Last night was our sweet three-year wedding anniversary. Despite being on an extremely tight spending commitment, we decided to celebrate by going to Village Tavern, a restaurant that is considered to be one of the nicer restaurants in Winston-Salem. They were kind enough to send us an email offering a free appetizer or dessert for our anniversary, and we thought, "Why not?" It felt more special than say, El Dorado, 4 Sisters, or Cha Da Thai, our other favorite restaurants.
Without going into detail (I'll do an actual blog on the conundrum that is Village Tavern later), this restaurant is a little confused, I think. And this confusion is represented best by the spinach salad I ate last night for dinner.
I believe that salad had to have been a college freshman salad, stuck in it's first year and not sure what it wanted to be: "Do I want to be a spring salad or a winter one? Do I want to be flamboyant or toned down? How about I try both and see which I like better!" And so it was dressed in a creamy poppyseed dressing out of which jumped apple cider vinegar notes like bright green stripes on a gray wool jacket. It was then accessorized with all kinds of stripes, spots, and nun's clothing possible. Thinly sliced green apples, delicious little cranberries, and tight grape tomotoes gave it the youth, vitality and vigor that befits a bed of spinach. This combination said, "I'm an art major and I love being up to my elbows in paint and clay!" But the goat cheese, bacon and spiced pecans told a different story: "I like math. It's neat and orderly." And you're left wondering, "So, which is it?"
To be fair, I totally understand creativity and I admire a leap of faith. Cranberries and goat cheese, green apples and bacon, it's all good. Not everything can be the center of the show; you do need your supporting actors. But the pivotal point, the thing that changed everything, was the spiced pecans. You're shoveling away and thinking about how cranberries, apples, and tiny tomatoes toned down with goat cheese and bacon makes you feel like you're frolicking in a meadow of sunshine and blooming flowers and all of a sudden, BAM! Suddenly you're transported in front of a roaring fire while sixteen inches of snow is falling outside the dark window. Where did that come from??? The crunchy pecan spiced with sugar and cinnamon is wonderful but you can't help but chew with your eyebrows drawn together... "Was I only dreaming of spring?" And just in case you think I'm nitpicking one small thing, the salad was served with a moist and delicious, but confusing, spiced muffin. What does that say???
And yet, for all my moo-ing, I have to tell the whole truth...
I inhaled that salad. I shoveled, I grunted, I mumbled how good it was around folded spinach leaves. I said, "Hello, spring!" while spearing the fruit into a greedy forkful and anticipating late night porch sittings, growing herbs and trips into the mountains. I said, "Winter, I won't forget you!" while gathering pecans, goat cheese, and bacon and reliving those moments of winter I love most, huddling under blankets, sipping a hot drink and reading a good book while the elements raged outside. After all, what is spring without winter? What is winter without spring? Life is a cycle, everything is connected, and I'm more than willing to let a salad go on an adventure to discover itself. How could I not? I've had my own college freshman phases.