Doing The Charleston

Rainbow Row

That’s what I’m doing.

I flew in Friday night to join Beloved, who has been away on business for 3 weeks straight.

Since I’ve been here, we’ve walked over 10 miles and seen all sorts of interesting sights.

Pineapple Fountain

Like this.

Big Bridge

And this.

And we’ve eaten here every night.

SNOB

Yum.

I fly home tomorrow afternoon, but I do have a recipe to post.  So I’ll be back.

Have a lovely Monday, y’all.

Moo, Dude

Well, we’re back from The Great Beloved Family Reunion of 2010.

It was a lovely memorial for Beloved’s paternal grandmother, who passed away at 96 – an amazing woman – and part family reunion bash.  Everyone had a BLAST.  Family who hadn’t seen each other in years (in some cases decades) got together as if they’d never been apart; I got to meet people I’d heard so much about, and they ALL treated me like one of the clan – it says something about these kind and generous people that they welcomed me (ME!) so whole-heartedly.

Beloved and I were overwhelmed by the absolutely gorgeous Wisconsin countryside.  Being us, we spent a great deal of time exploring said countryside and finding little gems like this:

Outhouses with satellite dishes.

YEAH.

Anyhoo, we’re out and about with my camera, when we come across a large, picturesque field full of large, picturesque cows.

No. Seriously.  They were picturesque.

See?

Isn’t he cute?

His FOOD was rather picturesque, too.

Take a closer look.

Don’t recognize it yet?

Here – we’ll help you out.

When Beloved and I said we wanted grass-fed beef, this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

And California says their cows are happy.

Zazio’s Italian Restaurant

As those of you who are crazy enough to hang around here may remember, I accompanied Beloved to Kalamazoo, Michigan on a business trip the week of Christmas.  Which also happened to be the week of my birthday.

We didn’t get to see a lot of Kalamazoo, which is really a shame – they have an Air Zoo, among many other attractions.  But since our trip (to say nothing of my birthday) happened to be in the dead of winter – and it was mostly a business trip (well, for Beloved; I spent most of my time in our suite devouring Under the Dome and battling a computer virus) – we just didn’t get out much.

The one thing we did do, though, was book a reservation at Zazio’s Italian Restaurant’s Chef’s Table. The Chef’s Table is a small arena at the back of the restaurant with a full cooking station where the chef (or, in our case, the sous chef) prepares a 5-course dinner for you and 10 other people, right in front of your face.

With a complimentary wine selection.

Now, if you’ve been reading here for any amount of time at all, you know I’m not overly fond of Italian cuisine, and I was even more dubious about dinner at the chef’s table when I realized it was a fixed menu – you got what they served you, and that was it.  And the last thing I wanted was a lot of pasta, mozzarella, and tomato sauce for my birthday dinner.

But the lure of having a chef prepare my meal – and answer my questions about what he was cooking! – was just too much to resist.  And, they had their menu for the month of December posted on their website:

A polenta and goat cheese appetizer.

Seared scallops and a small salad of bitter greens.

Chestnut tortellini in a browned butter and cream sauce.

Rib eye steak poached in butter.

A rustic fig tart with honey gelato.

Your mouth is watering isn’t it?  It was even better than it sounds.

For a foodie like me, it was quite an experience.  The chef was skilled, personable, knowledgeable and willing to answer just about any question.  The waitstaff was helpful but unobtrusive.  The wine was well-chosen and extremely suitable to the meal (in fact, we bought two bottles of the wine that accompanied the main course, it was so good).

Oh – if you have any dietary restrictions at all, they will do their best to accommodate you.  Also, many of the ingredients the chef uses are for sale; we picked up two very nice imported Italian extra-virgin olive oils as well as some saba (a grape syrup, or “must”, used as a condiment) along with the wine.  And the cost of the dinner itself was not outrageously expensive.

We had a lovely time, and the food was simply delicious.  If you’re ever in Kalamazoo, Michigan, stop by the Radisson Hotel (or better yet – stay there, it’s a lovely place and their retail stores have the best point of sale software you’ll ever see :P) and make reservations for the Chef’s Table at Zazio’s Italian Restaurant.

It will be SO worth it.

For more Travel Tip Thursday, head on over to Pseudo’s place.  Tell her Jan at the Sushi Bar sent ya; she’ll treat you right.