Monday, February 8, 2010

Il Sole and my love affair with the bread basket

This past week, when I was reviewing the top searches that take people to my blog on Google Analytics (I error toward the dork side of the coolness spectrum), I noticed a new keyword search for “Diana Takes a Bite” – “blonde eating giant chocolate bar.”

I laughed out loud, thinking, “Yep, sounds about right.”

And it is. There are few things that I enjoy eating more than chocolate – particularly in giant bar form. I will go to great lengths to secure and maintain my supply – even ask my mother to overnight the turtles my dad bought me for Valentine’s Day because I won’t be able to eat them after February 16th when I give up chocolate for Lent. (They should be arriving by certified mail some time today.)

But the truth is, chocolate wasn’t my first love.

And, as tragic as it sounds, I can – if necessary – go without it.

Bread, however, I can’t.

When I was growing up, the oft-demonized carbohydrate was the backbone of my diet. I nibbled on cinnamon sugar toast for breakfast, packed peanut butter sandwiches for my lunch and when my family and I went out to a restaurant, I ate so many rolls that I would often be too full to eat my dinner (usually a well-done plain hamburger). My most shameful moments involved Wonder Bread that I ate in either one of two ways – smashed into a dense ball and eaten like an apple, or sandwiched around nacho cheese Doritos.

I’d gleefully pounce on the forbidden nutritionally defunct loaf when I’d get home from school. My mom, an elementary school teacher, would still be at work granting me one full hour of free reign on the kitchen cupboards (and the 5-lb bag of gummy bears that she’d tried to hide from me in the living room china cabinet).

While my penchant for gummy bears has waned since that time, my obsession with bread hasn’t. I still eat sandwiches for lunch, I still make myself peanut butter toast for a bedtime snack, and, as was made very apparent when I had dinner at Il Sole last Thursday night, I still fill up on the bread basket.

Even though Sarah from the Delicious Life/Tastespotting, Sook from Yutjangsah, Lauren from Harb Knock Life, and I were invited to the classic Italian restaurant on Sunset Blvd. to sample the new and old offerings on the menu, I spent the entire evening trying (and failing) to restrain myself from eating too much bread.* Never mind that there were other dishes to be adored – like the rustically prepared roasted vegetable salad with its generous slices of fresh avocado, the sumptuous baked eggplant parmesan with its opulent layer of mozzarella cheese, and the delicate Dover sole entrée with its subtle lemon perfume. Never mind that we were enjoying dishes with price points far beyond my usual spending power (ie. $46 for the aforementioned fish) in a decidedly romantic ambiance that encourages far better decorum than I was exhibiting. And never mind that I should have a much more refined palate now that I’m no longer a gummy-bear eating 11-year-old.

My primary focus that evening wasn’t with Chef Issac Rivera’s meaty lobster ravioli or even on the surprisingly flavorful vegan pasta dish that he prepared for Lauren. My focus wasn’t on how charming the patio is with its tea lights and view of the street and how fun it would be to be on a date at one of those tables. Instead, my focus was on the bread – in all its various incarnations.

First, with the rustic Italian bread served with an addictive tomato and garlic-infused olive oil.
Next, with the goat cheese crostini that I loaded with roasted eggplant and sweet peppers from the Il Sole Rosso antipasti plate.
Then, three crostini later, with the over-sized grilled vegetable bruschetta.
And finally, when our entrée plates had been cleared, with the chocolate blueberry bread pudding that was meant to be shared with the rest of the table. (The plate didn’t move from its place next to my fork.)
I was the little girl with the balls of squished Wonder Bread again. I was the little girl who ate Doritos sandwiches for a “snack.” And I was the little girl who didn’t know what a skinny jean was or why it would be important to fit into a pair.

It was fun being the blonde with the giant baguette for a change. To momentarily put a muzzle on my “Give me chocolate, or give me death” pontifications.

Until I tried to pull on my jeans the next morning.

And until I realized that my overindulgence meant I'd be spending the next few days as the girl with the giant carrot stick.

Il Sole
8741 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069-2205
(310) 657-1182

Fresh Bites: Il Sole recently debutted its Sunday rustic dinner menu that offers diners their selection of appetizer and entree for $35.

*Please note: Our dinner was complimentary.


Gastronomer said...

You know how I feel about carbs! Thanks for the preview, I am looking forward to digging into the bread basket and truffle ravioli on my visit :-)

By the way, white bread and Dorritos?! Are you outta your mind?!

yutjangsah said...

I used to roll Wonder bread into balls and eat that with American cheese. My grandma used to "make" me peanut butter open faced sandwiches that she'd sprinkle a full tablespoon of sugar on top of. Ahhh memories. The bread at Il Sole was super duper I must admit and it's also why my dress was in danger of tearing at the seams.

stuffycheaks said...

The pasta and eggplant look delicious! BTW.. have you tried choc covered gummy bears. i survived on that in college.

Diana said...

Cathy - I know, it's repulsive. But so good. Like a crunchy grilled cheese sandwich. I'd probably still eat them today if I didn't care about my health and all.

Sook - I lived in sweatpants this weekend. Not only because I always live in sweatpants when I'm not in public, but because the waistband on my jeans was cutting into my wobbly bits.

Stuffy Cheaks - Thank you. I now have an intense craving for chocolate covered gummy bears! hah! Where do you think I can find them?

bagnatic said...

haha, bread is my weakness, too. my excuse is to "soak up" the alcohol.

weezermonkey said...

Ah, I ended up going to Cafe Pierre this night instead. Looks taaaaasty. Excited stuff my face. :)

Esi said...

So um, don't judge me, but I was never a huge fan of bread...until I discovered freshly baked bread with butter. So I totally get it. I can't believe I have not been to Il Sole. I worked across the street from there for almost 2 years!!

Anna A. said...

I'm with you on the bread! It's my #1 food group. Bread = life! Besides that the rest looks delish - especially that avocado salad. Again, you dominate the dessert.

Diana said...

Bagnatic - I totally use that excuse too! And then I decide I need more wine to help digest the bread! ;)

Weezer - You were missed. But maybe I should be glad I didn't have more competition standing in the way of the bread?

Esi - I recently rediscovered my love of butter on bread after a good fifteen years of avoiding it. With a little salt on top, it's heaven.

Anna - The bread pudding didn't stand a chance around my jaws.

Kung Food Panda said...

Great post D. Too bad Cathy and I didn't make it last week. We'll be eating a bread in your honor next week! :)