Just one week ago I was far, far away in a fairy-tale land. A place where eating pasta twice a day is not only accepted but expected. A land of corner cafes and breakfast pastries and gelato galore. A country that romanced me through fluffy carbs and fresh seafood, wooing me to never leave. Here’s the full story.
MK and I shared everything, as we often do, so that we both get more variety. A good plan, no? I recommend it.
We started with the octopus. It was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and salty-good. Some people are weirded out by octopus & squid, but I love it. Some say it’s too chewy for their taste, but if it’s cooked correctly, it should be tender, not rubbery. If you’ve never tried it, start with ordering calamari. It’s not as intimidating (or scary-looking, for some people) since it’s usually sliced into rings and fried. And who doesn’t like fried stuff?
For the main course, we shared the turnip green pizza and the bread gnocchi. Both were awesome, but the pizza blew us away. Turnip greens on a pizza? Yes. Cooked in a wood-burning over and paired with spicy chilies, garlic, pecorino, and the perfect crust, the pizza made our taste buds freak out. In a good way.
To polish things off, we ordered the “Caramel Custard Pie, Marscapone Crema with S + P Pecans” for dessert.
Oh. My. Gosh.
Stop whatever you are doing and go eat this. It was heaven. I’m talking, plate-lickable, people. The caramel custard was creamy and sweet and velvety and a-mazing. I am still dreaming of this dessert. Thanks, Chef Tandy.
Just another delightful visit to City House with wonderful company. Already looking forward to next time!
Next week, I am headed to Rhode Island to see my closest girlfriends who live the farthest away—Kristen & Anne Marie—who I met while studying abroad in college 10 years ago. I believe we actually started the killing-time-between-meals philosophy together. Because that’s just what we do.
Here we are in Chicago in January where we just left breakfast and are headed to lunch (AM sorry you are cut off):
And here we are having an EPIC brunch at my very favorite Nashville spot, Marche:
As per usual, we have already planned most of our meals for next week, and I requested we go to Al Forno primarily based on the fact that there is lavender panna cotta on the menu. I am ordering it. At the beginning.
The first time I saw lavender on a menu, I thought, Eww…Why would I want to eat something that tastes like linen spray? even thought it was in the form of a crème brulee. But fortunately my dinner companion ordered it anyway and shared it with me. I have been in love with eating lavender ever since.
My friend Christi has been with me when I freaked out (in a good way) over a lavender laced item on the menu, so she was sweet enough to pick up some culinary lavender for me at some fancy spice shop in Portland, OR.
I’ve been trying to find a recipe for a while, but aside from ice cream (famously mentioned by Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated), lavender recipes seem to be few and far between. So, I made up my own using my recipe sampling system. Here’s what I came up with:
Chocolate Dipped Lavender Shortbread(ish) Cookies
Makes exactly 1 ½ dozen
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for sprinkling cookie tops
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ tablespoon milk
½-1 tablespoon culinary lavendar, very finely chopped (kinda grind it up if you can; and be sure you don’t use too much—a little goes a very long way)
Dipping chocolate (I just melted some chocolate chips I already had)
- Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and dry ingredients. Mixture will be crumbly.
- Pour onto plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap tightly and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- When ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven 400 degrees.
- Roll chilled dough into small balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Dip a small glass into the extra sugar and press each cookie to about ¼ inch. (You could also probably roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies with a cutter, but that was more trouble than I wanted to go to.)
- Place the cookies on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
- Once cookies are completely cool, melt the chocolate. Dip each cookie and place on parchment paper while the chocolate cools and hardens.
- Store the ones you don’t share in an airtight container.
Next time, I think I will:
- Use a bit less lavender. Christi, my unofficially official taste-tester, said that without the chocolate the cookie tasted a bit too flowery.
- Make them a little flatter, or go to the effort of rolling them out with a rolling pin.
- Try a lemon glaze on top instead of chocolate.
- Make a lavender biscotti. Christi and I agree that would be delightful to dip in our coffee.