And when I say "ass," I mean "stomach." But the figurative kicking, not something that would result in internal bleeding.
Otto is my favorite Italian restaurant, which isn't saying much considering that I don't really eat Italian food anywhere else. (That has to do with price; it tends to be expensive.) My strategy for eating a meal at Otto is usually to get a pasta dish followed by a cup of gelato (three flavors, of course). I always eat everything without much trouble, sometimes with even more food than that, as their vegetable and seafood dishes are some of the best things they serve.
But when I ate at Otto with Cheryl a few weeks ago, something happened. Something...destroyed us. We both ate the same amount of food—a pasta dish and gelato—and both went into disorienting food comas unheard of in all my Otto experiences. It's not like we felt sick. Just very, very sleepy. And maybe a little woozy, but we may have been embellishing it by that point. I can't remember because I was woozy.
I went with rigatoni con stracotto, heritage pork shoulder in a tomato basil sauce, upon Kathy's suggestion. Little chunks of tender pork, a few basil leaves, and a light coating of rich, creamy tomato sauce—everything tasted balanced, but it didn't blow me away. The pasta was less cooked than usual, maybe a bit too al dente. Then again, part of the reason I like Otto is because I know I'll never get a plate of overcooked pasta.
I ended up preferring Cheryl's garlicky rigatoni with sweet Italian sausage and escarole. I really like the combination of sweet Italian sausage + bitter green, and I preferred the tomato sauce-less pasta.
We finished our plates. I like that at Otto one pasta dish is just enough to satisfy. No grabbing your belly afterward in pain while moaning, "OH GOD, I ATE TOO MUCH," which happens about 50% of the time I eat out.
So we thought it was safe if we each got our own cups of gelato. That's what I've always done in the past, at least.
Olive oil, banana toffee, and tangerine for me. All awesome flavors, of course. As I've mentioned before, their sorbets are not to be missed—they burst with seemingly unadulterated fruitiness siphoned straight from Mother Nature's veins, if the fruit came in the form of a smooth, frozen flavored ice. They're also a good way to offset the richness of the gelatos. Olive oil has been one of my favorite flavors since the first time I ate it: It's super rich and creamy, but has just enough olive oil flavor to remind you, "Yup, that's olive fat," without making you feel like you're just eating spoonfuls of semi-solid oil. (Your opinion may differ; some people are overwhelmed by the flavor.) Banana toffee tasted just like what it was supposed to: banana and toffee. Most of the flavors taste like what their supposed to without being masked by over-sweetness. The only "bad" one I ran into was pistachio, but the last time I ate it a few years ago. Maybe it's better now?
Blood orange campari, salted caramel, and creme fraiche for her. All great flavors I would order again (salted caramel in particular for its hint of bitterness).
I took this photo to document the point when we both felt like the contents of our stomachs had transformed into lead. Every subsequent bite felt like a chore. The finish line looked so close, but the path was paved with that goo they put in sticky mouse traps, turning every step into a sweat-inducing task. Who the hell can't down a few more spoonfuls of gelato? It's not like we had a rack of ribs left; it's just liquid!...that's been frozen. If we had shared one cup of gelato, we probably would've felt fine. We also would've tried three less flavors, and considering it was Cheryl's first taste of Otto's gelato, that would've been a shame. Admittedly, I also wanted to try six flavors.
We hobbled out through the front revolving doors in a stupor. I felt pretty gross the rest of the night.
And what a strange (and tasty) meal that was. That we both went into the same food coma (was one stomach just sympathizing with the other?)—that we went into food comas at all. Granted, I've had many food comas in my life/the past month, but something about that one was unique. That it was so unexpected. Usually I just hug my belly, bring my eyelids down to half-mast, and think, "Well, crap, I did it again," but this time it felt less like my doing and more like Otto's doing. BUT OTTO WOULDN'T DO THAT TO ME. Right?
The next week I made it a point not to eat out for dinner on any weekday.