Tuesday, July 20, 2010

two strikes...but they're good!

I love how one word can mean completely different things from one sport to another.  Take "Strike" for example:
In baseball, strikes are bad things - the more you have, the closer you are to losing your turn.
In bowling, on the other hand, you strive for strikes and the more you have, the closer you are to winning.   We bowled two strikes with dinner last night and tonight.

Last night, we actually [finally] ended up having a date!  It wasn't exactly the quiet, candlelit dinner in a refined restaurant that I had originally envisioned, but I think we actually had a lot more fun eating dinner at a bowling alley.

Mister told me about a dining adventure had by one of his colleagues...some crazy talk about vegan buffalo wings.  I did a little digging, discovered he was talking about North Bowl in Northern Liberties, and suggested we try these wings for ourselves.  So we trekked to the car and headed north for the first time in years, I think.  It was a relief to see that NoLibs really is being built up pretty nicely, like folks have been saying. 

If you haven't been to North Bowl, let me make this recommendation:  Go tonight.  Or tomorrow night.  Or maybe the next night, but for the love of heaven, please go.  As bowling alleys go, it's pretty swanky - backlit bars with neon blue, fabulous lounge furniture and cool vibe on the upper level.  It appears to have been a warehouse at one time (in NoLibs? no!) and I applaud the genius of Oran Daskal for seeing what became a pretty cool place.  In addition to a dozen or more 1950s-style bowling lanes, there are several billiards tables, a DJ who looks like he's right out of an Old Navy/iPod commercial and plays a fantastic mix of music, blending one song into the next with a decent bit of panache.  It's a little loud for a date, but it looks like a really fun place to go with a group.  Mister and I had a great time. 

It's very veg-friendly, yet it is the first place in a while where Mister and I would have been happy to put together a meal from appetizers.  Between the two of us we had Eggplant Parm Bites, Veggie Buffalo Wings, Pizza Tater Tots, Garlic Parm Tater Tots, a Blackened Tofu sandwich with hummus, and a veggie dog piled high with sauteed onions and sauerkraut.  They have an entire section of the menu devoted to variations on Tater Tots.  That is pretty darn cool if you ask me.  The tofu sandwich left a little to be desired, as it was not blackened via pan-searing, but rather by a 1/8-inch coating of various spices.  I really can't deal when the spices/marinade don't penetrate the tofu...so I won't be ordering that again, but everything else was awesome and we will definitely be back because we both wanted to order just about everything on the menu that wasn't dead.  We can really be gluttonous sometimes.

So tonight I waged the epic battle of which dinner to make from my fresh menu.  Chickpeas Romesco on Garlic-Saffron Rice, both from Veganomicon, came out on top.

OMG.  I don't say that lightly, mainly because I hate all those cutesy little "acronyms" that come from texting, but srsly (tee hee), this dish was astonishingly good.  A few notes: I didn't actually make Garlic-Saffron rice.  I tried, really, but the minute I opened the saffron and smelled it, I remembered the God-awful first time I used it and just couldn't bring myself to ruin what seemed to be such a promising dinner.  I'm so glad I trusted my instincts because the rice was phenomenal just being Garlic Rice.  I did add a dash of turmeric for that gorgeous sunny yellow that doesn't come out in the picture because I'm working with half-light in the kitchen.  The chickpeas and sauce were also surprisingly amazing.  They don't look like anything special - I'll give you that.  But the very first bite in my mouth made my eyes pop with surprise and pleasure (unlike my first bite of eggplant bites last night, which made my eyes pop with "holy-crap-thats-hot") and I enjoyed every bite after just as much.  I could kick myself for not making this sooner and I'm thrilled that I chose this over the Pasta Della California I almost made.

Well, that's all for me tonight - time to finish the wine and wash the dishes!

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