Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cougar Town

For the record, I do not read nor respond to Twitter.

I was meeting friends at C'est le Vin in the Bottom and when I arrived, found the chef on the sidewalk outside.

In the past, we'd enjoyed her food and now that she'd moved further east, my friends and I were curious.

And there she was standing in front of the restaurant/wine shop like a Walmart greeter.

Saying I'd come to eat her food, she laughed.

Apparently she'd just tweeted something about now that her twenties were nearly over, she'd have be on the lookout for cougars.

"I thought that might be why you were here!" she teased.

I had to confess that I was meeting friends for her food, not to satisfy any cougar fantasies she might have.

Inside, I was directed to a Greek wine tasting, soon to be joined by my party of three.

Live jazz was being performed in the back of the restaurant, much to one of my friends' delight. She said it reminded her of New Orleans.

Next thing you know we were discussing the best tongue on Magazine Street and the best music on Frenchman Street.

We scored a table near the front and our server turned out to be another former Empress employee who recognized me at once.

Fortunately, he didn't mention anything about cougars.

It's tough to beat the pricing when you drink at a wine shop and our well-priced Tochuelo Tenoranillo-Garnacha was an aromatic and fruity pleasure to drink.

Friends went with the amusingly named Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile.

Over conversation about favorite mixologists, the dry eggplant and lack of decor at Peter Chang's and the Heart Attack Cafe, we began ordering a parade of food.

Dates stuffed with tetilla cheese and wrapped in Jamon Serrano delivered sweet and salty.

Salt cod with peppers, tomatoes, olives and parsley had been a favorite on our last visit.

We got our vegetables with roasted asparagus with smoked salmon and a dish of sauteed spinach, golden raisins, apples and pine nuts.

The roasted wild mushrooms with garlic were dripping in butter, so they were a hit.

We discussed "The Artist," a film my partner in crime and I had seen opening week before there was any buzz and had thoroughly enjoyed.

One of my friends disagreed, saying it was trite, but he'd seen it after weeks of talk. And he likes to be contrary.

Silent films aside, we all agreed that "Midnight in Paris" had been an impressive piece of filmmaking with Owen Wilson doing a superb Woody Allen imitation.

By the time we got to the entree portion of the meal, I was pretty full, so we shared two generously-sized pieces of pork belly over beans with asparagus.

And while we probably should have stopped eating there, as the band broke down and the DJ set up, we instead ordered a salted chocolate caramel torte with candied orange peel.

So dark it was almost black, the caramel brought the sweetness but the candied orange peel made the chocolate come alive.

Later the chef asked if the chocolate portion would be better in a lighter more mousse-like form, but we didn't think so.

On the other hand, we were also drunk on food at that point and probably not qualified to make any thoughtful food decisions, either.

Besides, it had been such a long time since I'd gotten together with this particular couple and there'd been enough bantering and teasing of one another that I couldn't concern myself with how to make a delicious dessert better.

I leave those decisions to a chef who might be developing a taste for cougars.

I've got enough on my plate already. Ahem.

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