Ode to Ricotta

In this new economy, we don’t have a Hamptons house to give up, or a second car, or even a first car newer than 10 years old. We don’t have violin lessons or ski weekends or a gardener or housekeeper to give up when we try to tighten up the budget. We’re pretty much bare bones already. What we do have to give up, is eating out.

It makes me kind of sad.

Eating out has always been one of the joys of my life. It’s hard not to embrace the restaurant culture when you live in a town filled with nearly 20,000 of them. And I’m an equal opportunity eater-outer. I’m happy to sit down to steak au poivre at the Four Seasons, and I’m delighted to grab a slice at my local pizza joint. But lately, I’m doing little of either.

So this weekend, for the first time in ages, Nate and the kids and I took ourselves out to a fabulous meal at the incredible restaurant responsible for his current indentured servitude. He was happy to see what it looked like in the actual dining room, as opposed to the windowless basement room in which he peels heirloom tomatoes for 12 hour stretches, three days a week. I was just happy to have a cute gay maitre d’ show us to our table, and a perfect Italian white white to distract me from the fact that Sage was gnawing the tops off the focaccia bread and discarding the carcasses on my plate.

I was happy.

But it was when I bit into mounds of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta sprinkled with coarse sea salt and spread on crusty, olive oil-dappled toast–made by someone else, served by someone else, cleaned up by someone else–that I realized I felt more than happy. I felt like me again.

It’s crazy, the things that make us feel complete. For me it was ricotta.


41 thoughts on “Ode to Ricotta”

  1. Oh sister, I totally get this. On a variety of levels. Here's to almost anything served by someone else and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

  2. Sigh. Fancy restaurants with real tablecloths… I'm glad you got to have a me moment. And I totally want some of that ricotta.

  3. Lunch during the work week is like heaven specifically for that reason. I don't have to cook it, I can have whatever I want, no one is grabbing at my plate with sticky hands and I don't have to clean up after. Ahhhhhh. (Although your dinner sounds better than any lunch I ever have..)

  4. Oooh, cheese. For me, it's the largest Americano known to man made by the cute girl at the coffee stand. I didn't have to make the coffee, I didn't have to pry it out of my almost 3-yr old's hands (she's a damn coffee fiend, I am going to hell), and I didn't have to deal with any whining while consuming it. True, I do drink it on the way to work, where there's plenty of whining to go around, but for those 20 minutes in the car, I can be myself, sip my coffee, and curse as much as I want at the jackasses on talk radio (I am a glutton for punishment).

  5. I totally understand. Eating out occasionally is one of the joys of life. We don't get to dine out as often as we used to, but when we do manage to go out to a restaurant I savour the occasion.

    The ricotta sounds wonderful!

  6. Amen! I love eating out too and it's been so long since we've sat down at a restaurant that I probably wouldn't remember how to order. We began our marriage eating out EVERYDAY, so the change in lifestyle has been hard for me! Glad you enjoyed your meal!

  7. My husband is an entrepreneur in restaurant-related activities. The first time thing to get sliced from our budget was eating out. The next was traveling. While I am appreciative that we had such flexibility in our budget and those are not huge sacrifices, I do miss eating out and hopping on airplanes throughout the year.

    I also miss buying huge hunks of gran parrano cheese. Ah, that was the life.

  8. This is a great site you have. I have a paranormal blog myself and I would like to exchange links with you. Please let me know if this is possible. You can contact me through either email or simply by a comment on my site. Talk to you later. Jason

  9. I totally could have written this. But I didn't, so I'll just say I'm sorry. Eating out is a small ray of light in my life too. I had a fourth child in May, and that was sort of the end of eating out, for an indefinite period. NO ONE wants to see six people walk in to a restaurant (well, five, since the 2-month-old doesn't walk yet), four of whom are under nine years, expecting to be seated at ONE table. I mean, come on. I get it. It's no fun for us either. It's basically a commitment to spend an hour of our lives (and like $60) trying to keep our children from hitting each other or throwing up or screeching at the tops of their lungs. I'm sorry, but that is too difficult a task at this point in my life. So sad.

  10. Yes, oh yes. We cut back on our eating out habits a few years ago, when our first son was born and we went down to one salary. Now I feel an actual pang of happiness when food is served to me and cleared away afterward.

  11. This is the expense we have cut out as well. When we do go out to dine it usually sans fancy table cloths as I feel guilty about the mass destruction my 1 year old can impose upon textiles. I miss weekends free of cooking. Sigh

  12. I haven't eaten out in any place other than a diner or pizzeria in about a year. I want some pretentious food, gol'darnit! Where are my gastrique and foam and sous-vide?

  13. Yum– your description made me ravenous. My kids' heinous behavior at meals has made me forsake family meals at restaurants, but date night? Those I can get behind.

  14. Did you say ricotta? Sea salt? I'm salivating–thanks!

    Husband and I had a budget meeting this week, and we saw a need to cut down on eating out, too. Yesterday, my MIL treated me to a lunch of dolmades and fresh tzatziki sauce…now I'm drooling!

    Ohhh, and if you get a chance, try Haagen Daas Fleur de Sel. Heavenly!

  15. The first time I read your blog, years ago, it was a post with a photo of you at a NYC restaurant. I studied the photo and wondered about you. In fact, that we I read your site, I have that photo in my mind. That and an image about the maid in your apartment.

  16. We eat out way too often, but mostly it's places like Chipotle.** For us, it's due to finances as well. That and a son who hasn't gotten past the spoon throwing phase.

    Oh what I'd give for a nice meal out somewhere. At a restaurant without kid meals. Sigh. Am dreaming of all the place I will go next year at BH. Real restaurants, with good food. Oh I can't wait. Only a year to go. Ha.

    **This comment was not paid for by Chipotle in any way. Although, as often as we eat there, they really should help us out a bit.

    Sorry Liz, can't help myself.

  17. Did you know that Josh flies that ricotta in every day from Italy? Sometimes I dream about it at night, it's so damn good. The first few times I tried it, I had fantasies about eating it off my gf's naked body. Did you have the garlic chicken?

    Will call/e-mail you about drinks next week. Been stuck in the weeds lately.

  18. For my birthday tomorrow, we're going to our neighborhood joint and I can't wait. It is something we gave up too, and I miss it terribly.

  19. Amen sister – am glad you had a good time. Anything made by anyone else and served to you where you get to eat it warm and intact, is a real treat in my book!

  20. that sounds amazing! I have never understood the whole adages – it tastes better when you make it yourself. no, it tastes better when someone else had made it and is serving it to me. and ricotta = yummy!

  21. I just declared a month of no eating out at my house (started yesterday).

    We'll see if I can make it . . .

    At least I have the consolation of garden-fresh tomatoes.

    I'm glad you got that ricotta.

  22. When my kids were babes, I used to dream about warm bread being served to me at a table. I still love that dream.

    I will pick going out to dinner over almost anything else, hands down. It's why I see about 2 movies a year, if I'm lucky.

  23. I have great site about ricotta and would like to exchange links with you.

    Just kidding.

    Not cleaning up after eating is what I live for. Long live take-out.

  24. I am so with you. That has been something that doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but I really miss. I miss the whole experience of trying a new place, having a cocktail…Just the freedom to throw up your hands at the end of a long day and say, “Screw it- we're going out tonight!”

  25. I actually made my own ricotta recently. Which is sort of off-topic and counter to the ethos of this post, but I can't stop bragging. I made cheese!

    (I'm glad you got a fancy meal out).

  26. Oh how I wish I could eat out other than taco bell these days.

    The occasional splurge is so worth every penny.

  27. I have been wrestling with the exact same thing. Really. We rent and are trying to start to scrape together a down payment and the only real expense we have to give up is eating out. We succeeded for a couple months — yeah, the prospect of dining with a 2.5 year old and a newborn helps — but have been failing miserably lately. I keep making these crazy calculations whereby eating at an inexpensive restaurant minus the groceries for that meal plus I don't really need a haircut this year adds up. Um, it never does, but I think I'm going to have to add eating out to the budget anyway.

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