Yesterday, we took advantage of an invitation to a tech-related pitch lunch to eat at Fiola. In our parallel lives as IT consultants, we are sometimes invited to these events, where a software company extols the virtues of their product while feeding the prospects a “free lunch.” Fiola provides refined Italian cuisine at expense-account prices. While the private plates may not include all the frills and flourishes the retail meals offer, might a lunch here at someone else’s expense be worth sitting through a sales pitch?
Why, yes, yes it was. We were treated to a three-course meal of Chef-owner Fabio Trabocchi’s excellent cooking. A salad of lightly-dressed greens and taleggio cheese was followed by a choice of entrees. I had the arctic char (related to, but not, thank heaven, the ubiquitous salmon), and my dining companion had the ravioli of fresh greens and ricotta. I think I made the better choice – the fish was delicious down to the last bite of olive and leek sauce, while the ravioli, sharply lemony in small doses, grew cloyingly sweet towards the finish.
The dessert starred a slice of chocolate hazelnut torta, with ice cream and praline garnish. Two of my favorite flavors; excellent!
We whiled away the afternoon at the National Gallery’s Greek Bronzes exhibit. Walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, we came upon a display about the UN International Year of Pulses 2016. Yes, this is a real thing. You can’t make this stuff up! The question is, why is this tongue-in-cheek (pulse-in-cheek?) display in the window of the Public Defender Service office? I will certainly pick my pulse, and be dancing to it in the near future. My pulse will quicken to the beat of lentils. Or maybe chickpeas.
While we were standing there, a bus wrapped in an advertisement for a kale product passed by. Honestly, when busses get into the act, the product has definitely jumped the shark. No more kale for me!
So, then, two things: it was early for dinner, and we had an 8 p.m. curtain time at the Shakespeare Theatre. Aha! Let’s go to Momofuku! It’s early enough to get in (they take only limited reservations), and we’ll be sure to make it to the play on time!
We got there a few minutes before the 5 p.m. opening time, and they made us wait outside until they were good and ready. Fine. We took the time to pop in to Milk next door, plotting dessert. We could have just eaten there if we wanted to get a cheap meal – they had things that looked suspiciously like knishes, and of course there were milkshakes, cookies, etc., for which they are famous. In the end, though, we were too full from Momofuku’s brisket buns and brisket-and-hominy stew for dessert (we had overlooked the meat redundancy when ordering) but it didn’t matter – because in between the briskets came the star of the show: a big platter of fried calamari, complete with tentacles – one of my favorite things ever!
We had lucked into the calamari. Ariel, our waitress, informed us that it was an off-the-menu special, and that day was the first time it was offered. Now, here’s the thing: years ago, we had the calamari at Santacafe, in yes, Santa Fe, New Mexico. They are famous for it. It was the best we had ever had, before or since. (And we have been back recently, and it is still just as good.)
Ever since, we have been chasing the holy grail of Just-As-Good-As-Santacafe’s with no luck – until yesterday. There was a little Kewpie mayo on the plate, and, mixed with the house hot sauce, it made the perfect foil for the crunchy, tender pieces of squid.
As we ate, it got dark outside, and the place filled up. The noise started bouncing off the hard surfaces and backless stools. It was time for us old fogies to go. Besides, we had a play to see.