Archive for August, 2011

August 30, 2011

Osteria Marco

This lunch may go down as the best meal I have ever had. If it’s not the top, it’s in the top 10 for sure. If you are familiar with Denver restaurants, you know about Frank Bonanno and his 5 restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, Mizuna and Luca D’Italia being the most well know.

We were taking a stroll through Laimer Square, the “restaurant district” of downtown Denver when we saw a chalkboard sign with “Fresh Seasonal Bruchetta” scribbled with the rest of the specials. Being that tomatoes were in their best seasonal quality, we had to stop and grab lunch.

Osteria Marco is named for Frank Bonanno’s youngest son. Osteria means a humble restaurant where friends gather to casually enjoy their wine and food. It has a quaint patio shaded by large blue umbrellas. We walk downstairs to the main dining room – it’s causal with dark wood tables and booths, has an artisan feel, with white cotton napkins and a low key atmosphere. But, don’t let the fool you. It’s got all the stuff of a fine dining restaurant with impeccable service.

I ordered a glass of the Bella Costa Prosecco. It was crisp and fruity and extra dry with lemony citrus of pear and apple.

My husband ordered a glass of 2010 Castlelefeder Chardonnay. It was fruity with apple and pear notes. It’s somewhat spicy and a full-bodied wine.

We learned that they craft their own cheese, cure their own meat and make their own breads with an artisan approach. Even better. Let’s eat.

The bruchetta – it was wonderful. The tartness of the tomatoes balanced with a sweet and syrupy balsamic reduction. Every cheese, meat, dough, you name it, is house made at Osteria Marco. The tomatoes and balsamic sat on top of melty house-made ricotta and toasted chibatta bread with hunks of garlic throughout.

We followed with a mixed green salad with pickled red onions, house-made goat cheese, candied walnuts & strawberries.

Our sweet and salty Fig and Crispy Prosciutto Pizza was last, made as a northern Italian style pizza. The prosciutto, crisp and crumbled all over the top was just the beginning. You could smell the truffle oil mixed with house-made goat cheese, oregano and sliced sweet figs dotted all around.

Basically, 2 hours later and 3 glasses of Prosecco later, we were stuffed and in complete disbelief that we stumbled on this amazing lunch. If you are ever in Denver, you have to check this place out.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 534-5855
Open Mon-Thu,Sun 11am-10pm;
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
www.osteriamarco.com
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August 27, 2011

Recipe: Grilled Halibut with Garlic-Cilantro Sauce

photo: Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Halibut with Garlic-Cilantro Sauce

Ingredients:

halibut filets or steaks, 1 per person
Sauce:
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chicken stock (or use a combination of chicken stock and white wine)
2 tsp. lime zest (from 2 limes)
juice of 2 limes (2-3 T or more)
4 T olive oil
3 T very finely chopped fresh cilantro (or more, I used about 1/4 cup)

Saute garlic in a small amount of olive oil for two minutes. Add chicken stock and lime zest and simmer about ten minutes, until stock is slightly reduced. Stir in lime juice and olive oil and heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and cook 1 minute more.
Brush fish on both sides with sauce and let marinate 15 minutes while you pre-heat gas or charcoal grill to high heat. (spray grill with nonstick spray before heating) Grill fish until firm, but not hard, to the touch, about 5 minutes per side.

To get nice grill marks, lay fish on a diagonal to grill slats, then rotate after about 3 minutes cooking time on the first side. Serve fish hot with additional sauce spooned over each piece of fish.

Would taste great with Sea Bass, Mahi Mahi, and Swordfish. You could also serve it with Tilapia, Red Snapper, or Sole, which I would probably bake or saute in a pan, since they’re rather delicate for the grill.

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August 26, 2011

Wine: Evolution, Oregon

I picked this wine up on a whim one night when I was at the house doing dinner on my own (dinner = pizza). This table wine is a blend of 9 different grapes. It’s tropical and lush on the palette, sweet and tangy on the nose and pale yellow color.  Evolution #9 is totally drinkable and great for a general wine for a party or to buy by the case. Pair with anything with spice.

Sokol Blosser – Evolution, Oregon White

$15

“As luck would have it, a random number of varietals took a liking to each other and decided become a lush, off-dry, somewhat tropical wine with a crisp finish.” -Winery

http://www.sokolblosser.com/

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a sommelier. I am in no way and expert. This “review” is because I liked it and think maybe you will like it too. No one can tell you what type of wine you like. Take it with a grain of salt. Try it and see if you like it too.

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August 24, 2011

Denver: Marlowe’s

 

The Tuesday that we got into Denver, we were starving. I was visiting the Mile High City with my husband as a reward trip with his company. We promptly dropped off our bags and went to the conference “hospitality desk” and asked for local restaurants nearby. They pointed us to the Hard Rock Cafe and  J.Alexanders. Hm. We were on our own.

So, we headed down to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall on our quest. We ended up at Marlowe’s on the corner of 16th Street and Glenarm Place, mainly out if desperation and starvation.  I’ll keep this one short and sweet because I don’t think there is much to this place, but my sandwich was interestingly good and so was the people watching.

I ordered the Sliced Pork Loin Sandwich. Sounds suspectedly pedestrian. Pardon the pun (since we were at the pedestrian mall). But, I read the description, and it sounds amazing: cherry & ancho pepper rub, Moroccan cheddar, spicy mustard-herb aioli, arugula & Fresno pepper jelly relish on a semolina bun, severed with kettle chips.

It sounds like a hot mess of crazy flavors, but the blend of all things sweet and spicy was amazing. The sliced pork was tender and flavorful with the sweet cherry and spicy ancho pepper rub – a perfect base for all the other yumminess. The pepper jelly is what you taste first, sticky and sweet. Then, it’s the spicy mustard-herb aioli giving it a little kick, the cheddar oozes out with the pepper jelly and the peppery arugula lingers a bit.

We both enjoyed a nice cool Big Nosed Brewery beer – the wheat and the red, respectively. I plan on doing a beer list/review of our entire brewery-hopping jaunt.

I have so much more to share from Denver soon!

Marlowe’s
501 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 595-3700
Open Mon-Thu 11am-1am; Fri 11am-2am;
Sat 12pm-2am; Sun 12pm-1am
www.marlowesdenver.com/
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August 22, 2011

Nashville’s Best Hole in the Wall BBQ: Hog Heaven

There’s a little place tucked into the corner of Centennial Park, next to people doing yoga, folks hanging out, skateboarding, right behind McDonald’s. You’d drive right past it if you weren’t looking. It’s literally just a small building with a screened in porch, 2 picnic tables and a walk up order window. You know the BBQ is good just by looking at this little shack. Hog Heaven BBQ has just the basics: pulled pork, pulled brisket, pulled turkey & ribs.

I went for the pulled brisket, sides of turnip greens & baked beans. It comes with a cornbread pancake and sliced dill pickles. Ever had sliced brisket? This was pulled. And the only way you can do that is to cook the crap out of it. The pulled brisket is smoked for 20 hours. It was moist and tender. I went for their regular, mild sauce, which has a pretty good kick to it. I didn’t know that Hog Heaven is known for their white BBQ sauce until afterwards ( I now realize that I must have been living under a rock). It’s supposed to out of this world.

The turnip greens come with a spicy vinegar dressing, which I recommend to add more flavor. The baked beans were nice and spicy too.

The hubs opted for the pulled pork plate, which we fought over who would get what. I gave in and let him get the pork. It was seriously yummy too. Tender and moist and smothered in their hot BBQ sauce. Their hot sauce is H.O.T. You’ve been warned.

He had sides of baked beans and cole slaw. The cole slaw was really great-crisp, tangy and not too sweet. I don’t like cole slaw with too much sugar, or really any at all.

Head over to the Parthenon and check out Hog Heaven. It’s some of the best BBQ in town.

Hog Heaven BBQ
115 27th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37203-1410
Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm
(615) 329-1234
www.hogheavenbbq.com/
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August 9, 2011

Restaurant Review – South Nashville: Sopapillas

Sopapilla’s is not your typical Mexican style restaurant. It’s not even Mexican. It’s New Mexican (like New Mexico) Southwestern cuisine. Located at the corner of Moores Lane and Franklin Road, it’s near a new condo development, the new Mack and Kate’s and a coming soon Cajun restaurant. I realize we have (like any other city in America) a thousand Mexican restaurants. This one isn’t any less greesy, it’s just a little different. Haute (New) Mexican, if you will.

It opened about a year ago in a small and quaint dining room with a great patio. It got so popular that it expanded to the space next to them with a huge bar and more dining room seating.

The food is good, not it’s great. And you won’t forget the best thing on the menu that is complementary. Not the margaritas, unfortunately. It’s the Sopapilla’s. A lot like a beignets, these are fluffy and hollow, sweet and yummy, served with a drizzling of honey. Traditionally, sopapilla’s are served as bread at your meal, but in the South and in America, they served as a dessert.

complementary sopapillas

We’ve frequented Sopapilla’s often. The first time was with my in-laws. My MIL had found this spot and insisted we join. She is always finding cool little places. She’s the one who introduced us to the Forest Hills Farmers Market too.

Some of the items we have tried: Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas and the Blue Corn Chicken Tacos, Green Chilie Flautas, Mexico City Street Tacos, Chile Relleno, Chicken Buritto and the Street Tacos. I’d had all and they are all very good.

Sopapilla's Table Side Guacamole

Their guacamole is served table side. Super fresh with “avocado, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime
and our signature spice blend prepared table side.” I am a picky guac eater, so it’s got to be good for me. It’s 10 bucks, but it’s worth it.

Sopapilla's Tamale and Shrimp Taco

My husband got the Green Corn Tamale and Chipotle Shrimp Taco. It was really spicy. Like 3 or 4 napkins spicy. I got the Chile Relleno Combo with “a Hatch green chile rellano filled with melted monterey jack and a shredded beef taco, served with rice and beans.” The Chile Relleno was great. Huge and fresh and stuffed with cheese. Who wouldn’t like that? The beef taco – not so good. Dry and flavorless.

Sopapilla's Chili Relleno

Sopapilla’s
1109 Davenport Blvd.
Franklin, TN 37064
615-794-9989

Open 7 Days a Week, Bar is open late!

Sunday-Thursday
11 AM – 9 PM

Friday-Saturday
11 AM – 10:30 PM

Intersection of Moores Lane and Franklin Road

http://www.sopapillas.net/

August 4, 2011

Wine: 2009 Sauvion Vouvray (Chenin Blanc)

Our household was turned on to Vouvray about a year ago when a sommelier in a local wine store suggested it. We’re not really big white wine drinkers, and he thought it would be a good choice for us, after listening to our likes in red wines.Turns out, out “likes” in red wine and white wine are completely opposite.

Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape – you will see some brands that list Chenin Blanc as the grape varietal. Vouvray is a region in France in the Loire Valley (pronounced Low-are, but Americanized it’s Lori). The French, until recently, didn’t allow the grape varietal to be printed on their labels, making it hard for Americans to relate. Now, many French wines use the varietal, like Cabernet Franc or Merlot, on their labels when exporting.

2009 Sauvion Vouvray

$11.00

Sauvion’s Vouvray isn’t too sweet, like many can be. Very smooth with crisp flavors of peach and honey.  If you like Pino Grigio, you’ll like this.

http://www.sauvion.fr/

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a sommelier. I am in no way and expert. This “review” is because I liked it and think maybe you will like it too. No one can tell you what type of wine you like. Take it with a grain of salt. Try it and see if you like it too.

August 2, 2011

Apothic Red

Before we moved, we lived next door to a wine distributer who worked for Gallo. And we didn’t get nearly enough free wine out of it. 🙂 We became friends with our neighbors, who oddly enough had the same first names as us. But, after we moved, we were invited to a little party at their house. On the way out, we were handed a bottle of her new wine (there were 4 cases stacked up at the door for the taking). Yes, please.

Apothic is a winemaker’s blend, and it’s one of the smoothest red wines I’ve ever had. It’s a blend of syrah, zinfandel and merlot. Very oaky, like a good oaked chardonnay, it has all the good stuff a great Californian red should have – vanilla, dark chocolate and cherry. I prefer it right out of the bottle, undecanted, but it may be too much for those used to drinking lighter wines. Let it breath a bit, and you’ll love it too! An excellent and easy-drinking wine for the price.

2009 Apothic Red – Winemaker’s Blend

$15

http://www.apothic.com/

 

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a sommelier. I am in no way and expert. This “review” is because I liked it and think maybe you will like it too. No one can tell you what type of wine you like. Take it with a grain of salt. Try it and see if you like it too.