It’s nice to have at least one restaurant that is reserved for special occasions. Since yesterday was my birthday, my husband and I celebrated with a great dinner at I Fratelini. This was our second time at the restaurant, but after last night’s meal, I’ve decided that this is definitely our go-to special occasion restaurant. From start to finish, the entire meal was enjoyable and delicious.
When we arrived at the quaint and adorable Italian restaurant, I was greeted by the host with a “Happy Birthday”, which was then followed by a non-alcoholic champagne toast that they made for me when we were seated. Our waiter helped make the meal enjoyable by being attentive without hovering. My husband and I split everything we ordered, so the waiter graciously spaced out each course and split the dishes to be served on separate plates.
We started the meal with a BURRATA appetizer, which was served with sweet balsamic reduction and warm grilled bread. The creamy cheese and balsamic drizzle spread atop the thick bread was so simple, yet so special. This dreamy combo really set the tone for the rest of the meal.
Next, we shared the ARUGALA SALAD with oranges, kalamata olives, almonds, parmesan with a champagne vinaigrette. The salad was so light and fresh and put me in the mood for more summery salads. Truth be told, I could have had my own salad because half the portion left me wanting more!
The PISTACHIO ENCRUSTED TROUT was my husband’s favorite from our previous visit, so we had to order that again. The fish is served with citrus butter over sautéed spinach. The fish is thin, flavorful and perfectly cooked, with just a little crunch from the pistachio crust. Even the sautéed spinach was amazing. I cleared my plate on this course.
It’s difficult for me to turn a blind eye to pasta dishes at an Italian restaurant, so our second entrée that we split was the TAGLIATELLE SHORT RIB RAGU. The medium-thick noodles were swimming in a hearty tomato sauce, with a generous amount of tender pulled beef. Not only did the dish taste like my Italian grandma (that I never had) whipped it up in her kitchen, but it was also served piping hot. Food served hot is something I definitely hold with high regard!
Last night’s dinner was the kind of meal that you’re still thinking about the next day, or even the day after that. I love everything about this place, from the adorable atmosphere to the impeccable food. I Fratelini may just be your next special occasion restaurant too.
I have no problem with hodge-podge meals every now and then. Some people couldn’t think of mixing food genres in one meal, but sometimes I like it if all parts sound good. I could be in the mood for Italian and Mexican, so if I am trying to throw together a meal of leftovers, a little pasta with an enchilada never hurt anyone On the flip side, I’m not as flexible when it comes to mixing strange ingredients or flavors in one dish. Do you see the distinction?!
When I came across this Cooking Light recipe for Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad, at first I thought some of the ingredients were a little random together. I didn’t really see feta being paired with the Spanish flavors of the spicy shrimp and the honey/cumin/lime blend for the salad. And the chickpeas with everything else was not something I’d typically go for. But I was intrigued, so thought I’d give it a whirl. I’m so glad I did because the dish ended up being different, but different in a great way. The flavors blended everything together without being too intense. And I loved that it didn’t resemble my usual quinoa concoctions. The shrimp (which weren’t actually spicy), had great seasonings that paired perfectly with the salad, making this a delicious summer meal.
This week-long blogging hiatus was not planned or intended. Life really gets in the way sometimes. I’ve been to Columbus and D.C. the past two weekends, and Friday I’m off to Iowa for a friend’s wedding. Every six months or so it seems I have a marathon travel session and just can’t get back on track during the week. I’d be lying if I said my suitcase doesn’t sit on the floor all week, only to be unpacked and repacked before the weekend. Yeah, I’m that person. Last week was spent tackling nursery ”to-do” items each night, so cooking took a back seat. After dining out for every single meal, I was determined to hit the grocery store once we got back from D.C. on Sunday. So far, this week has been a little more normal and I’ve already managed to cook some tasty meals and snacks.
After the trip to the grocery store Sunday, I threw together Smoked Paprika Hummus to snack on. Hummus has to be one of my favorite munchies, and I love this new recipes for the slight spice the paprika adds, and the zestiness of the lemon juice. It’s the perfect accompaniment to crunchy veggies or multigrain pita chips. We’ve been enjoying the hummus since Sunday, and I may have to make more to get me through to the end of the week.
There’s a restaurant in St. Louis that is known for their Tostada Tower Salad. Every time we go to this restaurant, each person at the table orders the exact same thing. Menus aren’t even necessary because the diners are going to the restaurant with this salad, and only this salad, in mind. At $16 bucks a pop, several of my dining companions have commented that someone needs to learn how to make this infamous salad at home. After wanting to recreate the Tostada Tower Salad for months, I decided that with Cinco de Mayo only two days away, this was the right time. No, this salad is not authentic Mexican cuisine by any means, but the Southwestern inspirations make it appropriate for the upcoming holiday.
The Tostada Tower Salad layers lime white rice, black beans, crunchy tostada shells, tender diced chicken tossed in Chipotle BBQ sauce (I used this homemade Chipotle BBQ sauce), melted cheese, and a mound of cabbage tossed in a delicious Creamy Avocado dressing, which absolutely ties the whole dish together. With so many different elements and tasty components, it’s no wonder this salad is loved by so many. Although there are several steps to the recipe, it is not difficult to pull together. It just takes a little time to layer each salad and prepare each piece. I can guarantee you that once you taste the salad, you’ll want to make it again and again.
WHAT! It’s May 1st already? I seriously cannot believe it. With so much going on this year, and still so much to come, January 1st feels like a minute ago. Although I wish I could slow the passage of time, I am so excited that warmer months are finally here.
Usually Memorial Day kicks off grilling season, but with the temp being around 80 degrees the past two days, I’m officially declaring May 1st the day to take off the cover and fire up that grill. Even though meat cooked on an open flame tastes smoky and delicious on its own, BBQ sauce for dipping makes it even better. To kick off the season, I made homemade BBQ sauce, Chipotle BBQ Sauce to be exact. Throwing this sauce together seemed just as quick as the first four months of the year! The best part about making homemade BBQ sauce is being able to adjust the heat, sweetness and consistency to your liking. This sauce had a little sweetness and a substantial bite; but if you prefer yours sweeter, increase the brown sugar by a smidge and decrease the chipotle peppers.