Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Eats

Thanks to the virtually endless patience and benevolence of Aunt Shu and Dr. Paul, Chris and I were able to indulge in a fabulous evening out as well as fun independent adventures this weekend.  While the home front looked mostly like this...

and this...

(is anyone surprised?)

... Chris and I started out with a hike at Boxerwood Gardens  in the twilight and the rain.  The place is such a gem  - acres and acres of carefully thought out wild space, open to the public to explore and enjoy.  The kids and I spend at least one afternoon there each week, rambling around with other homeschool families.  I especially enjoyed our most recent outing there as the hour and the weather conspired to turn the landscape into something out of Lord of the Rings.  Quiet time with the spouse person out in the wide world is something I have far to little of - such a gift to be able to make it happen.  

We then popped into our neighbor's cafe for a beer.  Happily we also discovered a great guitar player doing Travis Tritt covers and Debbie's amazing pomegranate guacamole.


Above is  a picture from the web that pales in comparison to Debbie's beautiful intermingling of avocado chunks, pomegranate seeds, big fat fresh cilantro leaves and chunks of red onion.  (I realize now that if I'm going to blog about food I'm going to have to get over my squeamishness over taking pictures of my meals in public.)  

Pumps primed, we giddily drove across town (in less than 5 minutes!) to dinner at the Red Hen.  Recognized by just about everyone as the place to eat in Lexington, I've been looking forward to a meal here for just about as long as we've been in town.  It turns out that the chef is husband and father to some of our favorite Lexington peeps, so getting to see him do is thing just added to fun.  And oh what fun it was...  Tucker creates a new menu everyday based on what's available in the local markets, crafting dishes with an eye on Appalachian tradition.  Unable to decide on any one thing off the menu we put ourselves in Tucker and sous-chef Tyler's capable hands and  dove into the Tasting Menu.  Anticipating 5 courses, we wound up with 8, each of them a delight.  Special favorites were the short ribs (slow cooked and melt-in-your mouth buttery good) with locally ground parmesan grits and Tyler's 'cake and ice cream' encore.  Oh, and then there was the scallop...  my God, the scallop.  And the monkfish in veggie ash.  Words fail!  Tucker and Tyler delivered many of the dishes to the table themselves and explained what they had made with a refreshing lack of pretension (coughl'Etoile, cough, cough).  We really like it when well trained, very talented chefs refer to components of their dishes as "thingies".  (Much better than trying to pass off a Cracker Jack as some sort of hoity-toity after-dinner treat!)  

Bellies full we trundled home to find Ben and Paul curled up in the big green chair half-snoozing, half-watching a movie, and Caitlin and Susannah upstairs doing much the same thing.  We tucked everyone in and drifted off, only to get up and do it all again the next day.

Well, I did, at least.  After Chris' delish, airy whole wheat buttermilk pancakes (yes, airy and whole wheat do belong together in this sentence!) I headed north to Harrisonburg to see Mother H.  We rendezvoused at a huge wholesale book fair where I exhibited laudable restraint.  (spoiler alert: if you're getting a gift from me this Festivus season, odds are it'll be a book...)  Then, gleefully child-free, Mother H and I hit Jack Brown's for burgers. They only have 4 items on the menu (including fried oreos) and one special each day, but when you make burgers this good, that's all you need.  Hot damn.  The lunch time convo was hot too, and a much needed sandbox session for the both of us.  

Then back to Lex to collect the kiddos and see Sus and Paul off.  Kids and I went down to Roanoke for Kids Night Out at our new temple and I hit the town solo.  Still pretty stuffed from lunch, and knowing it'd take a miracle to top Friday night's dinner, I opted for a simple salad at 202 Market.  After deciding to look at it not as a salad, but as a cold salty raw vegetable dish I was able to enjoy it more, but just couldn't make my peace with the alleged chorizo deviled eggs.  I was anticipating a hard boiled egg filled with chunky chorizo in creamy yolky yumminess, but instead got blah deviled eggs sprinkled with only ever-so-slightly-Bac-Os.  Bummer.  In need of something to redeem the Roanoke food scene I stopped into Metro! for dessert.  I snagged a stool at the end of the (very swank) bar, had an eagle's eye view of the kitchen, and didn't even really mind waiting 20 minutes (and 2 cups of decaf) for my treats.  The bartenders and servers seemed to make a point of coming and chatting too, almost too much as I really was enjoying watching the chefs at work.  But I did hear about lots of hidden gems in Roanoke and now have a long list of places to visit and foods to eat.  And then at long last, dessert!  Two tiny dishes - flourless chocolate raspberry torte and a chocolate cherry pudding.  Both lovely and honestly, too much.  Next time I'm bringing Chris and doing dinner there too.  The couple next to me had some mighty good lookin' sushi...

And now I'm back in Roanoke again, killing time at the coffee shop while the kids are at Hebrew school.  Belly full, heart happy to be in the midsts of so much food, and so many good people to make it and share it with.


margaret said...

Good eats is right! I am totally envious of all the good eating, the spouse time, and the alone time. Can't wait for Lucy to be 5 and affiliated with someone and their Lego contraption...

KM said...

Enjoying your blog and linking to it on mine!