We've had a rough year...I've kept you informed enough that I suppose you can add together moving across the country, a miscarriage, an emergency surgery, my mom having a heart attack, a pelvic surgery/losing an ovary, a brain surgery....another brain surgery and you get the same answer most people do. They are surprised I still smile. Lol....but I'm not surprised...and I still do. Plenty!
The first thing my Mister did was hire a loverly girl from church to sit the Sprout, then he went and bought me a brand new dress and cover up (I tried it on before my brother's wedding...it was a dress he REALLY liked on me, but in the end we didn't buy it for the wedding.) and then...he made reservations at a fine dining place. Beckta Dining and Wine.
I was really excited to eat here, it was on my "to eat" list after all. I had taken a look at their menu the day before and couldn't decide what to get, so I made an executive call and went with the 8 course tasting menu. Why not? Then I'd be trying "a little of everything" right? Of course right! When we walked in for our 6:30 reservation it was already humming in there. I instantly felt way overdressed for the occasion though. None of the other customers were that dressed up. Oh well...
When our waiter came to ask us what we would like I ordered the 8 course tasting menu for us. If one person at the table orders it...everyone has to have it and my Mister was fine with that. I wondered if the optional cheese course came with it and he told me it was sort of worked into it. I found out later...there really wasn't much cheese included but, I also discovered with 8 courses I didn't have room for anything else. But lets get started....and let me apologize now for the lighting in my photos. It was slightly dim inside....
These little spoons were the PERFECT bite! A nice mellow mushroom flavor in a fine crispy coating with a smooth garlic aioli and a robust relish. It was balanced perfectly. It really got me excited for the rest of the evening! I assumed that on a Friday night the place was going to be filling up so as soon as I finished my croquette I got up to take what pictures of the inside that I could without disturbing the other customers.
Bench & Table Seating
By the time I made it back to the table, our first course was served and it looked amazing!
Heirloom Tomato Salad
The heirloom tomatoes were beautifully meaty and fresh, the grilled halloumi was nice and salty and just set off the sweetness of the tomatoes so well, and add to that the tomatillo gazpacho, yellow pepper puree and the creamy toasted pine nuts and you have a real winner!
Foie Gras Mousse
I won't lie to you...I wasn't a fan of the foie gras mousse. I love rich foods as much as the next woman, but I could barely handle this. I had to dip my fork in the sweet Peking Glaze and the salty, sour purslane and a bit of the wonton cracker to be able to make it "okay" to chew. I always try things on their own first, it was a huge mistake with the foie gras. My Mister and I both thought it felt like we took a giant bite of a stick of butter.
I needed something to cleanse my palate... Lucky for me, there was a guy walking around handing out fabulous bread from True Loaf Bakery in Ottawa. That concept is very important to me...staying local with your offerings and ingredients as much as possible. Way to go Beckta!
Date & Fennel Bread
When we were in Manhattan back in 2007, we lunched in Central Park with some food we picked up from Dean & Deluca. I will never forget my sandwich, ham & swiss with stone ground mustard on fennel and golden raisin bread slices. It was a thing of beauty. The bread I chose to try at Beckta was True Loaf's Date and Fennel bread. It far surpassed my expectations...but if I kept eating bread I wasn't going to be able to finish my other 6 courses still to come!
Oysters 3 Ways
My Mister was less than excited when this landed in front of him. He has trouble swallowing more than one vitamin at a time. So *giggles* I KNEW as soon as I saw the terror in his eyes, the he was dreading trying to swallow the oysters whole. He asked the waiter if he should chew them or not, he kind of left it up to my Mister. But for me it was down the hatch with the first one. The very top oyster on the plate was raw and simply dressed with horseradish and it was pretty good. The middle oyster was lightly crusted, perfectly fried and served on a bed of sauteed, sweet wakame. That was my favorite of the plate... The third oyster was warm and enveloped in a savory, lightly sweet cider soubise sauce. It was my runner up... I LOVED this course!!
These little babies were more complex than they looked. On the inside of the, again...perfectly, but lightly crisp outside, we were favored with a mixture of peaches, grits and corn. It was so interesting and it totally worked! The yellow sauce up at the top of the plate was a bourbon curd, the sauce under the croquettes was a smoked creme fraiche and sprinkled over the top were some pickled watermelon rind. With a dab of each sauce and a piece of the rind in each bite these little babies were pretty good. By themselves, they were a bit rich. The croquettes definitely needed those sauces and garnish.
This was one of my Mister's favorite courses. We both love bacon, but this was 50 times better! It was lightly salted on top which actually brought the pleasant sweetness out of the meat. The zucchini escabeche was wonderful and the eggplant puree was smooth in flavor. I ended up leaving most of my fava beans on the plate though. They just aren't my cup of tea...
I was starting to sense that I was nearing the "full mark" on my tummy. It was SUCH luck that these courses were spaced out so well or I'd have been toast after course number 3! But just then...our waiter brought us our new set of silverware. There was a steak knife! I was so excited! MEAT...lots of it!
This looked SO wonderful! I almost didn't want to touch it, but...then again I LOVE a beautifully cooked duck breast. I leaned in to inhale...it smelled like Heaven on a plate. The duck breast was PERFECTLY cooked. It is hard to tell from the lighting, but it was superbly prepared. It was sliced and fanned over a bed of miso sweet potato gratin and dressed with shiitake mushrooms and a black garlic demi glace to DIE for! The duck was so succulent and tender... The sesame beans and pickled ginger tempura were just the icing on the cake. There were so many complex layers of flavor built into this dish...I would go again JUST for that entree. Everything was perfectly delightful on that plate.
When they took away my plate I felt like I was going to burst. A couple times my Mister and I had tried to recap and count...what course are we on??? We weren't sure we could make it through the rest of the courses. 2 more... Oofdah!
Sage Fried Cornbread
This baby came out of the kitchen HOT! The little skillet was majorejo raclette just out of the oven and topped table side with oloroso sherry. I waited a couple minutes for the sizzle to die down in the skillet, then I forked some of the cheese out of the skillet, added some of the sage cornbread and I dabbed it in the lingonberry gastrique. All together it was pretty good, then I explored each component on its own. I ended up eating the rest of my course without the lingonberry gastrigue. It was simply TOO bitter for me, even with all of the sweetness from the sherry and the fried cornbread.
It was so sweet of them to write "Happy Anniversary" on our plates with chocolate. After the waiter explained each dessert I started from left to right... The first one was a shaved ice Mai Tai with a candied slice of lemon. The lemon was pretty interesting but I couldn't handle the bitterness of the alcohol. I went for the ice cream in the middle under the chocolate biscotti... Blech! All I tasted was coffee. I don't drink it...when it is in chocolate cake recipes or the like, I leave it out. I cautiously stuck my spoon into the last cup and tried the shaved ice that was margarita flavored. There was a little coconut dacquoise on top. It was the texture of a meringue but didn't have much of a detectable coconut flavor. *shrug* So I went for what I was leaving for last, because it looked like a "sure thing".... The chocolate biscotti. It was the best thing on the plate. I dredged my biscotti in a bit of the melted chocolate and just reveled in it.
It was our 8th and final course and I was seriously bursting at the seams internally. My Mister asked for the check so I started getting my camera and notes ready to go... That's when the waiter brought our whole menu typed out with "Happy Anniversary" written across the top. Wow! Such a helpful staff! I spent some time making notes and trying to remember everything they told us so I didn't forget a single element on each course...so this relieved me a bit. I knew I wouldn't get anything wrong now.
Then something else came out of the kitchen...a special cherry to the top of our already fabulous evening...
The two little cookies had peaches and what tasted like oats, they were pretty good. But the best part for me was the little bite of bar in the back. A seriously chocolatey, rich bottom that had all the feeling of a brownie but light enough you could still call it "cake" and it was topped with a moist layer of coconut cake. I really loved that little bite of cake. It was a wonderful ending to a spectacular evening of food.
I'd be lying if I said the best part of the evening was the food, though I can't recommend Beckta's enough for all your fine dining special occasions... They really went out of their way to make the evening special with their service and the food was every bit of the description of "fine". For me, the highlight of my evening was my company. My Mister and I don't get out much, let alone without being totally preoccupied about what the Sprout is up to. We spent most of our time talking about our relationship, traveling, food and his job; the first three of those are some of my favorite things to talk about, his job....not so much.
We didn't spend a lot of time talking about all of the unbelievably excruciating challenges we've been through in the past year, or how we didn't deal as well with some of those challenges as we did with others. We didn't need to...we were just relieved to be sitting with each other, to be alive and to still be in love.
Taken by Julie Jones, my little sister, at my big bro's wedding in Minnesota
I don't go a single month without hearing that someone we know is getting divorced...for whatever reason...or at least having some relationship trouble. It has begun to feel like "forever" or a "50th" isn't something anyone ends up celebrating anymore. But even through all our 11 years together, most of them married, and all of our own troubles...we keep growing and learning...and most of all, we wake up in the morning with our best friend. Thanks for another year...I couldn't have made it without you!