The week started with a wonderful Valentine's Day meal planned entirely by my hubby. He chose the cozy Tapas in West Hartford, and since they do not take reservations, we decided to eat early and then head out to the movies. Chris escorted me to the perfect table, right in the center of the small dining room, and after pulling out my chair, pointed out that I now had the best seat from which to gaze into the busy open kitchen - I was to have dinner and a show! Tapas has a great everyday menu, but is better known for their "blackboard specials," from which we chose. I started with a cup of velvety lobster bisque, then had a filet that was grilled to perfection, topped with a Mediterranean-herb oil, and paired with tastefully lumpy mashed potatoes. Chris enjoyed the "Ocean's Eleven" pasta dish - fettuccine alfredo served with a medley of seafood including lobster, crab, shrimp and scallops. After sharing a slice of Oreo-cookie pie, we drove to the packed movie theater and saw the closest we could get to a romantic comedy, Confessions of A Shopaholic, which we thought was cute. It was a wonderful V-Day date.
The weekend passed, and then I was in full vacation mode which means staying up late, sleeping in, and watching a lot of television. I was able to enjoy hours of Food Network as well as DVR'd food-themed shows including Top Chef (I heart Fabio), Hell's Kitchen, and Last Restaurant Standing. I also watched Ratatouille, which is now my favorite animated movie of all time (anyone can cook!). But I couldn't spend the whole week on the couch, so I did have a couple of outings in mind.
Since Chris is not a huge fan of the casino (Foxwoods/MGM Grand), I planned a day to go there by my lonesome. When I quickly won $50 shortly after my arrival, I decided to enjoy a gourmet lunch at David Burke Prime (it's my foodie staycation, after all!). The space is gorgeous, decorated with wood the color of espresso, cream-colored leather chairs, rust accents found in the carpet and placemats, and light-up glass "brick" walls. Touches of cowhide here and there remind one that it's a steakhouse. And steak is what I had but I started with the "Cocktail Trio" , a chilled appetizer which consisted of two of the largest shrimp I've ever seen, a pile of jumbo lump Maryland crabmeat, and a half-lobster, all served with a spicy cocktail sauce and a creole mayonnaise. I could have ended it there and been happy, but this week was all about indulgence. I ordered the "Filet Mignon Steak Frites," and while the filet was well-seasoned and grilled to perfection, the frites weren't as hot and crisp as they should have been, and both were served over a bed of over-garlicked limp spinach. Unfortunately, the service was as forgettable as the frites - several times I sat with an empty glass, searching for my server. However, a fun surprise came at the end of the meal, for when I declined dessert, my check was delivered with a grape-flavored cotton candy served upside-down in a footed martini glass. It was unexpected on many levels, but I enjoyed it. Would I go back to this restaurant? Probably not, but it was fun to be a lady who lunches.
Now the week was winding down, and since my husband was hard at work all week, I planned one day to be what I call "Fifties Housewife," (think an aproned June Cleaver but with jeans and a cute sweater). I planned and executed a three-course themed dinner, had the table set with our finest, and even had a bourbon ready for Chris the moment he walked in the door (thank goodness for cell phones). I called the dinner "The Flavors of France," and the menu is below. Everything came out really well. In fact, I believe Chris mentioned something about being the luckiest guy on the planet. What can I say? He's right :-)
Appetizer: "Sea Scallop Provencal" - a single pan-seared scallop in a sauce of white wine, shallots and fresh parsley.
Entree: "Tilapia Toulouse" - tilapia fillet packet-steamed with lemon, white wine, parsley, butter and capers served with cardamom-scented couscous and haricots verts.
Dessert: "Lavender Creme Brulee" - served with homemade lemon-rosemary sugar cookies.
The week ended in a blur of cleaning and prepping for our annual Mardi Gras Madness party, which was a huge success as always. With almost 100 people packed into our tiny house, we ate, drank and mingled the night away. Special thanks to the Krewe of 2009 who helped the party happen and to all of our guests who brought an amazing array of delicious food and drink to share.
All in all, it was a fabulously indulgent foodie staycation and I loved every minute, and every mouthful.