Friday, January 21, 2011

Babymoon: Trip to Italy


Squire's big Christmas present from me this year was a "trip to Italy." I put that in quotes, because you all know darn well we can't really afford to fly to Italy with a little baby on the way! But regardless of our tighter budget, I still wanted and knew Squire would appreciate one last getaway, a babymoon, before our little babe arrived. So I arranged for a night in Italy. . . in Salt Lake city, just for the two of us. Here is a recap of the memories we shared on January 12th, and a few hearty recommendations for those of you who live near Salt Lake and want to getaway, if only for one evening. :)
We don't go out to eat very often, but I knew I wanted us to go to eat out at some place really special. So, we splurged and went to the fancy-shmansiest restaurant either of us have ever been to. And let me tell you, IT WAS AMAZING!! We went to none other than Salt Lake's, Cucina Toscana. You can see all the awards the restaurant has been given at the link - one being rated by Zagat as one of the best restaurants in America. I haven't eaten all over the country, but it was certainly the finest and most delicious restaurants I have ever been to. And, the service was amazing! A big thank you to my friend Ruthy for the suggestion. :)

We were given several things to try, "Compliments of Valter" (C.O.V.) - (Valter Nassi, pictured above, is the head honcho of the restaurant - most all of the restaurant's recipes are based off of his mother's own recipes in the Tuscan style.) Here is what we ate over the course of our two hour long meal:

**We had the choice of "fresh Utah water" or Pellegrino sparkling or flat mineral water. We opted for the tap water. ;) **

1. We each received two homemade spinach and cheese raviolis with a creamy tomato sauce, just to try. (C.O.V.)
2. Two pieces of toasted bread topped with fresh bruschetta, each. They melted in your mouth! (C.O.V.)
3. Delicious scratch-made bread. The loaves were either floured or covered with sesame seeds with an amazing dipping sauce comprised of capers, anchovies, olive oil, garlic, etc. (C.O.V.)
4. Caesar salad for 2 - this was made side table. Our server explained all the ingredients in the dressing, and we told him our preferences for each ingredient and he made the dressing there in front of us. The crispy romaine, freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, homemade croutons and dressing to our liking was so light and refreshing.
5. Appetizer - I don't remember what it was called, but it was a seasonal appetizer. We split it and our server made sure the chef prepared them on two plates for us. It was a poached pear, covered with goat cheese and Gorgonzola cheese, surrounded by fresh grapes, thinly sliced apple, spiced plums and candied walnuts. It was almost too pretty to eat! But, it was delicious. There were strong flavors, but it was really interesting and fun to try something a little different.
6. The main courses - Squire got the "Rullatine di Bue" and I got the "Rullatina di Pollo Saltimbocca". Squire's was delicious beef stuffed with Portobello mushrooms and Gorgonzola and Fontina cheese. Mine was chicken stuffed with spinach and prosciutto, with a creamy tomato sauce over the top. Both were served with fresh green beans, simmered in an orange sauce and steamed with a lemon-lime water, and red potatoes that were baked and then boiled and well-seasoned. All of it was excellent. (I think I will have to try the baking and boiling thing. It makes for a softer inside, but a nice chewier texture/color on the outside of the potato.)

But, wait! It doesn't end there!!! Haha. When I told Squire where we would be eating, he managed to find a $100 gift certificate on KSL for $80 which was wonderful! We also wanted to make sure we spent as much of it as possible, so we went a little crazy with the ordering. :)

**Intermission - about our server: Our server was named Marcos and he was amazing. We loved his salesmanship. He was so animated and dramatic, but charming at the same time. He made us feel like we were the only two in the restaurant. I think he could tell that Squire had a hard time understanding his English, so after his first few minutes with us, he slowed his speech for the rest of the meal. After each item of food was brought out, he would ask us how we liked it. Every time we would tell him, "It's so good!" etc. And each time, he would do this sort of bow with his arm across his stomach and dip his head in a dramatic gesture and say, "Athank you!" As he was serving the salad, one crouton fell off the plate on to my stomach. He gasped and I said, "Oh, it's ok! My belly caught it." He responded with his thick Italian accent, "No, the kid caught it." When describing the desserts at the end of the meal, Squire requested his not be served with the Brandy sauce. Later he assured us at the end of the meal that nothing we had in the meal had liquor in it (or if it did it had been cooked out.) He was so attentive and fun. As we were leaving the resaurant, he walked with us. One of the rugs was flipped up and I started to trip on it. He gasped and caught me by the arm, and escorted me on his arm the rest of the way up. Haha. We will remember our server as much as the food!**

7. We each got a piece of fresh, lightly powdered Biscotti and a small cup of warm semi-sweet hot chocolate to dip them in. The hot chocolate was a little too rich for me, but Squire loved it. The Biscotti was firm enough to dip, but didn't break your teeth like all other Biscotti I've tried seems to do. Very delightful. (C.O.V.)
8. Dessert - Squire got warm cheesecake served with fresh strawberry puree over the top. I got pistachio gelato, served with a side of fresh cherries cooked in a fruity sauce.
9. Just kidding. That's really all. :)

Even eating all that food, Squire and I never felt uncomfortably full (like we often do after Thanksgiving dinner.) I think because we ate over the course of two hours and because everything was so amazing, it wasn't a difficult thing to accomplish. No take-home boxes for us. (P.S. I don't think you take boxes of food home from a restaurant like that - just the vibe I got. But, I'm not really sure.) As we were walking out of the restaurant, we even got to meet Valter! He gave me a hug and shook Squire's hand. And asked me while holding my hand, "How many months 'till the baby comes?" in his thick Italian accent. He was as charming as the food in his restaurant.

After our magical dinner in Tuscany, we made our way over to Venice, A.K.A. The Anniversary Inn on Fifth South. We got a rockin' deal for our room on Living Social. (It's basically another one of those group coupon websites. It is legit - we got our room for half off the normal price.) :) Our bed was in a Gondola. There were two slices of cheesecake and a bottle of chilled sparkling apple cider waiting for us when we arrive, which we waited to consume until the following morning seeing as how we had just eaten an 8 course meal each.

At the Anniversary Inn, they deliver breakfast on a tray to your door at the time you specify. Yay for breakfast in bed that you don't have to make yourself! (Breakfast was : a large cinnamon roll, a warm ham n' cheese croissant, yogurt parfaits with berries and granola, and two drinks each - hot chocolate and orange juice for us. We also added a raspberry/cheese filled croissant to share which was very yummy and also warm.) The A.I. provides two clean waffle robes for you to use during your stay, and all the rooms have large jetted tubs, nice TV's, and are uniquely decorated. It feels like you are in another world in their rooms. We had the chance to go to the Anniversary Inn in May, and we loved staying there, which is why we returned.

(P.S. I promise I'm not getting paid to tell you about Anniversary Inn or Cucina Toscana. I'm just sharing some gems, that's all. :) )

Anyways, thanks for reading if you made it to the end here. I hope I've convinced at least one couple out there to try Cucina Toscana and/or the Anniversary Inn. They are wonderful places and make for a very special outing. I know Squire and I will always treasure our night spent in Italy, our last getaway before 2 became 3. Only 6 more weeks until my due date. . . Time is flying by so fast.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds fun and romantic!!!

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  2. Way fun! My Brother-in-law and his wife have stayed there a couple times and really like it. SOOO glad you guys went and did this. We really enjoyed our "babymoon" outings and still look back fondly. It's not bad, but different after baby! Good for you guys!

    Also, LOVE the haircut! Looks so nice!

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  3. I seriously can't believe you could eat all that food being so pregnant! And OH MY GOSH I want to eat there!! Josh and I got a gift card to an Italian Restaurant here in Indy, but I don't think it's Zagat rated! A babymoon sounds wonderful.

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  4. You're welcome! So glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. this sounds fabulous. maybe we'll look into it for our 1 year anniversary :)

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  6. Love it! Sounds like a trip to Italy that we would do! :) Dave surprised me and took me to AI for one of our anniversaries. It was awesome!

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