Bricco’s – Harrisburg, PA

Last Sunday, he was in an interesting mood, he wanted to go out, but he wasn’t sure where, or what style of food he was hungry for.

We first went to Quaker Steak and Lube, but didn’t stay, there wasn’t anything on the menu we felt we really wanted to try. I was glad for this, the plastic chairs had instantly displeased me and I found the music to be far too loud.

Next, we went to the Carraba’s across the parking lot. This time, we asked to see a menu before being seated and found a few things we thought we might like try. Upon sitting down, we requested bellinis from the waitress, which we were surprised to learn weren’t only on the menu, but she’d never heard of before! As she went to check with the bartender, we realized I’d been given a dirty napkin (though it was wrapped around my silverware, just like the clean one he had). She returned with wine glasses that had a white sparkling wine with (very little) peach schnapps and a strawberry in them, which tasted nothing like a bellini. This didn’t bode well and we were rather disturbed by the napkin, so we left without ordering anything else.

Finally, he decided on Ricco’s in Harrisburg, but they weren’t open for lunch, so we went home to wait for dinner.

We called ahead, but they don’t take reservations.

Arriving, we were seated in a booth and met our server, Mary. He told her that we’d love to let the chef have fun and cook us whatever he felt like. The chef came out to meet us and check our preferences (nothing spicy, I unfortunately can’t handle that). Our only request was an oyster dish of some sort (I love oysters!)

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We moved to the chef’s table(counter)and enjoyed trying to guess what we were going to be eating next. Each course was served with a new wine as well.

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Our first dish was Oyster Rockefeller and it was an amazing start. I’d never had one before and was afraid I’d burn my tongue. So much flavor and interesting textures, I throughly enjoyed that bite!

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Up next was the above salad, my least favorite dish of the night. It had a bitter component that I didn’t care for, but the toasted pine nuts were a lovely note.

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Braised pork belly, warm, moist, meaty and so rich. There was also a tasty glaze.

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Scallops, cooked to perfection, on a bed of corn and tomato salad.

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Duck breast on wild mushroom risotto with a red wine sauce, again, absolutely amazing. No complaints from my tongue.

Dessert was house-made peanut butter truffles with crisped rice inside. This was served with our favorite wine of the evening:

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We liked it better than the chocolate!

All in all a wonderful evening, with great service and amazing food! We left quite happy, and it wasn’t just from all the wine.

Kuddos, Ricco’s, and thanks for such an enjoyable meal.

Rillo’s – Carlisle, PA

Sadly, we’ve reached the end of restaurant week. Last night was the last night. We went to Rillo’s, hungry for more Italian food after last night.

The building had a lovely motif, and I think they should put a patio on, the outdoors was nice and quiet.

We were seated in the bar area, at a booth with white tablecloths and cloth napkins, which I can appreciate, as several of the paper ones (even the really nice ones)on my lap have let grease through onto my clothes more than once lately.

He ordered three appetizers to start, the special of the evening, a crab dip with toast (my favorite of the three), a specially composed dish (just for us) that incorporated the sautéed gnocchi (they normally make it with banana peppers, too spicy for my palate yet), and fried ravioli (his favorite of the three).

Our server brought out our cups of soup before our entrées. The italian wedding soup was cool and needed salt, but the meatballs were good. The seafood bisque was spicy and one bite was more than enough for me. (The waiter had some and said he couldn’t taste it… but took it off our bill anyway.)

The entrées we had, though already very full, were the “‘Veal Misto’ – Grilled veal cutlet with flash broiled jumbo shrimp, lemon butter, mushrooms, prosciutto, and melted provolone cheese” Everything was perfectly cooked and the veal had a great flavor to it. And the chicken parmesan, with two, huge planks of chicken, that were also cooked perfectly. The marinara sauce at Piatto was better though.

Somehow, we still managed to eat a desert, a ricotta cheesecake with raspberry sauce. The sauce surprised us by having a bit of an alcohol burn to it, almost like it wasn’t the right liquor for the sauce.

Bruges is still our favorite food find of the week, but we must give best service for the week to Rillo’s, my water-glass was never empty, empty plates quickly disappeared, and we were frequently checked on, good job everyone!

Trattoria Piatto – Carlisle, PA

Last evening, he made it to my place with time to spare after work and we could take our time in deciding where to eat. We drove into Carlisle, parked and walked around in search of a restaurant that had a dish that would catch our eye. We walked around for a while, stopping to read several menus and exploring the farmers market, seeing several interesting booths there, however, I digress from the stated topic, back to the Piatto!

Drove over to Pomfret Street and were pleased to get patio seating at the Piatto. We’d dined there once before, but that was several years ago and we were excited to see what changes and improvements they’d grown into in that time. However, the menu appeared the same.

I sat back and let him order, we got three antipastis, their special of the evening, a bruschetta, which was alright, very traditional, but pale in comparison to that which we’d had at the Market Cross Pub.

We also had their “‘Asparagi alla Griglia’ – Fresh asparagus spears, grilled, topped with a fried local egg and parmesan cheese”, it was tasty, and had plenty of cheese. A perfectly sized plate, it made me hungry and ready for dinner to arrive without filling me up all that much.

One of the things we like to order when we’re somewhere that has it on the menu is the Pizza Margherita, it’s sort of our measuring stick, comparing apples to apples, and simple enough to speak to the skill of the restaurant. They had one, and so we ordered it, and were throughly disappointed. the toppings were fine enough, but the crust was floury and overwhelmed everything else. It almost seemed to have been bought at a store, except that I’ve gotten better ones at the local grocery.

It felt like quite awhile till anymore food arrived, then the primi and secondi came out together.

Our primi was “‘Trofie al Pesto’ – Short, rolled pasta tossed with green beans, boiled potatoes & and the classic sauce of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan & olive oil”. The basil wasn’t the most flavorful I’ve ever had, but the olive oil came through nicely and the pasta was a lovely al dente.

For secondi, we had “‘Cannelloni’ – Pasta crepes stuffed with VEAL / spaghetti / marinara”. The marinara was tasty and they quickly brought us more when we asked. Veal was very creamy and full of flavor.

After finally getting our waitress’s attention (we think maybe she was beginning to take care of her end of the evening tasks), we asked for and received a desert menu, only to start reading them and find that we had to ask for the day’s sorbet and gelato flavors, which meant we had to wait on our waitress again.

Eventually, he ordered a single scoop of the chocolate amaretto gelato, I got a scoop of the watermelon sorbet. The flavor of mine seemed different at first, but then, being made from the actual fruit instead of the candy flavoring, different was to be expected. The small bite I had of his gelato revealed a lovely, smooth flavor that was neither too light nor overpowering, but the texture wasn’t quite right, it left a sort of powdery coating on one’s tongue.

Overall, it was a nice evening, though on the long side, and they seem to have stayed at about the same place they were three years ago.

In the restaurant week comparison, our favorite (and the only one we really plan to revisit) is Café Bruges. Congrats!

Café Bruges, Carlisle, PA – Belgian Food & Drink

We had friends over on Monday night, so last night was the first night we had to explore the restaurant week in the nearby Carlisle, PA. He picked the Café Bruges, partially because it was after 8:00 till he arrived from work and partially out of curiosity. Belgian is unique around here.

The first thing we ordered was a Cassis Lambic for each of us, we’d have another each before the night was out, I love lambics!

As far as food goes, he first ordered a pound of ‘Bruges Mussels’, done in white wine, shallots, butter & parsley. We ate them as quickly as we could, the sauce was wonderfully light and bright and the mussels done to perfection.

Our entrée was their “‘Carbonade Flamande’ – Flemish beef stew slow cooked in dark ale, served with parsleyed potatoes”, which needed some salt, but the beef was cooked well and the gravy had a great depth of flavor to it.

We also tried the ‘Bruxelles Mussels’ (ale, garlic, leeks & bacon), which were again cooked to perfection, but the ale was a little too dark for our taste and we couldn’t taste the leeks.

Last dish of the evening was the Frites, which I wished they had salted, but that’s not the end of the world. He says when he had them in Europe, they were slightly thinner, but I thought the ratio of crispy outside and fluffy insides was pretty near perfect. We had a house-made mayonnaise to dip them in, which I was a little wary of, having never dipped my fries in a sauce, but we will definitely have to look into that some more, the sweet, tangy mayonnaise played well against the salty fries.

So far, we agreed as we left, this is our favorite find of the week and we will definitely go back again. We are hoping to try the rabbit special they sometimes have and several of their desserts intrigue. Thank you for a wonderful evening Café Bruges!

Market Cross Pub, Carlisle, Pa

Our Sunday afternoon lunch was eaten at the Market Cross Pub, again, just ahead of restaurant week.

I let him order and we had the bruschetta appetizer, along with two shantys. I’d never had a shanty before, but it grew on me as we ate. The bruschetta looked great, see?

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It was different from any I’ve ever had, having mushrooms in it, and since I like mushrooms, I quite liked the addition. Also, the balsamic glaze was one of the best I’d had. This set the bar for the rest of the meal quite high.

He filled the table, though it was a small one, with a shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and a pub burger with Stilton cheese. Two of the three came with mashed potatoes, but they were thick and not my preference. The shepherd’s pie actually had lamb in it and a blend of savory spices, completely different from what I was expecting.

The Stilton cheese on the pub burger was a new experience for me, and I quickly learned that I don’t care for it on my burger. Once I removed it though, it was a pretty good burger, though we’ve made better ones at home. They do get credit for properly cooking it though, a lovely medium rare.

My favorite was the bangers and mash, two sweet sausages with a brown ale gravy, again, not the potatoes so much, but I do like a good sweet sausage.

All in all, a good experience, food could have been a little better, service wasn’t too bad and the atmosphere was unique, I’d not been in a pub before.

 

The Gas Light Grille, Carlisle, PA

Friday night, just before the official start of restaurant week, we went out for dinner and were attracted to the outside patio at the Gas Light Grille. The weather was lovely and we were excited to sit out in it and eat great food.

We ordered the special appetizer of the evening, a crab dip, along with a golden margarita. The drink arrived first and we found it to be excellent, with quite a range of flavors. This made us all the more excited.

We chatted with our waiter a little and he said they’ve a new chef, one of several lately. The owner is looking to move towards a whiskey rebellion style menu soon.

He ordered a pub burger and I the chicken margarita sandwich, and they arrived before the appetizer, which our server brought with apologies, saying he’d been unaware that the chef had needed to make a fresh batch. It was the first disappointment of the evening, having a very strong fish flavor to it. We sent it back and turned to our sandwiches, trying to stay optimistic. It looked tasty.

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However, even after liberally salting the chicken, I had a hard time finding it in my bites. His pub burger was slighty over done, more of a medium then the medium rare he’d requested, and he didn’t care for the texture.

Add to all this that, though no fault of the restaurant, there were other diners smoking on the patio, we couldn’t wait to leave and asked for our check. We were further disappointed to learn that the crab dip hadn’t been removed from the bill, the explanation being that since it was only our preference that disliked it, we would have to pay for it.

We paid and left, planning not to return anytime soon. Maybe we will be tempted to try the new menu when it comes out, but that’s a pretty big maybe.

Andalusia in Carlisle, PA

I must start this post with an apology to Adam, who was our server and has been looking for this post for a little while now. I’m sorry it took so long.

We went out to Andalusia after work one evening and we were the only ones in the dining room, so we had wonderful service and Adam was able to answer all our questions.

Our normal way of ordering is for me to sit back and let him choose. I provide input and if it’s someplace we go regularly, then I order for myself, but otherwise, I like to be surprised!

The other thing that we do routinely in a new place is order many different dishes. We’ve been known to sit at an 8 person table and fill the entire thing in order to try the dishes and get an overall sense of the restaurant. Tapas is perfect for this, as we didn’t end up with boxes and boxes to take home. We set out to tour Spain.

He ordered seven of their tapas dishes and only one disappointed, the “‘Gambas al Ajillo’- Shrimp sautéed with garlic, Spanish olive oil & pimenton” had shrimp which were over done.

Our favorite of the evening was “‘Patatas Bravas’ – Fried fingerling potatoes served with salsa brava & aioli”. The potatoes were perfectly done and fluffy, they were good all by themselves and the salsa and aioli made great additions. We’ve made our own variations of this dish several times since we’ve been there, though we haven’t quite matched them yet.

Some of the other food we ate and enjoyed was “‘Setas al Ajillo’ – Sautéed oyster mushrooms topped with shaved Manchego cheese, ‘Datiles con Tocino’ – Dates stuffed with an almond & Cabrales cheese, wrapped in bacon, ‘Albondigas con Manchego’ – Spanish pork meatballs in a spiced tomato sauce topped with Manchego choose and served with crusty white bread. ‘Croquetas de Jamon Serrano’ – Serrano ham & bechamel fritters, served with aioli, and ‘Bastilla be Djaj’ – Moroccan phyllo pie filled with chicken, eggs, onions & roasted ground almonds, sprinkled with powdered sugar & cinnamon”.

I find myself growing hungry as I type this up and recall each taste hitting my tongue. They were all new flavors to me and I loved exploring a new cuisine. My spell check however, is having fits!

Walnut Bottom Dinner, Carlisle, PA

We stopped by for brunch this weekend, having a craving for eggs Benedict and having heard good things about it, both from people at church and online.

The hostess that seated us looked like she’d rather be anywhere else and only brought one breakfast menu. Our server appeared instantly and seemed miffed when we didn’t know what we wanted yet. She never introduced herself or smiled.

After perusing our options, we made our decisions, or at least, we knew what we wanted to ask about, but when out waitress returned, she was only interested in bringing us our drinks. When we finally had those, we asked about the french toast with fruit, real fruit or pie filling? Real fruit. We ordered a short stack and the eggs benedict we’d come for.

She returned to inform us that they were out of english muffins, might they serve it to us on toast? sure.

Food didn’t take very long to come after that, but it was a through disappointment. The egg was cooked well, but the sauce was thick and tasted strongly of onion powder, not inedible, but not right either. The french toast was swimming in strawberry pie filling that was sickeningly sweet, we couldn’t bear to finish it. We didn’t see our server once the food arrived.

We left feeling disappointed and don’t plan to return any time soon.

My Weekend in the Kitchen – Friday (5-16)

This is the first in a series of posts about what went on in the kitchen in my apartment this weekend. It will also be the shortest of the three.

Friday night, I fed the sourdough starter (which still needs a name) towards making bread on Saturday.

When my fiancé got home, we cooked up some sausages that I’d gotten at the local grocery store. They make their own, and the opportunity to try “bacon sausage” wasn’t one I could pass up. As far as how it looks… see for yourself:

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Hungry now? I wish I could share the smell with you, it had a distinct bacon tint to it.

Put the finished sausages in some hot dog buns and sat down to eat. They were very good sausages! Meaty and well seasoned, but unfortunately, there wasn’t as much bacon flavor as there was aroma. Oh well, on to tomorrow!