Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Name Day Celebration @ J Bella

In the Greek Orthodox faith people celebrate the day that their patron saint passed away. Often if your name is John then you will be celebrated with all the other John's on January 7. If your name is Maria, you will celebrate on August 15th and so on... a list of saint names and corresponding holidays.

When I was born, may parents were unaware that I had an issue with my eyes. My mother says she realized there was something wrong when I would be uncontrollably crying during car rides. Car rides were something that used to relax my two older brothers during infancy. I was taken to an opthomologist who said that there was nothing wrong with me. For my second visit, that same doctor was out of the office. I instead saw a gentlemen named, Dr. Baker. Dr. Baker immediately realized that I had congenital cataracts in both eyes, and that I need surgery. I was only 2 months old.

A family friend and priest, Fr. James Stathakios called my mother and asked if I had been baptised.. my mother said, "Of course not, she is too young to have planned a baptism for." Father James insisted that he open the recently closed & sold St. Constantine and Helen church, and I was baptised the day before my operation. Father James told my mother that even though my name was Katina, I should be baptised Paraskevi, for the saint of the eyes, because she will protect me always. My mother explained that my middle name given at birth was actually already Paraskevi.... for my maternal grandmother.

Therefor I was baptised Paraskevi and celebrate her life and death on July 26th each year.

I have given this very long and personal story to not only give a better window of my past and culture, but to also explain why yesterday was so special.

My husband Dean woke me up, exclaiming, "xronia polla" which in the Greek Language means many years. It is what is said on a birthday or name day in Greece. I was so excited that he remembered. I went to work, come home... and he bought me flowers... It was very exciting for me, because I will be honest I am always ragging on him for not buying me flowers.... then he tells me that we are going to dinner later with his family and aunts and uncles... We arrive at J Bella in Strongsvile, OH and I see a bouquet of roses on the table with a card that has my mothers handwriting on it. At this point I should explain that my parents live almost 3 hours away, and in the summer with their business being a Dairy Queen I almost never see them. I began to mist up a bit when I saw the roses, because I missed them so much. Then my parents run out of hiding and I cried like a 4 year old. The people at J. Bella must have thought I was getting engaged I was that enthusiastic. Dean had actually called and invited them the night before. Best husband.

It was so great to sit around a table with my two families.

Now on to the food....

6 foodies ate this meal... I will be cautious to only discuss the meals that I tried...

The meal began with a calamari appetizer which was deep fried and served with two sauces one a sweet and sour and another a marinara. I loved that they served not only the rings but also the tentacles. They were a lighter color, which really shows how clean the oil was. I dislike when I get black edged calamari... in my opinion it shows that its coming out of a dirty kitchen. The flour was not overpowering and the taste was great. Of the two sauces I much more enjoyed the sweet and sour... I feel that it was a bit odd to be served in an Italian restaurant, but it was good so no worries.
For my meal I ordered the eggplant Parmesan with green beans instead of pasta.... The green beans were nice and slightly crunchy. The eggplant Parmesan was a very generous serving. In fact, I am eating half of it for lunch today. I enjoyed how many small individual layers of eggplant were on my plate, but I just felt like there wasn't much energy in the dish... I didn't bite in and think about warm comfort food.. instead, I felt that it was a bit bland, the cheese on top did not really have much flavor, the marinara was not seasoned enough, and I felt like my piece had been fried in the morning and reheated to serve.... oops....

FOR DESSERT: We ordered three individual desserts, tiramisu, cannolis, and death by chocolate cake.

The tiramisu was served in a small soup cup, which I actually thought was kind of nice. The taste was amazing. It was creamy, and the liquor shined right on through... I wish I had another cup today to accompany my lunch.
The cannolis were also very good. There was a small hint of chocolate chips, and the almonds covering the ricotta on both ends were such a great compliment.

The Death by Chocolate cake... well it didn't live up to its name, just as most pumped up desserts do not. The layers fell apart, one from another... the piece was not as big as we had hoped, and the frosting was its only saving grace... It was some good chocolate frosting...

J Bella.. a nice place for Italian with the family. If you go to restaurants.com you can get a coupon for there, which makes it even more worth the trip.

Our bill around $200. We used a restaurants.com coupon we had purchased for $4.. that was worth $50 off  $100. Our bill for the party of 6 was $150....

Portions are generally large, and everyone was pretty satisfied with their meal... I was satisfied with the dessert!

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