Wednesday, April 25, 2012

dinner at Marea (lyn)

Too bad Gail weren’t a guy.  I’d be in love.  She is the perfect date.  Thoughtful.  Generous.  Interesting.  Funny.  And full of surprises.  Tonight, in celebration of my birthday last month, Gail takes me to Marea for dinner.

I arrive for our 6 o’clock reservation (Gail made the reservation a month ago; anything after six and before ten was already taken).  Even for the early hour, the restaurant is starting to fill up.  It is sleek and modern, but the wait staff is surprisingly friendly and accommodating. 

Gail looks beautiful in a black dress that she unflatteringly describes as “a diaper dress,” named for the complicated way the dress is designed.  But it looks elegant and is not, in any way, suggestive of its name.  

As soon as I sit down, Gail explains the prix fixe meal we'll be getting.  Everything on the menu sounds exotic with ingredients I don’t know and therefore can’t imagine.  The waiter provides guidance, and has strong opinions about what to order.  His suggestions prove to be perfect.

For starters, I get some kind of shrimp sushi.  I have never tasted anything like it; it is divine.  And that's not because I drink two Cosmopolitans and my senses are heightened.

The waiter, without hesitation, recommends the spaghetti for the "hand-made" pasta course.  While spaghetti sounds like something I could even make, I certainly couldn’t make it with “crab, santa barbara sea urchin, and basil.”  It's unlike any pasta I've ever tasted.

For the main course, Gail and I both get branzino, served with "beluga lentils, cipollini onion, trumpet royale mushrooms, and red wine jus.”  It is hard to decipher most of the ingredients in the dish, but it really doesn’t matter; it all tastes great.

I order a skim cappuccino for dessert, along with a glorious lemon tarte, described as “sorrento lemon curd tart, ricotta gelato, brown butter crumble, candied rose.”  It neither tastes, nor looks, anything like the ones I’ve made.

But the best part of the meal is not what I eat.  It’s not the nice touch of the beautifully wrapped breakfast muffin we are given as we leave.  And it’s not the intrigue of wondering who the secret service men at the door are there to protect.  No, the best part of the dinner is unquestionably spending time with Gail.    And that is saying a lot, considering how exquisite the dinner is.

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