For Jennifer and my 11th anniversary we went to the Magnolia Grill on 9th Street in Durham. We'd eaten here once before, in maybe 2002 and it was awesome. We'd eaten at several other of the alleged best restaurants in North Carolina since then, but none of them compared to the Magnolia Grill, so we decided it was time to go back. Boy, were we right.
As a cocktail, Jennifer got a mint julep. It was not what she expected, and maybe a little more "manly" a drink than what she was had in mind.
For starters, Jennifer had the Pan-Seared Foie Gras on Nectarine Chutney with White Balsamic Jus, Pickled Spring Onions & Mâche
I had the Flash-Seared Calamari "Veracruz" with Roasted Chilies & Lime, Overnight Tomatoes, Corn & Tomatillos, Crispy Tortillas
For our entrées, Jennifer had the Pan-Seared Wild Maryland Striped Bass in Pesto Sauce on Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Local Chantarelles, Marinated Chioggias, Garlic Foccacia & Cucumbers.
Accompanying that she had a glass of Rueda Bianco - Spain - Casamaro 2005. I didn't take a picture of this, but it pretty much looked like a glass of white wine.
I had the Grilled Niman Ranch Hanger Steak "Lucullus" on Crushed Redskin Potatoes with Exotic Mushrooms & Blue Lake Beans, Pancetta & Pickled Shallots.
To drink, I had a glass of Mourvedre/Cab - Spain - Castano Soanera 2004. Looks like red wine.
For dessert, Jennifer had the Nectarine Raspberry Crostada with Ginger Ice Cream,
and I had the Cocoa Cola Cake with Salty Peanut Ice Cream.
We decided that this was going to become our regular "nice restaurant" from now on.
Now just as a point of housekeeping, it took me a few tries before I figured out the right camera settings for photographing food. I started with Digital Macro mode, no flash. It didn't want to focus right. Then I switched to Manual mode, and either the metering wasn't ideal, or the focus was a little off. I finally switched to Auto mode, with center-weighted metering and manually cancelled the flash. Those looked the best on the display screen, with the ones where the flash fired looking washed-out, but on the computer, the ones with flash were better. Just FYI.
Did I feel self-conscious pulling out a camera in the middle of a fine-dining establishment to photograph my dinner. Not one little bit, and neither should you.
Always bring your camera with you.
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