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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

 Zama & Grand Caffe L'Aquila First Stops on my Wining & Dining Dating Tour of Philly

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

So regular readers know I decided to set up an OK Cupid profile to make it easier for Trekkie's to upload their info to enter T&T's be my Trekkie Guide Competition. I was going to take it down after the contest, but decided instead to change it to this:
I've never been spoiled. I've always taken care of myself on every level. I've only been in relationships and on dates where I'm pulling my own weight financially. I'd like to know what it's like to be wined and dined, taken to nice places, fun places, spoiled a bit. I realize I'm worth it. I'm cute, dress well, no kids, healthy, nice figure, people enjoy my company and I adapt well to new environments & social situations. @tinseltine

Now, I've always written a PG-13 kinda blog, so I probably shouldn't be sharing so much about myself.  After all, my Mom reads my blog and I have a reputation to maintain in the Philly community, with my subscribers and advertisers - not that I'd say the profile is racy, but it does imply something, or does it?...

I actually didn't expect anyone to take it seriously. I'm not sure I took it seriously, but believe it or not, I've had two wine and dine dates, with the same guy. Now's where I'd really like to make it interesting and discuss him and the date particulars. Unfortunately, I can't do that, it's not fair to blog about someone in detail when they haven't agreed to be a part of your post.

The first date we went for sushi at the upscale Rittenhouse  Zama (128 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103) I didn't want to be all bloggy, bloggy on the date, so I only took one pic. But I can tell you there's a reason why people pay top dollar and call chef Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka one of Philadelphia's elite sushi chefs. We didn't order off the menu, I love that my date took charge and just communicated to the sushi chefs a couple courses, things I've never had before, partly because I'm so boring when it comes to sushi, I usually just order tempura and salmon rolls, or go crazy and do Philly rolls with the cream cheese. I feel like I'm really being hip if I get black rice.

The 2nd date we went to Gran Caffe L'Aquila (1716 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103)  It's more of an eatery, than a traditional Italian restaurant, they specialize in house made Gelato including alcohol-infused varieties that run from 5 to 10 percent alcohol. It's also a pastries and coffee shop in the morning and a just dessert and coffee kinda place at night.  But they do have a full dining menu, as well as at least 20 wines by the glass (one from every region of Italy).

It just happened to be Restaurant Week, so I went with it and ordered off the $45 four course menu. I've always felt restaurant week is incentive to try new places; my date however, detests restaurant week, as most true foodies who eat out a lot do.  He went off menu again, not to show off, but he's a foodie with many dietary restrictions.  Unfortunately, he wasn't happy with his pan seared salmon and I could see why, it was rather crispy. He also wasn't thrilled with the non-menu sauteed veggies or the eventual price either.  

I wanted a wine that was jammy and full bodied, but light on the tannins and sugar. It's not easy to find, but I recently had a very inexpensive wine that met all these qualities called Middle Sister, which is a red blend from California, so we're really talking apples and oranges here trying to find something similar on this particular wine list at Gran Caffe L'Aquila. The selection our server chose for me was fine, but still too light.  

  • My first course - Rimini Salumi Sushi  not really sushi, it was Mortadella (a large Italian sausage or cold cut made of finely hashed or ground, heat-cured pork, which incorporates at least 15% small cubes of pork fat) rolled like sushi stuffed with fontina, pistachio with fig marmalade for dipping. I enjoyed it, the fontina had a rice consistency, can't say I tasted the pistachio at all. But over all liked the textures and flavor - 3 Tines

  •   My 2nd course - Cinghiale Wild Boar & long hot pepper meatballs, tomato sugo  slightly more spicy then I realized I was in the mood for and wild boar has a chewier texture than a beef meatball, but it was fun to try - 2 Tines

  • My 3rd course - Pappardelle Al Ragu Aquilano  Wide ribbon pasta, slow cooked pork, veal, lamb & chicken ragu Hearty tender pieces of meat. And I love a fat pasta whether I'm eating Italian or Chinese.  But I once had this dish like 4 or 5 years ago at Garces Trading Company and it was so much tastier. I know because all these years later I remember it and remember wishing the portion had been larger. Nice portion size at L'Aquila , enough for lunch the next day 2.5 Tines

  • Dessert of course was L'Aquila award winning Gelato  mixing together Creme Caramel Sweet Caramel Custard and Caffe House Roasted coffee flavored gelato - 3.5 Tines
I really liked our server, I thought she was adorable and friendly. However, my date pointed out that she didn't come back to pour water, didn't check on us when there was a long delay between courses and he felt she shouldn't have said she didn't know what wine to recommend, just should have said I'll check with our wine steward.  I tend to let these types of things slide, but I was surprised that the restroom decor is blah.

So how did the date go?  Well, if he calls to say, how about we try one of those new wine bars in Fishtown, then Frankford Ave, here we come!  I'll keep you posted :) #WDMe

Tinsel & Tine Rating System: * Excellent - 4 Tines / * Great - 3 Tines / * Good - 2 Tines / * Fair - 1 Tine /* Poor - Tarnished

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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