Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wine and tapas and cake…oh my!

Last night, Mom and I properly celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner. Oh yes, the dragging out continues and WILL CONTINUE for another couple of weeks. I wanted to do something a little special and out of the ordinary, so I picked Gervais & Vine in Columbia. I’ve only been once for an alumni event, and I really liked the atmosphere – it’s a wine and tapas restaurant, and it makes you feel chic and sexy to just walk through the doors (or at least that’s how I feel when I’m there!). I got all dolled up in pants I’ve never been able to wear (bought ‘em small off the clearance rack years ago in the hopes that I’d lose weight; I pulled the tags off tonight and they fit perfectly!) and a coat that has never buttoned (another “too good to pass up” deal that I just knew I’d lose weight and fit into soon after buying it Eye-rolling ). I felt only a little bit sexy, though, because I had to wear a long-sleeved shirt to cover up my leper spots. [sigh.]

First off, I started with a half glass (LOVE that they offer 2.5oz portions!!) of unoaked Chardonnay – I don’t think I’ve ever tried one, but I wasn’t as huge a fan.

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I’m definitely no wine connoisseur (but I sooo want to be!), but I like my chardonnay dry and strong-tasting, and this wasn’t much of either. Don’t get me wrong – I liked it, but I liked my second chardonnay, one from Louis M. Martini, better. My third glass (keep in mind, these were all 2.5oz servings!!) was an Argentinean Malbec, and it was ohhhh so good.

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What’s even better is that Mom mentioned we were celebrating my birthday, and our waitress comped my last glass! I’m such a sap – after she told me and walked away, I got verklempt. I blame it on the 5oz I’d already had.

So the food….ohhh the fooooood. They specialize in Mediterranean-style tapas, and their prices range about $6-9 per item. Our dinner was surprisingly budget-friendly for such a neat experience! We settled on three dishes:

  • Moroccan-spiced pork with gorgonzola fondue
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  • Crispy fingerling potatoes with white truffle aioli and fresh herbs
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  • Eggplant fries with romesco and honey-yogurt sauces
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Ah. Mah. Gah.

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I felt perfectly full when we were done – not stuffed, but very satisfied. However, we had plans to get dessert a few blocks away at Nonnah’s, a place known for their amazing baked goods. When we first sat down, we ordered a cappuccino; I was so excited to see it served with a palmier cookie and a swizzle stick!! I LOVE those!! (poor lighting + poor camera = poor photos)

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For our desserts, I chose the surprisingly light Strawberry Amaretto: White cake soaked with amaretto flavoring layered with strawberry cream covered with chocolate ganache and topped with fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate (check out that sexy chocolate-covered strawberry on top! Though I was disappointed I couldn’t taste any amaretto)

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…and Mom chose the Triple Mousse Cake: White genoise with alternating layers of vanilla cream, chocolate mousse, raspberry mousse finished with whip cream. (There’s no whipped cream! Not that it needed it…)

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We finished every single bite, and I paid for it on the walk to the car, the drive home, and a few hours afterward. Good lord, I was SOOOO FULL. I definitely went overboard, but that damn cake was so good, I had to keep eating it. Sidenote – last time I went there, I had the carrot cake – one of my favorites, and it was AMAZING. Also, I was thisclose to selecting the lemon cake because it sounded fairly light and refreshing; I’m a fan of lemon-flavored baked goods, so I’ll probably choose it next time I go…in a year or so.

Though my waistline can’t afford to go to Nonnah’s very often for dessert, I hope I get to go back to Gervais & Vine soon – Mom was nervous to try it at first, but I think she’s been converted. Hopefully I’ve made an addict out of her and it won’t be long before our next visit!

What’s your favorite type of cuisine? Sushi-lover? Italian fiend? I’m definitely digging the tapas-style restaurant…I wish Columbia had more!