This past Christmas in lieu of our usual tradition (5 gifts in different categories for $10 and under), we decided to do something a little different. We decided that we’d gift each other a year of dates, an idea I’d first read on this blog. For a while after we first got married, Kevin and I had a dedicated weekly date night that we would trade off planning. Although we of course still do things together all the time, we’ve gotten away from purposefully setting aside that time, and I was missing the intentionality of a regular date night. Enter: the year of dates. Each of us would plan 6 dates, one every other month. The goal was for them to be fairly simple, seasonal when it applied, with a few more elaborate dates for good measure. The original intent was to open our “date cards” a month at a time, but turns out we suck at patience so we’ve since opened them all.
January (which ended up taking place in February due to a snowstorm) was my date to plan, and is one of the simplest of them all: just dinner. A swanky vegan restaurant, Modern Love, opened up near our house last summer and we’ve been wanting to try it but due to its popularity it’s been tough to get reservations at a decent hour. This first date night seemed like the perfect time to try it. The stars finally aligned, and we were able to get a table at 7:30 on a Saturday night. We got a little bit dressed up, grabbed a bottle of wine (it’s BYOB) and were on our way.
We decided since it was date night we’d go all out with an appetizer, entrees and dessert. For our appetizer, we went with the grilled saffron polenta, which had a pumpkin seed pesto, cauliflower puree, and deliciously crispy shallots on top. It was amazing, and made me wonder why I don’t cook polenta more often. I’m always impressed by dishes that can taste creamy without having any cream, and the cauliflower puree on this dish definitely fit that description.
The entrees were more or less no brainers for us. I love gnocchi so I ordered that, which was served with an almond ricotta (another cream-less but creamy-tasting component), broccolini, fresh herbs, garlic and truffle oil. It was served almost as a soup over a fantastic, perfectly spiced broth. I would have liked to take a bath in that broth, I think. The gnocchi were great too – super fresh and just the right texture.
Kevin ordered the mac & shews, a riff on macaroni and cheese that’s been getting this restaurant quite a bit of press and seems to be one of their more popular dishes. It’s made with a cashew “cheese” and comes with pecan crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower, and braised kale. We had high expectations for this dish and it definitely lived up to the hype. Typically nut-based sauces can taste a little grainy, but this one was incredibly smooth and I could have easily mistaken it for real cheese. We’re not huge tofu fans – this was some of the better tofu I’ve had, but I didn’t think it really added anything to the dish. The real stars of this show were the amazingly flavorful cauliflower and kale – they reminded me of something you might eat at the likes of Girl & the Goat – just exploding with flavor. Note to self: must figure out how to make kale taste that good.
We were getting full at this point but had heard that desserts were a must here so desserts we had. As usual, I went for something fruity – in this case, the cranberry pear crumble pie. I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like, but this one definitely ranks very high. I don’t typically love vegan ice creams, but again, this one hit it out of the park and tasted like the real deal. The candied orange peel was a nice touch as well.
Kevin, of course, went for something chocolate – the chocolate pecan pie with sea salt, chocolate sauce and coconut whip. Chocolate desserts aren’t really my thing, but Kevin seemed to really enjoy his slice and the one bite I had was a delicious combo of sweet and salty.
Altogether, an amazing meal and a great first date night. We failed at getting a picture of the two of us, which should be a requirement of all date nights, but I guess we were too caught up in our food coma to remember. February date coming soon!