It was ladies' night once again and, since most of us had never visited Slab, just down from Congress on Preble, we met there. Molly and I arrived first and walked into a welcoming atmosphere with great tables and a bar down below. The inside seating area isn't huge but the outdoor section is enormous! It was a somewhat chilly but perfect evening and we chose to sit out at one of the orange tables as we waited for four more to arrive. Once we were all assembled, I asked lots of questions (Me: "what's a shoe?" Friendly bro server: "It's an open-faced sandwich"...Me: "what is gravy in this context?" FBS: "sauce"...Me: "what is solerno?" FBS: "uhhh").
As it was ladies' night and I was doing "research," I ordered a Sicirita cocktail, with Sauza Horitos tequila, Solerno, pomegranate, lemon, lime and salt. This was my second drink (with the first being my favorite "Heated Affair" from Grace on a recent (gasp!) date) since I started training for the half marathon or before. Solerno, by the way, is blood orange liqueur. Everyone else ordered beer, red wine and pressecco.
In the name of research, I also ordered a lot of food: ceci alla sicilia and the slaw for appetizers and the hand slab and a spicy meat wedge for dinner. Oddly, the ceci alla sicilia was the highlight of the meal. It kind of went downhill from there. This dish consisted of smashed orange fried sage chickpea hummus, parsley and red onions on the side served with warm Luna bread wedges. The bread was soft but slightly crispy on the outside and the hummus was fresh and delicious. The slaw contained shaved green cabbage, fennel bulb, red onion, romaine hearts, carrots, golden beets, and a choice of sweet/tangy lime and anise vinaigrette or creamy curry, orange and cumin dressing. I went with the former. The slaw itself was very healthy-tasting and good but with a bit of hummus on my fork, it tasted much better. Eating this mass of cut up vegetables also made me feel a little better about the amount of crust/bread I was about to consume.
Next came the slabs of pizza (?). I suppose anything can be called a pizza if it's bread, topped with sauce (or gravy) and a little cheese. To me, both "the slab" (original Sicilian slab of thick home-style tomato sauce, mozzarella and provolone, 1 pound...yes one pound of bread) and the "spicy meat wedge" (pepperoni, peperocini, red pepper sauce and cheeses) were not my cup of tea/giant slab of carbs. Neither had the flavor or textures I was expecting or enjoy. Plus, even with lots of extra red pepper flakes, this wedge still failed ot be spicy! Finally, the pieces were luke-warm at best, as if they had been baked off long ago and waiting to be ordered. Otto's at least throws their slices in the oven for a few minutes to get hot and crispy!
Finally, my beautiful Sicirita cocktail was consumed slowly but, when I reached the bottom inch of the glass, I found the liquid too salty to consume. This is coming from a woman who is still probably salt-deficient from running, hot yoga and playing with kids all day at work. I left the rest of the drink behind...
After eating my lack-luster meat wedge, I took a corner off the slab I ordered and was less than excited about this as well. It lacked sufficient cheese (barely any), sauce and was just too doughy. I sent it home with Jesse's running buddy as it didn't warrant the status of good leftovers for the day after.
After we ate, the three of us split the bill six ways and it came out to about $20 per person with tip. This was a good deal for the actual amount of food we ordered, which all together consisted of four hand slabs, one spicy meat wedge, two sfinciuni (a street vendor's pie with mildly spicy caslinga sauce, caiocavallo (cheese) and breadcrumbs = meh...), slaw, hummus, three beers, two glasses of wine and my cocktail.
Since we all looked stunning and were out anyway, we moved onto the next and settled on the North Point for one more drink. I struggled between wanting to try a vanilla bean martini or my usual mango-peach-a-tini. Next time, I will take the plunge and go with the unfamiliar as this time, my mango-peach-a-tini was terribly acidic in the second half of the glass. The North Point is a nice date place as it is dark and cozy with lots of pillows, good food and (usually) good drinks. The rest of the group ordered ginger St. Germains (St. Germain elderflower liquor, champagne, ginger, bitters and a sugar cube at the bottom of the flute = yum!), sangria or beer.
After we finished our drinks, it was close to 11pm and Molly and I dragged our "old and tired" selves home so we could rest up for our busy Saturdays!
Saturday morning for me consisted of a hot yoga class at Portland Power yoga, a shower and salad packed snack for the farmer's market, lettuce from my favorite vendors and reading my new book in the grass in Deering Oaks. It was a great temperature out and I saw lots of dogs I wanted to put under my arm and run away with. But I didn't...Instead; I walked home and was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to Willard Beach with my friend Travis. I brought my book, bikini (polka dot of course!) towel, way too many clothes to change into for later and sunscreen. It was so overcast that I didn't use the latter and ended up putting on a sweater! So much for summer weather...
I ended up finding a couple pieces of sea glass and a perfect crab carapace (shell) for a future art project. The water was incredibly chilly for the middle of summer and I thought of all the ladies participating in the Tri for the Cure this morning. Kudos to them!!!
After we had our fill of fresh sea air and curious gulls loitering around us, we pulled a quick deck change and headed up to Yarmouth for the Clam Festival! This, of course, included a stop at Clayton's (see "fat and happy" previous post) for a mint-topped brownie. Oh goodness. This was my designated post-half marathon treat that I finally got around to consuming. Oh goodness times two. Travis got a key-lime cheesecake bar and I hear it made a fabulous breakfast. Strong bones from all that calcium and whatnot.
We moved on to park the car and made our way to the festival grounds. I will admit to getting sea/car/plane/boat/general movement sick so carnival rides and I occasionally don't get along but Travis was gung-ho so I said, "what the hell!" We went on two awesome and scream-inducing (but not vomit inducing!!!) rides and called it good. The craft area with the Mallet Brothers band playing was next on the agenda. This led us to our final stop at Gather restaurant. Gather is a place I know well as I worked here to help make when they first opened in the fall of 2012.
There was seating on their outdoor deck and we ordered two lime-mint sodas, one with a shot of vodka. Mmmmmm. These are great because the soda consists of a house-made mint, lime and sugar syrup, seltzer water and ice. Oh, and vodka if you so choose. We also had to get the rosemary fries and a margherita pizza. The fries were just as great as I remembered but the pizza was slightly smoogy (to use a word my mom "made up") and wasn't flavorful enough. But then there was the home-made bread and olive oil that I love so much and the pizza faded to the background.
Long story short, skip Slab (or go just to experience it but watch out for the gull droppings from the sky!) and visit both Clayton's and Gather for some tasty treats of the dessert or main course variety. Enjoy!