Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tomato Feast!

Chapin and I had a quiet weekend together, hanging out at our pool, going to a movie (Crazy, Stupid, Love), eating dinner out and so on. I guess we're pretty dorky in that, even though we've been together so long and live in a small loft with not a lot of space, we still like to spend time with just each other (and George, too, of course).

One of our new favorite things is going out for dinner on Sunday nights. Even though we have to work the next day, the crowds at the restaurants are more subdued... and it is easier to get a last minute reservation. Chapin and I are definitely not planners.

Dress by French Connection, Shoes by Betsey Johnson

Sunday night, we decided to go to one of our favorite Italian restaurants, La Tavola in Virginia-Highlands, because it is doing its annual Tomato Feast menu. The tomato, long at the heart of the is-it-a-vegetable-or-is-it-a-fruit debate, is one of my favorite foods. I guess maybe it's because I'm Italian, and grew up eating a variety of different meals featuring the tomato or its counterpart, tomato sauce.

What I like about the Tomato Feast menu is that it features the tomato in unique ways that are very new to this traditional girl's palette. For example, my meal included:
  • Appetizer: Watermelon and Brandywine Tomatoes served with arugula, 2-year-aged Parmigiano Reggiano and 12-year-old balsamic vinegar
  • Entree: Squid Ink Trenette Pasta mixed with preserved lemons, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil 
Although my sister, Gail, warned me against squid ink -- she tried it on her recent trip to Italy, and said it was not only very salty, but turned your teeth black -- I asked our server about the dish. Since the squid ink was actually baked into the pasta and not served on top, I thought I might have a different experience -- and I was right. The food was wonderful, and Chapin said he was jealous because he liked my entree more than his choice: the Roasted Cobia (fish), served with farro-tomato-arugula salad and smoked tomato vinaigrette.

I also loved my appetizer. Watermelon and tomatoes... It's not something that you would think goes well together, but it so does!

The restaurant sold out of its special dessert, the Basil Panna Cotta with tomato caramel sauce and crispy tomato skins, so we had to settle for good 'ole Tiramisu. (Since I love Tiramisu, I wasn't that torn up about it.)

Another reason I love going out to nice restaurants is because I get to dress up. I decided to wear a new dress I just bought from the French Connection brand. I got it on sale at Bloomingdales.com, but you can still find it online at eDressMe.com and other stores. French Connection is an international brand that is also very affordable. French Connection dresses have been seen on fashionistas like Pippa Middleton, Taylor Swift, Rachel Bilson and many other celebrities.

Actress Rachel Bilson in another red dress from French Connection
As this dress features a very low v-neck and ruffled sleeves, it is definitely not something I can wear to work. I strangely thought of Jillian Michaels when I saw the dress. She is always recommending that you work your shoulders and back to create a v-taper. The illusion is supposed to make your waist look smaller. In this case, I love how you can manipulate fashion to show off your body's best features. The ruching on the dress also helps hide flaws around the hips, stomach and legs.

Although Chapin wanted to me to wear my Black Halo halter dress, since the French Connection dress is new and I have never worn it before, I was more excited to put it on. I also thought it was appropriate that I was wearing a red dress out to a tomato-centric meal. Am I a goofball or what?

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