OK, strictly speaking that's an utter falsehood. But I did, per her gentle orders, reintroduce meatstuffs to my diet. And I knew that with more than two years of vegetarianism under my belt, I'd have to take it slowly, reintroducing things carefully and gently.
So, you know, I thought I'd have a side of beef.
Because you know what? It turns out I have an ironclad constitution. Aside from the fact that my stomach acid is directionally challenged, my insides are pretty much made of graphene.
I didn't want my virgin foray into burger town to be a lackluster affair, though, so I chose the Bottega burger, a liberally seasoned ground beef patty with crunchy Bibb lettuce, pepper-crusted tomato, and a schmear of homemade mayo on a grilled sesame seed bun. The bread was my only beef (HAR!) with this burger—it was charred precisely to my specifications (medium)—because it's too dry and crumbly and, frankly, a little dull.
To start, though, I had the eggplant snack, which I had been told JBSH had ordered not once, not twice, but five separate times in a single sitting the week prior. Still, I was not prepared for what hit the table.
This is ... beyond description. It's deceptively simple—thin slices of eggplant pan-fried to stiff crispness, sandwiched around fresh slices of tomato, mozzarella and mascarpone cheese, capers, and basil. The tomatoes are warmed through and the cheeses are oozy and melty, with the briny capers and grassy herb. But it's the mascarpone that's magic. It lends an unexpected bright tang that wakes up your taste buds and makes your eyes widen in surprise. (This is the most fun part for spectators, apparently, which I didn't realize until I noticed JBSH intensely eyeing me in amusement, waiting for my post-first-bite "oh!".)
You needed to see it again. That is some phenomenal, addictive stuff.
After that, because I have only a passing acquaintance with portion control, I had the white bean soup, hearty with vegetables and sinful porchetta.
I only had a cup, though. I'm not a complete glutton.
Plus I had to save some room for my favorite polenta tiramisu.
I don't even like tiramisu, people. But the sweet, espresso-soaked corn cake gets me every time. It is the only tiramisu I will eat. Yet.
I also grabbed a quick shot of JBSH's black bottom pudding. Because saying "bottom" makes me giggle a little bit.
Heehee! Black bottom.
It was a lovely lunch. The rain came down in sheets outside the window, but I was nestled into a banquette with my two favorite fellas, TFin and JBSH, having drinks before noon and all the livestock my heart could desire.
YOU'RE WELCOME, cardiovascular system.