Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whole Foods Italian Cheese Class

The Italian-themed cheese class at Whole Foods (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com) started off right with its first cheese, and my first love, Parmigiano-Reggiano. To me, it should have been the big finish since it has such a strong flavor when eaten whole and goes best with a dry, red wine.

The order of the cheeses was actually a little bit out of order if you ask me. The next cheese was very similar, San Pietro, but still milder so it was paired with a Pinot instead.

After that, we tried two kinds of Gorganzola…I had no idea there was more than one! The Dolce version was a little more sweeter and creamier than the Naturale. Gorganzola is the traditional blue cheese of Italy, named after the town with the same name. These strong cheeses were paired with Chianti, which was equally strong enough to stand up to these blues.

We went from one extreme to the next as we tasted my second favorite of the night, Taleggio. It’s soft and creamy, like a brie, so it was paired with an acidic, sharp Greek wine called Elios to help cut the buttery flavor.

The last cheese was a fancy truffled semi-soft cheese called Sottocenere, which was paired with a dry sparkling wine. The pairing was quite rich altogether!

Special thanks to Ellen, who not only brought a starter wine for the entire class as usual, but she also provided an olive tray as well as biscotti for dessert!

I also learned that the next seafood class is Tuesday, June 7th!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cielo at the Four Seasons Hotel

Mother’s Day turned out to be quite the treat for all of us as we got to try the restaurant Cielo, (http://www.fourseasons.com/stlouis/menu_2828) located inside the Four Seasons hotel, which is attached to the Lumiere complex downtown. I am a big fan of the casino and love the Burger Bar, but unfortunately, SLeeK, another upscale restaurant created by Hubert Keller, has been replaced by Stadium, a large sports bar and grill.

Cielo was even nicer than SLeeK though, due to the amazing view you get if you are able to eat outside. We all walked out onto the patio area (overlooking the pool too!) and were all blown away. Let’s just say I scored some major brownie points. Hehe Fortunately, our dinners were also able to stand up to the great scenery.

Since Cielo is quite pricy, I decided to go with just one appetizer to try – the Cielo Bruschetta – mostly because it came with a hunk of goat cheese on each of the three slices. So smooth and creamy!

I also chose well with my salad since I picked the Tuna Carpaccio instead of traditional greens. The tuna came out flat, like a sheet of lox, but it was served with a crab dip on top that I spread around so it could cover every bite. It would have made a perfect light lunch all by itself. The tuna was so fresh!

For entrees, Cielo lists a good variety of dishes without being overwhelming, and has something for everyone. I would have loved to try the Veal and Truffle Ravioli or the Gnocchi from the pasta section, or the Roasted Lobster in the fish section. They even serve five different homemade pizzas! But if I am in a nice restaurant, I always go for the Filet Mignon. The waitress left me a steak knife but I was easily able to use my butter knife. My filet was perfect.

My filet also came with scalloped potatoes (with gorgonzola cheese on top!!) and mixed vegetables but I was actually plenty full with just the filet.

My Stepmom went with the fish special, a grouper, which turned out to be an excellent choice since the fish was very meaty and filling, served with a light tomato basil sauce.

My Dad went with the Seared Ahi Tuna…looked almost like sushi…but I was not able to steal a bite off of his plate.

While I am not sure that I’ll ever make it back to Cielo, I definitely would recommend this for any special occasion.