Friday, November 21, 2008

The bigger hit, Frittata

Along with the baked eggs, I served frittata at brunch. It’s an Italian omelet that’s started on the stove and finished in the oven. It is very time and ingredient friendly. The idea of preparing a frittata for the ladies originated the weekend before when I made one with smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill playing up on bagels, lox and cream cheese combination.

Green and Red Frittata

4 fresh eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon homemade basil pesto
1 medium (homegrown) tomato, diced
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/4 bunch of swiss chard, torn into small pieces
small handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven on broil

Whisk 4 eggs in a bowl. Stir basil pesto, diced tomato, salt, and freshly cracked pepper into the eggs.

Heat olive oil in a 10 inch non stick, oven safe frying pan on medium low heat. (Many non sticks come with rubber handles- I wrap aluminum foil around the handle couple times and it works!) Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add swiss chard, or any other greens, to the pan and stir until it wilts. Remove the swiss chard and garlic from the pan. Pour the egg mixture into the empty pan. Cook few minutes until the edges are firm and they releases from the pan. Sprinkle parmesan cheese when the edges have set and the top is runny. Remove the pan from the stove and broil in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the top is set. Cut in pizza slice shape and serve hot or warm.

The swiss chard and tomatoes added a pungent and tart flavor while the pesto gave it a unique taste. It’s one of those dishes that is easy to prepare and has a huge wow factor too.

Since the frittata was gone before I could take pictures, here's something else that's as colorful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reviewing Allure- not the magazine, the restaurant

We bought a gift certificate for Allure from months ago. And I didn’t even recall having it until the husband suggested we go there for dinner on date night. We made reservations for first seating dinner menu which includes first course, main course and dessert. The catch was we had to be seated by 6pm. To save room for an early dinner we ate a light lunch and did laps around Ikea for couple hours.

Allure is tucked away in a small strip mall amongst a comedy club, Thai, and Indian restaurants. While walking up to the entrance, we could smell the aromas of the Thai kitchen. Once seated, we noticed it was still rather empty with an exception of one table of 5. Perhaps 6pm is too early for the general public to dine out on a Saturday. The atmosphere is modern chic with dim lights and candlelit dining area. The red draping over the ceiling lights in the main dining room is a sophisticated and romantic touch.

We started with drinks, he ordered a Brooklyn Pilser and I ordered the Pinot Blanc from Oregon. The manager returned with my Pinot Blanc and a Brooklyn Lager, instead of the Pilsner an overlook by the manager who did not take our drink orders, our server did. He was nice enough to take it back in exchange for the Pilsner. I liked my wine because it was light, smooth, and paired perfectly with my first and main course. The husband enjoyed his beer very much; so much so that he drank it really fast and had a buzz. Leave it up to the husband to get buzzed at a sophisticated restaurant.

From the prix fixe menu, we chose from two salads, four entrees and two desserts. I chose Caesar salad and he picked the house salad with bacon and fennel. We both agreed the salads were made to perfection. The caesar dressing tasted homemade but I couldn’t tell for sure.

For main, I ordered arctic char with miso and he chose pork tenderloin with potato gnocchi. I was tempted to order crab cakes but decided against it because I am too fussy about my crab cakes after having eaten fresh Maryland Crabcakes. I can’t recall the fourth option but I believe it was a vegetarian pasta dish. My arctic char came with half head of romaine halved lengthwise with mushrooms in miso broth. The fish’s skin was broiled, deliciously crispy. Before Saturday night I had never eaten an arctic char before (I know, a tragedy for a foodie but I didn’t know about this fish until culinary school and let’s be honest Cincinnati isn’t known for its fresh seafood). This is a total speculation due to lack of expertise with arctic char but I am pretty sure I was served Salmon. It tasted like Salmon, looked pink like Salmon and was flaky like Salmon when it’s done well. The fish didn’t have the oomph I am always looking for but it was still very good. The husband’s pork tenderloin was to die for. We’re rookie pork eaters so we don’t know signs of good and bad pork but we’re sure this was good pork cooked flawlessly. The gnocchi was cooked in a brown butter sauce.

For dessert we both picked crème brûlée because we aren’t fans of strawberry ice cream. When our dinner plates were taken away at approximately 6:50, we anticipated going to the 7:30 show at the nearest movie theater. At 7:10, our dessert had still not arrived. Understandably, the restaurant became a lot busier after 6:45. Once our server brought out the dessert, we enjoyed the first few bites thoroughly; however after the 4th bite it was too much for me, as in overly sweet. I’ve had good crème brûlées and I’ve had bad ones and I would rate Allure’s as middle of the road crème brûlée.

It felt like Allure was short staffed (and maybe they were) but there were number of people walking around checking on tables. They had a hostess that seated us and everyone else, two servers for the main dining room, a manager and couple extras that brought out food and refilled waters when servers were occupied. With all the help the service was still questionable. Multiple people were asking the same questions about the menu and/or drinks. For instance, after the table next to us was seated, our server approached them with the evening’s specials and a drink order. Few minutes later, another individual approached the same table with the same information and a drink order. Thankfully we didn’t get repeat questions from multiple servers, actually our server was very nice and friendly. We were, however, puzzled by the long wait in between the main course and dessert. The food was decent as was the ambiance. It’s a restaurant the husband and I wouldn’t mind trying again, however like Julie we believe there are far too many restaurants on our “to try list” that take precedence over returning to Allure.

And the movie, we missed the 7:30 show and saw Quantum of Solace instead. If you, your male partner or friends are in the mood to see action, bond action- see this movie. Otherwise I'd recommend an original film. The husband was thrilled to see the bond movie and sometimes that's all that matters on a date night.

I googled Arctic Char after coming home and learned this fish is a cousin of Salmon. Its taste is a cross between Trout and Salmon. I’ve had trout before and I am still pretty sure I was served Salmon, a tasty Salmon at best.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

don't bother

The most pretentious place I’ve ever been to, even after having lived in DC.

We went there after brew hopping in the city. The server was rude, the food okay and the prices steep. Most of the people around us were wearing suits and brooches so maybe it wasn’t a restaurant we should have stepped foot in in the first place, but regardless.