“Please choose: Contemporary American or Italian Mediterranean.”
[Looooong pause.] ”Italian Mediterranean.”
“Please choose: ocean, fireplace, or garden.”
[Internal monologue: Well, not garden, obv. Ocean sounds cool, but the ocean at night is scary - just a huge abyss. I guess that leaves fireplace. Does fireplace mean fire pit? I think it means fire pit.]
“Reservations made for Italian Mediterranean fireplace, Saturday at 7:30.”
So Vic and I went to Ti Amo in Laguna Beach. Vic lives in Mission Viejo, which is putting a major damper on his lifelong goal to be the father of my children, but he does his best. Besides calling me “My Love” and asking every 5 minutes if we can make out, every couple of months he takes me out to a crazy dinner. The last one involved donning furs and drinking six shots of vodka in the span of about 4 minutes. That was a crazy night.
Anyway, we got there and were promptly seated…NOT. We were asked to wait outside, and then were shown to a table immediately adjacent to the hostess’s lecturn thingie (hostess = Asian girl with the saddest eyes ever – someone give that girl a balloon.) where we were encouraged to get drinks and an app. I needed no convincing! I ordered a Key Lime Pie martini, complete with graham cracker crust and sidecar. Our server (a total mom-type character) said, “Now, if I’m not back in time to pour the rest of your martini in your glass, make sure you hold the cap on or else you’ll have a _______.” The last word was garbled, but I think she said “boo boo.” Vic thought she said “accident.” To settle the argument, we devised a scheme to make her re-state her sentence.
Vic: “Here she comes here she comes here she comes.”
Janet: “Hi! Look! I poured the rest of my martini in my glass! I held the top on so I didn’t have a…you know, whaddyacallit?”
Server: “Good job!”
Vic & Janet: “Damnit.”
So that was mystery #1. Mystery #2 was whether the tree that was next to our table that went up through the ceiling was real or fake. It looked both. I contemplated taking a chip of it home to be looked at under a microscope (my friend is a paleoethnobotanist) but then we saw some sap and decided it was real. Cool.
ANYWAY! We got the Carpaccio di Manzo – thinly sliced cured beef tenderloin with roasted sweet peppers, shaved parmesan, capers, and fresh lemon. It looked like a royal mess and somehow, inexplicably, had onion rings on top, but it was fabulous, particularly when super hungrious. Did I taste the carpaccio? Barely. But the entire mess tasted salty and tangy and crunchy and oily. Very satisfying.
We finished every lick of the carpaccio and drained our martinis and finally our table was ready. Fireplace, of course, meant fireplace, not fire pit. Duh Janet. We were taken to a table upstairs, in a room with, literally, a fireplace. Very very cozy.
But first – on the stairs on the way up we passed all the employees wishing the manager/owner a Happy Birthday. The girl with the sad eyes made him close his eyes and placed a ziplock bag full of petals in his hands. She said, “Open it!” and he did, and she said, “Smell!” and he did, and he said, “What is this?” and she said, “It’s a nice smelling bag! Happy birthday!” and he was like, “…oh.”
Anyway, our table had a great big drippy candle that was awesome. The manager came up and said good evening, and I said, “Happy Birthday!” and he said (a little scared) “How did you know?” Then he said, “You two look very lovely this evening. Are you celebrating?” and before Vic could say anything, I said, “YES! An ANNIVERSARRRRRYYYYYY!” and the manager said, “How wonderful! How many years?” and I said, “SIX!” The manager looked shocked as both Vic and I look very young, like babies, and I’m sure he was like have they been dating since before they were potty trained?
Maybe I should have chosen a shorter length of time. It was just the first number that came to mind. Vic and I chatted, when servers were in earshot, about our children “Darien” and “Layla” (NOT spelled Leila, gross!) which I guess meant I was an unwed mom who had kids reallly young? lol.
The manager had gushed about their homemade crackers and bread. Homemade bread I understand, but crackers??? HOWEVER. These crackers were SO YUMMY! I would cleverly combine the word “crack” and “crackers” but “crackers” already has “crack” in the word so it’s unnecessary. Maybe a hyphenation. These crackers were so good, they should have been called Crack-ckers. They came with some sort of artichokey mayo that was the fucking bomb too.
For wine, I ordered a half bottle of b Cellars b blend. I have been turned on to blends ever since having the glorious Red 4 Blend at Napa Valley Grille’s happy hour, and Vic exclusively drinks Napa Valley wines so it was an easy (and exulted-by-server) choice.
For our entrees, I ordered basically one giant plate of shortrib. I got Tortelloni di Ti Amo, which was jumbo tortelloni filled with slow cooked short ribs in a vegetable short rib stew. Can’t go wrong, right? And the pasta was fresh and chewy and the short rib inside was so good that you wanted more, and you only had to look 3 millimeters to the right of your tortelloni to find more shortrib in the stew. Shortribsplosion!
Vic got the special – Kobe Beef served over gorgonzola pasta – essentially the world’s most decadent mac-n-cheese. I thought the beef needed more salt, but Vic insisted that no, it was better this way because you could really taste the cow. Michael Pollan says in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma that good chicken tastes…more chickeney than chicken. This was kind of the same thing. Good beef tastes beefier than beef.
I figured that the freebie for the “anniversary couple” would be a dessert. And it was – a cheesecake. BUT ALSO! A drinkie drink! Whipped cream on top, alcoholy milky goodness on bottom. Nice. Three cheers for having fun getting dressed up which then nets you free shit!
I know what you are all wondering. ”Did Vic get any?” Duh! Don’t you know that the ultimate goal of being a girl is milking a boy for as many fancy dinners as you can WITHOUT putting out? Sheesh.
31727 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92677