Sometimes, food presents itself in front of you that is just so amazing, thoughtful, and inspired – it would just be rude to turn it away. Friday night, I had one of those encounters.
Ryan and I have been meaning to go to Cafe Toscano in Aurora for quite some time. They are one of the favorite clients of Mantua Gardens, where Ry and his partner grow year-round hydroponic and sustainable “living” lettuce, sold to both local chefs and area residents that want to pick up lettuce as fresh as it comes. To be quite honest, I’ve been spoiled with lettuce lately, and I can’t really stand to eat it anywhere else. I never knew how much flavor could really be in lettuce, until I had the freshest, most nutritionally-sound lettuce available. I will never look back.
Ry’s been so busy working lately (7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day), that our time to go out for a nice sit-down dinner has been quite limited. We finally had a patch of time available late Friday night, and decided rather than go for our typical take-out meal, we would head over to Aurura to check out what Cafe Toscano had in store.
Being that Ryan and the Cafe T staff have built a great relationship in the past few months, we were apparently in for quite a treat. We were greeted by smiling faces when we walked in, and the beautiful atmosphere of the restaurant just relaxed us both to the core. Formerly an Arabica coffee house, the setting is small and intimate, and it was late enough in the evening to be relatively quiet. Talk about the perfect atmosphere. I’m kind of mad I didn’t take any photos of the settings (was trying not to be TOO “paparazzi” about our evening), but if you check out their Facebook page, you can see a few great ones posted there.
When the Chef called me over and asked if I had any food allergies, or any foods I wasn’t particularly fond of, I just nodded my head in a negative fashion. That night, I loved EVERYTHING. Little did I know that we would be presented with a special five course meal of the Chef’s choosing/creation. Many of the items are not even available on the typical menu, but were prepared especially for us. Who would I have been to turn any of this amazingness away?! I normally try to eat very strictly – but there are times in your life when you shouldn’t turn anything away, and this was truly one of them.
First up, was delicious warm ciabatta bread with herb-infused oil. Talk about a yummy first start, for a girl that’s been avoiding carbs for the past year and a half. OMG sinful goodness!
I forgot to talk pictures of the scallops that were the first “real” course. Before I could even think, the plate was empty and the food was laying in my tummy – in a not so photogenic state. However, as I recall, they were drizzled with a balsamic-like dressing and topped with roasted peppadew peppers (which, if you’ve seen my Instagram lately, are my new favorite food – thanks to these guys).
After the scallops (which I keep referring to as “scallions” or “scampi” even though I know that is totally incorrect – brain fart) came the salad. Ahhh yes, the salad with lettuce from Mantua Gardens. We never get to enjoy MG lettuce away from home, so this was such a treat for us. The dressing was perfection, and perfectly married with the greens.
It was such a proud moment to see Ry eating his salad in this beautiful restaurant. He’s been working so incredibly hard for well over a year on this project, and to see it come to fruition in this way was just so satisfying. Talk about a moment of pure pride. My heart was swelling.
Next up, was the “main” course of short ribs and risotto. Something both Ry and I would never order independently on our own, I was so impressed with this dish! The risotto was creamy and rich, and the short ribs were cooked to perfection. Topped with shaved cheese slices, this dish was “extra naughty”, but worth every single bite. Just when I thought I was completed stuffed to my brim, our server came by and told us to save room – the pasta course was up next.
Out of all the pastas that could be placed in front of me for a fourth course – it had to be gnocchi. My ultimate favorite in pasta – but something I never, ever let myself indulge in. That night was definitely the exception. Not only was the gnocchi delicious (its homemade by Cafe Toscano, by the way), they covered it in bacon. BACON, people. I rest my case.
Just when I thought I couldn’t stuff any more food in my face (why oh WHY did I wear skinny jeans that night?!), came the dessert. A molten salted caramel and chocolate-filled brownie “thing” (I’m so good with these fancy dinner terms, aren’t I?) paired with whipped cream and a strawberry. I’d be lying if I said that even after being stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, that I didn’t scrape the plate clean of this amazingly indulgent dessert.
Once in a lifetime meal, ya’ll. No holding back. No second thoughts.
No missing any workouts this week! 😉 LOL