To be honest, I wasn't going to write about the dinner I ate the night before I ran the ING Hartford Marathon back in October. As with the dinner I ate at Pietro's the night before the Philadelphia Half Marathon last year, my main concern was eating enough carbohydrates to power me through the race the next day. But then Meghann of Meals and Miles offered me the opportunity to write a guest post about my first marathon experience, and I reconsidered my decision to scrap writing my restaurant review of Salute.
Here it goes!
Joining me for dinner that night were my boyfriend Stephen, who was understandably more engrossed in the Philadelphia Phillies game that was on the television above the bar than in the meal, and my childhood friend Kate, whom I hadn't seen since we were in middle school! Through the powers of Facebook, Kate and I discovered that we'd both be running through the streets of Hartford, so we decided to carbo-load together. Over the course of the meal, I divulged just how nervous I was, and Kate assured me that my body would know what to do and that I just had to trust in my training. She also encouraged me to eat whatever I wanted since I was going to push myself through 26.2 miles the next morning!
I opted for three courses and to begin and end my meal with pasta. First up? Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Cream ($7), a perfect choice for that crisp fall evening. The portion size was just about right for a first course, but I was disappointed with the filling. See that cross-section? Barely any filling in that ravioli! The cream sauce completely dominated the plate and overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the sweet potato. Regardless, carbohydrates were carbohydrates, and despite my personal opinions about the dish, I cleaned the plate.
To cleanse my palate before tackling my main entrée, I ordered the Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Toasted Almonds, and Roasted Garlic Dressing ($7) as my second course. The salad also comes with shaved Gruyere cheese, but I'm not a fan, so I asked them to leave it off. To make up for the missing cheese, the kitchen honored my request for extra bacon. Why not, right? Although the picture isn't the greatest (I don't know why, but I was have major issues with my camera that night!), you can tell that the spinach leaves were coated quite liberally with the dressing. Thankfully, I loved the flavor of the roasted garlic, so I wasn't too upset by the amount of dressing used. And, the toasted almonds added great texture and contrast to the rest of the components of the salad. All in all, a solid choice for a second course.
As for my main entrée, I had some difficulty deciding between sauces. Did I want meat or did I want to skip the meat? My stomach was doing so many flip-flops due to nerves that I didn't want to chance anything. I ordered the Rigatoni Pomodoro ($16) because a light sauce of fresh tomatoes, slivered garlic, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella sounded appealing. The sauce was seasoned nicely and the pasta cooked to a perfect al dente. Even though I started feeling full after I ate half of the pasta in the bowl, I pushed on. I knew I'd need all the extra carbohydrates I could get.
The meal did just what I needed it to do -- I got through each of the 26.2 miles of the ING Hartford Marathon and scored a sweet medal for finishing!
To read more about my first marathon experience, be sure to stop over at Meghann's blog to read my guest post.
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