Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrating My 29th Birthday at La Rustica

Last Saturday was my birthday, the last birthday in my 20s and the first of what will inevitably be a looooong series of 29th birthdays for me (until my crow's feet start to give me away). I asked Matt to take me to La Rustica in West Seattle for my birthday dinner (4100 Beach Drive SW, Seattle 98116 or I had been there four or five years ago to celebrate a friend's birthday and the food was fabulous. Honestly, I have been wanting to go back ever since, but the restaurant is teeny weeny (like 10 tables), doesn't take reservations for parties under 6 people and is always, always packed. Needless to say, my infamous impatience doesn't do well with 2 and a half hour wait times for a table, so it took me this long to return.

La Rustica opens for seating at 5 pm on Saturday. So, Matt and I left my apartment in Queen Anne at 4:45 in order to try and beat the majority of the diners and get a table without a ridiculous wait. It was raining cats and dogs when we left and it took us about 20 minutes to arrive in West Seattle. With the drive, finding the ever elusive street parking and walking in the rain to the restaurant we arrived at 5:20. When we arrived the VERY Italian host informed us that the restaurant was full and we would have a half hour wait, which was totally fine, and way better than I expected.

He directed us to an itsy-bitsy "bar" area . . . by this I mean an 8 foot by 8 foot room directly behind the kitchen with ONE bench, a couple folding chairs, a TV loudly displaying the Italian version of some American Idol-esque game show, and NO bartender. If I didn't know that the food was SO amazing there is no way in hell that I would ordinarily put up with this shit, but good things are worth waiting for . . . and so we did. We were the first couple in the "bar" and two other couples joined us about 10 minutes later. The host eventually came back to the bar area and took our wine orders. So I sipped on a pinot noir and Matt had a chianti while we waited and watched the bar completely fill up way past capacity with people hoping for a table. I couldn't help but smile because I knew that we were first on the list. Exactly half an hour after we were sent to the bar the host came back and told us our table was ready.

La Rustica offers the traditional Italian 3 course type menu: anti pasti, secondi (pasta) and meat courses. I knew that the portions at this restaurant were quite generous and there was absolutely no way that we needed to indulge in a traditional 3 course meal. So while we snacked on the delicious table bread and continued with our wine we decided to order pasta dishes. I decided on the Gnocchi con Salsiccia and Matt ordered the Cannelloni. The pasta is served with a house salad first. The house salad is traditional Italian and quite good: red onions, olives, chickpeas and vinaigrette dressing. Then our pasta came . . . wow. My gnocchi were perfect: no gumminess, not too dense, perfect pillows of potato goodness. AND the waitress grated as much fresh asiago over the top that I wanted. I was super impressed with my dish until I tasted Matt's cannelloni. Wow. Amazing. Next time I go to La Rustica I will be ordering that dish. Perfect ratio of cheese to meat to sauce and great herb flavor. Turns out, I was right, and we were stuffed after the pasta course and no meat course was necessary.

However, since it was my birthday, we had to order dessert. I picked chocolate mousse cake from the dessert options and the waitress brought it out with a birthday candle in it for me (see photo above). The cake was just as yummy as the pasta and we finished it off no problem! A sweet ending to a slightly bitter birthday for me. Almost sweet enough for me to forget that I am almost 30 . . . almost.

The next day Matt and I drove down to my parents house in Tacoma and were joined by my brother, Lalaneya and Beth and her boyfriend for a homemade lasagna lunch. My mom also made my traditional chocolate cherry birthday cake . . . she made that cake for me every year my entire childhood and it is still as delicious as ever. Yay! Although she put 29 candles on the cake, which nearly covered the whole cake and almost set off the smoke alarms when I blew them out . . . way to make me feel old, Mom.

It is so nice to have my parents back in Washington and to be able to have a 'traditional' birthday party with my family and my dearest friends all in the same room. I never realized how wonderful and precious gatherings like this are until my parents moved away for 6 years and I didn't have them around anymore. Needless to say, the whole birthday weekend made me realize how blessed, loved and lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life. I have a feeling that, despite my resistance to it, 29 is going to be a pretty good year.

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