6 years.

It's been six whole years since I married the love of my life in a friend's backyard on a rainy July day.  And it's been over two years since had a fancy date, over one year since we had a "real" date at all.  It was high time to dress up, treat ourselves to a gourmet meal, and have uninterrupted time to talk about life, our marriage, where God has us and where we're going.

We've had our share of unimaginable struggles over the last six years.  But through much hard work, struggling to communicate even when we don't want to, and forgiving each other and ourselves on a regular basis, we have made it this far, and we are still committed to this life together, this one that God has carved out for us.  That, to me, is definitely worth celebrating.

Our dear friends Josh and Terrica graciously agreed to watch Luci Belle for the evening.  I tried to picture the last purse I used before I adopted the orange canvas diaper bag and honestly couldn't remember it, so I grabbed lip gloss and my phone, and we hit the town. 

Our new prepared foods chef at Urban Acres, Sean Blanchette, works at Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton and hooked us up with a special tasting menu.  Dean Fearing is a celebrity chef here in Dallas who is known for incorporating southwestern flavors into his dishes.  Yes, please.

We arrived at the valet outside the swanky Ritz-Carlton, and only 15 minutes into the date I was already neurotically checking my phone.  "I wonder if Luci Belle is okay!  They haven't texted us.  So she must be fine...right?  I wonder if she's eating her dinner.  I hope she plays nicely with them!"  That's when Steven decided my phone was not coming into the restaurant with us.

We entered the hotel and were greeted by a mountain of pink flowery gorgeousness...

Inside Fearing's, with its cozy leather sofa groupings and bright, lively dining room, we were seated at a small table near the open kitchen and greeted as if we were special guests.  Small things were a special treat: having the waiter pull out my chair and flip open a napkin so it fell perfectly on my lap.  Water glasses were filled and the wine list was reviewed.  The "tasting" menu allowed me to try 3 different wines, so they first poured me a Riesling.  I wasn't sure about white wine - there's only one white wine I've ever really loved...but this one so delicious, refreshing and sweet, I had to pace myself or I'd be dancing on the table before the entrée.

After three sips, I told Steven I was already a little tipsy.  "Drink more wine, babe," he said with a smirk as he pushed my glass closer to me.  And gee, who am I to argue?

And then the food started coming.  First, this chilled potato soup shooter that was perfectly creamy, smooth, and a bit tangy...

 And unlimited amounts of soft biscuits and jalapeno cornbread with cute glass jars of butter and honey.

Next came Dean's famous Tortilla Soup in a bowl piled with unpredictable dry ingredients like radishes, and then the waiter poured the thick buttery broth on top.

By this time, we were well into our list of things to discuss over dinner and jumped from item to item with a childlike excitement: "So, what do you want to talk about NEXT, babe?"  Should we move somewhere else in a few years, somewhere in the mountains?  Or the country where we can have our own land?  How are we doing as parents?   We also decided to start reading Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne together on weekday evenings. 

It was so refreshing, so essential, to have this time together.  I sure do love this man.

Surprisingly, my favorite dish of the evening was the "Barbecued Shrimp Taco with Mango-Pickled Red Onion Salad and Smoky Citrus Vinaigrette."  I don't even like shrimp unless it's battered and fried, but this was divine...

Then, I tried a few new things: quail and scallops.  The scallops ended up on Steven's plate, but I have to say, the teensy quail breast was tender and delicious.  Even though I felt like I needed to cut it with a Barbie-sized fork and knife.

The entrée was "Maple-Black Peppercorn Soaked Buffalo Tenderloin on Brazos Valley Jalapeño Grits, Tangle of Greens and Butternut Squash Taquito."  At this point, I was getting full but wasn't about to waste any of this incredible dish!

Finally came dessert, during which I embarrassed myself by saying "MMMMMMM" so loudly that the server passing by stopped and eyed me suspiciously.  But I couldn't resist - it was the "Peach 'Short Stack' - Vanilla Shortdough Cookies, Caramelized Texas Peach and Blueberry Compote, Peach Frozen Yogurt and Housemade Granola."  Are you kiddin' me?

Afterwards, we drove back to our neck of the woods and took a lap around the Bishop Arts District hand-in-hand.  I absolutely love our little girl but have missed these special times just with Steven.  They are so deeply needed.

At 9:30pm, we returned home, and our little night owl was still awake and happily watching Ratatouille.  A love of food and cooking runs deeply in this family!