Archive for the tag “appetizers”

Viva l’Italia – Vincenzo’s, New Jersey

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went to New Jersey to visit with a customer whom I had been wanting to meet for a long time. I’ve heard great things about this company, and I know we have opportunities to partner on some good things!

So, my colleague (and now frequent road trip buddy) and I set out to Middlesex, NJ to have a couple of meetings as well as a nice dinner up the street at Vincenzo’s with our customers.

Foolishly, I only brought my small Clemson clutch with me, which funny enough, my dear girlfriend who lives in New Jersey gave me as a gift earlier this year.

Clemson_Clutch

Anyhow, the point being that I forgot to bring my blog card with me. Thank goodness for mobile phones. I called it up from the blog page itself!

I had been warned that this dinner and our dining companions were going to be fabulous, so I came hungry! In addition to fabulous table mates, our server, Carlos, was perfect. He was professional, yet was equipped with a biting sense of humor. The best of both worlds!

Carlos started us off with several appetizers: calamari (two ways: fritti and with an “Italian hot sauce” – which everyone at the table claimed was Thai sauce!), escarole and pignoli nuts, and sausage and peppers. To be honest, I was full by the time we worked our way through these delicious plates of apps!

FullSizeRender

A mesh of apps! Calamari, sausage and peppers, and escarole. 

And then came this salad… I think it’s one of my favorite salads – ever. The tri-colore insalati. The mesh of flavors – and that cheese! Heaven on a plate.

FullSizeRender_1

Tri-colore salad made of European blend, tomatoes, pepper, and parmagiano cheese.

I’d say finally, because it really should have been the final set of bites, but it wasn’t. This is the penultimate dish.

FullSizeRender_2

Grilled salmon over escarole and served with roasted potatoes.

Without flinching while reading the blog card, Carlos had chosen a popular dish that evening – salmon over escarole with roasted potatoes. The salmon filet was enormous, and cooked to perfection. Those who know me know that salmon is not my favorite seafood, but when cooked well,  I really do enjoy it! I loved that there were some greens on the plate and just a few potato bites.

It was  a simple, delicious dish and light enough not to pain me after all of the appetizers!

It was then that our customer insisted that we all have dessert. What?!? How was I going to fit one more bite into my mouth and belly?

Here’s how:

FullSizeRender_3a

Chocolate banana pie with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and mint.

I mentioned “heaven on a plate earlier”. This banana chocolate pie is heaven on a plate served by singing angels! I could have eaten two or three slices (but I didn’t!).

Our dinner lasted a marathon four hours, but the time flew by. We did indeed have a wonderful time with our customers and we really enjoyed the ambiance, the service, and the FOOD at Vincenzo’s! I’m still working off those glorious calories. 🙂

Since I’m not a huge connoisseur of salmon, I’m curious to know your favorite way to prepare it. I’d love to try more recipes at home. Please leave a comment if you have a recommendation.

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

Bites in Baltimore! Who am I kidding? BINGING in Baltimore! #PSTC

I flew out to Baltimore last week to attend my third PSTC (Pressure Sensitive Tape Council) conference.  It’s not a large conference, but a very focused industry event.

I found myself getting to know new colleagues from a sister company, spending lots of quality time with key customers, and bonding with newer colleagues from my own company.  In all, it was a great week (and I normally loathe being away for almost a week – especially while having a senior dog (and having recently said goodbye to my other senior dog)).

On my first evening in Baltimore, I met two new colleagues from Arkema Coating Resins for dinner.  I immediately knew Pat (the planner of the evening) and I would get along.  He promised me “a good restaurant”!  😉  Keith, a technical guy and I also hit it off quite quickly – lots of common interests! It’s awesome to feel such a natural connection with guys I had never met, and who live in NJ and NC, respectively.  Yet, we are now “family”!

We met at the cocktail hour reception at PSTC (quite literally one hour, folks…so we weren’t staying long). We walked several blocks over to Kona Grill and immediately realized we were in a good spot for a seafood dinner!  Here is the menu.

We were hungry, so we knew we wanted appetizers.  Pat chose the Shrimp Diablo (diablo sauce, danish bleu, bleu cheese sauce), and then Keith turned the second option over to Robbie, our server.  He chose the chicken + shrimp lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce, cucumber salad, spicy sesame vinaigrette).  Both appetizers were delicious, and we devoured every last bite!  IMG_2049IMG_2050

 

Robbie charmed me immediately with his great sense of humor (stepping back to “reset” as he flubbed when describing the evening’s special (which Pat ordered)).  I can definitely appreciate someone who can laugh at himself and who can also recover so nicely after a minor “trip up”.

It didn’t hurt that Robbie brought me a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay to compliment the appetizers and entree as well! 🙂

IMG_2054

The entree he chose for me was the Snapper topped with crab meat, served with couscous and asparagus. Normally, couscous doesn’t seem like an interesting side, but Kona’s couscous had really good flavor and texture to it! Delicious!

IMG_2053

IMG_2052

IMG_2051

And, my colleagues had equally delicious, and beautifully plated dishes as well!

In addition to having a very pleasant server who was quite open-minded and excited about “She Ordered What?”, I had good quality time to get to know my new colleagues and to chat about both business and personal interests.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a casual evening and walk over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays.  I had never been to Camden Yards, so I was excited to check that ballpark off the bucket list of venues to visit!  If you haven’t been, you’ll see that it’s beautifully situated in the heart of the city and the brickwork makes it an absolutely beautiful area!

Camden2

The view from my hotel room! Thank you, Hilton Baltimore!

Of course, it was a hot dog and beer kind of night. No fancy dining while watching America’s pastime!  And, the Orioles won 6-1 that evening, so it made the local experience all the better!

Thursday, however, was a different story.  I was totally set on going to my hotel room for the evening to write meeting notes, but my colleagues convinced me to venture out for dinner at a restaurant an industry contact recommended – The Fork & Wrench.  It’s perfectly described as a “boutique dive bar”, and founded by Cyrus Keefer, (associated with that well-known James Beard foundation!).

The Fork & Wrench is an eclectic and charming space!

IMG_2011

The staff all greeted us warmly, and at ~6:30 on a Thursday night, we were able to grab a table for four with no problem.  Well, except the fact that we were all still reeling from one of the worst cab rides I’ve ever experienced.  To the driver of cab number 90 in Baltimore: I will NEVER get into your vehicle again! It was so bad I took a picture AND tweeted about this dangerous ride!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

A quick glance at the menu, and I knew everything would be wonderful.  My colleague was really trying hard to “move out of her comfort zone”, so she was quite impressed when she saw me hand my blog card to our server, Greg.  He read it, and was totally up for the task!  The only question he asked me was how hungry I was.  Answer: pretty darned hungry!

The meal started with fresh bread and salted butter (delicious!).

IMG_2012

Then came fried oysters, served with a glass of Simonnet Febvre Brut Rosé .

oyster

IMG_2014

For good measure, I took a picture of all of the appetizers on our table.

IMG_2013

You’ll see smoked Beef Tongue with tostones, aji marmalade & cilantro crema on the right, and Ssamjang Glazed Pork Belly with green papaya relish, kimchi purée & Bibb lettuce on the left (the colleague who stepped out of her comfort zone – and thoroughly enjoyed her appetizer!).

I teased Greg that he gave me a clue about my entrée when he set down a serrated knife.

IMG_2017

For my entree, Greg was not the person to serve me, so I wasn’t sure if I should claim the dish that was presented or not!  After all, this was a surprise!

When I mentioned that it “might” be my dinner, the server sat the plate down and then excitedly told me that everyone in the kitchen saw the blog card and thought it was such a cool idea!  I have to admit that I got pretty excited by that response as well!

It turns out that I was served the Leg of Lamb served over stewed white beans, baby carrots & wild ramp salsa verde. Extremely tender meat and really nice flavor! I felt like it was a reasonably healthy dish as well – lots of veggies and no heavy cream sauce. That makes up for all of the gorging, right?

I couldn’t possibly finish it all, but I wanted to!  And, it turns out that I didn’t need that serrated knife – the meat was that tender!

Lamb

Although I was overly full, Greg had already decided that I needed to try dessert as well.  I mentioned on Instagram that I (jokingly) thought I found my soulmate in Greg.  He picked the dessert that had immediately caught my eye.  The “Creamsicle” Gooey Butter Cake with blood orange curd, orange sherbet.  Y’all know how much I love a citrus dessert!

IMG_2028

But, let me tell you that the butter cake was the absolute BOMB.  I wasn’t hungry any longer, but I would have licked that plate clean if it were socially acceptable!

On the way out, I stopped in the Ladies’ room, and I even felt compelled to take photos there. Such a charming space!

Bath

It’s no wonder Baltimore is called “Charm City”.  Everyone I met was very pleasant, our servers Robbie and Greg were both charming men, and the spaces and places we visited had unique charm and character.

Now, time to get back to healthy eating and exercise!  No more binging!

I hope you enjoyed my recap of my visit to Baltimore as much as I enjoyed the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

Flour: Funghi and Friends… Italian Dining in Moreland Hills, OH

Over the holiday break, I met up with a long-time friend of mine, Jen.  We made plans to have dinner months in advance of my visit to Ohio, but we waited until the last-minute to choose a location.  Earlier in the day, Jen texted me a couple of options, and I decided we should try a place I’d never been to before – Flour Rustic Italian Kitchen in Moreland Hills, OH (about 30 minutes or so from where I grew up).  The restaurant had 3.5 stars on Yelp!, and the reviews were detailed and positive.  Not to mention that the menu offered delicious options, and the wine list had a great selection!

After a few failed attempts to find reviews on a couple of wines, Jen and I decided to share a bottle of the Justin Cabernet, which we both agreed was a fine choice.  Smooth and tasty.

photo (12)

We also decided to share a few appetizers and see where the rest of the meal took us.  We asked our server about a few of the appetizers and went with her recommendations.  Here’s what we shared:

Appetizers

Appetizers

My favorite was definitely the Whipped Burratta.  It was creamy, and flavorful, but didn’t feel like a “heavy” appetizer.  The stuffed peppers were good – we each had one, but in my opinion, they lacked a little flavor.  I tend to like things on the spicier side of life, so mine may not be the popular opinion.

Paul's Peppers

Paul’s Peppers

Where I think the appetizers really fell a bit flat was in the Fried Goat Cheese Stuffed Olives.  Our server sold these as “amazing”, yet there was barely a hint of goat cheese flavor to them.  Jen and I both felt a bit disappointed with this choice, though we didn’t stop munching on them!

Appetizers: Whipped Burratta, Fried Goat Cheese Filled Olives

Appetizers: Whipped Burratta, Fried Goat Cheese Filled Olives

Where there was no disappointment was with our choice to have the Funghi Pizza to finish off the evening.

Funghi Pizza

Pizzas

The crust was almost like a Naan bread, and the flavors of the mushrooms, shallots, and goat cheese worked beautifully together.  The char-grill and mushrooms gave the pizza an earthy element, and the goat cheese’s creamy texture and slightly tart flavor was a perfect complement.

Funghi Pizza

Funghi Pizza

We weren’t able to finish the pizza, but Jen was more than happy to take leftovers home!

All in all, we had a really nice experience at Flour.  It’s got a chic atmosphere, solid service, and good food.  It’s also always nice for me to spend time with a good friend!  Once again, I failed to take a photo with Jen.  I’m the worst about that!

If you’re in the CLE area and are looking for a good twist on Italian food, I do recommend visiting Flour. And, if you like mushrooms and goat cheese, definitely give the Funghi pizza a try!

Cheers!

Ker

Two Big Thumbs up for Local Three!

Hi friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve written a proper “She Ordered What?!?” post, and I’m soooo glad to be back to my mischief! 

On Tuesday, after flying into Atlanta in preparation for several meetings in that local office, my coworkers and I went out for a team dinner.  Our (relatively new) teammate, Christina, took the lead in making plans for the team.  She knows that a few people on the team (not me!) are “foodies”, so she was quite nervous about making our reservations!  Her choice was to take us to Local Three Kitchen and Bar, a place she’d been wanting to try, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit. 

She chose VERY WELL!

We entered a beautiful office park (which we all not-so-secretly admitted that we’d LOVE to be the home of our new office – sadly, ain’t gonna happen), and walked along the sidewalk until we met up with a lovely young woman and her seven month highly energized pup.  As we played with him a bit, she asked if we were looking for Local Three – in her words, “You have that look!”, and she proceeded to instruct us in. 

What was waiting on the other side was not only a cool atmosphere (The Big Lebowski paintings and a waiter wearing a Kelly Kapowski t-shirt), but also an almost endless amount of deliciousness!  I snapped a pic of our team as they were sitting down…

The team at Local Three

My former boss, Bob, is the resident wine expert.  As he usually does, he chose two fantastic wines for the table.  His picks: “Relative”, a Zinfandel-based blend and “Del Rio Claret”, a Merlot-based blend

When asked which wine I would like, I advised our server, Patrick, that I would like him to choose my meal for me, and therefore, choose the wine which would best pair with the meal.  He quickly glanced at my blog card, tucked it in his pocket, said “Okay, cool! Let’s start you with the Relative, and switch you over to another wine during the main course.” And, he said it all with a big smile on his face!  Ah, how I’ve missed trusting the experts with my meals!  

Meet Patrick! He provided stellar service that evening.

 So we sipped on wine while we waited for the appetizers to be delivered.

The appetizers… ahhh…

We shared: duck fat fried Brussel Sprouts – yes, Ker, you are back in the South!  🙂 

Brussel Sprouts & Cheese Charcuterie board

We also shared the cheese tasting and accompaniments plate (with the most delicious Le Bleu cheese!) and “The Notorious P.I.G.” – a Charcuterie sampler with accompaniments.  Both had amazing flavors! 

The appetizer plate.

And, seriously, y’all, Local Three found a way to use bacon grease (officially known as spreadable pork fat), serve it up as a condiment, charge for it, and make you ask for more!

Additionally, my coworker, Ann, ordered the “El’s Beef Tartare”, and offered me a bite.  It had wonderful flavors, and a subtle bite to it.  It was delicious!  Turns out, her husband is an accomplished chef, and she knows her food!  She wasn’t even one of the folks Christina was originally worried about, but Ann is indeed a foodie!

I was delivered the “Braised Niman Ranch Short Rib” as an appetizer.  It was served over celery root-potato puree, pearl onions, coffee (ack! coffee!), and chocolate.  The meat…was. so. tender.  Unbelievably so! I couldn’t possibly finish it all, knowing that I was awaiting a hand-picked entrée, so I shared what was left with Bob.  Total consensus…the short rib was perfectly prepared! (others had it for dinner and whole-heartedly agreed)

Then came dinner.  It’s fun when restaurants use team serving.  Someone lays a plate down in front of me, assuming I know that it’s mine, and I have no clue!  When a dish of pasta was laid down in front of me, I looked around to see what I had been served. 

In swooped Patrick to explain that the chef had prepared the Spicy Tybee Island Shrimp Fusilli (with Escarole, Preserved Lemon, and Sweet Peppers).  Before I even had a bite of the shrimp, I was in love with the flavors of this pasta.  The citrus undertones with a slightly spicy bite to it…magnificent!  And, Patrick brought me a glass of Olivier Lefaive Les Setilles Chardonnay to pair with it. 

Prior to serving the dish, he had mentioned that either red or white wine could compliment the meal he was planning to bring me.  He was right.  I could have easily stuck with the “Relative”, but the Chardonnay complimented the dish really nicely.

I couldn’t finish the main course either, but that’s no reflection at all on the food.  It’s simply that we ordered enough food for ~20 people, although we only had eight people at dinner! 

Did that stop some from ordering dessert?  Nope!  I did pass on dessert, but my coworkers sampled a few things.

This is the caramel apple dessert, about which Patrick said “the presentation is amazing!”.  Yes, it looks great, but honestly, nobody was particularly thrilled with the taste or texture.  Buried deep inside were baked cinnamon apples, which were tasty, but the rest lacked flavor. 

Christina ordered the banana bread pudding.  It was not quite as “wet” as other bread puddings I’ve had, so the texture was a bit off, IMO. Regretfully, I neglected to capture a picture of the bread pudding.

And, Ann ordered a maple & something (I stopped reading when I saw “maple”) flavored milkshake served with chocolate-filled macaroons.  It does LOOK good, but I wouldn’t get anywhere near the actual shake! 

When all was said and done, we were in complete agreement that our dinner at Local Three Kitchen and Bar was outstanding!  The food was a hit with everyone, the wine was fantastic, and Patrick and the rest of the staff provided excellent and friendly service!  Thanks to the staff of Local Three for a terrific dining experience, and thanks to Christina for organizing the evening.

If you’re in the ATL, please give Local Three a shot.  And, when you do, please let me know how your meal was!

Cheers!

Ker

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: