Different friends expect different things from me and usually I'm happy to accommodate. My partner for the evening tonight is a long-time friend who knows where all the bodies are buried. But she's in a serious relationship and doesn't get out much, so she counts on me to keep her abreast of new places she'd never make it to otherwise. As long as the wine is affordable and the food interesting, she'll agreeably meet me anywhere and right after work, too, so we have hours to gab and consume.
Tonight that place was Bonvenu in Carytown and I was surprised to be recognized and greeted by one of the owners with, "Welcome back," as we took seats at the bar. The bartender was different than on my first visit, but quite affable and with a terrific sense of humor, as we were to discover. He brought us a bottle of the Voleriano Temperanillo so that the girl talk could begin. At just over two weeks since our last cocktail hour, my friend nailed it when she said, "Okay, let's go back to the beginning so I'm completely caught up."
But one cannot survive on wine and talk alone, so when menus were offered, we paused momentarily. She was immediately seduced by the Beggars' Purses, one of the dishes I had thoroughly enjoyed on my last visit. The mussels had just been 86'd, so I decided to try the Wild Mushroom with Smoked Gouda Grits and I was very glad I did. The smokey Gouda flavor that infused the grits wrapped itself around the mushrooms making for a dish I will recommend to friends in the future. She liked her purses as much as I had; come on, crab and Tasso ham, what's not to like?
The food had slowed down my ability to share everything I needed to tell her as well as her ability to analyze all the interesting rolls of the dice that have been landing at my feet of late. I am lucky to have someone I have known for so long and with the kind of life experience to offer insightful advice when I need it most.
While still working down the wine, the bartender came over to try to entice us with dessert, not a difficult task. The first thing out of his mouth was 'homemade chocolate cake with ganache' but we let him finish listing the others anyway before ordering the cake. And that's when the language lesson began.
"We have a little something extra you can get with that," he told us. What's that, we wondered. "We can do that with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. First we do some pokage and then we pour it into the cake to absorb the flavor."
POKAGE? Poke-age? Is that from the same word group as shrinkage? I not only laughed out loud, I had to ask him if he'd really just said pokage.
"You know, poke-age," he reiterated, demonstrating with his fingers a poking gesture. Oh, we knew pokage, we just hadn't heard the culinary term before. Yes, we wanted Godiva and pokage. And, for me, maybe even a chance to use the term again in the very near future, just for the satisfaction of saying it.
Did my friend like Bonvenu? She did indeed. And for me, the language nerd, did it make my night to hear a new word?
Honestly, my life just keeps getting better and better.