Friday, April 28, 2006

Dining Out for Life

Last night was Dining Out for Life, an annual fundraiser for Lifelong AIDS Alliance and a great excuse to go out for dinner. We went to Cafe Campagne, my favorite Seattle restaurant for many reasons, but mostly because of their calamari. It's one of the only places that doesn't serve breaded, fried calamari; theirs is sauteed with olive oil, garlic, parsley, capers and lemon. YUM! I could just have 2 plates of it for dinner and be happy...but sadly that was not to be last night. I had a late meeting so our reservation was for 9, and by the time we got there they had sold out. I seriously thought I was going to cry--so pathetic, but if you've had their calamari you will understand. Luckily, the waitress steered us toward another fabulous dish and the crisis was averted. But more about the menu later. First, the couple next to us...

Imagine you are on vacation in a foreign country. You don't speak much of the language, but your guidebook mentions a great little cafe and you decide to try it for dinner. You get there and the place is jam-packed; you're greeted by both the hostess and a man in a red apron talking about donations and a trip to Puerto Vallarta. You finally sit down and the red apron man comes over, talks to you some more but you're not sure what about, and hands you an envelope to put money in. You might be a little weirded out, right? I think that's how this couple was feeling...they clearly didn't know it was Dining Out for Life night, which I imagine is why most of us were there. They were speaking in what sounded like a cross between German and French (Dutch?) and looked pretty confused for most of their meal. I felt a little bad for them, but they looked like they had a decent time by the end. Good wine has a way of doing that!

So...the meal! Last night I was saying how great it would be if we were rich enough to be regulars at Cafe Campagne, and Larry made the point that we could be regulars if we didn't have four courses everytime we eat there. That wouldn't be nearly as fun, however, so I guess it will always be our "splurge" restaurant. Here are the four (amazingly delicious) courses...

Haricots verts marinated with lemon vinaigrette and shallots, topped with grilled bacon
The bacon definitely made up for the lack of calamari.

Salade verte
Mixed spring greens with a sherry vinaigrette

Steak frites with Roquefort butter and sauteed greens
I had this with a 2001Côtes du Rhône Domaine Vieille Julienne;
Larry had a glass of 2002 Cahors Prieuré de Cenac. Both were excellent, and the staff is super knowledgeable about their wine. (Which is good, because Larry is a total wine aficionado (wino?) and I know next to nothing...)

Gateau foret noir with cherry sorbet
BY FAR the best Black Forest cake I've ever had--the cherry sorbet was to die for!

Hazelnut creme brulee
We shared desserts so I still got to have some of this too. No matter how stuffed we get, there's always room for creme brulee...

I have to mention one last perk...if you go on Thursday nights, they have live music (usually French accordion or cabaret). Truly, the best restaurant ever!

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