Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stellina Pasta Cafe Birthday Dinner


I feel pretty lucky that I got to celebrate a friend’s birthday since this year it included a five course dinner at Stellina Pasta Café. As my second tasting, I still have yet to order off of the menu. Hehe But one of the advantages is that everything I have tasted from Stellina, has been fantastic. So I’d pretty much recommend everything at this point…

 While we waited for everyone to arrive, we started out with homemade Hummus with Olives and Peppers, served with pita bread. Both black and green olives were represented and it was fun to make sandwiches out of the ingredients.

Finally, everyone arrived so we could start our first course. I really shouldn’t criticize the latecomers too much since they brought 15+ bottles of wine along with their very own Riedel glasses. My favorites were the bubbles and the white wines but the red wines did go best with the heavy pasta, chicken, and lamb.

Anyway, we started off with Sea Scallops with Pea Purée, which is one of my favorite seafood items, and came with Pancetta and Tempura Asparagus on the side. Although, the chef was kind enough to remove the pancetta from my plate! YES! I was nervous that my scallops would taste like peas but the sauce had a real mild flavor and if anything, it helped make the scallops less fishy. And the tempura batter really helps to take the strong flavor out of the asparagus. The greens were so pretty for spring!

One of my favorite courses was the Whole Wheat Pasta with Wild Mushroom served with slices of hardened parmesan (I think). I had heard about Chef Jamey’s homemade pasta and I was thrilled to finally get to try it. I was really impressed with the light sauce and mushroom flavors that were able to improve the taste of whole wheat pasta. I loved the long, thick noodles…this would be perfect as a warm, comfort food in the middle of winter for sure.

Next up was a Pork Belly over Creamy Polenta and Mustard Sauce although once again, Chef Jamey was kind enough to spare me and served mine with chicken instead. The most interesting thing about this dish was the three different textures…the firm edges of my chicken, in a soft polenta, and then a crispy stalk of the vegetable. I enjoyed dipping every bite into the polenta to mix the flavors together!

The last course by far was my favorite, Grilled Lamb with Saffron Risotto drizzled with Demi Glace. The lamb was cooked perfectly, with it almost complete pink and tender. I actually don’t remember much about the risotto because I was so busy trying to get every little bite of meat off the bone. I guess it’s proper to pick up the lamb by the bone? My neighbors didn’t want to leave any meat behind any more than I did!

By special request, my birthday friend requested Tres Leches cake but it actually was made with four milks instead! I had never seen anything like this before since it was a sponge cake that had soaked up all the milk inside of it so every bite was very moist. If you know me, all that was missing was the chocolate sauce to drown the cake a little more. Hehe

I still hope to get back to Stellina to try a few things off of their menu as well…

Resources:

Stellina Pasta Café = http://www.stellinapasta.com/

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bistro 1130

Located in Town and Country is an upscale French restaurant that I got to try for my Dad’s birthday earlier this month. I checked out the menu a few times and had a lot of trouble deciding on what to pick out. So I went with the brute force method (again) and selected a couple of appetizers as well as a main course.

I started with the Prince Edward Island Mussels and the Lemon Scented Crab Cakes. Both appetizers were generous portions and could easily fill two people. My Dad helped me with the extra crab cake, which had a delicious Tomato Jam to go with it, but I was on my own with the large bowl of mussels. (Not that I minded at all.)

The seafood menu offers a few selections of fish served in three different manners: Bistro Style, Blackened, and En Paupiotte. After trying it that way at Demun Oyster Bar, I did not hesitate to order the scallops en paupiotte! In this style, all the vegetables, rice, and scallops are cooked together, which the manager was kind enough to cut open the paper enclosure for us after it was served. All the flavors mix together really well in this sytle...quite rich!

Nothing on the “meat” menu spoke to me but my Dad ordered the Colorado Lamb T-Bones. Even though it was a lot of work to cut the meat off the bone, it definitely was the best meal of the night due to the Chimichuri sauce.

Even though my Dad ordered a cheesecake since it was his birthday, I could not resist the chocolate mousse! So light and creamy…the French are definitely experts when it comes to desserts!

Since Bistro 1130 is a French restaurant, my Dad and I could not find our favorite Rieslings on the wine list and had to branch out a little bit. Since I’m a big fan of Cotes du Rhone, I thought I’d try a Cotes du Blanc. I still preferred to order a white wine since I ordered seafood for almost every course. It turned out to be a good pick since it was a drier wine that did not overwhelm any of my dishes. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have more wines by the glass since I would have tried a more expensive wine that way.

Resources: http://bistro1130.com/

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shameless Grounds and Anthonino’s Taverna

I finally had an excuse to go to Shameless Grounds all the way down on Sidney Street when a friend wanted to meet in the city. I had heard about their large selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, all of which are cleverly named.

I went with The French Kiss, their version of “Salade Nicoise”. Each ingredient was served completely segregated from each other on the plate with only a little bit of lettuce in the middle. Also, instead of raw tuna, they served chunk tuna, which made the dish more affordable. I went ahead and mixed everything together on the plate and I didn’t miss all the lettuce since it just meant more tuna, egg, olives, and potatoes to help fill me up.

I wasn’t expecting my night to continue but my other friends had been planning to go to one of their favorite restaurants on The Hill, Anthonino’s Taverna, which actually has quite a bit of a Greek influence throughout their menu, even on their pizza.

We started with the Meze Platter, which worked out great so I could have several of my favorites: baba ghanoush, hummus, Greek yogurt, peppers, feta, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini with pita bread. This platter could easily be a meal for one or two.

On the list of hot appetizers, you can get a gyro plate and baked goat cheese, which sounds more Greek, but then the list of dinners and pastas all sounded Italian.

For an even bigger identity crises, my friend ordered pizza…but with gyro meat, taztziki sauce, and kalamta olives. (She substituted goat cheese for feta cheese.) I tasted a slice and it was not like anything I had tasted before in a pizza! My favorite part was the melted goat cheese in every bite. Luckily, we had picked a Chianti to help stand up to so many strong flavors at once!

Resources:

Shameless Grounds = http://shamelessgrounds.com/menu

Anthonino’s Taverna = http://www.anthoninos.com/