Never mind that it’s technically two weeks early! Me and C decided to beat the restaurant rush and high prices. He also got me a present back in January and was getting anxious that the real Valentine’s Day was so far away.
We ate at a restaurant called Palo Santo in Park Slope; a cozy, dimly lit (romantic) restaurant covered in candles and Industrial Revolution style incandescent bulbs. It’s easy to walk right by it, and we nearly did! It looks like one of the regular brownstone houses there, save for the tiny sign outside. The place is small, but instead of feeling cramped it makes it feel very intimate. I was a little wary about the prices being too high – we’re both on a budget as freelancers – but this was a special occasion! And once I got hold of the menu, the prices didn’t look too bad. Entrees ranged from $19~32, with the majority around the low twenties mark. A different coworker had recommended this place and had nothing but good things to say: they change the menu every morning because they cook with whatever ingredients they manage to buy fresh every day, it sometimes gets quite busy at night, and it was insanely good. After trying it, I have to say….I am totally fine paying what I paid, every bite of anything was just SO AMAZING. I haven’t been this happy at a restaurant in a long time!!! Even the waiters were SOOO nice, and especially patient with me as I asked them to define menu items. I didn’t know what the heck ceviche was, or mole, and he remembered the menu enough to tell me the exact ingredients that went in to my order later in the night.
C ordered mushrooms and vegetables in mole sauce – $19 – chocolatey, rich, deep tasting….the mushrooms had the texture and depth of steak, if you can believe it. I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t try it myself. It was also REALLY spicy. That’s pretty much why C wanted to eat it. He has a pretty high tolerance and can handle some authentically spicy Thai food places, but this mole sauce was on the extreme end. In a good way. I’m weak when it comes to spices, so after one bite I was still suffering and drinking water up to 10 minutes later. C loved it though, and it was big enough that he had to get it wrapped for home. There was a very generous amount of mushrooms and veggies.
I ordered Pan Roasted Spanish Mackerel, with sweet potatoes in some kind of coconut milk-y sauce – $19. Every bite was absolute heaven! The skin was perfectly crisped but not burned, with a nice crunch and delicious, non-oily, non fishy flavor. So it was absolutely fresh…I’m VERY picky when it comes to seafood, because you can always tell when it’s from the back of the freezer. Fresh fish, contrary to popular (and inexperienced belief), doesn’t taste “fishy”. That fishy taste is created when fish meat begins to rot, and certain enzymes in its body break down, releasing that nasty fishy odor and taste. If you wanna read more, see this wikipedia entry on the enzyme known as trimethylamine . Anyway, this Spanish Mackerel was pure heaven! C tells me that it tastes way less oily than regular mackerel, and so far as I can tell, he’s right. It was this light, white meat fish…so tender it was like butter in your mouth, it even tasted creamy Just absolutely pure joy to eat it, I wish I had more! I could eat the entire fish by myself. Some kind of tasty green garnish was finely diced and rubbed on to the skin on top, but I don’t remember what it is. Gave it a nice bite. What’s even better about this fish dish….they gave me the GOOD side of the fish. Perhaps because it was fresh, perhaps because they discarded the bottom side….but when a fish is dead and laying around, its blood will pool on whatever side is down. So one side of the fish gets that purple-brown-grey layer of blood-soaked meat, and that is nasty. Many restaurants have given me that side of the fish. BUT NOT PALO SANTO!!! I really appreciated that.
We also got some beers (as seen in the photo); C got Brooklyn Lager ($6), which had some really great flavors to it. Unique, I’d say, and again a nice deep taste, as a lager should. I wanted something light, been drinking lagers, stouts, and winter flavors for weeks. The waiter recommended I get Prestige ($5), a beer from Haiti. Pretty good! Mostly I wanted the bubbles, haha. I really need to switch to seltzer and a lemon slice. No photos of the food because it was too dark to take good photos with just my iPhone. Wish I brought my DSLR.
I noticed on the menu that they had a prixe fixe – 3 course meal for $27. The appetizers are ~$10 a la carte, the entrees on the prixe fixe selection range from $19-21, and I didn’t take a look at the dessert menu. But at only $6 more from the regular entree price, it was definitely a good deal. We would’ve taken it if we weren’t already sorta full when we arrived at Palo Santo. And I’m very glad we beat the Valentine’s Day prices, because that prixe fixe price would’ve jumped to over $100. Like every nice restaurant in NYC, you’d have to reserve a spot in advance for this. But hey, on Friday or Saturday night, you have to reserve almost anywhere. I know that annoys out of towners, but that’s just how the good food places are here…unless you are okay with waiting in the 20F weather. Which I’m not!
Now on to the Valentine’s Day gift :D
Okay, I know the surprise is spoiled by my top pic in this post, but here’s the play by play!
C said it was a two part present, and he could give me the first part here at the restaurant. After the food was finished and we sat there, sipping our beers like it was our dessert, he opened up his backpack and handed me a card (slightly crumpled), and a big, red, heart-shaped chocolate box. White lace trimmed its edges, two roses pinned to the front. I smiled and got giddy; it was so stereotypical, but I loved it….it was like in the movies! The card was cute too….I’d write what it said here, but I couldn’t fit it in my bag and left it at his place. I assure you it was cute! I thanked him excitedly and put the box aside.
C asked if I wanted to eat some of the chocolates as dessert while we were there. Especially since we still had our beers.
Shrugging, I said “I’m too full, I’ll just eat some back at your place.”
“Oh. Okay.” He looked a bit disappointed. “Could I have a piece before we go?”
Laboriously, I pulled off the tape that held the box shut together, spun it around, and opened it facing C so he could grab whatever chocolate he liked. “Ta-dah!” I sang, like an idiot. And then, I noticed something. Something that shouldn’t have been there. Quickly, I slammed the box shut. I don’t know the proper logic behind that action, but in hindsight I guess slamming it shut was like hiding it from the world…like it was a creature that would jump out if I left the box open. Anyway, I opened it again and…..there it was.
There, nestled in the center of so many chocolates…
The pink and white limited edition Nintendo 3DS XL !!!
I squealed, I got high pitched, I became nearly unintelligible. He got me a 3DS!!!!! I was even thinking of buying one for myself soon, because C lent me his while I was sick to have something to play with…and Fire Emblem Awakening (excitement post here) is coming out soon…it was amazing. I even asked a whole bunch of my friends what color I should get – unanimously they all said DO NOT GET THE PINK ONE xD Because it was more expensive, NONE of my friends like pink, and several said it was too girly and I shouldn’t give in to that. Welp, he got me the pink 3DS XL, and I have to say, it looks at least 10 x better in person than in the photos. I don’t get it, the pictures for the blue 3DS XL is also really untrue to life! So it turns out white can be good…hahaha. At least it’s not pink and black, which one of the older DS systems had, and that really did look awful. We checked this morning to see if there were any more in stock, and the Pink has been selling out…so places would have it for $10-50 more expensive than he paid.
What’s extra nice?
He charged the 3DS XL fully and loaded a whole bunch of demos on to it, so I’d have things to play. Then he lent me Mario 3D to play on it, for now. I booted up the game on my subway ride back in to the City. A pair of ~8 year old brother and sister noticed my DS and came over to stare at it while I played. They didn’t actually try to talk to me, since I had ear muffs on. Also I think they thought they were being slick and secretive. Even though I got on to the far side of the train car, they followed me there and sat next to me when a spot opened up, to look over my shoulder. Out of courtesy for their cuteness, I turned the stereoscopic 3D all the way down, so they could actually see my screen. Ah, Mario…captivating the hearts of little children and Tiffany the 25 year old, hahaha.
Looks like I’m just about ready for Fire Emblem: Awakening to get released :)
Final trivial issue is picking what to hang on my 3DS! I think L’s cup from Deathnote matches it the most. Rogue looks ugly. Hulk is alright, but maybe not the greatest. I need more Tokidoki, haha.