Friday, August 12, 2005

Quick Dinner Round-Up

Attempting to record this trip has proven substantially more time-consuming than I anticipated. With our laptop on the fritz, I just don't have the time to hide myself away in an office on the far side of the house for internet connectivity.

So, here we go- a few interesting moments from the past week. To begin, an evening at our favourite Italian-American restaurant, Al Fresco.

Since one of our first dates, it has become customary for us to begin with a bottle of Fosco. The first one was a 2001, and we're now up to the 2003. It's an unassuming, fruity table wine, that I really think in part we love just for the flashy label, and gimmicky wax-sealed cork. At the same time, it's a good enough food wine that we keep coming back for more.

Our favourite gentleman-waiter, Vincenzo, carefully described the irresistible specials. After bringing out the wine, our salads arrived, housed in one of the best dressings I've ever tasted... a translucent, mild, somewhat fruity concoction that one could suck down sans lettuce.

For the entree, Mr. Ducati selected the Veal Roma, a scallopinne draped with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes and mozzarella, accompanied by thin spaghetti. As Vinnie said, 'very good, Sir'.

My instict was almost unerring with Bernadette's Pasta. Substituting broccoli for the pasta, it was almost the perfect dish, brimming with succulent scallops and shrimps in a white wine sauce. The salmon was tasted, and left mostly untouched, but not due to the kitchen. I can't remember the last time salmon has tasted good.

Shortly after we finished our meal, the owner wandered out and waved hello. The penultimate host, he brought a fresh bottle of wine when he sat down to chat. The Au Bon Climat 2003 Santa Maria was lush and gorgeous in comparison to our 'house' Fosco. The taste of bright cherry married with a crispness that lingered on the palate nicely. That, and the conversation, were the perfect end to the meal.


After returning from our wine country holiday, we were in no mood to cook that night. Luckily, we'd stopped by a place called the Blue Ridge Pig, and purchased some ribs to take home for dinner that night.

We put them in to a covered container with a bit of water, and cooked them in a moderate oven until sizzling hot. These seemed to be covered in mustard-based sauce, which was just fine by me. Note the heady salad dotted with fabulous heirloom tomatoes.

Alas, all was not well here. What little smoky flavour touched the ribs was hardcore and unforgiving; although extremely fatty, they miraculously maintained a chewy and tough consistency. The mustard sauce it was slathered in? Tasteless and bland. Not even judicious amounts of garlic Dave's Insanity could save this batch.

My husband ended up eating Stouffer's Mac n' Cheese, and after finishing my salad, I went with a cheese plate. Oh, Blue Ridge Pig... nevermore shall I cross your doors, nor sully my palate with inferior smoked meats.


Since our return from the mountains, I've had an intense craving for pizza, and specifically, pizza made from Florimonte's incomparable dough. Is it a sin to be in love with one man's dough?

It wasn't terribly hard to convince Mr. Ducati that pizza was the way to go, so we threw a couple of pies and went to town. There was still one, precious heirloom tomato leftover from the trip, along with some freshly-made heirloom tomato sauce. Mr. D. left these few remaining items for his wife, and went on to make what I deem the 'Mr. Bill'. Tell me if I'm wrong.

I went with the pizza that had been in my thoughts since the world's so-called 'best pizza': a thin-crusted, lightly cheesed beauty, with a coating of heirloom tomato sauce, thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and a scattering of fresh basil.

It really doesn't get much better than this!

Tomorrow, tales of Crozet Pizza.


Blogger Anna said...

Oh my! That pizza is a gorgeous!!

The Pinot Noir sounds pretty good too. Wonder if they sell Au Bon Climate down here.

August 12, 2005 10:26 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

First, I just wanted to say I've enjoyed reading your blog. I'll also be looking for the Au Bon Climate. I've been turned off to Pinot Noir's in the last few months, but after tasting a good one tonight, I'm back into them.

Oh, and I can almost smell that pizza by looking at your picture. Yum!

August 13, 2005 10:51 PM  
Blogger s'kat said...

Anna, you need to look for the Au Bon Climate, definately!

Maureen, glad to hear that you are back on the wagon, so to speak. I love pinot noir.

August 17, 2005 7:01 AM  

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