Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar

It is a Caesar Salad that will spoil you.

I cannot go back to eating a "regular" Caesar Salad after my appetizer this past Sunday at Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar in the East Village.

The salad was part of their Sunday Evening Prix Fixe menu that my best friend discovered (I cannot take credit for the restaurant pick) and decided that this is where we should have our annual holiday dinner on our annual New York City "Holi-day" (for approximately 16 years we have gone to the city together during December to see the tree, see windows, and see that we fill ourselves up with some good eats).

On top of the greens were fresh anchovies that were sliced perfectly and glistened next to the best part of the salad: the poached egg. Most of the time, Casear Salads are prepared with the egg already incorporated into the dressing, but not so for the "aroma" version. Cracking the bright yellow yolk and swirling the oozing goodness into the greens and then tasting was the second best part of the meal for me (the company was the best part, of course). I got to taste my friend's salad choice of mesclun, beets, radishes, ricotta, basil, and mint that was also delicious.

I love making bolognese sauce and have a staple recipe that is just about a decade old that I use, so I was curious about their bolognese. I had the fettucine verdi with the bolognese ragu and was impressed, but still think mine could be a contender along side Aroma's. That prompted my best friend to officially call a recipe throw down this spring: mine vs. hers vs. her dad's bolognese sauces! Our friend Tea and her mom will be the blind judges - stay tuned! I plan to win! My best friend had the "Sunday Lasagne" which was rich, hearty, and came right out of the oven in a small ramekin and I would definitely get the next time I go there on a Sunday evening.

Dessert came and I chose a scoop of spiced pear sorbet and white chocolate gelato that were delicately placed on mini tart-shaped cookies. I tasted my best friend's gianduija panna cotta, which was smooth and creamy, tasting of hazelnuts. Think Nutella and multiply its goondess times ten.

As you can see from the photos, we pretty much had the place to ourselves despite the communal tables in the downstairs seating area known as the "Farmhouse Room." We had to walk through a small alleyway outside and I almost tripped because it was so narrow, but it would have been well worth breaking something for breaking that yolk into the romaine. The restroom was straight through the kitchen, so I lingered on the long walk back to the table to peruse the huge bags of flour and industrial sized bowls and utensils cluttering up the entire space.

Since my best friend ordered the half bottle of wine and I was already in quite a state after two champagne cocktails, I do not remember what she ordered...but oh it was lovely! If you live in New York City, this is especially a must try for a cold winter's night. If you are planning to visit and want some authentic Italian food and good wine, I would recommend dining here.

This is my first true restaurant review. Hopefully I sounded more like a Ruth Reichl and less like a Frank Bruni!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Western Spaghetti

A Twist of Spaghetti

"Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner." ~ Sophia Loren

Blogging about food for me as been much like working to perfect a dish...it takes a few times to get it right with the perfect flavor, balance, and taste. My first food blog was linked to another blog I no longer compose and most recent has a negative premise that I no longer want to link to my creative work. Both were only focused on recipes, which is a problem for me because, as a true foodie, I feel compelled to explore all kinds of food blogging. I want to add restaurant reviews, wine tasting notes, and even some anecdotes about my experience with food.

Being a curvaceous cook in the Nigella-esque sense, I have always loved Sophia Loren's quotes about spaghetti. The fact that Sophia Loren discusses her poor self image when she was rail thin tells you something important about beauty, doesn't it? Her expression about pasta shows what she truly values when she looks in the mirror.

I, too, value spaghetti. It is a staple food that has always been there in various ways, shapes, and forms, both during the highest and lowest points of my life.

So, grab a fork, twist, and enjoy, because finally this plate is full with the perfect ingredients for a food blog!