Fancy Dinner

Laura and Ashley eating away

I am a foodie... no matter how poor (unfortunately for my wallet). It is something that Tyler and I just have never agreed on... With my last two cents I would buy a homemade apple cider doughnut or flaky croissant, and Tyler would buy a bag of peanuts because the fat and protein would most efficiently nourish his body for the money. Traveling last summer probably highlighted this most vividly for the first time. We were in Berlin for one week. I wanted to try noted German restaurants that were written up in European,vegetarian blogs or on messageboards. Tyler didn't want to spend the cash but offered to sit with me while I ate. He said he would buy trail mix or falafel from a kiosk on the way back to the hostel to tide him over. Bless his cheap little heart... but eating alone is just not my thing. Thankfully for my stomach, most of my traveling experience has been undertaken with my good friend Laura. We actually once planned an entire vacation based around which towns in France and Italy were the gastronomic highlights. My favorite vacation of all time.
Ms. Caroline

Over the last year, I finally met someone in the Valley who has the same philosophy that I have about food and spending hard earned money: if it's delicious, it's worth it. Her name is Caroline Bastarache, and as I type her name I get a little teary-eyed. She has very recently flown to Los Angeles to live with her sister... and I am again alone. But chin up, Ashley! There are always airplanes!

But I am getting off topic. Over the last year, Caroline and I made a bucket list of sorts... Restaurants that we've always wanted to try in Western Mass. We decided to attempt to visit as many as we could before she moved. We dubbed these outings Fancy Dinner, and boy were they fancy! We really got gussied up. A combination of my two favorite things: dresses and eating well!

Here is a peek at our list:

Circa in ValleyAdvocate
Well, we didn't hit them all, as you can see (X's imply a dining experience)... But we did our best without going completely broke. Let me tell you, deliciousness was abundant. But one restaurant really stood out to me, and it deserves a little mention in the blog. Circa is a tiny "farm to table" restaurant located on Centre St. in Northampton, MA. The first time we ate there, our minds were blown. The flavors were so simple and SO vibrant. The food was incredibly fresh.. and most notably, the entire dinner was basically rendered silent because neither of us could bring ourselves to talk. We were speechless. We just had to savor each bite as completely as we could.

Clearly we went back a second time. Consistency is key for me, and they were dead on the second time as well. I was left thinking, "That might have been the best meal I've ever had." And it was worth every single cent.

Photo of scallop entree; Circa in ValleyAdvocate
A little overview of our menu choices:
  • Fried squash blossoms with ricotta and tomato
  • Maine crab cake with sweet corn relish and basil
  • Fresh peaches with proscuitto, arugula, and almonds
  • Lobstor risotto with sweet corn, saffron and cream
  • Chevre ravioli with basil pesto and parmesan
  • Wild stiped bass with ratatouille and olive tapenade
  • Earl Grey and mint creme brulee
  • Cookie plate with cinnamon ice cream
  • Sweet corn ice cream

I must go back soon! Swooning just thinking about it, really. Highly recommended to anyone who loves food. *Ashley and Caroline Seal and Approval*