Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Meal to Remember

Yesterday, hubby and I played hookie from household chores, and took a trip across the border. The destination was uncertain, although Seattle was a definite possibility. Not for any particular reason other than it was a comfortable distance for a day trip.

We stopped in Lynden for gas and coffee, then checked out a cute little quilt shop before making our way down to Bellingham and a few more quilt shops. I must have the most patient hubby in the world, as he doesn't mind stopping as many times as necessary to feed my quilting addiction! Then we worked our way south, meandering along country roads for a scenic change from the I-5, stopping here and there and eventually reaching Seattle in the late afternoon.

I love Pike Place Market. The bounty of fresh and unusual fruits and veggies, flowers, herbs, seafood, cheeses and breads overwhelms the senses. The bustle and noise of the vendors and buskers. Women in stiletto heels on cobblestone, perfectly groomed men in their cashmere coats. Scruffy homeless folk, hoping for the spoils as the market closes for the day. Panel vans jam the street. For me, this is the heartbeat of the city.

We strolled the length of Post Alley, peering at menus, trying to decide where to eat. French, Italian, Greek, Irish, and more. Tonight would be a splurge for us; on our modest budget it is rare that we will spend two-weeks' grocery money on one meal out. It had literally been years since the last time, so we decided we were due.

We chose an Italian restaurant tucked under the market, called Il Bistro. Welcoming warmth greeted us as we entered the cozy and intimate dining room, with white linen-covered tables, fresh flowers and candlelight, and professional, courteous service.

For starters, hubby chose Bruschetta al Pomodoro -- grilled Tuscan bread with vine-ripened tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil.*

I chose to begin with the Carpaccio -- thinly sliced beef tenderloin with red onion, Parmesan, capers, arugula and truffle oil.*

Then we shared the Insalata Spinaci -- organic spinach with orange segments, goat cheese, fennel and a vermouth vinaigrette.

Hubby's entree choice was the evening special -- no menu description to help me I'm afraid, but it was two beautiful jumbo prawns on a bed of penne with vodka cream sauce and fresh Italian olives.

I forgot to copy my entree description as well -- Roast chicken served atop meyer lemon risotto with mascarpone and olives. To die for!

Fortunately we still had room for dessert. Hubby chose the Torta Mascarpone, cheesecake with an almond biscotti crust and lemon curd glaze, raspberry coulis and fresh berries.

I finished my meal with Torta Cioccolato -- a flourless chocolate espresso tort with raspberry coulis and sweetened mascarpone.

A wonderful evening, impeccable service, and excellent food. The servings were just big enough to be fully satisfying, and still leave you with that not-quite-too-full feeling -- important for the long drive home. Indeed, a meal to be remembered.

* These descriptions were taken directly from the restaurant's website: