Sunday, January 31, 2010

Belle Vie - French (or Belgian) Comfort Food

Before Richmond received an avalanche of the powdery white stuff my spouse and I attended a basketball game to see my niece kick some b-ball behind on Friday. Hey M! Great form! Keep up the good work!

The game ended around 7PM and we found ourselves on the Southside, figuring out what to do for dinner. We ended up at Belle Vie located in the Alverser Plaza off of Huguenot Road. We chose wisely.

The man who greeted us turned out to be our waiter and the wine guy. We took our seat in a back booth near the kitchen and while this may not have been a stellar location, the aromas emanating from the kitchen were mouth-watering. Has any restaurant attempted to put together a menu by smell? Could be intriguing. The back of the house location did give us an opportunity to admire the decor and observe the wait staff, the Chef, and the Pastry Chef work the room. We heard both English and French. And my friend Eiffel Tartan would be pleased to know that I distinctly heard the Pastry Chef say dix-huit and understood that she referred to the number 18 (did not understand anything else, mais c'est la vie!).

The wine list featured a variety of French offerings with other old and new world bottles as well. The wine by the glass list was also fairly extensive. We went for a 2005 Chateau Maurac Haut-Medoc.

What a delightful Bordeaux. Fruity and ready to drink, but enough structure to hold up to a great piece of beef! We were quite pleased with our selection.

To eat we started off with a shared Frisee aux Lardons. I'm always a sucker for this salad which generally consists of frisee, poached egg, and bacon. Belle Vie's version presented the requisite ingredients along with some diced tomato and a creamy dressing. While I prefer a vinaigrette for this salad (and maybe a touch of bacon grease), this version satisfied me. And since we had stated up front that it would be shared, the staff plated it on two plates and presented the poached egg on a separate plate so we could divide or fight over it. I won. Hats off to the wait staff/kitchen in this attention to detail.

For entrees Belle Vie enticed us with all manner of delights: Coq au Vin, Moules Frites, Boeuf Bourguignon, Duck in Orange Sauce, etc., etc. We decided upon beef dishes. My hubby chose L'Entrecote Beurre Maitre D'Hotel - Ribeye topped with a parsley and shallot compound butter. He also ordered Gratin Dauphinois as a side dish. I ordered Le Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce. A tiny side salad of mixed greens in a creamy mustard sauce accompanied both steaks - to be consumed as a digestif after the meal. Both steaks were cooked to medium rare perfection. Hubby loved the parsley and shallot butter and I enjoyed the Bearnaise sauce which was served warm in a small ceramic gravy boat. I did have to remind the staff that my filet was missing the Bearnaise, a minor glitch in the service. My hubby praised the balance of the side dish of potatoes. A lovely mix of thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, and nutmeg. None of the ingredients over-powered the others.

While desserts tempted us, we had no room. Next time we will plan accordingly and try the Apple Tart or the Dame Blanche - Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Whipped Cream.

To top off the evening we saw Farouk. He had been our favorite staffer at Can Can and we had missed him. We were glad to become reacquainted at Belle Vie.

We had a delightful experience and must cross the river again to try more French/Belgian comfort food.

Belle Vie European Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 30, 2010

River City Supper Club #10

The Club took a break in December and reconvened last Saturday at Cous Cous. Amazingly, none of us had ventured to this restaurant and one us works just two doors from the establishment. We arrived at 6 PM. Actually, most of us found the place by 6 PM and then spent several minutes nabbing a parking spot. My hubby and I decided to park on Monument and walk down. We learned later that the lot next to CousCous is avaiable in the evening. This information is not listed in their web site so I'm not sure if it is a formal arrangement or tacit agreement. While 6PM seemed a tad early for dinner and diners were sparse upon our arrival, the place quickly filled and before we left every table in the room and every chair at the bar had been filled.

The interior of Cous Cous welcomed us into a dark, candle-lit, gauzy, bohemian space. I felt comfortable and cozy. A couple of our Supper Club members sported varying opinions:

From R-Prime: The atmosphere was loud and dark – much like a nightclub which immediately did not bode well. This atmosphere was furthered as our waitress began to lose clothing through the evening….had I not been with guests this would have been enough for me to leave prior to ordering (the atmosphere that is, not the waitress).

From K: Taking into account the location of the restaurant (in the heart of VCU), I thought the decor and noise level of Cous Cous was to be commended. I found that it was not as crowded and noisy as some VCU/fan restaurants can be.

Now on to the wine. Cous Cous offered a variety that my husband and I found appealing and most were $30 and under. Each couple in the Club ordered a different red wine. It took a while for our waitress to understand that we each wanted three separate glasses so we could compare. Once she got on the band wagon, she beautifully accomodated us with different glass styles. Only B managed to mix the reds, but that was only once.

Our wine choices included (pardon the pictures, the place was really dark):

Martin Codax Ergo Rioja

Trapiche Broquel Malbec

L de Lyeth Merlot

All were immensely quaffable. The one earning top accolades was the merlot. Neither my husband nor I were too surprised that the merlot took the top honors, Lyeth has been a consistent producer from California and we have enjoyed many of their wines (we are very partial to the meritages). But for our dining companions, the discovery of a yummy merlot was unique.

From K: I can honestly report that I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Merlot, as my luck with them has been intermittent at best. I attribute this fine selection to the masterful knowledge of my dining companions, as I rarely pursue Merlots myself. I also found the Malbec most interesting and would like to compare it to a couple of other Malbecs in a tasting.

From R-Prime: Oh, but speaking of the wine--in my opinion, for price and finish, the winning wine of the evening was actually the Lyeth Merlot! Admittedly I have been trained to be a snob to merlots both by friends and Hollywood. But this Merlot’s spicy finish was surprising and complex – hints of cherry, white pepper both delicately placed under an inviting herbal bouquet. In fact the Merlot in itself was much like my evening at Cous Cous, expectations started low and finished with one delightful surprise after the other.

I think our wine experience emphasizes the fact that not all merlots are bad. In fact, I will even admit that not all chardonnays are bad (but I do tend to be more of a snob when it comes to this white grape). Thus, when any of you go out to a wine shop or grocery store, etc. and a tasting is offered, unless you absolutely know the stuff is crap (i.e. you have tasted it before and either spit or poured the liquid out), give it a try. You may well find a gem.

Enough of the soapbox. On with the food.

The Cous Cous menu presented a variety of small plates. The one question all of us had was how big or small were these plates? If they were too small all six of us would not be able to share. We decided to each order our own things as a couple.

For B and G
  • Harira Soup - Traditional family style home cooked soup w/ braised lamb and wild rice
  • Lamb Tagine with Mediterranean Cous Cous w/ spinach, onions, garlic topped w/ feta and kalamata olives
  • Chicken B'stilla - Moroccan pot pie w/ chicken and eggs mixed w/ almonds, onions, apricots, and mixed vegetables w/ a sweet spicy finish
  • Almond Baklava
  • Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Glaze

Comments from G:

The soup was very tasty. It was a little on the oily side, but the flavors were great.

The Lamb Tagine was something I expected. It had a really good flavor profile, it was not overpowered by spices and you could actually taste the lamb. The lamb itself was very tender not gamy, it did not have a pungent smell or taste due to age and gender of the animal (usually female lambs that are older than 12 months tend to have that unique gamy flavor and smell) . The Mediterranean Cous Cous was bland, however when it was eaten with the lamb it was not disappointing.

I was not impressed by the Chicken B'stilla. It did not do much for me. Instead of complementing, sweet and savory flavors were rather fighting against each other.

Almond Baklava was OK nothing special.

Chocolate Bread Pudding was certainly something that I would be reluctant to order in a Moroccan Restaurant. Since it is one of B's favorite deserts, she could not resist ordering it. To me it was little on the bitter side (too much cooking chocolate was used) and it needed more alcohol.

B did not get back to me with any comments but she really liked the soup,especially on a cold evening, and she raved about the Chicken B'stilla. (I tried a piece of the chicken dish, but did not care for it. My hubby would not even consider it since it contained apricots.)

For R-Prime and K:
  • Fried calamari w/ tangy remoulade
  • Chicken Tagine with Mediterranean Cous Cous w/ spinach, onions, garlic topped w/ feta and kalamata olives
  • Lamb Shank - Slow roasted shank served over brussel sprouts & potatoes and lamb demi glaze
  • Chicken B'stilla - Moroccan pot pie w/ chicken and eggs mixed w/ almonds, onions, apricots, and mixed vegetables w/ a sweet spicy finish
Comments from R-Prime:

The Lamb Shank, while older than I like, was tender and delicately oiled. As the description read – indeed it fell off the bone. The potatoes and Brussels sprouts were slightly over cooked but still brought a nice satisfying stick-to-your-ribs quality to this dish. As I cleared my plate, I found myself digging for the marrow and even made several failed attempted to break the bone in an attempt to enjoy this portion of the meal a little longer…

Despite my enjoyment of the lamb, the Chicken B’Stilla that I shared with K (at the recommendation of B) was the hit of the evening for me. The flakey pastry crust was appealingly light and the chicken was well complimented by the chutney-esque flavors of the filling’s spices, apricots and mixed veggies. The dish had a slow, spicy burn that built as we progressed through the dish. It made the dry fruitiness of the Trapiche Malbec and the Codax Tempranillo even more delightful.

Comments from K:

R-Prime and I shared the fried calamari with remoulade sauce. The calamari was tender and lightly battered and thoroughly enjoyable. I would have preferred a wedge of lemon to squeeze over and the remoulade was lackluster and screamed of being yet another use for 1000 island dressing. I ordered the chicken tagine with mediterranean couscous. The chicken was extremely tender and left me wanting more. The mediterranean couscous was only average--not enough acid, vegetables, or seasoning to enable this blank canvas of a starch to make a statement.

R-Prime and I also shared the chicken b'stilla. I thought this was the highlight of the meal--balancing bits of savory chicken, sweet apricots, and the texture of nuts with a spicy hotness that presented progressively through the mouth and building in intensity that never overshadowed the main ingredients or became uncomfortable. The sriracha sauce used as a decorative garnish was a pretty but unnecessary companion as this dish was complex enough to stand on its own.

Hubby and Me
  • Manchego Fritters - Manchego (spanish cheese) w/a mango coulis
  • Chicken Tagine with Mediterranean Cous Cous w/ spinach, onions, garlic topped w/ feta and kalamata olives
  • Chicken Kebab with Moroccan Cous Cous w/ chopped vegetables seasoned w/ moroccan spices
  • Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Glaze
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Our comments:

The fritters tasted more like fried bread than cheese. A bit disappointing. The chicken tagine made up for it. Tender, stewed chicken with vegetables. And more than enough for a meal. Unfortunately the Mediterranean cous cous did not deliver on its promised flavor of feta and olives. With this combination the flavor should have been intense. It was lackluster and also room temperature. The same for the chicken kebab. Boring taste, but the Moraccan cous cous provided another highlight of the evening. This is the starch to get here. A ton of flavor with a vinegary/lemony undertone.

My spouse appreciated the rich chocolate  flourless torte, although the crust was made with almonds and pecans. He could not distinguish any hazelnuts. I agreed with G regarding the bread pudding. The chocolate overwhelmed this dessert. It would have been okay if the glaze had contained the promised bourbon flavor.

At the end of the evening we were quite full and satisfied. While some of the food could have been better, we discovered a few stellar dishes. Although Cous Cous advertizes small plates, most of the items we ordered were large enough for a meal, especially the tagines. For folks on a budget or ones seeking places for a cheap date, this is a good place. In fact, Mondays are Date Nights with a $40 dinner for two special.

Cous Cous on Urbanspoon

PhotoHunt: Spotted

Turkey eggs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolate Cravings

Richmond Food Collective enticed me to visit the open house for Chocolate Cravings. Mmmm, chocolate. The tiny little space located at:

Chocolate Cravings
6929 Lakeside Avenue
(In the Hub Shopping Center at the corner of Lakeside and Hillard)
Richmond Va. 23228

was tucked away from view of the road. No wonder I had not run across these fine purveyors of all things chocolate.

At the open house we were greeted with silky hot chocolate, intense brownie bits, and almond and sea salt bark. All very delicious and lovingly crafted.

They make the rounds of some of the farmers markets (not South of the James, however), and a few local shops carry their delectable offerings as well.

If you want to drop by the shop, call ahead to make sure someone is there. Attending farmers markets and delivering to retail shops can take a chunk of time.

Oh, make sure to check out the chocolate bunnies and chocolate filled eggs that will be available for Easter!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whining Over a Lack of Wine at Bistro Twenty Seven

On Friday we went to Bistro Twenty Seven early to grab dinner before going to the ArtWorks reception (I have a photograph showing in the All Media Show! It's called Koln Reflection and is tucked into a corner of the All Media room). We were seated in a nice warm spot on a quite chilly evening.

Our waiter served us admirably. He checked up on us as expected and was very pleasant.

We enjoyed delicious food. For me: Ravioli di Manzo e Fontina ($15) Homemade ravioli of beef, Fontina cheese, and herbs in a tomato cream sauce. Very tasty. The tomato cream sauce was long on tomato and light on the cream, which suited my palate. For my hubby: Bœuf à Minute ($21) Beef sirloin accented with cabernet shallot butter,served with French and sweet potato fries. The fries mounded the plate and covered the delectable beef underneath, thus, there was a bit of trepidation on what we would discover, but all was good. A good cut of beef, medium rare, with a delicious compound butter to glaze the meat.

We had great service. We praised the food. So, why were we not quite happy? Any of you who read my blog regularly will notice the absence of wine. The absence was not our choice. And not a choice of our doctor. Rather, it was the establishment itself than led to our dissatisfaction.

Bistro Twenty Seven offers several wines for $27. We ordered the Cote du Rhone listed on the menu. We had imbibed this particular producer at Bistro Twenty Seven in the past and knew it to be appealing. Our waiter arrived with the bottle and it was not the Cote du Rhone. It was not a Cote du Rhone at all but another French region that began with an "R." Our waiter had to go back to the bar to discover this and then told us that this bottle was replacing the Cote du Rhone and that it was even better. Maybe it would have been, but this waiter really did not know and the management and bar staff failed to give him adequate information. Okay, no matter, we ordered a Barbera d"Alba instead, which was listed on the $27 menu. Alas, our embarrassed waiter came back empty-handed. This wine was not available either. We ended up drinking water.

The sign in front of Bistro Twenty Seven proudly invited us to enjoy their new menu. Why couldn't they also update the wine list? This was a Friday night and two of the four $27 reds were not available. Very disappointing. And, in the long run, disappointing for the waitstaff who received less tip ($40 vs. $70 check) and the restaurant bottom line.

I give restaurants two chances to deliver the wine that is listed on the menu. After the first try, if the server can not tell me what the establishment is out of and my second wine choice is out of stock, I stick to water. Occasionally, I have left the restaurant for somewhere else with a better wine offering.

I give kudos to our waiter. Even though he knew our bill would not be as large as it could have been, he treated us with the same amount of attention and professionalism. I want to thank him for ensuring that we still had a good experience.

Twenty Seven on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Will Become of Enoteca Sogno?

RVAfoodie put out a post on What Will Become of Enoteca Sogno. It's worth a read and if you have ideas on where Gary York should reopen his great Italian place, feel free to make a comment. I, of course, vote for a place in the Northside, but anywhere within the city would be satisfactory.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Still Needs Help

As a person who enjoys food, drink, and the luxuries of a good life, I can't even begin to understand the suffering of the residents of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas.

Oxfam America is taking donations. I know other like-minded organizations are as well. Please give if you can to the charity of your choice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Friday night we finally dined at Coast. The place was busy and we had to wait for a table. We were in no hurry and while we waited we watched the efficient staff and Gary York cater to diners and bar patrons, including an orange tutu-ed fashionista enjoying a cocktail (I wish I were so bold).

The hostess ensconced us in a cozy table for two by the window and presented menus. Per usual my hubby ordered the fried oyster appetizer. They did not disappoint. And we talked about this penchant of his to always get the fried oysters. He said that most places in Richmond did oysters right and all of them were different. Thus, if the oysters were just okay, the breading and sauce were still great and made the experience enjoyable. In this case the oysters were the star of the show. For an entree he had the seared scallops. He enjoyed the meatinees of the seafood, but, alas, the white beans accompaning the dish included some crunchy beans (neither one of us are fan of crunchy beans).

I had a hard time deciding what to eat. For starters I had the baby iceburg wedge with creamy maytag blue dressing, crispy bacon, and fried sweet onions. I'm not a huge fan of blue cheese (the bacon and onions were the lure for me), but the dressing featured a nice balance and complemented the bacon, onion, and lettuce. And instead of ordering seafood as an entree, I got the prime ribeye with demi-glace, whipped potatoes, and haricots vert. I must have been missing Enoteca Sogno which almost always featured some kind of scrumptious steak as a special. This one was ginormous! And perfectly cooked to a medium rare. I ate about half of it and surrendered the rest to a to go box.

To drink we had a 2006 Collosorbo Rosso di Montalcino.

We had a relaxing evening. Even though the restaurant was busy, we never felt rushed by the staff, and except for the crunchy beans, the food was mouthwatering and delightful.

Coast on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tastebuds - A Restaurant for the Rest of Us

A ton of local bloggers have participated in a virtual discussion on locally owned Richmond restaurants that feature imaginative cuisine with reasonable prices. Great discourse. I agree that The Black Sheep and Café Rustica are the bomb. I’ve raved about them myself. And I also like Chicken Fiesta (yucca fries!). But there is one neighborhood gem that has gone unmentioned for the most part. This post seeks to remedy the oversight.

That place is Tastebuds American Bistro. The menu features a variety of tempting small plates, salads, and entrees. All at very reasonable prices. You can get your drool going over the following delectable samples from the menu:

Small Plates ($8 and under)
Eggplant Napoleon...Layers of Eggplant, Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil 7.00
Sweet Potato Ricotta Gnocchi with Pancetta, Sweet Onions & Golden Beets 7.50
Duck-Leek Spring Roll with Ginger-Pear Dipping Sauce 7.50
Pork Adobo Taco with Corn & Black Bean Salad and Tomatillo Salsa 6.50

Salads ($10 – if adding shrimp and under)
Golden Beet & Apple Salad over Greens with Blue Cheese & Candied Walnuts 7.00
Tuscan White Bean Salad over Arugula, Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing & Parmesan 7.00
(topped with Shrimp 10.00) (This salad without the shrimp was divine last night and big enough for a meal all by its lonesome)

Entrees ($16 and under)
Pork Chop with Apple Pan Sauce, Sweet Potato Mash and Sauteed Greens 12.50
Polish Kielbasa with Potato Pancakes and Napa-Apple Slaw 13.00
Pan Roasted Salmon, Red Wine Sauce, Potatoes Anna, Sautéed Haricot Vert and Carrots 15.00
Paneed Flounder with Almond Butter, Creole Crawfish Rice and Squash Hay 15.00
Shrimp with Creamy Cheddar Grits, Sautéed Kale with Country Ham & Mushrooms 14.50
Sliced Sirloin, Duxelle Demi Glace, Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Haricot Vert 16.00

Pizzas ($9 and under)
Seasonal Pizza…House Made Sausage, Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Red Onions, Marinara 9.00 (great little pie and very tasty sausage – good for lunch leftovers, as well)

And if you are looking for a deal – try the Prix Fixe. Salad, Entrée, and Dessert for $16 Tuesday – Thursday. Currently the prix fixe menu features:

Salad Choice
House Salad…Mixed Greens, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Raspberry Vinaigrette (nice beginning for the evening)
Spinach Salad…with Pickled Red Onions and Goat Cheese Crumble

Entrée Choice
Bolognese Ragout (tomato-based meat sauce) over Campanelle Pasta (lovely pasta with a touch of hot spiciness)
Risotto of the Week
Chicken Marsala over Fettucini with Haricot Vert

Special Dessert of the Week (last night it was a ricotta-filled crepe with strawberries)

None of the bottles of wine are over $35. We are partial to the St. Francis Cabernet for $27.50, but they also offer several options for $20 a bottle. The new thing we discovered last night was a cocktail menu. My husband enjoyed a Sazerac for $6.

I’m very glad that Tastebuds is here. And I’m thrilled that they are in my Northside neighborhood.

Go eat there and make sure they stay in business.

Tastebuds on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

100 Cloves of Garlic

Have you ever had the urge to go to the extreme? Try something so outrageous that you just know it won’t work? And no, I’m not talking about sports. The last adventurous sporting event I did was whitewater rafting on the James. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Never again.

I’m talking about cooking. This weekend I pawed through The Olive and The Caper cookbook by Susanna Hoffman and tried Skordostoumbi. This recipe called for 100 cloves of garlic. Yes, you read that correctly…100. I really like garlic and so does my hubby, but did we have what it takes to prepare and consume a dish with 100 cloves of the aromatic bulb? Could it possibly turn out to be yummy? Would our friends and co-workers talk to us or hang around us the following day? We said who cares?

And now I will share our plunge off of the deep end. I ever-so-slightly modified the recipe.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 ½ - 3 pounds boneless beef roast (I used bottom round), cut into 2 inch chunks

100 garlic cloves (8-10 heads), separated and peeled

48 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

4 cups dry red wine (something you would not mind drinking) Note: It will take more than one bottle

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 bay leaves (home grown!)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried basil (home grown this Summer and dried)

Egg noodles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot begin searing beef in batches until browned all over. Place browned beef chunks in a heavy enameled pot.

Pour the wine into the hot skillet and deglaze the pan. Add the garlic, olives, tomato paste, bay leaves, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste. Pour the liquid over the beef in the enameled pot. Add the dried basil and stir.

Place top on enameled pot and put in oven. Cook the beef for 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring the mixture every half hour to begin incorporating the softened garlic into the wine to form a sauce. When the beef is tender and the garlic has started to breakdown, take pot out of the oven and set aside with lid still on to rest. Boil egg noodles. When the noodles are done, drain and serve the beef over the noodles.

We really enjoyed this dish. It was garlickly, but nothing we could not handle. The garlic melted into a thick sauce and the beef fell apart when prodded by a fork. We drank glasses of 2006 The Prodigal Son Petite Sirah from The Big House Wine Company.

The next night I placed the leftovers in a big pot, added 3 cups of beef broth, 3 cups of water, a chopped up carrot that I needed to use and let the mixture simmer. Once it was hot I threw in ¾ cup brown rice and let the mixture simmer until the rice was cooked. Now I had a rich, thick, meaty soup. Yummy. And we once again took the meal to the extreme by enjoying it with a 2000 Chateau La Galiane Margaux. The wine had just a hint of barnyardiness. The olives countered this aspect perfectly.

Amazing what 100 cloves of garlic can produce. And great dishes for Winter.
I submitted this post to Grow Your Own.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

2 Items of Note for January

First up is a Patricia Green Wine Dinner at Wild Ginger. Alas, I can not attend, but maybe you can take advantage of this scrumptious opportunity:

To start the New Year properly, we would like to invite you to our first wine dinner of 2010, featuring the fantastic wines of Patricia Green Cellars. We will be serving Patty Green's Sauvignon Blanc, her Four Winds Chardonnay, the Patricia Green Estate Pinot Noir, and the Four Winds Pinot Noir, each paired with an appropriately delicious item from our kitchen and sushi bar. This event will be held on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, at 6:00 PM. The price is $60.00 before tax and gratuity. There are only 22 seats available so please make your reservation now at 804-378-4988. We look forward to serving you.


Michael Hinerman and the Team at Wild Ginger

This announcement does not show up on their website but was emailed to newsletter subscribers. Go to their website to sign up to receive their newsletter.

And Bistro 27 is featuring 4 courses for $27 util Jan. 15. The options are mouth-watering:

First Course
Choice of one of our homemade pastas
proportioned for an appetizer

Fettuccine with Tomato Sauce
Ravioli di Manzo e Fontina
Homemade ravioli of beef, Fontina cheese, in a tomato cream sauce

Second course

Venti Sette Salad
Mixed greens tossed with our house balsamic vinaigrette
Classic Caesar Salad

Third Course

Filleto di Maiale
Roasted pork loin with Bosc pears
served with a brandy reduction
Saumon à l’orange
Pan-seared fresh salmon with fresh orange segments
and pink peppercorns in a balsamic vinegar
reduction and beurre blanc
Chicken Carciofi
Pan-seared chicken breast with
artichoke hearts in a lemon sauce
Qualie Ripiene
Pan-roasted quail stuffed with Italian sausage
and shiitake mushrooms in a sage sauce

Fourth Course

Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Crust
Monterosa Italian Cheese Cake

You can join their email list as well.

Happy Eating and Drinking in 2010!

PhotoHunt: Bulky

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Best Set of New Years Resolutions EVER!

I received J. Emerson's January Newsletter and was quite amused. Check out their resolutions:

1.) Remember that small production wines are not better – there are just fewer bottles.
2.) Worry less about whether or not a Champagne is a grower-maker and more about whether the Champagne is good.
3.) Drink more Amarone.
4.) Use the descriptions in wine reviews for guidance and ignore the points.
5.) Drink Gewürztraminer and try to enjoy it.
6.) Make it our mission to convince people that a “big” wine is not necessarily a better wine.
7.) Be more like Radar – play more, worry less and enjoy the moment.
8.) Share the joy of German Riesling.
9.) Drink more Virginia Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Chardonnay because they’re excellent wines!
10.) Try harder not to be pompous wine asses.

And for all of you out there that enjoy wine, sign up for the newsletter and check out the monthly wine tasting. They feature some mighty fine stuff.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wine Roundup

During the period between Thanksgiving and New Years we had the opportunity to enjoy a variety of nice wines from diverse sources.

From the Owen Roe Winery. The blend is as follows – 22% Sangiovese; 20% Zinfandel; 20% Merlot; 15% Cab Franc; 7% Grenache; 6% Syrah; 3% Cinsault; 3% Petit Syrah; 3% Malbec; 1% Pinot Noir. Purchased at Bella Vino Southshore. A lovely wine. The $30 price tag is a bit steep for regular consumption, but worth considering every so often. Apparently, every year The Abbot's Table features a different blend.

We splurged on this bottle from Silver Oak Cellars at Fleming's. They were offering their email subscribers this particular bottle for half price. It was a Christmas present to ourselves. It was composed of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Even at half price, it was most likely a once in a life time indulgence.

We purchased this ice cider when we were in Canada a few years ago and enjoyed it with slices of apple pie. Produced by La Face Cachee de la Pomme. A very nice treat during the holidays.

Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2007 from Glaetzer Wines. Purchased at Kroger for ~$25. Very hearty and delicious for a cold winter evening.

It had been a while since we had imbibed wines from Rabbit Ridge. This one was a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. My hubby found it at Kroger for under $10. Not too shabby and affordable for every day enjoyment.

We picked this up at Vino Market upon Dave's enthusiastic recommendation. It did not disappoint. Orin Swift Cellars produces the red blend. The 2008 consists of 46% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono, 1% Grenache. At $35 a bottle, it's not cheap, but probably my favorite of the listing here and something I would consider buying again.

We enjoyed this Milbrandt Vineyards Cabernet from Washington State when we took my mom to Cafe Caturra (on Grove) for dinner when she was in town. It is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 1% Malbec. We were able to taste several reds before deciding and this red won, hands down.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What I Ate Christmas Day

We enjoyed a very traditional feast.

Herb roasted rib roast from Belmont Butchery

Yukon Gold mashed potatoes

Sauteed green beans

2006 Chateau Meyney

And, yes, it was delicious.

PhotoHunt: Lick

Dark Chocolate Cat Tongues...yummy