Let me tell you about how incredibly indulged and indulgent we have been this weekend.
Carolyn, Chuck and I went to The Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill last night to begin the celebration of my birthday. That place is magnificent.
Carolyn had a Singapore Sling, the Warm duck salad with local cucumbers, roasted chiles, lemongrass and cracklings, Seafood hotpot– slippery noodles in lobster broth with NC shrimp, halibut, fresh squid, manila clams, fresh lime leaf, lemon basil and local tomatoes and panna cotta with an almond sauce, fresh candied cherries and some sort of crispies and coffee.
Chuck had a glass of red wine (Barbera, Marziano Abbona “Casaret, ”Piedmont, Italy ’05), Fresh black mushroom and cabbage dumplings, Tomato and chickpea stew with local eggplant and okra, fresh green curry leaves, saffron, squash, Chapel Hill Creamery paneer, basmati rice and chutneys, Hot chocolate cakewith strawberry-yogurt ice cream and coffee.
*I* was encouraged to be excessive and had a Red Geisha (Muddled fresh organic strawberries with lime, ginger and vodka, though we could not taste the ginger), Local heirloom tomato salad with Japanese shiso leaf and shallots, Tea and spice smoked chicken with yang chow pork & shrimp fried rice and local green beans with housemade XO sauce, a glass of the Barbera, Double Happiness – Black sesame and fresh coconut ice creams with crunchy sesame cookies, chocolate cigarettes and bittersweet chocolate sauce and a glass of ruby port.
I tasted everything that came to the table and there wasn’t a bad bite there. Everything was magnificent though there were some delights that …I can’t say impressed me more because everything was truly excellent. But some were more unique to my experience (?) than others.
I do not know what shiso leaf is, but it did not match the waitress’ description of “vaguely anise-like” I liked it, but it did not taste like anything I’ve ever encountered before. The paneer was wonderful. I love the flavor and texture of Indian cheese and this one was lovely. The chicken was subtly flavored but not remotely bland. The panna cotta was amazingly creamy.
One thing that we were all delighted with was portion size. The servings were not excessive, a la Maggianos, but they were not the skimpy things that some high end restaurants seem to favor. They were enough to fill you comfortably, without stuffing to misery.
When we got home, we walked the labyrinth by candlelight and split a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne.
And, no, I did not have a hangover this morning.