Sweet Surprises

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There is not much that can beat a sweet surprise.The sweetest of all? Getting a call from your husband that he is boarding a plane for an early arrival home.

Danny’s travel schedule for work is typically Monday through Thursday so this early return was very exciting news. It also saved me from a dinner of pieced together leftovers.

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Danny asked if I would like to join him and his co-worker for dinner and if I would pick the location…hmm decisions, decisions. I had heard many good things about Empire State South (most from Stephanie and her husband Tyler who are big fans). The restaurant is only a few blocks away and since Top Chef Master Hugh Acheson is involved (I have a thing for Top Chef) it was a done deal.

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There were lots of good looking items on the menu and I was happy when Danny’s co-worker suggested that we each pick and item at each course and share. That is my favorite way to dine! Danny is usually a tough sell on the concept but last night he was on board.

Our appetizer quartet (couldn’t even narrow down three) included boiled peanuts (not pictured), the ‘Kind of Local’ cheese plate, Green salad and Crisp Pork Belly. I think the salad balances the pork belly, no? I’ll just keep telling myself that.

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No better way to cleanse the pallet than with a warm, buttery, yeast roll or fresh slice of homemade sourdough (or both…guilty!)

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Entrée course consisted of chicken and dumplings for Danny, duck breast for Peter and pork tenderloin for me. We added a Kimchi rice grits and roasted broccoli on the side. I wish I took better notes about the specific accompaniments for each dish. We all agreed that these were the true standouts. I do know that mine was a heavenly mix of brussels and bacon. Again, green vegetable balances out pork fat, no? he he

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And obviously…

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Bites of the maple and apple flan, pear beignet and the phatty cake (essentially a ginger cookie whoopie pie..YES PLEASE).

After sleeping off my food coma, I made my oatmeal this morning with another sweet surprise…apple juice. I saw the tip on Self.com and substituted apple juice for the water I typically use. I topped the bowl with fresh apple, toasted walnuts and ground flax and enjoyed it in a festive holiday bowl (compliments of my dear friend Julie). I had it along with a mug of candy cane green tea.

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Very Merry Indeed!

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