Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Night Out On The Town With My Grudge Monster

I can hear you all asking "Grudge Monster?.......what the heck is she talking about?" It's a long story. My daughter Laura, who you have heard about on the blog a couple times, is of mixed ethnicity. Being part Korean she likes to embrace her Asian heritage. When the movie The Grudge hit the theater Laura became a master at recreating that bizarre noise the Grudge "monster"makes, and there were times the monster looked oddly like her......so......nickname was created and the rest is history. What does that have to do with my story? Absolutely nothing. It's just who we are.

Surely you see the resemblance......
So anyway, a few days ago my phone ran. A quick glance showed Grudge Monster was calling me so I knew something fun was in the works. She invited me to attend the Des Moines CityView Best Of Awards and dinner before the show. Yay!!! Hanging out with Laurie is always a good time, getting to me interesting restaurant people and enjoying fun and exciting events. This was no exception.  

Grudge Monster, with Chef Tom McKern from Zombie Burger
Before the awards show we went to one of Des Moines' most popular and successful restaurants, Centro. Centro is also a George Formaro restaurant and, well, I already knew I'd love it even before the first bite. George knows his stuff. For an appetizer we had fried Brussels sprouts with truffle aioli. Holy buckets. If you haven't tried fried Brussels sprouts you are missing out! Some of the leaves come off and get super crispy like chips, while the halved sprouts stay crisp tender and don't have that stinky boiled smell. I want to make this at home!

Laurie chose the ricotta gnocchi for her entree. The little pasta pillows were airy and soft and one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my entire life. Tossed in a spicy red sauce they were such a fantastic and different pasta option. My dinner was the Chicken Francese. Two perfectly breaded and sauteed chicken breasts were stacked on top of perfectly cooked fettuccine and draped in a lemony sauce with fresh herbs. The chicken as tender and juicy, crispy on the edges, with the most delicious sauce. We finished dinner with an Italian hazelnut pudding that was so creamy, delicious and surprisingly light- the perfect finish to our dinner. In case you're wondering where the food pics are, I did not take pictures of our dishes. I was there to have some daughter/mom time and enjoy Laurie's company so pictures were not in the plan.

After dinner we headed over to Beer Can Alley (now there is something I never thought I'd actually say..... with BCA being a country bar) for the CityView Best Of Awards. CityView is a local magazine that has an annual survey of everything you ca think of- best burger, best spa, best dog groomer, best margarita, best plastic surgeon- seriously Best Everything Under The Sun. With all of George's businesses nominated in many many categories I knew there would be some celebrating going on. Laurie's restaurant, Malo, also owned by George, was nominated for several categories including Best Taco and Best Brunch. We arrive at the bar and join George and his wife Sheila Formaro, members of their family, and several other friends and colleagues from Gateway Market and Zombie Burger. 

Yes....we had the Proud Mama Needs A Photo Moment
Watching the crowd I got the who's who in the local restaurant scene. New restaurant owners like the two guys who own Lurra Cocina. Local chefs like Tom McKern from Zombie Burger. Local television personalities like Lou Sipolt and Cynthia Fodor. Lots and lots of local restaurant people.

Needless to say George cleaned up at the awards- many Best Of categories were awarded to George and his restaurants. Malo snagged Runner Up in several categories as well. 

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