Hi! I’m blogging from work. Shhh, don’t tell anyone! Seriously, though, we are so slow. Must be the cooler temps, outside and inside the store – I’m bundled up in a jacket here at Smoothie King. In truth, I’m ready for bed! I put in a lot of gym time this morning: Body Pump, 1 hour on the bike (while reading for Brit Lit), 1/2 hour ab class, and then Zumba! I may be crazy, but I loved it.
Is anyone else feeling delightfully fall-ish? I’m all fired up for sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash.
And HUGE, hand-picked apples, like this one, which a coworker brought in for me today. Thanks, Hannah!
So guess what? Not even 24 hours after declaring total b-day money confusion, I’ve spent a good chunk of it! Check out my first official Zumba outfit:
Zumba gear totally makes the class 100% better, which I didn’t even know was possible. I can’t tell you how much fun I had! Sassy.
Speaking of my b-day, how about a little recap?
My 22nd Birthday
The bad thing about my birthday having fallen on a Wednesday this year is that Sean had to work and couldn’t be here on the actual big day. The awesome thing about my birthday having fallen on a Wednesday this year is that Sean couldn’t be here and I therefore got two days of feeling special!
So Monday ended up being birthday #1!
He told me we could go out to eat wherever I wanted, and since I love trying new things, I spent 5 million years on Urbanspoon to find the perfect place. I wanted to find a restaurant…
1. That was chic/stylish/romantic. Ambiance is key.
2. That had good, wholesome, nutritious food with vegan or vegetarian options. I have a lot of respect for restaurant chefs who put time and thought into creating veggie dishes that are just as good as the animal-based ones. House salads do not count.
3. That also had Sean-friendly options. This rules out the newest vegan restaurant, PuraVegan, which I’m dying to try to try. But I’m a nice girlfriend and I won’t subject him to that.
4. That had reasonable prices in relation to the food. Sean and I are (thankfully) alike in that we balance frugality with going for the really nice meals.
In Urbanspoon terms, I searched for vegetarian-friendly, romantic restaurants in the $$$ budget.
After much deliberation, I chose Araka. It initially sounded like an Asian place (apparently Sean thought so, too, because I told him the name and he replied, “Crab Rangoon?”) but it is actually classified as “Market Fresh Cuisine.”
Sounded pretty fancypants, to me!
Here’s a descriptive snippet from the website:
The culinary philosophy of both Executive Chef Michael Burnau and Chef de Cuisine Ryan Cooper is to use simple market fresh and pure ingredients to create flavorful and memorable dishes. In addition to our meat and fish dishes, our expansive vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free selections all contain healthy vegetables, and proteins, without sacrificing flavor.
YES PLEASE! It was a little pricey, with entrees ranging from $18-32 (as well as a $42 steak…don’t get my vegetarian side started on this) but when I saw some of the menu options, I knew we had to eat there. Crispy Tempeh Bites, Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, Soy-Mirin Tofu…I was a happy birthday girl!
So Sean whisked me off to Araka, which is located in the richest part of Clayton, on Ritz Carlton Drive! My poor, dented, 2002 Ford Escort felt very out of place. Especially when we pulled up to the valet.
The inside was nice and swanky:
It was a beautiful evening, though, so we decided to sit outside.
I promptly had one of these in front of me:
The prosecco from Moletto, Italy, which definitely met and exceeded my expectations.
Sean also ordered us a a pita spread appetizer, which we savored lovingly and totally failed to photograph. It came with an olive tapenade, hummus, and edamame puree. Delish.
Then came dinner: I knew I wanted the Eggplant Timbale as soon as I saw it on the menu:
“Asparagus, zucchini, red pepper, portabello mushrooms, basil, nicoise-tomato sauce.”
I wish you could taste it just by looking at the picture.I wanted to face-plant in that eggplant. It was huge (I love a pricey restaurant that doesn’t skimp on the portion sizes) which made me happy because I was able to box half and eat it for lunch the next day.
Sean ordered the Lamb Sausage Tagliatelle:
“Pistachio pesto, yellow pear tomatoes, braised fennel (substitute tofu for vegetarian).” He stuck with the lamb, which scares me a little, but he loved it, so that’s okay with me!
After dinner, Sean promptly said, “Okay, let’s go pick out your present.”
What? I had no idea what was going on. And what did I end up getting?
Any guesses? Back with the answer tomorrow!