Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Birthday Bash at the Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill!

Hey, everyone! I'm so, so sorry I haven't written in so long... It's just that... Thursday was my birthday, and that's always a busy time, and I was sick that very day, along with the day after, so I was just too tired to work the cogs in my brain and type something up... And on Saturday, although I was feeling a lot better by then, a bunch of my friends and I went to Six Flags in Illinois to celebrate my birthday, and we didn't get back till' late... and Sunday...Well, I don't really have an excuse for Sunday. But it was Sunday, so uh... remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy or whatever?
But I'm back now! So don't fret! I really do apologize for the long hiatus, but I figure it's better late than never to get back into the swing of things and start working on a brand-new post! And since it was my big day just last Thursday, I thought I'd tell all of you dear readers how it turned out! I promised myself up and down the night before my birthday that when tomorrow came, I wouldn't worry about what I ate in the slightest. I figured if there was any day to go hog-wild on junk food (or any kind of food you want, really), it might as well be your birthday! You should do what makes you happy on your birthday, right? You don't want to go to bed that night thinking, "I could've done things different...", do you? I sure didn't! I hate lame birthdays with a passion! If your special day is lame, you've defeated the whole purpose of remembering your birthday in the first place! So, I vowed to make that Thursday as anti-lame as humanly possible!!!
Within reason, anyway...
I started my morning with a biiiiiiig bowl of cereal. It was a more indulgent take on my famous Yogurt Bowl than I'm used to creating. I didn't measure anything out at all- something I wouldn't even think of doing any other day. And instead of using just Fiber One for my cereal, I also threw in a couple good handfuls of Life, one of those rare cereals that actually tastes better in milk. I added in a plain Chobani yogurt, a whole bunch of cool, creamy milk, some Splenda, some vanilla flavoring, and a pinch of cinnamon. I even mixed in some Cool Whip Free for a tasty treat! And then I threw in some ice cubes, since I love it when my Yogurt Bowl is freezing cold. I ate this along with a Vanilla coffee, flavored with more milk, Cool Whip, and Splenda! What a great way to mix breakfast up a bit! It was very sweet, and a lot more decadent a Yogurt Bowl than I'm traditionally used to eating.
After that, I got ready for the day and was off to school! I was going to wear a dress, but when the weatherman said the Weather Word of the Day was "Chilly", I decided against it. COME ON... It's June, you know? 50 degrees is absolutely nutty!!! But whatever, a dress would've been a hassle anyway.
My second period was Italian, and we went down to the Cooking Room to celebrate! No, not for my birthday, but since we had only three days left of school (In fact, I'm typing this post out in my very last study hall... Whoohoo!)
Anyway, to greet the coming summer vacation, my Signor and a few other adults made all of us students Mostaccioli in Red Sauce. There were meatballs too, but I didn't take any. I've never been a big fan of meatballs, even before I started caring about nutrition, believe it or not. Oh man, the mostaccioli was sooooo good! It came straight out of the oven, so it was perfectly warm. The noodles were al dente, and the tomato sauce was oh-so savory! I added dashes of salt, black pepper, and red pepper, just to add an extra kick to my plate. The Cooking teacher also set out a big mixing bowl full of Oreos for us to nosh on, so, it being my day to indulge, I totally did! Four whole cookies, baby! Yum! Rarely, rarely, do I ever partake in the guilty pleasure that is in Oreo cookie. I didn't have anything during my actual Lunch period- Mostly due in part to the fact that there was NOTHING in the Cafeteria. Nothing good, anyway... They stopped restocking food a few days prior, since Thursday was our last official day with a lunch period. The last three days of school would only be half days, and we would only be taking our finals.
Despite the Cafeteria being void of any good food to splurge on, U.S. History was chock full of it! Our class had formulated the amazing idea of getting pizza for Thursday, and our teacher was all for it as long as each kid payed three dollars. Other U.S. History classes wanted to piggyback off of our plan, but we were the only class to fully carry it out. Our teacher picked up six pizzas from Frankie D's Vino and Pizzeria, a place here in Kenosha: Two Cheese, two Pepperoni, and two Sausage. I'd never tried Frankie D's pizza before, but it was really good! Amazing, even! But I may just be saying that because it had been forever since I had a slice of greasy, classic Cheese pizza. The crust was bigger than the cracker-thin crust so standard in the Kenosha area too. But I didn't mind! It was my birthday, and I could eat whatever I wanted! I even had a slice (or two... or three...) of Pepperoni and Sausage. I never eat Pepperoni or Sausage! Boy, was it tasty! I'd like to order from Frankie D's for Pizza Night sometime... They can truly prove themselves when I get a taste of a healthy pizza order. If you can make pizza healthy and still have it tasting great, you really do deserve some kudos.
Man, pizza and mostaccioli? All in one day? What's next?
Frog legs, that's what!!!
Welllll... not really, but getting off the topic of food for awhile, my class dissected a frog in Biology that Thursday. I did the bulk of removing the little croaker's various organs and such. I honestly don't mind that kind of work- You know, cutting open an animal and seeing all of its guts and insides and whatnot. I find it intriquing, being able to see how a creature works... It's inner mechanisms... It's something you can't discover just by looking at the animal's interior. You could very well take a guess as to how a frog works just by looking at it, but you won't know for sure till' you cut it open! My Dad says I'd do well when he takes me to gut a deer. Fine with me! As long as he's shooting... I'm all for slicing open a sweet, old doe, as long as its dead and I wasn't the cause of said death.
                          
Well, sorry if you're squeamish, dear readers... But I found the dissection highly interesting. Anyway, let's move on to dinner!
In my pre-birthday post, I told you all I was heading to Honada with my family for some delish' Teriyaki Chicken. But then I got thinking, and I've been to Honada's so many times before: It was time for something different! I wanted to do something new, or else I would've been bored. And I'm sure it goes without saying that being bored on my birthday is a big no-no. I had to go somewhere I had never gone before! But the question was, where? After comtemplating the array of options, I decided we ought to go to the Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill, a fairly new Italian restaurant out over by Woodman's. I'm sure we would've gone before, but the place is just so far out from Mama's house, and my Dad doesn't take us out for dinner as frequently as she does. Dad had, however, been there to eat once before... I think it was for work or something. Tuscany Bistro is a lot bigger on the inside than it appeared to be when we drove up. It was fancy, but not overly so, like Chez Paul or whatever. Tuscany has a dimly lit atomsphere, and Italian music playing in the background (They even played That's Amore! Love that song!) There were black tablecloths and cute little candles everywhere. Look's like the bar was pretty spiffy too!
I had looked over Tuscany's menu online the day before, so I pretty much knew exactly what I was going to order. I had even asked Chef DeSantis for some input on what to order. I had narrowed the choices down to the Veal Marsala, the Veal Piccata, the Penne Cacciatore, or thr Linguine Vongole (better known as Pasta with Clam Sauce). Chef said he had a preference to veal, so he told me he'd order either of the two beef dishes. I eventually settled on the Veal Marsala. I feel Marsala is a dish you need to try at least once in your lifetime. Same goes for veal in general. Yeah, yeah, it's baby cow, I know. Their short lifespan is spent inside a tiny, dark, terrible cage that gives them next-to-no space to move around in, I KNOW. But it tastes AMAZING. And if you were to a watch a documentary on how common supermarket meat is processed and raised and stuff, you'd see that most animals aren't much better off.
Anyway, my family ordered a few appetizers for the table to share. Mama and Dad wanted the Fried Calamari, and my brother wanted the Fried Raviolli, but there was only one I had my eyes on: the Lumache. 
Otherwise known as Escargot.
Otherwise known as snails.
And let me tell you right here, right now: Snails are DELICIOUS. They are one of my favoritest foods in the whole entire universe. And not just when they're drowned in garlic butter -which is how they're usually prepared, by the way- but plain, even. Straight out of the can. One time, I even purchased a whole tin of escargot snails while at Tenuta's for Pizza Night, went home, drained the can, and plopped all of the little shell-less on top of my pizza. It was great, I kid you not.
Anyway, while we waited for our apps to arrive, my family was given a basket of freshly baked rolls to munch on to pass the time. The bread was a pale color, but looked rather appetizing. It was also served with a dish of some type of olive oil mixture- it looked to contain a bit of a vinaigrette and some seasonings too. I didn't really feel like taking any bread or oil, so I didn't, but guessing from everybody else's reactions, they were simply delicious!
The Lumache came in a little ramekin, and was a mixture of broiled snails, mushrooms, and breadcrumbs, all covered in a delicious garlic butter wine sauce. There were little diced tomatoes served on top too! YUMM-O! I went to town on that thing. My Dad was the only other one at our table to take some Lumache, and he only had a couple spoonfuls. The rest was reserved for me!
I really enjoyed my appetizer. The whole thing was nice and buttery- very rich. I only wished there were more snails in the dish. I think there was more mushroom slices than anything. But, good thing about mushrooms- They taste fantastic when paired with butter and garlic! And more butter. The breadcrumbs were also delicious- they soaked up the buttery goodness quite well, so they weren't too crunchy or anything. Just right!
The little black spheres are the escargot- the rest is compiled of mushrooms slices.
Fried Raviolli- a favorite of my little brother's.
Calamari- Served with a big boat of Marinara! The little squids are sooooo adorable.
All of our meals came with a side salad, served with Italian dressing (I had mine without dressing. I know, I know, it was my birthday... I've just lost my taste for dressings and vinagrettes over time, I suppose). The salad was a decent size, maybe a little small. There were light and dark green shreds of lettuce. Each salad also contained a single tomato and cucumber slice, and everything tasted crisp and fresh! My favorite part of the salad was the olive, which wasn't one lame, average, everyday canned olive. It was a homemade olive! It looked like some wrinkly, oversized purple grape. And when I bit into it, it was like a whole day's worth of sodium burst into my mouth! Yowza!

After awhile (It felt like a reeeeeal long while...), the main dishes arrived! First off, my Dad ordered the Linguine Pescatore, a succulent pasta dish made with clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and fish, which are all satueed with garlic, olive oil, and crushed plum tomato. Sounds divine! Something I'd definitely consider ordering myself. I love seafood... I was actually very tempted to defer ordering the Veal Marsala and go for Tuscany Bistro's Cioppino, a seafood dish and one of their specials that night, but I stuck to my guns. They're sure to have Cioppino again, right?
 Tuscany Bistro's Linguine Pescatore

Speaking of specials, Mama had ordered one of them that night. It didn't have a specific name (and if it did, I sure don't remember it), but it was some sort of decadent-sounding dish comprised of cheese tortellini, prosciutto, tomatoes, peas, and a rich cream sauce. Dreamy! But it sounds so indulgent... Even for a birthday dish... Mama tried really hard to order Linguine Pescatore like my Dad- she really tried to make the healthy choice, but I can't blame her for going off course. I mean, just look at the pasta! So creamy... so cheesy... so beautiful!
Tuscany Bistro's Cheese Tortellini with Prosciutto, Tomatoes, and Peas

My brother went with a more standard dish, nothing fancy. He picked out Tuscany's Manicotti Classico, pasta tubes filled with ricotta and baked with marinara sauce and melted cheese! So simple, yet so classic. Good choice, little brother! Looks great! Mmm-mmm... oh-so saucy! And has anyone else noticed that every food item so far has been given a more than generous portion of some green herb? I mean, take a look! It's okay- I'll wait.
See? It's on every dish. Even the appetizers. I have no idea what it is- maybe oregano -but Tuscany really knows how to pile it on!
Tuscany Bistro's Manicotti Classico

And last, but certainly not least, my appetizing Veal Marsala! Maybe it was just me, but my dish looked gargantuan compared to everybody else's. I knew I would be getting veal cutlets satueed with mushrooms and Marsala wine sauce for sure, but there was also a bunch of cappellini pasta hiding underneath everything! That sure was unexpected!
Anyway, the veal cutlets were thin and tender, the mushrooms were abundent and soaked up the flavor of the Marsala sauce, which was sweet and thick, but not overly so on either accounts. The pasta was perfectly al dente. My meal was nice and warm and very tasty! But overall, I only moderately enjoyed it. I've always been a fan of more savory pasta sauces, something with tomatoes like a Marinara or Bolognese sauce. Not something sweet or creamy or thick. But this was the first time I had ever tried Marsala, and it was a great experience! Not something I'd order all the time, but hey, you ought to try it at least once, and I rightfully did. The leftovers also made a great lunch the next day. They might've tasted even better the day after than when I first received my dish. Maybe I was just too full that Thursday night!

Not full enough for dessert, however... Tuscany has a nice little dessert menu: There was a torte, gelato balls, cannolis, sorbets and chocolate mousse, just to name a few creations. I, however, just had to go with the Tiramisu! I couldn't remember the last time I had it! My Dad ordered a slice as well. As for Mama, she loves Tiramisu to death, but she's deadly allergic to chocolate, so she settled with a slice of the torte. Poor Mama...

Look at that beauty! The way the chocolate syrup and cocoa powder garnish the curvy plate... The way the dark chocolate and cream-colored tones of the cake provide a nice backdrop for each other... The ladyfingers soaked to the brim with espresso... The way the cherry radiates out from the whipped cream... The cake even came with a candle on top! Oh yeah, I made a wish, but I'm not telling any of YOU what it was! Then it wouldn't come true!
Let me just say one thing: If my wish was for the Tiramisu to taste like heaven, it was certainly granted! That's what "Tiramisu" means, by the way: "Take me to heaven." The mascarpone cheese was so cool and light, and the ladyfingers were a lot sweeter than I imagined they'd be. When I was younger, I hated tiramisu because the espresso taste was so strong to me, but now its nothing but a slight undertone to the sweetness of everything else. I loved taking each forkful and wiping the chocolate syrup clean off the plate too. So delicious! Even better than birthday cake! But after that, I was near bursting to the brim with food. Urgh... no more... I'm full...
All of my birthday gifts were totally amazing as well, and I opened them right there in the restaurant. From my little brother and two stepsisters, I received several pairs of earrings and an Adventure Time shirt (LOVE Adventure Time... but don't tell anyone). My Dad got me the Mario-themed chess set I was ever-so dying for. And Mama got me... a record player??? Opening up the next gift from her, I found out exactly what for...
Okay, this is officially one of the kindest acts I have ever experienced... Mama gave me all of her old Beatles albums from when she was a kid, including Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, and Let It Be!!! How sweet! I was awestruck! I got plenty of other albums too, including a couple by Billy Joel, some stuff from the Wings, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and quite a few other Beatles albums. I nearly cried!!! Mama even scored me a downable copy of all of the Beatles albums from one of her friends at work. But Beatlemania didn't end just then! Wanan know why?
See, every year since I was six, Mama has gotten me a different charm for a special charm bracelet of mine. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the charm I got for my lucky 15th...
THE FAB FOUR!!!! ON MY BRACELET!!! ONE OF THE BEST BIRTHDAYS EVER!!!
Thanks to my wonderful family and friends for all of the well wishes!
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