3:00pm: Oh my god. I am just sitting down to eat for the first time since dinner last night. But let's rewind... Saturday, 10am: I head out to do the last of the shopping for the baby shower (that I catered today), and T brought the boys to Tae Kwon Do and then to his parents' house where they were going to spend the day and night. I came home to a quiet home, prepped for many hours while T puttered and worked around the house, and then we went on completely spontaneous date. It was as if we'd turned back the clock seven years: no set schedule, no real responsibilities on the weekends, just the two of us able to sleep, read, hang out, go out at our leisure. Wow!
6:30pm: We managed to snag a table at Ripple, a new'ish Cleveland Park spot that I think is really something special. It emphasizes local, seasonal fare but is completely devoid of the pretension sometimes associated with the locavore mindset. The dishes are thoughtful, complex yet accessible, full of flavor, and unique but so reasonably priced. The wine and beer lists are superb with none of the usual suspects weighing them down. The service strikes the perfect balance between knowledgeable-present and relaxed-NO hovering.
Tom started with an asparagus-ramp soup with ricotta and apple and concurrently loved the Stateside Saison, a Belgian farmhouse-style beer from Stillwater, a brewery in Baltimore. I didn't love the soup, but he enjoyed it and was super-enthusiastic about the beer. It was great. Kind of like a La Chouffe, if you're a Belgian tripel fan.
I started with the 'red russian kale, anchovy dressing, smoked char, pickled potato, couscous salad' which was like a reconstructed Caesar. Loved it! The anchovy dressing had the perfect amount of punch and kick, and the remaining ingredients were really great together. The only thing I might do slightly differently would be to massage the kale with a little olive oil first, to soften it slightly. But, delicious, and a dish I'd certainly recommend. To accompany this, I ordered a glass of Arneis, an Italian white varietal that I like quite a bit.
For his entree, T went with the nettle-stuffed quail with a 'ramp-and-fennel purée, panisse, and radishes.' Panisse is like polenta but is made with chickpea flour, and this was served lightly fried. The sauce was fabulous, and T fully sucked the quail bones clean, so much did he enjoy the dish in full.
I ordered two additional sides in place of an entree because they just sounded so darn good I couldn't pass them up: fava shoots with a pistachio-yogurt sauce, and a greens agnolotti with ramps, almonds and something else that I'm blanking on now. Both were beyond fabulous, and with them I enjoyed a yummy French white akin to a Sancerre.
T decided to splurge on dessert because one of the options at Ripple's new Sugar Magnolia take-away spot next door was a coconut macaroon-coffee ice cream sandwich. It was good, but I opted to wait for my coconut cream pie at home. Which, by the way, is perfection in a pie. Damnation!
Sunday, 8:49am: We wake up and are stunned by how late it is. Though that hour might sound early to you, it is nearly THREE hours later than we are usually, forcefully, awoken. I jumped out of bed and immediately got to work. Although I mise en place'd like a champ yesterday, there was still SO much to do for the shower.
12:40pm: I hurriedly load everything into the car with dear T's help and scurry to the shower. There, I construct the last of the tea sandwiches, plate the salads, put the rose jam and lemon curd into bowls, and realize I've left the scones back at home. 911 call to T. He rushed them out just in time for me to get them baked for a 2p start-time. Everything looked magnificent except the damn strawberry-vanilla buttercream I made for the strawberry cake. Though it tasted wonderfully, it looked quite the opposite. I was mortified, and am wondering if the humidity in my kitchen tweaked things just enough that the consistency suffered. Sigh.
1:30pm: I realized that I've also forgotten my camera at home. Chagrined, I ask the mother-of-the-to-be-mom if I might use hers. Lovely woman that she is, she of course says yes, and I hope I'll be able to get the pics and post them here.
2:30pm: I drive up to home, starving and tired but feeling successful. Also feeling inordinately grateful that a beloved babysitter with whom we made this date ages ago is here. I just snarfed two sandwiches -cucumber and watercress are a perfect pair- cleaned up 50% of the kitchen and am now going to read the Sunday Times on the bike at the gym.