Valentine’s Day | Des Moines

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To say we were excited to return to Des Moines for our second Valentine’s Day together would be an understatement. We literally booked dinner at Proof in December. So Saturday morning we grabbed a couple slices of infamous Casey’s Pizza.. along with some grape juice (my must-have with breakfast pizza) and a heart shaped donut because Valentine’s Day, and headed out!

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Our first stop in Des Moines was El Bait Shop. I tried Wyder’s pear cider, which is aged in tequila barrels.. Match made in heaven. Audrey had a Founder’s IPA nitro, another great combination. We grabbed some lunch with Audrey’s family, checked into our hotel, did some shopping, and then headed out for more drinks and arcade games at Barcadium.

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Lucky for us, this year Valentine’s Day fell on the second Saturday of the month. At Proof, every second Saturday of the month, they have a 10 course tasting menu. Yep, 10 flippin’ courses. Each dish is portioned for 2 to share, and we shared the wine pairings. I was lucky enough to snag a menu (usually the waitstaff just tells you what you’re eating), so here we go!

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The Valentine’s drink of the week .. A blend of plum, peach, and peychaud’s bitters dropped into a flute and topped with champagne.

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1: Beef Heart Capaccio paired with Prosseco — This was my first time having organ meat. My friend Luke is the biggest advocate of trying organ meat, and let me say, as gross and weird as it sounds for those of you who have never tried it, it’s AMAZING. This particular cut was thinly sliced, and seasoned with pastrami flavors, topped with reconstituted button mushrooms, braised cipollini onions, and microgreens (edible flowers).. So that’s how this whole meal started. I could have cried.

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2: Leek and Potato with Chocolate paired with Pecorino — So this little golden nugget is actually mashed potatoes. It is cooked so that the outside is crisp, like a doughnut. It happen to taste a lot like doughnut too. After eating this dish I am seriously considering putting chocolate syrup on my mashed potatoes. No shame.

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The wine paired with this dish was from Abruzzo, Italy. Abruzzo is one of those most beautiful regions in Italy. I spent 2 nights there on a farm stay. The owners of the farm made an amazing wine, much like this one, so obviously I took a picture of the wine at Proof.

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3: Sweet Potato and Foie paired with Trebbiano/Semillon — For me this was just one mind blowing course after another. I am clearly no food expert or critic, so my describing words are mostly just amazing and awesome, but seriously.. All this food was amazing and awesome. This dish was one of my favorites; a black truffle puree, hard boiled quail eggs, foie gras tourchon, and sweet potato. Yeah, I don’t know what half that stuff is either. The foie gras tourchon was smooth and creamy, almost like butter. Audrey and I were all about making perfect bites for each other for each dish and then we fed them to each other. WE ARE THAT COUPLE. (insert hairflip emoji girl here)

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4: Oysters and Champagne Sabayon paired with a Fiano — I can just imagine my Dad reading this, thinking to himself, ‘I couldn’t even get you to eat (insert practically any food that isn’t pb&j, cheese, or potatoes), who are you, and what have you done with my daughter?’. But Dad! YOU WERE RIGHT! Turns out food like oysters is actually good, when prepared correctly. These oysters were topped with sabayon which is “very similar to a hollandaise, but a little sweeter,” says the menu, and topped with tarragon. Apparently this Sabayon was made with a raspberry champagne reduction. GTFO.

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5: Grapefruit Pulp and Champagne – Intermezzo — All I know about this course is the pulp of the grapefruit was frozen with liquid nitrogen. So that’s cool.. literally.

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6: Squash Tortellini and Duck Confit with a Plavina — I got a little too excited for this dish and started eating it before taking a picture, oops. These little tortellini’s were filled with squash. I don’t actually know what confit is, but the duck was a texture I had never eaten before, very crispy and yet somehow still juicy. The dish was topped with goat cheese and cherry sauce.

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7: Pork Belly and Beer paired with Founders Porter — This was another favorite dish of mine. The pork belly was marinated in beer, soy, ginger, and brown sugar for 3 days. Yes, 3 days. Do you know what that does to pork belly? Well I will tell you, it makes it AMAZING. Served with collard greens and black eyed peas, topped with warn bacon vinaigrette.

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8: Every Lamb Has It’s Thorn paired with Aglianico Del Vulture — That’s what the menu calls it, so I’m going with it! This is a lamb chop grilled to absolute perfection, served on top of a celery root puree. So this ‘menu’ that I have, actually has the chef’s notes on it, and it is totally hilarious. Served with this lamb chop is a small parcel of saffron/rose water rice pilaf. “When I say parcel, I mean baller ass parcel made of parchment paper and tied with butcher twine.” Baller. Ass. Parcel. And it was.

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9: 20 Month Aged Comte with Manzilla Sherry — Cheese! From a french cow! This little cheese slice is “one of the best aged french Gruyeres at this moment,” paired with balsamic roasted grapes.

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10: DESSERT paired with a Ruby Port — The saddest part of the meal, the end, but also one of my favorite parts. My menu doesn’t have what dessert was, but as you can see it involved chocolate, and lots of raspberry. For those of you don’t know, I’m obsessed with waffles right now, so I was pretty excited to see a little chocolate waffle. Audrey basically let me eat this whole plate because she was “full,” really I think it’s because she’s the best girlfriend ever.

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All in all, another brag worthy meal from Proof, not to mention they have a phenomenal staff. I wish I could eat there everyday. We headed back to our hotel very full, pretty drunk, and SO HAPPY! But how could you not be after 10 courses of some of the best food of life?

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Sunday we grabbed lunch with Audrey’s family again, and then headed home to relax. It couldn’t have been a more magical weekend. I am one lucky lady. A special Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet Audrey. Thank you for the perfect weekend.

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