Sunday, May 12, 2013

A rainy drive and Italian feast!

Hi everyone, I hope you had a great Saturday despite the rain!  Man was it pouring for lots of today.  I feel bad for all of the vendors, bands and everyone at Tulipfest today in Albany!  It's always a bummer when it rains on a fun day.  Like a half marathon, maybe?  :)

Anyways, I forced myself to get up and run this morning, even though my body has really not been feeling it's best lately.  Since the race, I've been really right and sore and just having a hard time moving.  I ran the one campus 5K and then did a 2 mile run on the treadmill, but that's really all I've been able to get in.

Today I ran a total of 2 miles.  Only going 1.3 miles after stopping and walking.  My knee really started to bother me.  It really hasn't been bothering me the past few days and I thought I'd be okay for a 3 mile run this AM but it really pained me.  I was wondering if maybe I'm now like an old person and the pending rain was making my joints ache?  Perhaps?  Anyways, exercising has just been tough and I was bummed at this excuse for a run this morning.

Afterwards I whipped together a quick breakfast of eggs and chicken sausage with some fruit on the side for a bit of sweetness.

I got a few errands done around town before making the drive home to my mom's in Rhode Island!  It was a crappy, rainy drive, but always good to see my mama.

Bad lighting. Pretty mama.
Once I got home I even got to see my bro and his girlfriend as we met up in Federal Hill in Providence for dinner.  My brother picked out the restaurant Costantino's to try for dinner.  There are so many fabulous italian restaurants in this neighborhood of Providence, it's fun to explore and try out different ones.  We hadn't eaten at Costantino's before, but they are well known for their ravioli sold in their shop, Venda.  It's so fun to see my baby bro grown up and settled in Providence, picking out a restaurant and making dinner reservations for us.  He also recently told me he has been experimenting with cooking and trying new foods.  From the kid who used to get mozzarella sticks and a fruit cup for dinner at restaurants, followed by a year after year stint kick on chicken ceasar salads... I can't tell you how happy this makes me!  I love when people discover the fun and excitement of trying new foods and cooking new recipes.  I'm a dork, but it makes me so happy to have other food lovers in my life!  I'm proud of him.  He is a cutie and his girlfriend is pretty awesome herself.

The meal started with some fresh bread and we ordered a margherita pizza to share as an appetizer.  As soon as it came out, I was excited because it reminded me of the pizzas that I used to eat in Italy.  Drippy and gooey in the middle, and only edible with a fork and knife.  The taste held up to its looks and we devoured it.  My brother and I fought over who got my mom's leftovers from her piece, it was that good (and we're that big of piggies haha.)

And the crust was just awesome too.  The pizza really reminded me of Italian pizza (Italian, as in, from Italy) and I could have eaten the whole thing myself!  Had I known how yummy it was, I may have done just that and ordered one for myself :)  The pic above was actually of my brother's slice as I dug into mine as soon as it was served and forgot a picture.  Woops.

Since I knew we were getting the appetizer and that my mom would likely let me eat off her plate, I ordered just a salad as my meal.  I ordered the spinach salad, and I have to say I wasn't really that impressed.  Granted, this is not a salad restaurant so I shouldn't have expected anything amazing.  However, the walnuts were huge and dry.  They didn't roast them or season them at all so they were pretty plain.  Roasting the nuts is so simple but brings out so much flavor.  There was also a weird amount of dressing... lots in some places and none in others, and just far too much cheese.

Luckily my mom's meal right next to me was a hit.  A really yummy eggplant manicotti dish that was my favorite after trying all of the meals around the table.

Of all the food on the table, I do think that the pizza came out the winner.  It was so simple yet so delicious.  The ingredients tasted fresh and the dough was just really really perfect with the right amount of flavor and chewiness.  I would definitely go back for the pizza but I'm not so sure about anything else.

Aside from my disappointing salad, the service at the restaurant just wasn't that great.  We were seated in the entry room to the restaurant, which was pretty small, and the other party in the room was a massive group of 16 girls celebrating a Sweet 16 birthday.  They were quite... loud... to say the least.

Now, I'm a very understanding diner in restaurants because lord knows my friends and I have been the obnoxious group more than once before!  However, we literally could barely hear each other talk over the commotion from the other group.  We asked to be moved to another table and our waiter told us that there was nothing else available.  Understanding why we asked he tried to sympathize by saying, "I know, I have to wait on them!"  ... which, just struck me as a bit of an odd comment from a waiter.

They also made a mistake on my brother's girlfriend's pasta.  She had requested red sauce and they served it in white sauce.  When we pointed out the mistake the waiter didn't have much reaction but asked if she wanted him to take it back.  Lauren was trying to be polite and said he didn't need to, and she barely got those words out when the waiter replied, "Okay. Personally, I like the white sauce better." Which, again, just struck us as a bit odd.  As Lauren replied after he walked away, "Personally... I don't really care."

It was sort of funny because it reminded me of the waitstaff in restaurants in Italy where the waiters are pretty blunt with you about what you order and offer their input even if you don't ask.  I once requested a basket of bread for the table while at a restaurant in Rome.  The waiter simply said, "No. You ordered a pizza.  You don't need bread."  Well, well, thank you very much for your input!

Although we were surprised by the service and the waitstaff's lack of concern for some of our requests... we still had a great time at dinner and enjoyed some delicious food.  After dinner we walked next door to pick up some dessert, because, well, you can't eat in Federal Hill and not have a cannoli. Or two :)

We shared some after dinner snacks (that did not disappoint!) back at my brother's apartment, with the company of these two goons.

It was a great night out with my family and I'm looking forward to more family time tomorrow when we officially celebrate Mother's Day!  My mom and I returned home early to do some baking for tomorrow. There was a last minute white chocolate chip emergency that had me out driving around at 10:00 p.m. looking for an open grocery store.

Although I bust on Albany a lot for being small, it is nights like tonight that make me appreciate the fact that I actually do live in a city.  I know of 3 different 24-hour grocery stores within 5 minutes of my apartment, yet it took a few failed attempts and some research to find a grocery store in the next town that was open until midnight!  However, mission accomplished.

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

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