Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh, We Fancy

Excuse me people, but you can't just roll into an upscale, expensive joint like Nicola's because you feel like it. Because you feel like dropping a bunch of money on dinner.

No, no, no. You need a reason. An excuse.

Since we didn't have any excuses - it's not your birthday? what about mine, could it be my birthday? what about a fake anniversary? - we made one up: I had a fantastic new dress and boots I needed to take for a spin, and Ray (my boyfriend not my dad) wanted an excuse to see me in a fantastic new dress and boots.

Excuses, check.

Nicola's was ours for a night.

First Course - Booze

The Boss Man is a complete wine snob (snif).

"Rotgut" is what he calls the wine I call delicious. So I sent him the URL to Nicola's wine list with the demand, "something awesome and reasonable." From his office I heard, "I can't believe they're charging 80 bucks for that swill!'

Who says wine snobs aren't charming?

But within minutes he'd consulted his fancy-schmancy wine ratings nerd site and recommended the Pinot Noir, Oliver Lane, 2007 for a mere $60. SOLD.

We drank it like we knew about notes and finishes and vintages, which we don't. But in a word, it was deeee-licious. (Dear Wine Spectator, that review is copyrighted, hands off.)

Second Course - Bread

I'd heard great things about the bread basket at Nicola's but daaaamn. Did Jesus knead this stuff?

I know what you're thinking, 'It's a bread-basket, whatever.' No, dude. It's not just a bread basket. It's a work of culinary art. All kinds of delightful varieties - some buttery, others brushed with olive oil, some adorned with tomato slices and cucumber, others flat or twisted into pretzel shapes. I wanted to hold it in my lap and dare someone to take a piece from me.

We agreed we could just sit and eat bread all night, forget about dinner. But we had to soak up all that wine, so...

Third Course - Treasure salad

We both had the Boucheron goat cheese salad, which was apple-vinaigrette dressing covering mixed greens and hiding a slice of warm goat cheese. Basically it was like discovering a treasure at the bottom of your salad. A warm, flavorful little treasure.

Fourth Course - Dinner

I went with a classic, the bolognese with tagliatelle. It's been on the menu at Nicola's either as a special or a permanent fixture since the restaurant opened 13 years ago, the waiter told me.

Sure, there are all sorts of lavish dishes on the menu and far fancier pastas, but I wanted something traditionally Italian. I wanted to be impressed by something you can get almost anywhere, but the one thing you can rarely get exquisitely done.

And here it is. Creamy, hearty, thick and perfect. I'm sure the people next to us were sick of my raves but I couldn't help it. Everything was so fantastic.

Ray had the short ribs with pureed parsnips. But let's be clear, he was completely green with envy over my choice. I get this giant bowl of pasta and he gets a giant plate with some short ribs and a circle of parsnip puree in one corner. His was good, but mine was better.

The best thing about dating me - in addition to my phenomenal dance moves - is that I always leave food on my plate. So he gets to eat 1.5 meals wherever we go - his and the rest of mine. When I'd eaten all I could take I slid my plate across the tablecloth so he could finish the rest.

He is a lucky guy.

Fifth Course - More Booze

Now, this is really going to surprise you guys but we decided to have a nightcap, which is a euphemism for "this is probably a bad idea."

Embracing this, we headed to Below Zero, which has become our 'go-to' on any given night, mostly because it's practically in Ray's backyard.

It's a gay bar frequented by older, established gays. You won't find any shirtless, oily younguns looking to mash on other shirtless, oily younguns here (sad) though I do happen to love shirtless oily younguns dancing to techno.

I drank a margarita as we sat the bar and watched videos. Remember music videos? BZ plays them on a constant loop. It's spectacular, and by spectacular I mean I revel in crushing Ray at naming artists - Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson. Like he has a snowballs chance in hell at a gay bar in besting me in naming artists.

Please. It's not even fair really.

The problem with Below Zero is I love it too much - because I can sit and watch videos of Madonna and Lady Gaga all night, and that makes me want to live there. (Did we bring my sleeping bag? What do you mean I don't have a sleeping bag?!)

I'm always up for another drink at that joint. Sit. Your ass. Down. Madonna is on. We are NOT leaving during Like A Prayer.

The other great thing about dating me are my completely reasonable responses to Madonna videos playing on a TV at 1 a.m.

So anyway, Nicola's date night - fantastic.


Brendon said...

I love Nicolas. Such a good review and you are spot on, that breadbasket is incredible. We did new years eve there and it was fantastic. Brilliant food.

Sally Brewer said...

I love to read your blogs:) Not only are you a great writer, but you crack me up! Hope you're still dancing. Miss you guys.