Do you ever choose to stay home for dinner because it is too much trouble to go out?
We have been in that rut lately. In the morning, making plans to go out for drinks and dinner sounds wonderful. Then, we both work all day and feel tired by late afternoon. Time and again, we’ve decided to order in and stay in. Hooray for Netflix!
My husband, thank goodness, did not let that happen this weekend. As we both collapsed on the couch to discuss dinner plans, I suggested that we just order pizza.
“No. We’re not doing that,” he said.
“Okay, just an idea. Where should we go?” I asked. I wanted to rally.
“Well, I’d like a real burger — not one of those gourmet ones on a brioche bun, but a real, grilled, old-fashioned hamburger,” he answered.
Then, he asked me what ideas I had for dinner. To be honest, I only really thought of one place, Sarah’s Vineyard Winery in the Cuyahoga Valley. I had been there a few times for afternoon for parties, and thought it was pretty.
I wasn’t sure about the menu or whether they served burgers, so we looked on the Internet.
“Wood-fired pizza,” my husband read, “that sounds good. OK let’s go.” I surmised that pizza was acceptable to him, but not in my usual presentation from the box, and eaten while sitting in front of the television, with our stockinged feet propped on the coffee table.
We dressed casually, as the restaurant is a reconstructed barn, patio, and grill area surrounded by gardens and set in a vineyard. When we arrived at 5:45, it was already busy in all of the seating areas.
The afternoon happened to be extremely humid, so we opted for indoor seating. At Sarah’s, you are seated by the hostess and then order at the bar. There, you are served your wine and given a table number. The wait staff then brings you food order to your table.
Having selected a liter of Zinfandel that sounded interesting, we sat down to wait for our Margarita pizza to be served.
The barn itself is solidly constructed and quite beautiful. The beams are old, though the plank siding looks fairly new. The huge stainless steel ceiling fan rotates at an open level three stories above the main floor. It looks like some weapon from a James Bond movie!
Large windows give views of the gardens and vineyards beyond. It was a pleasant atmosphere to drink our Zinfandel and talk. The wine was quite tasty, with definite hints of berries and spice.
When our pizza arrived, I was surprised that the waiter slid it from the pan right onto the paper table cover. This was my first recent experience with eating off of a table cover, but it apparently is a trend. Like I said, we don’t get out as much as we should!
I was skeptical that I would like a wood-fired pizza. The last one I tried, at a different venue, had a mushy crust that I didn’t find appealing. Well, no worries here. It was fabulous. The crust was crispy, the toppings fresh, and the oregano sprinkled over it all was fragrant and savory. Even the cheese tasted fresh. I assume that these ingredients are locally sourced at this time of year, since we were sitting in the lovely, farm rich Cuyahoga Valley of Ohio.
We ate every bite, then proceeded to order two desserts. One dish was a yellow cake/cheesecake combination of layers with a sweet raspberry puree and soft vanilla ice cream. The other was a rich brownie cake with the same vanilla ice cream. Both were delicious.
Best of all, the wine just seemed to go well with all of our food choices. It had just a bit of sweetness that complemented the pizza as well as the desserts.
After dinner, we headed out to the gardens and pond. Everything was manicured and attractive, but did not overtake the natural vibe of the old farmstead. The sun was getting a bit lower by then, shining through and illuminating the green grape leaves on the rows and rows of vines.
Driving north through the valley, I coaxed my husband to stop at a quarry trail that I had walked once before. We trekked through the woods and then scaled a short, very steep hill to the top. Looking down on the unearthed stone, I felt like I was in an ancient woodland. The crickets were starting to sing.
Yes, we were tired, and perspired a bit, as we clambered over the stones. But, an evening like this can renew your spirit and inspire future adventures. The next time you feel the urge to sack your plans, try to break out of your nesting inclination and explore. Afterwards, go home and rest!
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