My Big Cheat

I am pretty sure that everyone out there reading my blog thinks that I'm perfect, and they would not be far off. But today, I'd like to talk about a moment when I was not perfect. I cheated.

Last night, Murray and I went out for our date night dinner. With gestational diabetes, finding restaurants is not always the easiest thing. I mean, you can pretty much rule out any Italian place, for starters. So we've even opted to eat in for a few of our date nights. But last night I wanted to try Spark, a new restaurant/lounge that I've seen downtown Provo. When I first saw it, I was a little hesitant to try it because although it looked hip and cool from the outside, the sign said, "Restaurant/Lounge" and I haven't been to a lounge before and I really didn't know what to expect. But recently a friend recommended the restaurant to us, so we decided to go.

Stepping into Spark feels a little like stepping out of Provo. In a really good way. Although we showed up at prime time on a Friday night, we were seated immediately. (This is something that I would like to see change since it makes me scared that now we've discovered this place, not enough people will be enjoying it to keep it in business.)

Our hostess who seated us explained the menu a little. They offer "small plates" or appetizers and she recommended ordering three or four small plates as the ideal way to dine there. Then she directed our attention to the bar menu, which I didn't pay much attention to because 1) alcohol and 2) fruit juice (forbidden to me while gestating). When our waitress came by shortly afterward, she said, "I'm sure that our hostess explained our non-alcoholic bar to you." Suddenly that menu became much more interesting to me. The drinks look really delicious and creative and I am excited to go back after the baby comes and try something out. She told us that the Shirley Temple comes topped with cotton candy, which I thought was a little bizarre until I actually saw someone's. Then I wanted one immediately. BUT this isn't where I cheat. So rest assured, I'm still waiting a while to try their drink menu.

Murray and I ordered some fries with aioli garlic dip, braised beef with cabbage, and crispy pork on polenta. Since I had no idea how many carbs to expect with this combination, I told Murray that we might even consider dessert (so that I could have one bite) depending on how the food was prepared.

The presentation of the food was fabulous. We were served our fries first. They were very thin, shoe-string fries cooked to perfection. While we were eating the fries, a waitress brought out a taste from the kitchen---an apple cream soup---for us to try out. What a taste experience! Our soup came in tiny pots with tiny spoons. And it tasted like creamy apple bacon. Soooooo good and such a pleasant surprise from the kitchen! Next came our braised beef and cabbage and our crispy pork on polenta. The braised beef and cabbage may not have seemed as gourmet to me because it was a lot like cabbage rolls that I had regularly while growing up because of Eastern European immigrants to Canada. But it was certainly delicious. (I've never been known to say no to a cabbage roll!) The crispy pork on polenta was definitely my favorite. It was topped with perfectly sweet grapefruit.

The portions were small, which is the sort of thing that you respect about a place like this. It means that you can enjoy the food experience without feeling stuffed and overdone. It also means that there's room for dessert.

And this is where the cheating comes in. On the menu was fried chocolate pudding. And darn it, I have been wanting a real dessert for what seems like an eternity now. And this sounded too good to pass up. Small portions of chocolate pudding are coated in an almond flour and then briefly fried to crisp the shell. It is served with orange ice cream to complement the chocolate.

And here is my paragraph of justification: My doctor said she was part of a control group for gestational diabetes where she didn't have it, but she had to test her blood at certain times during the day. One day, she ate a lot of carbs without really realizing it and when she tested her blood, it was in the 160s. I'm never allowed to go over 130, and I typically don't (when I do, it's never even as high as 140). So I figured that if, like my doctor, I didn't have GDS, sometimes my blood sugar would naturally be higher because of the food choices that I make, then with GDS, it wouldn't hurt to go over just once. And later, my sister-in-law pointed out that when women don't manage their GDS properly, they get put on insulin, but it takes a couple of weeks of improperly eating before they're switched to insulin. Anyway, at the restaurant, I also reasoned that exercise is like a shot of insulin, so Murray and I could go swimming in our club house pool after dinner so that I could help my insulin deliver the glucose to my cells.

Okay. Justification done. Now let's move on to gratification. This dessert was AMAZING. "Pudding" does not describe what was in these crispy almond-flour shells. It's more like a rich chocolate not unlike pots de creme (which my mom would make growing up and it still seems gourmet... except for when we'd bastardize it by eating it with marshmallow peeps and call it pots de peep...). The ice cream (which Murray expected to be a bright orange sherbet and wasn't very excited about it) was a perfectly creamy orange. The whole experience was wonderful---so wonderful! Of course, the problem was that there were three little puddings and only two of us. But then Murray said that if I wanted to have a second one, I could have it all to myself. And then I almost broke down in tears in the middle of the restaurant.

I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area. It was a fun experience and we'll definitely be going back. The prices were extremely reasonable (our bill came to $28, which is what we paid recently for a meal at Bajio) and the experience is far beyond run-of-the-mill Utah dining.

(And in case you're still wondering about my blood sugar... we got home and got our bathing suits on and headed over to the clubhouse, only to discover that the entire pool had been taken over by a singles ward activity where they were playing an organized sport, so slipping into the pool would have been like stepping onto a basketball court during someone else's game. I am not allowed to do hot tubs as a pregnant woman, lest I cook my fetus. So basically Murray and I dangled our legs in the hot tub for 40 minutes, hoping that the awful singles activity would eventually end, and dodging the football whenever it came hurling at our faces. But I kicked my legs for all of those 40 minutes. It ultimately didn't help too much. My blood sugar was 160. Little baby Leland, I'm very sorry for any fat cells that you might have put on due to my indulgence. And a note to the singles who monopolized the pool even though they don't pay for it and we do: When Murray and I went home, we *****[censored]*****. So there.)


jeri said...

Oooooh, we will definitely be trying out this place soon. You always find the coolest places to eat.

Rachie said...

Why would you censor watching TV until you're so tired you stumble up to bed? ;) At least, that's what I'm assuming you did since it's what I do when I get home after going out on weekends...

Nerd Goddess said...

That sounds like a great restaurant, I'll have to head over there sometime.

Stinks about the pool, though.

Barb.Rolek said...

What a fun blog! I have a site on Eastern European Food. You mention having cabbage rolls as a kid. Are you of EEan extraction? What other EEan foods do you like to eat?

Red said...

Did you get the exercise tip from Ootsie Boodle by any chance? I would imagine it would come from your doctor, but she and I were chatting about diabetes and insulin vs. exercise when she was up here for Grandpa's birthday and I had just studied it in physiology... ANYway. I was thinking of you throughout the whole lecture even though we only talked about types I and II. :)

Kiersten said...

I've been wanting to go there! I guy that Jared knows from Men's Chorus started it. As soon as you have that baby, you'll have to get a sitter and go on a Tuesday; I heard they have a jazz night with two-for-one drinks from their non-alcoholic drink bar. And way to stick it to those singles :)