. It's hard to believe, but "Oh. My. God." doesn't even come close.)

To top it all off, the service was incredible. Completely worthy of a 25 percent tip. Sure, it didn't hurt his case that he started off the evening by corking our champagne with the compliment, "I'm sure you don't want to talk about work, but if you don't mind my saying, ma'am, I really love your column."

Even though it completely caught me off guard and totally made my day (maybe even more so than the chocolate-coated strawberries), I will never mind if everything out of everyone's mouth after "If you don't mind" is followed by such a statement.

He even said that he and his daughter saw my poster at the mall last weekend. And at that moment I was glad he was filling my glass. Because I needed a swig.

So, here I am hours later, so pleased with that meal that I'm already looking forward to next Valentine's Day. And the one after that. And the one after that.

And no broken dishwasher or lame excuse for a police ticket will ever make me feel guilty for splurging on that caliber of a meal ever again.

Best. Meal. Ever.

21 comments:

ajandmac said...

I'm. So. Glad.

xanga/junjie1800 said...

WOW. I'd like to have it too. You made me drooll......

kimiedawn said...

It was a pleasant surprise to see your comment this morning. I enjoy reading your posts almost everyday. You remind me a lot of me when it comes to food.I LOVE it. I am constantly referring to it as an orgasm in my mouth, and I can't tell you how many times I say this is the best ever. My fiancee cracks up at me, says he's never seen a girl enjoy food the way I do. Thank goodness I have a fast metabolism or I would weigh 300 lbs. Now if they could only combine great food with shoe shopping!

kimiedawn said...

It was a pleasant surprise to see your comment this morning. I enjoy reading your posts almost everyday. You remind me a lot of me when it comes to food.I LOVE it. I am constantly referring to it as an orgasm in my mouth, and I can't tell you how many times I say this is the best ever. My fiancee cracks up at me, says he's never seen a girl enjoy food the way I do. Thank goodness I have a fast metabolism or I would weigh 300 lbs. Now if they could only combine great food with shoe shopping!

kimiedawn said...

It was a pleasant surprise to see your comment this morning. I enjoy reading your posts almost everyday. You remind me a lot of me when it comes to food.I LOVE it. I am constantly referring to it as an orgasm in my mouth, and I can't tell you how many times I say this is the best ever. My fiancee cracks up at me, says he's never seen a girl enjoy food the way I do. Thank goodness I have a fast metabolism or I would weigh 300 lbs. Now if they could only combine great food with shoe shopping!

kimiedawn said...

oh wonderful I just posted my comment 3 times--sorry.

Tiffany said...

That does sound wonderful! Sometimes those non-chain restuarants can really surprise you!

Thanks for stopping back by Xanga world this morning... I'm a pretty big fan of pink gloves ;-)

Naomi said...

Since we have something happening every weekend this month (driving to Springfield to see Sen. Obama's announcement, m-i-l coming, travel writing assignment) we decided to keep our Valentine's Day celebration low-key. But after reading about your culinary excursion, our wine and cheese is looking pretty bleak. At least you know that if your remodeling fund ever bottoms out, you could always do brisk business writing restaurant advertorials! :)

www.xanga.com/nothingbeast said...

I had Long John Silver's #3 last night with a side of 12 hush puppies.

I'd give it a "Filledmeupedness" rating.

Julie said...

So jealous. We got snowed in. Even if we could've gotten out, the restaurant we had reservations at closed anyways. Instead, I made linguine with clam sauce and we watched "Lucky Number Slevin".

(To be perfectly honest, I wanted to be snowed in with him anyway!! That was the best Valentine's I've had in a while.)

Pauline said...

Wow. I'm in shock after reading your post. I had no idea food could be that good. I'm a long time hater of Vday, but maybe one day... I might not due to insanely good food. Maybe. You'd make a great food critic, haha ;]

Janice said...

I'm really glad I was actually eating something as I read your entry because if I wasn't, it would have made me really really hungry. Sounds exciting!!

Timre said...

Sounds like an amazing evening. Thanks for stopping by my tiny xanga. I am worried about the upcoming purchase, but I know it is much better than paying rent. Have a great week.

Wendy said...

30 minutes left of work, and you have made me starving. Must - resist - vending - machine.

Maria said...

Hehe, I thought the waiter was about to say something about Jerry-you should get t-shirts and bumper stickers too so you can pass them out!

Randall said...

Thanks for stopping by my little site the other day! Just so you know, Nick's worst-stink-ever feet have proceeded to create a funk in the laundry basket which lead to a funk in the bathroom. I moved the laundry basket to the garage this morning. Double ick.

Your dinner sounds FABULOUS! Makes me want to have a nice dinner out too. Do tell where you all went (or at least give obvious hints without actually typing the name)!

the Plainsman said...

Good to hear everything went so well for you, even to the waiter being a reader. Hope Jerry enjoyed his meal, too. In fact, if the place is as good as you say, it might be worth the trip, but as I recall, your general metro area is not an easy drive off the major east-west interstate to the north, with local roads about half the way from that. Besides, it would be about 5 hours one way! Sooo, we will await your next review and live vicariously, after all that what blogs are all about!

ryc: I rechecked on the life of my specific tree and found that I was way off, so will try to contact the extention service to see if it can be saved or the decay slowed down.

Gretchen said...

Hey Noel! I am one of your Xanga followers, and what I do is I get an email every time you write a new blog. Well, lately I hadn't been getting any, so I decided to check out your page. When I went there, it led me to this wonderful site! I absolutly love it, however, I know I will not remember to check here every day. It would be fabulous if you could get one of those Notify Lists at http://notifylist.com, because this way you could sends e-mails to whoever subscribes to your site when you make an update. Just something for you to consider :D

~Gretchen

Ray said...

Wow, that was a great blog. I'M. SO. JEALOUS! I wish where I lived they had nice little restaurants that would make me want to write a blog about it because that's how DAMN GOOD the food was! It must be so great to live in a nice little town. Maybe one day I'll move in my own little town with a restaurant just as great. Please tell me you took pictures! =P

Well, I'm glad your Valentine's Day was great. Take care, Kelly.

allison said...

oh my god (haha) im so hungry now.

mercurial scribe said...

i had one of those moments three Valentine's ago. The Sutra Lounge. Blueberry steak appetizer. Luscious truffle desserts.

*moan*