I have carried a secret crush, maybe not so secret crush for Sophia Loren, almost all of my life, and let us say I aspire big. Ever since I was a kid and dragged along by my parents to the old “art” theaters that were in Detroit, before they took on an unsavory connotation; back then “art” films were usually subtitled and from another country. I can remember seeing “Two Women,” “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and “Marriage Italian Style” back then and I am sure that most of the dialogue and plots were over my head. I do remember the actress though and what a woman. My poor Bride can abide by this, as she knows that she is safe, I just hope she never meets Sam Elliot or I may not be safe. I started seeing advertisements for Sophia Loren coming to Detroit for one night to talk to the audience about her life and her films, and that night was my birthday; so I kept leaving the ads strewn across the kitchen table, in hopes that she might connect the dots. She did.
Sophia Loren was going to appear at the Detroit Opera House, which when I was a kid was a movie house with the grand artwork in the ceilings and the massive balcony (bigger than most theaters now) that one does not really see any more. Around the corner was Small Plates restaurant, which was the first restaurant in town to do tapas style dishes and I had never been there, but my Bride has been there often and likes it there. This is one of the restaurants where sharing dishes is the norm and the food comes out helter-skelter as it is finished in the kitchen, so one does not know when to expect each dish and that adds to the fun. Since there was also a Detroit Tigers game that evening, one could look at the attire of most of the diners and kind of figure out who was going to either of the two events. We ordered several dishes and they came out in a unique procession. We started off with the Lotus Flower Tuna which was seared Sesame crusted tuna, mango and jalapeno salsa, Wasabi aioli, avocado, soy reduction on fried wonton flowers. We had fried Brussels sprouts with white cheddar. The Small Plates Original Beef Sliders with Apple wood smoked bacon, white cheddar, grilled onions on Pretzel rolls. The Shrimp & Grits were spicy Bloody Mary shrimp over cheesy grits. The pan seared Sea Scallops were huge and prepared with Pecorino cheese, Fingerling potatoes, Arugula, cherry tomatoes and White Truffle oil. To finish the meal, my Bride had told our waiter that it was my birthday and they gave us a complimentary order of Chocolate Orange Bread Pudding with Bourbon caramel sauce. We were stuffed and by that time ready to walk over to the Opera House and climb the stairs to the balcony to see the show.
The wine list was rather abbreviated, but well thought out. The first wine was Bieler Pere & Fils Coteaux D’Aix-en-Provence Cuvee Sabine 2015. Rosé wine is one of the stars of the Coteaux D’Aix-en- Provence, which is the second largest appellation of Provence. The wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Rolle (the local name for Vermentino. It was a delightful soft pink wine that was so refreshing to start the meal off with. The second wine for the evening was from the Central Coast of California, more specifically Santa Barbara County and it was Consilience Grenache Blanc 2013, which is part of the Sanger Family of Wines. This wine was a delightful blend of Estelle Grenache Blanc, La Presa Grenache Blanc and La Presa Sauvignon Blanc varietals that spent sixteen months in neutral older French Oak for aging. I also was very happy with this wine, which was more unique to me. All in all a most enjoyable way to spend my birthday.