Insufficient Inspiration for a Title

My mother was here visiting a few weeks back.  That allowed Cati and me to take advantage of the world’s greatest baby-sitting service (i.e. The Grandma) and go out on a date.  We are suckers for the classics, so we went with dinner and a movie.  We headed downtown to The State Theater and saw the movie Sin Nombre.  It was pretty good; violent as all-get-out, but well-made and thought-provoking (and a bit unsettling).  The violence in the film was very matter-of-fact, which is actually more disturbing than the over-the-top slow motion kind found in many Hollywood movies.  It reminded me of another fine Spanish-language movie—Maria Full of Grace.  Both movies get the viewer to feel concern for someone who, on the surface, is a “bad guy.”  I thought about both films for days after seeing them. 

Anyway– after the movie, we walked around downtown Ann Arbor on a bustling Friday night looking for an interesting place to have dinner.  As we strolled, we popped into several cool little shops and even an art gallery.  We guessed that the art gallery had had an exhibit opening that night.  We figured this because when we passed through, the scene was essentially devolving into a dance party– most likely fueled by all that free “opening-night” booze (nothing wrong with that at all).

We strolled around and finally landed at Vinology for dinner.  We sat at a table outside on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  The setting, perfect weather, energy-of-the-evening, and service were all impeccable, but the food was just ok.  It wasn’t bad enough to ruin our first Nina-less date in a while, but every dish had an annoying flaw.  The presentation was nice (see photos), but looks ain’t everything.  It takes more than a pretty presentation, funky menu-description, and inflated price to impress us these days—it has to taste good too.  In fact, if it looks great but doesn’t deliver the flavor, it’s even worse—because there’s that subtle and lingering taste of unmet expectations.

We started with a pair of drinks; Cati had a blush cava and I had a Tullamore Dew (with an ice cube).  We ordered from the small-plates menu and had all four plates come out together.  We really had a great time but it was more-so in spite of the food rather than because of the food. 

Here are the dishes in no particular anything:

“Salad of grilled ramps, fiddlehead ferns, local greens, mushroom vinaigrette, fried egg”

 Grilled ramp salad

(Alex’s translation: “Boring-ass warm salad with an egg.”) 

“Blue cheese stuffed Medjool dates, house-made chorizo”

A bad date- the Medjool, that is.

I’ll compare this dish to the flight of Icarus.  Y’know– it aspired beyond its ability.  The mix of blue cheese, dates, and chorizo didn’t add up to anything beyond the mere sum of the parts—and what a puny sum it was.  I also learned I don’t like Medjool dates.  They are a saccharine, indistinguishable mush.  I far prefer semi-dry dates.  I can’t even articulate the difference; it’s like canned tomatoes versus tomatoes fresh from the garden.  It’s like Oasis versus The Beatles.  It’s like President G.W. Bush versus President Lincoln.  Oh, you get it.

“Creamy corn bisque, bacon and scallop croquette”

Creamed corn bisque

The soup tasted like puree of creamed corn (from a can).  The cloying sweetness of this dish made Nina’s baby-food taste complex in comparison (yeah, I try ‘em sometimes).  The croquette wasn’t half bad, but what value is a good Maraschino cherry on a mediocre sundae?

“Crispy veal sweetbreads, camembert crostini, Dijon caper dressing”

Crispy sweetbreads

This dish should have been called “Crispy fried crispy with a crispy fried crisp of crispy crisp crisp.”  That is to say—it tasted like fried.  “Dijon caper dressing?”  Where?  Oh nevermind.   

Apathy and disappointment aren’t much of a motivator to write this post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it all the same.   

Well if Beck managed to write a poignant song about resignation and frustration, I can write a measly blog-post.

Click hear* to listen Beck’s “Lost Cause” for your daily downer.

P.S.- I don’t make a habit of depressing people who read my blog-posts.  So, if you need a pick-me-up, take a look at this video of Nina cracking up at Nacho doing tricks for treats.  I dare you to try not to laugh during this (especially at ~ 55 seconds):

* Ha! Freudian typo.

9 Responses to “Insufficient Inspiration for a Title”

  1. jess says:

    You’re right, that video warmed my little grinchy heart. So cute!

  2. Lydia says:

    I’ve only watched the video a hundred times. I crack up each time. What a delightful baby! Miss Nina sooooo much.

  3. Elisa says:

    Vuetro pequeño garbancito me ha hecho llorar de la risa!! qué divertida es Nina!! y bueno, lo de Nacho es ciencia ficción, por unas galletitas os hace maravillas, hay qué ver!! soys unos auténticos amaetradores de perros! Besos para los tres (y una galletita para Nacho)

  4. Gina says:

    Gosh is she adorable…

  5. Gina says:

    Also, I got the feeling when we passed that Vinology place that it might be semi-mediocre. It appeared to be too trendy to me–I’m sure they have plenty of good wine, but with a name like “Vinology,” it seemed likely that their food would take second or third (next to the decor) billing.

  6. celinabean says:

    Oh god, reading this makes me miss you guys. I’m sorry you had a so-so/crappy dinner, but I enjoyed it through your writing :)

  7. alex|dimitri says:

    We’d enjoy a meal with you anytime– either directly or via our respective blogs. :)

  8. amymengel says:

    Good God, that is the cutest thing ever. Hope you guys are getting settled in Michigan. Nina sure seems happy there. Miss ya!

  9. alex|dimitri says:

    Thanks Amy. We miss you Albany folk too. Shoot me an email sometime.