Posts Tagged ‘sea bass’

…these are a few of my favorite things!

December 23, 2010

Dishes 215-218: Sea bass at Fish, 17th and Lombard

Chicken Vindaloo at New Delhi, 40th and Chestnut

Tofu Aphrodite at Caffe Galleria, Lamberville

Sweet Potato Casserole at Marsha Brown, New Hope

The best part about black tie season is the perpetual sensation of being in a James Bond movie. (And better yet if you are sitting opposite Bond, no?) There is such excess and romance of going to a local BYO for a bite before an event in full attire. So there we are, sitting across from one another in sumptuous burgundy velvet seats, abstract kitchen images lit from behind by spotlights in the background, and perfect slivers of fish sitting center stage. I can’t imagine anything better…

sexy lighting

…until two nights later, standing in the kitchen around a white Styrofoam takeout container loaded with chana masala, dal, and naan. “The trick I found,” I said, mouth full, “to getting the most of the takeout buffet, is to put down a moderate layer of rice, to keep the liquids from spilling. Then load up on the dal and chana masala. Then stuff as much naan as you can in the upper section of the container.” Tim laughed. “Molly and I are still trying to find out if Olive Garden will let us do take out of the never ending soup, salad, and breadsticks. I’d bring a garbage bag and fill it up with lettuce.”…

…Lettuce was hardly the only item available on the vegan-friendly menu at Caffe Galleria, “where the unapologetic carnivore and the dedicated vegan dine together, happily”. I had the Tofu Aphrodite, three thick slabs of breaded tofu baked until crisp and smothered in garlicky vegetables. The tofu was prepared with care and expertise—however, I stuffed myself to the brim with the rich, flavorful veggies on the side. Oops.

Gustav’s friend Sandy showed him, me, and Tracy through the best vintage shops in Lambertville, where we found a delicious Tiffany blue v-neck dress to wear for our Mad Men party the same evening. After working up a bit of a lather, we walked the bridge to New Hope and to Marsha Brown.

Caleb Lentchner of Marsha Brown treated us to the sweet potato casserole, a side dish that could comfortably make a home on the dessert menu- but why? It’s such a scrumptious surprise where it is. Afterwards, we enjoyed a tour of the premises, dominated –of course—by the massive mural in the dining room, an arched painting of several lions and men in combat. My favorite painting has to be the inside of the elevator shaft, which depicts—you guessed it—heaven, on the upper floors, and the descent into hell, with cherubs guiding you all the while.


Tell Me the Verdad

February 16, 2010

Verdad, Lancaster Ave in Bryn Mawr by the Bryn Mawr Film Institute,

Colleen and I had dinner tonight at Verdad, on Jeffers’s suggestion; the old Carmine’s menu is available to the few in the know, just until Wednesday, and the two of us had always wanted to go. There was much to catch up on. She has a new love interest, and being a good friend, I tried to balance excitement with skepticism—because what fun is describing a new catch if you don’t get the chance to counter “Oh, but he went to West High, and you know what they’re like” with, “He isn’t anything like the other guys from West High! He’s such a gentleman!”

We started off with the chicken quesadilla on the Verdad menu, because we were intrigued by the promise of strawberries and onions. I love drama—choosing a dish that you question because it plays with your emotions, purposefully trying on an outfit you think is ugly, to attempt to make it beautiful (my secret is out!)—so the strawberries in a savory dish were irresistible. The presentation was trendy, the quadrants spread neatly aside from three little square dishes holding guac, salsa, and sour cream, the first bite was crispy, caramelized onions, tender chicken, okay, good but still standard—no strawberries. Colleen neither. My next was ordinary, delicious, but—and then, there it was, not sweet like fruit but fragrant and delicate and bright, in the way that a bouquet of flowers is instantly apparent in a barren office, clear for an instant, and then gone, the scent burned into my mind.

Colleen continued with the striped sea bass with truffle oil, which we agreed was a no-lose proposition; and we wondered why truffle oil, so earthy, is so ideal when paired with a flaky but flavorful fish. Something about the truffle oil hitting the low notes—it makes me think of crunching through leaves in the woods at home, at twilight, with autumn sunset streaming through the golden leaves—and the fish or crab hitting the higher notes. I chose the spring rolls from Carmine’s menu and found them texturally appealing, but with a soy ginger sauce that was much too heavy on the ginger, to the extreme of being unpalatable.

We loved the closeness of Verdad, the cozy atmosphere, and the surprisingly low prices. I love seeing a fresh angle—whether it means that guys from West High really can be nice, or fishnets can be worn as part of a conservative outfit (they can, Biscuit has done it), or that strawberries fit into a savory dish, or that Verdad isn’t some outrageously expensive, fancy place—it adds fun and depth to every day.