Friday, September 27, 2013

Apéritif Friday - A Dabble in Yoga, and A Review of Chef Rene's Back Bay Cove

So let me start today with a funny...

When I returned home from Girls Weekend, Mr. Musky asked me why I smoked two packs of cigarettes. From the incessant talking and a serious head cold that snuggled into my chest, I sounded like a crusty ninety year old on a respirator. Fast forward two weeks, and I am finally getting over that cold. Add mild asthma to any chest ailment, and it's a rough go for quite some time - to the point that I couldn't exercise vigorously if I even wanted to.

I usually don't want to.

So instead, today I thought I'd give yoga a go. I've never been, but as I try to run a couple of times a week (operative word: try), I figured I would greatly benefit from some extreme stretching. And the meditation part certainly can't hurt, right?

Definitely. Especially when a person co-exists with teenagers. Meditation, deep breathing, finding one's center of peace and repressing the urge to deliver bodily harm are all critical survival skills. A hired chauffeur would also be helpful.

So I was off. I'm cool with letting people know that I'm trying something for the first time, mainly so they don't look to the left and wonder where the blob in blue came from and why is she posing the to the right? So I found a perfect spot in the back of the room between a guy and a sweet gal who reassured me this would be a relaxing experience. And promptly learned that the guy is one of the other instructors, and today's teacher is his mentor.

Fantastic.

We began with some 'ohms' and I just went with it. We started the poses and stretches and for the most part, I kept up. At one point, as sweat dripped onto the borrowed mat, I carefully considered what I'd had to eat this morning, because I could see where flatulence might be a wee bit of a problem while contorting my feet to touch my head then maneuvering into a backbend (???) in a hot, enclosed room. I squeezed my core a little tighter, just in case.

I made it through the class, without any pffffts, and lay like a corpse while we encouraged our eyes, tongues and toenails to relax. The instructor reminded us that there is no good, no bad, no better, no worse. She encouraged us to let go and find our inner peace as we all lay there for a small eternity. I actually relaxed and told myself to not snore, until we sat up, and brought our hands in front of our hearts, prayer style. That's when I felt it brewing.

A tickle.

A maddening, feather brushy, bristly little nudge.

The room was silent. I mean, quieter than funeral silent. We were about to do that ohm thing again. How would I ever make it through three rounds of that sucker? We started with a really, really long oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmhm.

And then the room fell silent again. Whoo hoo! Only one ohm to end it! I could no longer hold it in. I squeezed my eyes shut, and let her rip. Snarly, goupy, tears-falling-down-my-cheeks croupy coughing. When I finally regained composure, I opened my eyes.

To see fifty beady eyeballs staring back at me, their relaxation, inner peace and workout totally shellshocked back to reality by yours truly.

 "But at least I didn't fart!" I wanted to shout.

I'm not sure if yoga is for me.

Anyway - all that, a walk with the dog, a warm beautiful day, and I'm ready to go have a cocktail and some snacks with my man. In and amongst running kids hither and tither, of course. But what I'd really like to do tonight is to go back in time, to June, to a most fantastic dining experience we enjoyed at Chef Rene's Back Bay Cove in west Minocqua.

I took lots of pictures of our dining adventures this summer, but this establishment wins the award for best dinner ever in the Northwoods. And that's saying a lot, because we've been to several restaurants. They usually rank from "just OK" to "I'll never go back, ever," to "pretty good - let's try it again sometime." We have a few old standbys but are always on the lookout for additions to the list.
Chef Rene's exceeded our expectations, and we've already been back. It sits on a back bay of the giant Shishebogama Lake, and whenever we have an opportunity to dine lakeside it immediately ups the ante of the restaurant. The food just tastes better when you've got a view to accompany it.
Not to mention perfectly executed, giant-sized apéritifs with our bacon-wrapped dates in red pepper sauce as an appetizer.
Whiskey manhattan for Mr. Musky, and a Brandy Old Fashioned Press for me. My beverage calls for a small amount of sugar muddled with some club soda and a three healthy dashes of bitters, ice, brandy and soda to top, garnished with a cherry and an orange slice. My Northwoods Supper Club go-to. I absolutely adore these suckers. If I could bottle the Northwoods, it would be a drink like this.

Our server was absolutely adorable and engaging. As in, Kahley would have been disappointed that she was at camp. She would have enjoyed him as a waiter. It's really sad that I check out the talent for my daughter and no longer for myself.
Sorry Honey. Er, I only have eyes for you, dear.

Back to the meal. Mr. Musky ordered salmon with a fabulous, light wine sauce topped with vegetables. He loved it. I had a bite, and can remember it tasting delicious. But my dinner won the star for the night.
I wore my sassy dress or something, because I ordered like a wild child. Normally I stick to the basics Up North, because I've learned the hard way that nobody on the planet can cook a duck breast like Bobby Flay at the Mesa Grill in New York City. I will never order duck again after that dish. But - Scallops Pernod by Chef Rene intrigued me. Mr. Musky hates anything that remotely resembles black licorice - Ouzo, Sambucca, Anisette, Absinthe, Jagermeister? No way. Never. So I went for it, knowing it was MY dish, and not his.
This is without question the best pasta dish I've ever consumed. The Pernod gently laced every bite, in perfect harmony with the delicate ingredients. The scallops melted in my mouth, seared in buttery perfection with slightly browned edges and creamy, rich centers. The perfect al dente pasta absorbed the sauce, the spinach provided brightness and the mushrooms added an earthiness that kept me coming back for more. I could not stop eating this dish. I shared a few bites, and Mr. Musky claimed dibs on my leftovers before we even left the restaurant. So I refrained from putting my lips to the bowl and drinking down that fabulous sauce.

I might have snuck into the fridge the next day though, before somebody else got a chance to eat my leftovers.

Happy Friday, People!

XOXO,
Jen



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