Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Greedy gut

Stuffed. I am stuffed and happy, for I have supped and sipped at nice restaurants, with wine glasses on the table and not a high chair in sight, for two nights in a row. Tomorrow I'll return to my usual scene of macaroni-flinging muppers and crying over spilled milk, so indulge me as I savor the dining details here.

Last night, I did the previously unthinkable: booked a sitter on a weeknight for no particularly good reason. Oh, there was an open house at the neighborhood school, but that was just pretense for a low-key date night. We made the scene at the open house, which was a lot more fun after we ran into some friends and neighbors, then beat it out of there for a just-the-two-of-us dinner.

On a whim, we decided to try the nearby CHIC. The menu and interior were minimalist but cozy, and we revived some happy travel memories by kicking off the meal with a shot of gazpacho and grilled bread with manchego. Then Trey tucked into a near-perfect rotisserie chicken, while I savored some beef, served carpaccio-style. It was simple but good, and so satisfying that I didn't even want dessert afterward. (Insert gasp here.)

But on the way home, Trey stopped at Paciugo anyway. How can you say no to gelato?

That was date night. Tonight was girls' night. The incomparable Jen, upon hearing that one of our favorite Westwood mommies was feeling a bit blue about her birthday, effortlessly whipped together a gaggle of revelers and a chic table at Salum.

Now, I ask you: who else can rally eight busy women for a mid-week dinner in less than 24 hours? She also played chauffeur, was greeted at the front door of the restaurant by name, kept our wine glasses full and (perhaps most impressive of all) calculated the tab for everyone after dinner was over. And through it all, was cute and sweet and funny. You REALLY want to hate her, but it's just not possible.

Ditto our guest of honor, the unflaggingly cheerful, generous and kind Je-9-a. (I know: I'm sorry! I couldn't resist.) She and cute husband Chad were our personal welcoming committee when we joined the Westwood family, and we couldn't have been luckier. It's a tribute to her that our dinner crowd was so lively and fun. It would be hopelessly uncool for me to say that I felt like I was sitting at the cool girls' table, but so be it.

And because I am, after all, Nanny's granddaughter, I won't forget about the food. The menu boasted exotic and elegant offerings, but it was comfort food that called my name: Shiner Bock braised short ribs over cheddar grits, surrounded by a moat of reduction sauce and topped with some spicy fried onions. So. Yum.

Now I'm back in my quiet, sleeping house, which is a sharp contrast to the scene I left a few hours ago. Today was chock-full of tantrums and tears, primarily due to S's core philosophy: what's mine is mine. What's yours should be mine, too. This attitude meets with resistance from his siblings, which results in repeated meltdowns from all sides and at varying decibel levels. Here's a direct transcript of an exchange this afternoon:

K: Haddat?
S: Habit.
(A brief pause.)
K: Haddat now?
S: No. Habit. Mine.

(Pushing, scuffling, screeching ensue.)

Big sigh. But now, big belly. Big bed calling my name. Big birthday wishes to sweet Jenina. And finally: big bye.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh, so jealous. Sounds heavenly. I didn't know they had Paciugo in places other than Austin (I was introduced to it by my Austinite friends - yummy!) And yes, I agree, Jen is da bomb diggity.

6:34 AM  

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