on march 2, mister monkey and i celebrated the 13th anniversary of our first date, and decided to go to the restaurant where we had our wedding supper, the red ox inn, a lovely little out of the way fine dining establishment. reservations were made, good shoes polished up, buttons sewn back onto shirts and tight skirts squeezed into. we spiffed up, fluffed our collective bangs and went forth into the night.
the dining room had been renovated since our last visit there, but the ambience was still cozy, pleasant and warm and the service professional and friendly. mister monkey perused the menu thoughtfully and came up with an appetizer - five onion soup with a carmelised onion cracker. i think the poor man was expecting a cheesy concoction not unlike french onion soup. what he got instead was a big gorgeous white plate upon which two slices of sauteed leek and two halves of roasted cipollini were artfully arrayed. upon them balanced an onion cracker roughly the shape and size of a gas station coffee stir stick. the waiter swooped in and dramatically poured hot broth, fragrant with star anise and fennel, on top of the onions. and that was that. i ordered the duck foie gras, because everyone knows ducks are bastards. i also got a big gorgeous plate upon which rested a piece of foie gras the size of a medium lego piece, drizzled artfully with phlegm coloured globs of apple puree and several scattered mysterious but delicious crunchy bits. it was phenomenal. tiny, but phenomenal. the rest of the meal was a little less blog-worthy in that the portions were actually reasonable, and tasted very good. overall, it was a good night.
several days later, on my actual birthday, mister monkey picked up some take-out from my favourite vegetarian place (i might or might not have been doing penance for the evil done to ducks). the bill was roughly one third of the previous place, fed us that night's dinner and the following day's lunch and was so fantastically flavourful that we decided we were just not fine dining types. oh sure, every once in a while we can consume artful drizzles and dollops, we can admire swans woven out of organic free range chives, we can even dig the fabric tablecloths (although we draw the line at molecular gastronomy - anyone who feels the need to foam pop-corn needs to get diddled a little more regularly), but for the most part, give me cheap, plentiful, flavourful asian food, and never mind the highfalutin stuff: mister monkey and i both cook and so you'll have to work a little harder to impress us than serving us a tower of soup.