Friday, May 27, 2011

pre-friday WIN

Today was super-dooper busy at work.  As such, I feel completely entitled to the calories I probably overconsumed at Horizons tonight.  Mister and I finally went and there were available tables tonight, so we had a happy, adventurous, tasty dinner.  I even remembered to take very dim pictures!  I'm going to ramble a little about our visit, but please, even if my play-by-play of a gourmet dinner is not exciting to you, stick around - most of the WIN happens after dinner.

I literally spent at least half the time I was at work today walking briskly from one end of the building to the other for one inane reason or another.  I got through the day quickly, but with the forward-looking thought of what a delightful evening lay ahead - after we turned ourselves away from the bar seats at Horizons over the weekend, Mister and I decided to go tonight, when we figured it would be less crowded.  Our plan was actually to sit outside and ignore Mister's allergies long enough to enjoy the balmy evening air while we dined.  However, as we approached the restaurant, there were no tables set up outside.  As we drew closer, it looked like the restaurant wasn't even open and I had this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that Horizons went out just like so many other restaurants/businesses in the Queen Village/Bella Vista neighborhoods lately - no notice, just closed up one day.  Then we spied a sign in the window indicating that service was available upstairs only.  I turned to Mister and told him that if there were no seats, we were making reservations for tomorrow night.

I ignored him as he told my upstairs-bound back that we couldn't sit outside tomorrow night since there are supposed to be serious thunderstorms.  I ignored that we would really need to stay home and comfort the poor, terrified cat.  Fortunately, there were a few available tables upstairs, so Angst will have the pleasure of our presence tomorrow night.  I'll do my best to give you a short picture parade but I didn't want to use my flash, especially since it seems to make the pictures in dark areas even darker, so the pictures are a bit dim - hopefully you can still see a little.

I wanted to start my meal with a cocktail.  It's been a bit of time since I've had one - possibly since brunch with the parents a few months ago.  One of the things I normally love about Horizons is how unique their combination of ingredients are and how esoteric some ingredients are.  However, it does not help my usually stubbornly autonomous self to make a decision on a cocktail when I can't even pronounce the components of a cocktail, much less get an idea for the taste.  After some consultation with our delightful server, Jeannine, I opted for the Night Boat to Recife.  Since I can't pronounce the liquors, I sure can't spell them, but I'll describe the drink - it was absolutely the most complex cocktail I've ever had.  It started out with an unmistakable and strong citrus flavor, then moved toward a slight bitterness before resolving to a most bizarre but delicious aftertaste I can only compare to the taste of cinnamon applesauce. I know that doesn't sound sexy, but it really is an incredible cocktail.  I had a glass of Pinotage with dinner because I'm thrilled to find a single restaurant in Philadelphia that has Pinotage (a spicy South African blended red wine) by the glass.

For the eating portion of our evening, we began our meal by sharing the Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad, consisting of micro-lettuces with shaved fennel, roasted asparagus, toasted hazelnuts, and what appeared to be edible flower petals, dressed in a sublime hazelnut vinaigrette.  Mister, as always, ordered the Grilled Seitan and I almost did as well, since it has been well over a year since I've ordered it, but the past three to five times we've gone to Horizons, I've struggled with my curiosity about the Fresh Hearts of Palm Cake with braised beluga lentils and curried mixed squash, topped with cucumber chutney.

I tasted each component individually.  One of the deciding factors was my desire to eat their braised beluga lentils, so I tasted them first - they were good, but not outstanding on their own, which wasn't how they were meant to be eaten anyway.  The mixed curried squash was extremely flavorful and not terribly spicy.  The two together were perfect.  The cucumber chutney tasted more like marinated cucumbers, but I might be misunderstanding the nature of chutney, since I've always had spicier chutneys.  The cake itself was amazing both texturally and spice-wise - this provided the heat I was expecting to find in the curried squash, and was perfectly balanced by the chutney, curried squash, and lentils.  I'll admit, I was a little hesitant going into it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Horizons has never let me down, and I fully expected they would not let me down this time either.  I was not disappointed.

I was also not disappointed in our shared side of truffled fries, which I have presently decided are the best food currently available on earth.  I even said to Mister that if the world actually were going to end in the near future and the date and time really could be foretold, I would want the last thing I ate on this earth to be truffle fries.  That's right - not chocolate - truffle fries.  They're that good.

We agreed that dessert was also necessary, so we perused the adorable little dessert menu.  They usually have a few standards as well as a rotating flavor or two, specifically related to their cheesecake.  It is truly remarkable how nearly identical their cheesecake is to "real" cheesecake - the only way I can tell the difference is that my digestive system and intestinal tract are not rebelling.

Mister almost always partakes of the cheesecake when we do get dessert, but tonight, we both got our own slice of Lavender Cheesecake with a dollop of whipped "cream" and mashed blueberry coulis.  It was divine - that's really the best explanation I have.  I could ramble on and on about the amazing texture of the cake or the charming tanginess that makes you wonder if it's really vegan.  I could dwell on the perfect graham cracker crust or the fascinating scent-flavor experience created by using lavender in food.  But really, you should just focus on this: Go to Horizons before they close and eat truffle fries and cheesecake with a nice glass of Pinotage or Muscato.

Now, on to the rest of tonight's WIN.

About a week ago, I retweeted a simple but cheesy message in a silly and desperate attempt to win free tickets to a ballet I can't afford to see.  Let me back up - I could afford to see every ballet or orchestra concert I wanted to, as long as I was willing to sit in the nosebleed section and squint at the stage, wondering if I need a new prescription for my contacts.  I am not willing - I got spoiled by seats close enough to the stage that I made eye contact with the dancers.  So anyway, I tweeted some silly line about loving the Arts in Philadelphia, figuring it was worth a shot, and to my incredible surprise, I won!  One week from tonight, I will be floating down from an ethereal high of spending the evening watching powerful, strong men and women move around a stage with grace I can only wish for from seats I couldn't possibly afford (hopefully in the company of a similarly graceful and beautiful female - Mister has made it quite clear that although he enjoys spending time with me and doing stuff to make me happy, he has to draw the line at men in tights). 

Winning, Part II: after dinner, I perused the feed on Facebook because you know, it's kind of addicting.  Imagine my delight when I saw my Summertime Granola recipe featured on Chic Vegan today!  Head over [click here] and check it out!

Winning: Finale:  Tomorrow's Friday and then it will be a nice, long, fruitful yet relaxing weekend.  Cheers!


  1. We went to Horizons last night, too, hoping to sit outside. The Pinotage really is amazing. I went for the Rose and the Pacific Rim Grilled Tofu, although I did briefly consider the seitan. Glad you enjoyed and have a great time at the ballet! Maybe you can squeeze in a little visit to Sweet Freedom Bakery for a pre-ballet treat.

  2. Yes! I should go to Sweet Freedom on the way - you are absolutely right. Thanks for reminding me!