Monday was my first wedding anniversary. I feel so spoiled! I got gifts all week. To be fair, I had more gifts to give my husband throughout the week, too. 🙂 Last Monday, my husband and I went out to a restaurant we have been eying for a while, called Stark’s Steakhouse, in downtown Santa Rosa. The restaurant was great. They had a full menu and gluten free menu. Their food was very tasty gourmet surf and turf. Hubby had a New York steak with a peppercorn sauce, whereas I had Arctic Char with Indian spices and cucumber dill yogurt sauce (yes, I took my pills to eat them). We also shared a hand cut steak tartare with smoked chili aoli and capers as an appetizer and DeCicco broccoli with pine nuts and golden raisins as our side side. Everything was so good! We must have been starving, because we even had dessert! It was also fabulous, by the way. I had the warm flourless chocolate cake with caramel mousse and buttered almonds chocolate ice cream. I was so focused on my decadent treat, I don’t even remember what my husband ordered. It was chocolate ice cream in something. I don’t quite remember. I know he wasn’t impressed with it. He’s a pretty picky guy though.

Then on Saturday I was in for another treat. We went out to dinner again. This time it was to a cute little husband and wife owned Italian gourmet restaurant, called Cucina Paradiso, in downtown Petaluma, not far from the masonic lodge. It was also very impressive. It was so popular, I’m surprised we got a seat at all, even though it was at the bar, which was still pretty nice. (Yea! I got new super digestive pills made from bromelain enzymes from pineapple. I can more successfully eat meat now. Tested and approved!)

Before I get ahead of myself, we stopped by a chocolaterie/chocolate specialty shop, called Viva Cocolat, a couple doors down from the restaurant. First of all the shop smelled divine.

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They have a full case of chocolates and sweets that were very skillfully and artistically made. There is also a section of tables up front where you can drink hot chocolate, apple cider, specialty coffees, teas, sipping chocolate, etc. and share chocolate fondu with friends. They have prepackaged chocolates from pretty much everywhere in all different varieties. By the way, the chocolate pasta package has a recipe for chicken mole on the back. My hubby is such a dear one. The first thing he did was ask for the darkest chocolate they had. He knows I like my chocolate bitter-sweet (emphasis on bitter, the darker the better). The eyes of the girl helping brightened as she made a beeline for the little Michel Cluizel Nior Infini 99% cacao bars with a teensy bit cane sugar, ginger, cinnamon and Bourbon vanilla. Sounds amazing! I have yet to try them, but I like to snack on straight toasted cacao nibs (crushed up cacao beans) or put them in trail mixes and cereals. I think the highest concentration I have ever had was 90%, which was fabulous. I dislike it when other pesky ingredients get in the way of my chocolate, especially when it’s diluted with milk. I prefer mine also all natural, not Dutch processed. Ick. ;P I’m guess I’m kind of a chocolate snob…. Anyway I got one big piece, a white and dark chocolate covered mushroom shape with a crispy cap and caramel stalk. Mr. Wright got two pieces, a peanut butter truffle a delicious dark chocolate covered toffee, which he is still raving about. After dinner we went back and told the chocolate folks we were so impressed and asked for some business cards to recommend to other people we know; they were all so nice (I got permission to take pictures.)

Ok, back to Cucina Paradiso. We both had a nice light house salad with balsamic vinaigrette and complimentary bread (so glad I took my assortment of pills before hand and afterward.) with a garlic oil and pecan dipping sauce. The service so so quick! I finished my salad and out came our beautifully plated entrees. Hubby got Ravioli Di Anatra, the roast duck ravioli with sun-dried tomato, basil pine nut sauce. I ordered Petto di Anatra al Balsamico e Timo, the medium rare roast duck breast in balsamic vinegar-thyme sauce with roasted squash and lightly seasoned potatoes. The dishes were rich, supremely seasoned and flavorful. Impressed is an understatement. It was so good, we stuffed ourselves full. I’m surprised no one had to roll us out the door. It was painful (each plate was at least two portions), but so good. There was no way we could order dessert even if we wanted to. We wisely decided not to tempt ourselves but instead savored our chocolate bits. What a perfect night!

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