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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Sel de la Terre 
16th-Jul-2010 11:01 pm

I had: Sweet Georgia corn-lavender soup, smoked ham, chili oil, crème fraîche. This was the first thing on the menu that made me go oooooh, so I was very pleased to see that it was gluten free. And oh, om nom nom! Savory-smoky-spicy!
Adam had: Charcuterie: Duck liver mousse terrine, Rowland Farms lomo, Rowland Farms smoked ham, pig cheek terrine. Again with the om nom nom. I tried a bit of everything, and I could've been perfectly delighted with that as my appetizer, too. Elayna tried the terrine. We wisely did not tell her it was pig cheeks, and so she liked it. Adam: "I cannot put words to how good that was."

I had: a risotto off the vegetarian menu; I still have no idea what exactly was in it. (I didn't actually see the vegetarian menu; the waitress recommended it for the mushrooms when I sadfaced that the gnocchi with the same mushrooms used wheat flour.) Foraged mushrooms were involved, and asparagus, and pine nuts, and something else green, and lots of vegetables and mushrooms got together and had a wild orgy atop a bed of arborio rice and I ate it all up. More with the savory and rich.
Adam had: Toasted coriander spiced pork chop, pommes Robuchon, Swiss chard, ASF baby turnips, Thumbelina carrots. He seemed to love the hell out of this. I'll get further opinions from him when he gets home from leading his mother back to the hotel. Adam says: "Perfectly prepared HUGE FREAKING PORK CHOP. With these delicious fingerling potatoes and just WOW. I know I'm not very articulate, but wow."
Elayna had: Chicken fingers. Oh, Elayna.

I had: Espresso creme brulee, without the biscotti it usually comes with; the waitress substituted yummy dark chocolate with nuts and ginger. A torrid affair between espresso and creme brulee. Yes. Made my jaded husband go OH MY GOD.
Adam had: Warm molten chocolate fondant, toasted house made marshmallow; graham cracker ice cream. He ate this up in a trice, so clearly it was awesome. Adam says: "Basically, their version of a s'more. The graham cracker ice cream is just dude. The marshmallow was bordering on liquidy without gooiness, and the three things worked together so well."
Elayna had: warm chocolate cookies, and the raspberries from my creme brulee.

And we had a quite-nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yes, we always eat like this when Adam's mom is in town. She's a major foodie. And she still, even after tonight (she had the petit gouter, gnocchi, and fondant), was wary about dinner tomorrow night.

Her: "It's not a vegan place, is it?"
Me: "No. I will be getting a steak."
Her: "Oh. Good."

Also they complimented Adam on the restaurant choice. Adam did, of course, credit me. I did research and everything, you know.

An important part of dining out for me post-diagnosis is how the restaurant handles the whole gluten-free thing. Sel de la Terre doesn't have a gluten-free menu; I think they should if only to save the poor waitress, who had to keep running back to the kitchen to ask questions. But she did double-check everything, and she was very knowledgeable - when I asked her about one item, she said "only if you get it without the braised bacon, because that has soy sauce." Knowing off the top of your head that soy sauce has stealth gluten = win. So even without the dedicated menu, I do highly recommend it for celiacs, because the staff know what's safe. She also scored points for having real recommendations instead of "everything's good", and also for having an adorable tattoo of an octopus with a heart-shaped eyepatch. "She's a pirate."
17th-Jul-2010 04:11 am (UTC)
While I prefer Oleana and L'Espalier, Sel de la Terre is a solid third favorite. Since it has multiple locations and they're all admirable, maybe I should get complicated and say it rounds out the top five even. An off-menu root vegetable ragout in the dead of winter was the absolute highlight. It's been years and I still think about it fondly.
17th-Jul-2010 07:04 am (UTC)
Oh, btw, I'm vegetarian. I tend to try to warn people that my picks are skewed.
17th-Jul-2010 12:09 pm (UTC)
L'Espalier sounds very yum! I'm curious about Oleana, but it struck me as ill-suited to Elayna's narrow tastes. Definitely something to try with Adam.
17th-Jul-2010 06:01 am (UTC)
I lust for the pig cheek and the mushroom risotto. LUST.

Although last Tuesday's foie gras and sweetbreads still whisper to me in my sleep.
17th-Jul-2010 12:10 pm (UTC)
Sunday = pig head. We kinda have to get the pig head now.
17th-Jul-2010 11:52 pm (UTC)
You absolutely do.
17th-Jul-2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
It has been far too long since I have had foie gras and sweetbreads.

Hammersly's Bistro, here come.

At least, must do before I ship out.
17th-Jul-2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
I support you in this. It is always time for foie gras and sweetbreads.
17th-Jul-2010 09:28 am (UTC)
Sounds heavenly! We must check it out.
17th-Jul-2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm, Sel de la Terre. If you haven't tried Prose in Arlington, it's definitely worth a visit. Not sure Elayna would like it, but the owner/chef does wonderful things, and always has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. If you call in advance, she'll even work with you on what to make. Be prepared for a leisurely dining experience there, though. It's a small and cozy place, and mostly a one-woman show, so eating there tends to take time. If you do go, tell Debbie I sent you.
17th-Jul-2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
I've tried it... she was really knowledgeable about GF food and very friendly, but I did not like the food. :( It was a texture issue for me. I wish I liked the food; it is a nifty little place, and I like her ideas for theme nights!
17th-Jul-2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you didn't like it. I suppose she does have a very particular taste aesthetic. It's just one I happen to really enjoy.
17th-Jul-2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
That sounds lovely.
19th-Jul-2010 04:39 am (UTC)
I enjoyed Sel de la Terre when I lived in Bostonland. (I took my parents there, which Mom enjoyed and Dad sorta grumped about and both of them were shocked and horrified by the prices since their idea of a big night out is the six dollar tacqueria.)
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