Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Green Gold- Basil Pesto

Every chance I get I use homemade pesto to enliven dishes. especially something like this in dreary cold weather…

Homemade Basil Pesto

Bunch of basil leaves
1/3 of cup of pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Pulse basil, pine nuts and garlic cloves in a food processor or blender. While the processor is running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Add Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and black pepper and pulse. The cheese is salty so I do not add salt until the cheese is blended in. Taste. Add salt based on personal preference. Scrape down the sides and blend one last time.

I stopped buying store-bought long time ago because it’s easy to prepare and doesn’t have hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Basil is a seasonal herb so I make few cups during its peak harvest in the Summer and freeze it for year around use. Few ways to enjoy it is as a dip with toasted bread, a pasta sauce, with extra drizzle of olive oil it’s good for salad dressing and my favorite is to layer it on brie and bake it in the oven for eight minutes. Brie’s melty, ooey-gooey goodness pairs perfectly with the pesto.

Monday, November 24, 2008

fulfilled my sushi fix, for now

(this is an unplanned joint review with Liz, but having her as a personal friend that's likely to happen)

The ladies and I planned a sushi and movie night because Beluga offers half off sushi on Wednesday nights. In my opinion Beluga has all things we foodies/food lovers look for: great food, service, price and atmosphere. We only ordered from their half off sushi menu so this review does not reflect the rest of the menu. Out of many options, we ordered some unique rolls like Red Roll, Crazy Roll, Jade Roll. Most of the rolls tasted fantastic however couple missed the mark for me. For instance, the Jade Roll was made of an orange substance wrapped with rice, pickles and something else. And after eating the Jade Roll I learned I love sushi and I love pickles, I just don’t love them together. The fish tasted reasonably fresh and the rolls were well wrapped- a sign of an experienced sushi chef. For drinks we started with a bottle of Pinot Blanc (or Gris) from Oregon and it was refreshing. It was a delicious wine as an aperitif but unfortunately its sweetness competed with sushi’s flavors. Later on, I tried a drink with Lychee. Growing up in India, Lychees were common so when I see it on a menu or in a drink I get it. This mixed drink was deliciously strong.

The service was wonderful; from the time we entered until the time we left we were at the staff’s beck and call. Our server was even nice enough to refill our wine glasses and informed us gratuity was included in the bill. The roll prices vary from $5 to $20 each; so on half off night, we came away with a bargain. Beluga’s ambiance is fashionably contemporary. It has multiple rooms and each room has unusual color schemes and interior.

And the movie we were supposed to see after dinner? didn’t happen. Instead we stayed for drinks at the bar, where I tried the lychee drink. The bartender was a fabulous Polish man that we adored. He had the personality of a bartender without the fluff, fun and lively.

Beluga’s sushi ranks fair (on a “the best” to “don’t bother” scale) compared to my other two favorite sushi places, Jo An and Dancing Wasabi. However for a fun night with friends Beluga outranks them all. We’re already planning to go back for drinks, half off sushi and the Polish bartender.

Liz also wrote an in-depth review of the night at Beluga. And she’s got pictures too!