new friends & byobs

There is something magical about the sun in the morning ~ stretching its arms across fields, pale fresh light building to glowing yellow.  This morning, on my drive to work, I was awed by the beauty of the sun kissing the fields, full of cows and sheep and grass swaying in the breeze.  I was glad ~ even though traffic stopped dead about a mile from the traffic light (which is unusual)~ that I chose the route to work I take in the mornings.  Living in suburbia, there aren’t many places to see farmland, but there is a stretch near our house which also happens to be on the way to my office, and every morning and every evening it gives me peace to drive through the fields.

I would have taken a photo, but I try (very hard) to leave my phone untouched while I drive.

So, since I can’t share this morning’s enchanting beginning, I will share last night’s enchanting evening.  The man, who travels very infrequently for work, went to Chicago a few months back.  He had a great time and was able to visit “The Girl and the Goat,” something of  a top-of-the-wish-list thing for him.  On his journey home, he happened to fall into conversation with his seatmate and discussed, among other things, the food & wine business (still flush with his visit to Stephanie Izzard’s flagship).  He informed me upon his return that he’d met a really cool chick on his flight home, she visited Philly for business frequently, and there was a chance that we would get together in the future.

One of our current favs, and what we enjoyed with our Veal

Fast forward a few months.  On our third attempt to get together, we finally made it happen last night at a delicious BYOB, Paloma.  It was enchanting! (I use that word again, and deliberately, as it felt like a step back in time when you entered ~ white linens, lots of glassware, ornately folded napkins).

I have to say that I have huge admiration for Peggy; for reaching out to John, for meeting near strangers for dinner.  But I’m so glad she did, because after the initial awkwardness (have I mentioned that in general, I can be socially awkward … and talk non-stop about, well, anything and everything … and have huge non sequitur because something clicked in my brain that might not make any sense to those around me ….? Yes, well, all that is true) we had a really awesome time.

It started when all three of us ordered the exact.same.thing for dinner.  It continued when Peggy and I discovered we enjoy the same ‘escapist’ television (in the form of Nashville and Scandal).   After that, it was all gravy.

We all began with the Mushroom Flan.  Oh.my.goodness.  Deliciousness.  Light and fluffy, but full of incredible, intense flavor.  And so rich.  The chef’s wife (and, obviously, owner) took care of our table for most of the night, so we got to learn fun tidbits as well as lots of information about the menu.  Which, interestingly enough, is being changed as of today (seasonality ~ love it!).  She assured us prior to ordering that the Mushroom Flan appetizer would be remaining on the menu (it had, in fact, been on the menu for all 16 -18?- years of the restaurant’s existence).  Despite the possibility of missing something else that would no longer be around, we all immediately chose the flan.  And none of us regretted it one bit!

For dinner, we all enjoyed stuffed veal, which was a perfect complement to the Flan (well done, us!)  The veal was served with a side of rice and asparagus, which visually cannot communicate the subtle and incredible flavors it held. I think we were all a little surprised at how good the rice was.

And then, to round out our dinner, we had two courses of dessert.  Which maybe wasn’t necessary, but boy, was it worth it.

We all did a Prix Fix menu, which did not include all the house-made desserts as options (not a surprise). Our options were layer cake, biscotti or bread pudding.  Peggy and I had the pudding & the man had the biscotti.  But this girl loves cheesecake, and I couldn’t not have cheesecake (especially considering the lovely woman who was taking care of us was also the pastry chef and had made it herself).

It did not disappoint.

White chocolate cheesecake, homemade crust, chocolate ganache top.  Mmm, mmm, delicious.  And even more surprising and fun ~ a coffee bean whipped cream to finish everything off.

So good.

Now that we’ve broken the ice with Peggy, I hope we get to have lots more culinary adventures when she is in Philadelphia and free.  But, even if it turns out to be few and far between, last night was a riot (our host told us several hilarious stories about her ‘other’ career as a lawyer and marijuana … you can imagine how amazing that was!).

Last night felt normal ~ something I have been striving for more and more every day.  Some days, normal is driving to work and wishing to walk through the fields of cows & sheep wrapped in a snuggly sweater.  Some days, normal is working really hard and getting piles of things accomplished.  On other days, it’s enjoying good take-out, good wine and the company of my man and my dog on our couch.  But yesterday was a different kind of normal ~ a throw back to when the man & I still worked downtown and went out to new restaurants more often.  It felt fun and refreshing … and a true treat.

Til tomorrow.  Xo.