This past weekend, I was listening to The Splendid Table on VPR and found myself watering at the bit when Lynn Kasper cooked up her Tagliatelle with Caramelized Oranges & Almonds with violinist Joshua Bell. The unusual combination of sugar, orange, cinnamon and almonds with pasta was so intriguing, I just had to try it that night. But when I found the recipe and saw how much butter and sugar the recipe called for, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
So instead, I used the recipe as a starting point of inspiration. I cut the sugar and fat way down (just a couple tablespoons of each, and substituted olive oil for the butter). I also steamed some asparagus and threw that in. I served with a simple green salad with orange vinaigrette (orange juice, mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper). What a wonderful winter meal to surprise the palate! Colin and I enjoyed it while we watched The Valet (a fun French romantic comedy) on T.V.
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Oh and here's something kind of neat: Remember the bit I wrote about a Smokejacks reservation gone awry? Well, Suzanne Podhaizer from Seven Days picked it up in her Crumbs column. Someone from Smokejacks must have noticed, because when I got to work yesterday, I found a personal letter of apology from Bridget, the Dining Room Manager sitting on my desk.
We had intended to open that night for dinner and accepted a few reservations," she said. "Unfortunately, a few hours before service we discovered that our ovens weren't working properly. As a result, we were forced to postpone our opening to the following night. I personally contacted everyone (or so I thought!) who had made a reservation. Regretfully we did not get in touch with you due to some mistake or lack of communication on our part. I apologize for the inconvenience caused by this and hope that you will give us another chance!"
Included with the letter was a complimentary gift certificate to the restaurant. Now, here's an instance where a little customer service goes a long way. Of course we'll give Smokejacks another chance! We didn't need a gift certificate to get us back. In fact, even before I received the letter, Colin and I went for a romantic date last Wednesday night and had a lovely meal featuring lots of lovely local ingredients. It's not that we'd give up on one of our favorite restaurants because of one small unfortunate experience, but Bridget's letter reaffirmed my feelings that it's a great place to support. So we will continue to do so. Thank you Bridget. Smokejacks, we love you. And there you have it. (Don't worry, Em & Kev, we'll share the GC with you. Brunch soon?)Our romantic dinner chez Smokejacks: