Monday, June 9, 2008

lisa is eating

Last week we enjoyed a visit to Scottsdale, so very little of my cooking took place. However, I did go armed with a list of restaurants to try:

After a very scenic drive along Pinnacle Peak Pwy, you arrive at the lovely villa setting of this Southern Italian style restaurant. The chef is known for his cured meats, and Kurt sampled some for his first course. The prosciutto was excellent claimed Kurt. My choice was the delicately fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, a hint of garlic, and a caper or two. Fantastic. The breading was very light and tempura-like. I must try making my own some day. We then shared a caprese salad composed of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes and a generous supply of fresh mozzarella. My main course was spaghetti primavera which was incredibly fresh tasting with favas, sugar snap peas, spring onions, and shallots. Kurt opted for the gnocchi with a wild mushroom ragu. Desserts were cassata di limoncello for me and for Kurt, crespelle con gelato which included a berry compote, chocolate sauce, and Italian meringue. It was all so delicious; we completely forgot to pull out the camera!

Pizzeria Bianco

Up next on the food tour was the amazing Pizzeria Bianco which is tucked into a tiny historic commercial building with the bar residing in an historic house next door. It’s a little difficult to locate because the street is closed to traffic, but it’s near the museums, and therefore parking is easy. The bar opens at four in the afternoon, and people arrive then to have a drink and await the restaurant’s five o’clock opening. The restaurant seats exactly 42 people including seats at the bar, and they don’t take reservations. We were there at a little after four on a Wednesday, and when the front doors opened, everyone smooshed into a crowed ball of a line hoping to get a table. When it was our turn with the hostess, four seats at the bar were all that remained. We took two of those and had a good view of the wood oven where owner Chris Bianco was hard at work. The menu is simple and straightforward with a couple of appetizers and salads and a handful of pizza options. We started with the antipasto platter of grilled zucchini, sliced roasted beets, grilled porcini, roasted red peppers, roasted potatoes, olives, salami, and pecorino. This was served with the best country bread ever. The bread had a perfect crunchy crust and was chewy inside. Kurt ordered the Sonny Boy pizza which comes with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami, gaeta olives, and he had fennel sausage added. I went with the Sonny Boy with the salami removed and replaced with crimini mushrooms. Excellent pizza, excellent crust, perfect toppings! Our espresso and cappuccino for dessert were very well made as well.

The Greenhouse
Our last dinner of the week was at The Greenhouse which serves locally grown organic vegetables in as many dishes as possible. Here I enjoyed a tomato and butterbean soup which I will attempt to re-create at home. Kurt partook of the smoked salmon crostini with red onion, arugula, and a horseradish cream. Horseradish cream was great with the salmon. Maybe my version will involve a roasted potato slice with horseradish cream then topped with smoked salmon. Back to the meal: My lobster risotto with porcini and white truffle essence was very good, although if I were a complainer, I’d mention that it was slightly under seasoned. Kurt’s swordfish over squash puree with green bean salad was delicious. Dessert was a hot chocolate cake with crème fraiche whipped cream and caramel.

Stax Burger Bistro
On our way to the airport with a few hours to kill, we lunched at Stax Burger Bistro. They offer a menu of mini burgers and baskets of sides to share. My plate hosted a salmon burger and a veggie burger and Kurt’s a salmon burger and a lamb burger. We shared a basket of tots. Great concept, tasty food. The salmon burgers were a little dry, but the ingredients were fresh and lovely. I also loved the iced green tea.

And, after the burgers, dessert was
cupcakes! At last, I got to sample this much-ballyhooed miniature cake. Delicious. Delicate cake, soft, scrumptious frosting. Strawberry for me and coconut for Kurt were happily devoured. I wish I could have 20 more right now.


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