Eating Kinder Surprises on the couch whilst watching Cold Comfort Farm.
Hiding in the bushes during my next door neighbour’s birthday party, so that said neighbour’s mum couldn’t make us dance to Avril Lavigne with the other girls. But getting roped into judging the birthday girl’s backyard runway fashion show anyway.
Printing off a photo of Legolas to place on the sofa arm between us while we watched The Lord of the Rings for the zillionth time, and throwing a pillow at my brother because he saved the Legolas image on the computer with the file name “You do know he looks like a girl, right?”
Having a friendship that has grown since high school into something deeper, something at once more comfortable, comforting, and laughter-filled. A friendship that reflects the fact that not only do we know each other more now than we did at age fourteen, but that we like and respect each other all the more because of this.
These are a few of my favourite Jess-and-me things.
I first introduced you to Jess in May, when she took me out for my birthday dinner at Flint. The restaurant burnt down shortly afterwards; dare I say that Jess was simply too dazzlingly hot for the venue? SWISH!
Anyhoodle, the beginning of November was also the beginning of Jess’ next year of living on this planet, and so I came up with the idea of making it a tradition for us to treat each other to birthday dinners-emphasis-on-dessert. I figure that, this way, we’ll get to see each other at least twice a year. This time, and after careful deliberations, we decided to go to Artespresso. Despite a few small glitches, we had a rather wonderful evening laughing, chatting, and eating together.
My favourite dish of the night was this Salmon Gravlax creation, which absolutely sang with complex and perfectly complimentary flavours. The salmon was firm yet buttery, with its salty edge balanced out by the sweet caramel sauce. I’m not entirely sure whether three sprigs of micro herbs constitute a “salad”, but I’ll let that one slide, because this dish was delicious.
One of the small glitches in the evening was the 45 minute wait between ordering and receiving our first dishes, which perhaps wouldn’t have been as noticeable had we not been the only people in the restaurant for the first 30 minutes, and only one of three tables for the entire evening. But the service was chatty and friendly, and that makes up for a lot in my mind.
I have to state for the record that I have never heard anyone refer to a sauce or condiment with as much emotive longing as Jess did upon reading “red wine jus” aloud from the menu. I may or may not have collapsed into a fit of giggles.
Jess was full of nothing but praise for the Sirloin dish, although I’ve now realised from the tasting notes in my phone that what she called “delicious peppery pumpkin” was in fact carrot puree. Aha, Jess! I have inscribed your mistake into the annals of the interwebs for forevermore! However, flavours that tasted not-quite-of-themselves was a theme in dessert as well, so who knows? Maybe we were served a pumpkin-carrot hybrid.
Jess spoke highly of how well the sirloin was cooked, and we both found great glee in what the menu called pommes dauphines but which we referred to as Tater Tots.
(I would actually like some Tater Tots right now. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)
The salad was also nicely executed. Yes, yes, it appears I’m not quite as adept at describing salad as I am chocolate. Speaking of…
First and foremost, I want to express great appreciation for Artespresso’s dedicated innovation in and commitment to creating exciting desserts. It’s tough to find restaurants in Canberra that go beyond the standard dessert offerings of pannacotta/chocolate fondant/fruit crumble/sorbet, and so I give superhugebig bonus points to any restaurant that does choose to go above and beyond. I also value that Artespresso played with textures and didn’t go overboard with sugar in its desserts, instead recognising that subtle sweetness often lets flavours truly shine.
However, Jess and I both felt that our desserts were better in theory than execution. And I, personally, once more found my aversion to chocolate desserts justified and strengthened. The “chocolate torte” above was dry and crumbly, with no chilli flavour to speak of. In fact, it reminded me of overbaked packet-mix brownies, and we left most on the plate. Jess loved the sorbet and we both thought the chocolate and coconut crumbs tasted lovely. The watermelon jelly was pleasantly not-too-sweet and the coconut ice cream nice enough. We shan’t talk about this current fad of smearing brown substances across plates, though.
I opted for the Raspberry and Coconut Creme Brulee, and not just for that spectacular and satisfying moment when you get to crack the sugar topping. Overall, I enjoyed the brulee, as the coconut flavour was subtle and played off well against the little explosions of raspberry. I didn’t mind the use of shredded coconut in the custard, but that was partly because the texture overall wasn’t the greatest. Creme brulees should be divinely silky on the tongue, but this was instead very firm and slightly grainy. My guess is it was slightly overcooked. But no matter! The rosewater foam against the homemade passionfruit marshmallow provided a fun counterpoint, and the little scoop of passionfruit jelly in a passionfruit shell was a nice replacement for the macadamia praline*.
Despite our slight disappointments in the dessert arena, Jess and I both really enjoyed our night at Artespresso and wouldn’t be averse to going back. First, though, we’ve got to plan our upcoming night of skipping dinner to instead see a movie and then go out for much dessert.
*We requested our desserts to be nut-free, as Jess is allergic. If this doesn’t prove how much I, a devoted nut-lover, value our friendship, I don’t know what can.