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Cooking the Turkey – ‘Gangnam Style’ !

Now that your beautiful bird has been bathing in a knocked up version of saline solution, spices and herbs, it’s time to cook this bountiful wonder.

Remove the Turkey from the brine, pat dry and make sure to remove any excess liquid from the cavity.  Season lightly with black pepper and pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees for the first stage of the cooking. While preparing the next part of this recipe, I find that a good bourbon and some football make great companions in the kitchen.  Maybe a bottle of Van Winkle Special Reserve?  This sweet, full-bodied whiskey has been described by some as “Nectar”! The 12 years of aging and medium proof is just right in creating a very pleasant drink of whiskey.

And what would Thanksgiving be without a little football?  This year the NFL is offering up a feast of pigskin on Turkey Day. The classic rivalry between this years explosive Houston Texans and Megatrons’ Lions of Detroit, RGIII and the Washington Redskins against Tony Romos’ Dallas Cowboys, and the Mighty Pats without the Gronk and the NY Jets who may finally start Baby Jesus instead of Mark Sanchez.

All this provides the perfect backdrop to preparing a magnificent turkey. Follow my recipe below and your bird, just like The Florida Gators, will not disappoint.

Cooking Your Bird! 

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme

Pre-Heat oven to 300 degrees

Combine the onion, celery, carrot, apple, herbs and spices in a bowl and lay around bird. Truss the legs of the turkey with twine and place on a roasting rack covered with aluminum foil and roast for 2 ½ hours.

Uncover the turkey and reserve the foil, increase the oven temperature to 375 brush the turkey with melted butter  and cook for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes and remove when internal temperature reads 150 degrees.

Happy Thanksgiving from the DeRosa’s, Jamie, Amy, Isabela & Bentley

Thanksgiving “Happiness” is all about the Sides and Dessert

With Thanksgiving only four days away, odds are that you already have your Turkey Day menu set and are gearing up to hit Whole Foods some time tomorrow.  If you are more of a procrastinator, or just have not had the time to even think about what to put on your holiday table, here are some recipes for quick and delicious sides and a tasty dessert that I will be preparing for my family this Thanksgiving.

Roasted Beets, Pickled Red Onions, Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6 large red beets
  • 4 oz. aged goat cheese (Bucheron, cana, or Humbolt fog)
  • 2 oz. pickled red onions
  • 2 oz. hazelnuts, peeled, roasted
  • 1 orange
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 leaves chervil or taragon leaves

Picked Red Onions – Ingredients:

  • 2 large red onions
  • 1 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepot.  Make sure to dissolve the sugar.  Pour the hot vinegar over the onions in a a bowl, chill and reserve until ready to serve.

Directions:

Place the beets, skin on, in a roasting pan with 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and a good dusting of salt.Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in a 350º oven for about 30 minutes or until the flesh of the beet is pierced easily with a knife.

Roast Hazelnuts in oven at 350 Degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Chop hazelnuts with knife until coarse.Allow beets to cool and then peel the skin with the abrasion of a dish towel.Cut the beets in cubes about ½ inch square and place on a platter or plate. Meanwhile, combine the juice of 1 orange, shallots, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture becomes emulsified.

In a medium mixing bowl toss the beats with orange dressing, check seasoning and then top with pieces of the cheese, hazelnuts and the pickled red onions.

Brussel Sprouts, Pancetta, Chestnuts and Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, rinse, dry, cut in half
  • 3/4 lb. chestnuts, peeled, cut in half
  • ½ Lb. Pancetta, diced about ½ inch squares
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Chestnuts – How to roast and peel:

Chestnut season runs from early October through late December. Look for healthy, unwrinkled shells and a glossy brown surface. Dingy or mottled shells may indicate mold, and small pinholes likely indicate that worms have been drilling; avoid such nuts. Fresh chestnuts are firm to the touch and heavy in the hand, with no space between the shell and the meat of the nut inside.

First, using a sharp knife, make an incision about 1/8-inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut, and work your way almost around its circumference.  After slitting the shells, transfer the chestnuts to a chestnut roasting pan or a rimmed baking pan, and roast them in a 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes.  While the chestnuts are hot, remove and discard each shell and the papery skin. Reserve chestnuts for brussels sprouts.

Directions:

In a large skillet or saute pan heat the pancetta on medium heat until golden brown. Reserve the fat and pancetta seperately for later. 

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Add Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Cook until golden (15-17 mins).  Add chestnuts and Cook for 20-25 mins. Raise heat to medium-high and add vinegar, chicken broth and sugar.  Cook until liquid is reduced to syrup (4-5 mins). Squeeze lemon over and zest on top. 

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

Ingredients:

  • Cake:1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Stay tuned as tomorrow I shop for the recipes that I have shared and prepare these dishes on Tuesday.

Stuffing vs. Dressing

Turkey Day Tip # 3- “When it comes to Turkey, stuffing is evil.” – Alton Brown

Although not likely on the menu of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving Day feast in 1621, stuffing has become as ubiquitous as Tom Turkey himself.  Although a staple of Thanksgiving Day Dinner, it seems that no two families can agree on what goes into proper stuffing.  Even the name differs depending on where you are from.  Traditionally, the word “stuffing” was used when it was cooked inside the bird, whereas the word “dressing” was used when cooked outside of the bird.  Today, the terms “stuffing” and “dressing” are used interchangeably.  Although “stuffing” seems to be used more in the North and “dressing” in the South.

These regional differences, as well as one’s nationality, usually dictates what is in the stuffing on your Thanksgiving Day table.  For the traditionalist there is oyster stuffing.  Southerners often prefer cornbread stuffing while Italians like sausage in their stuffing. Dried fruit, potatoes, and apples make up stuffing traditionally prepared by Germans.

Whether you call it stuffing, dressing or even filling (as I have heard it referred to) or wether you include seafood, cornbread, sausage or fruit, nothing is more important than where you cook this concoction – inside or outside of the turkey.

I prefer to cook the stuffing in a casserole outside of the bird — no junk in the trunk here.  Then when the bird is done, drizzle the drippings of the turkey over the stuffing to give it added flavor and also help keep it nice and juicy.  My preference is not just based on taste but safety concerns as well.

Food safety requirements dictate that you should cook a turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  If the bird is filled with stuffing, it will take much longer to reach the recommended temperature.  Longer cooking time equals a greater chance that you will overcook the other parts of the bird.  More often than not, cooking the stuffing inside the bird results in either soggy, sticky, luke warm stuffing or an overcooked breast.  Not to mention, the possibility of samonila poisoning if the bird is not cooked through.

Rather than filling your turkey with stuffing try filling the cavity with something that will give it additional flavor such as fresh herbs, garlic or lemon.

Although my taste in stuffing (or dressing as I cook it outside the bird) is pretty diverse (cornbread, sausage, oyster, etc), this year I have decided to pay homage to my Italian roots and make my favorite – a sausage, apple and walnut stuffing.  Here is my recipe.

Sausage, Apple, and Walnut Stuffing

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
Kosher salt
3 small cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
1 Lb. Berkshire pork sausage,  casing removed, broken up into bite-size chunks – I prefer a “The Roman sausage” from our friends at Proper Sausages
3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch dice ( I prefer Granny Smith Apples)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 bunch sage, leaves finely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
10 cups rustic bread, crusts discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes; or fresh bread slices toasted until crispy but no color, cut into 1-inch cubes (go see my friends at Acme Bakery for a variety of fresh baked bread) 
3 cups chicken stock

Directions

Coat a large saute pan, over medium heat, with olive oil and add the onions and celery. Season with salt and cook until the veggies start to become soft and are very aromatic. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage browns. Stir in the apples and apple cider and cook until the apples start to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the sage leaves and the walnuts and turn off the heat.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the diced bread and toss together. Pour in the chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt, if needed, (it does). Transfer to a large deep ovenproof dish (roughly 9 by 11 inches) and bake until it is hot all the way through and crusty on top.

Not Your Grandma’s Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey Day Tip # 2: Have some fun with the menu – add a twist to the traditional.

Of course the star of the show at Thanksgiving is the turkey.  I would never suggest replacing this staple of Thanksgiving Day dinner with some obscure centerpiece like a Tofurkey, Turducken or any other type of protein or obscure combination thereof.  However, the trimmings are where you can have some fun.  Even I have sat through many a Thanksgiving dinner where I was presented with the “standard” side dishes of mashed potatoes, some sort of green bean casserole, wonder bread stuffing, overly sweet pumpkin pie and, who can forget, the fresh from the can Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.  At best, any of this served warm would be an improvement. This year I say throw caution to the wind, mix it up a bit and have some fun with the fixins’.

Perhaps you could substitute Aunt Mary’s soggy green bean casserole for Brussels sprouts with roasted chestnuts, switch out Abuelas’ bland mashed potatoes for potato and cheese pie or potato soufflé and replace mom’s good ole’ pumpkin pie for pumpkin gooey butter cakes.  You may even get real crazy and make your own cranberry sauce from scratch.

I am excited this year to have the opportunity to spend the holiday with my entire family.  A welcomed break from the norm as most holidays I’m in the weeds at the restaurant cooking for other families.  This year I have been charged with the task of preparing the bird and drippins’, a few sides and something sweet.  I am taking my own advice and spicing it up a bit with these not so run of the mill Thanksgiving dishes.

Turkey brine with a mixture of spices and herbs *(and how to cook the bird day of)

Sausage, apple and walnut stuffing

Roasted beets with pickled onions, candied hazelnuts and goat cheese

Brussels sprouts with panchetta, roasted chestnuts and lemon

Pumpkin gooey butter cakes, yes Goo-ey!

Stay tuned in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as I will share these recipes and some photos of me preparing the dishes.  In the meantime, here is my recipe for turkey brine.

TURKEY BRINE

  • 2 Gal Water
  • 2 C. Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
  • ¼ C. Garlic, Whole
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Juniper Berries
  • 3 Bay Leaves

In a large pot place turkey and combine all of the brine ingredients and stir.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the turkey from the pot, discard the brine, and rinse the turkey thoroughly under cold water, pat dry with cloth and set aside for seasoning and roasting.

**Note: I find using a cooler and submerging the bird in water and ice overnight is the easiest method for brining.

FRANKLIN, LINUS, SALLY, CHARLIE BROWN, PEPPERMINT PATTY, SNOOPY AND MARCIE

Homeward Bound

We left Washington, Virginia on Monday morning, bellies and minds still full from the previous night’s amazing meal, and headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.  From the initial planning stages of this trip, we reserved Charlotte as our stop to sample some southern barbecue.  In particular we were curious to try the  “whole hog” mix of pork seasoned with the thin, vinegary sauce that East Carolina is known for.  However, the seven plus hour drive, and our increasing awareness that Isabela has had enough of our journey up and down the east coast, threw a wrench in this plan.  Our chance to try some BBQ was stymied.  Perhaps the theme of our next road trip will be “Barbecue in the United States.”  We could travel through Memphis, the Carolinas, St. Louis, Texas, Virginia, stopping at various BBQ pits, restaurants, and festivals to sample each establishment’s wares … but I digress.  After a restful night in Charlotte and an Ali-like return to the ring by Obama, we awoke energized, hungry and excited to move on to our next, and what would be our last, food related stop on our journey — Hot Atlanta.

We rolled into the ATL on Tuesday afternoon.  That night we had reservations at Top Chef All-Star winner Richard Blaise’s newest eatery The Spence.  I decided even before we arrived that I would love everything about this place.  The design, concept, and menu intrigued me.  The Spence is located in the “Midtown” section of Atlanta near Georgia Tech.  The modern and funky interior has a bit of a NYC feel with an open kitchen, high ceilings, communal tables, modern lighting and floor to ceiling curtains.  I fell in love with the open-air wood topped bar.  A refreshing departure from the usual stainless steel eye soar you see in most restaurants. The reclaimed wood element is carried through to the kitchen line.  Another far cry from the “Continental” or “Beverage Air” commercial equipment counter tops that grace most restaurant kitchens.  As I watched the “symphony” of chefs work their stations, retrieve their mis en place and plate their food, it was obvious that this open kitchen was put together to achieve a certain look and feel rather than for practicality.

The vibe of the restaurant was like a bustling NYC restaurant with great energy and a hip play list pumping in the background.  Cleverly noted on the menu as to what was the inspirations that day, the small plates and reasonable price point allowed us to sample much of what The Spence has to offer.  We feasted on:

Bone Marrow, Tuna Tartare and Fried Quail Eggs

Soup of Kabocha Squash

Shredded Kale Caesar Salad

Pork Trotter Empanadas with Kimchee

Veal Sweatbread Schnitzel with Lemon and Onions

Braised Beef Tacos, Avocado and Guajillo

Lobster Knuckle Sandwich and Chicharron

Pecan Treacle Tart, Milk Jam Ice Cream

Mint Sponge Cake, Sweet Tea Ice Cream and Lemon

The Spence is a little outside the box and a definite must if you happen to find yourself in Atlanta.

After traveling like fugitives for the past two and a half weeks, the next day our initial thought was to get on the road and put this trip to bed.  However, there was one more place in Atlanta that I wanted to check out — The Optimist Fish Camp and Oyster Bar.  Who could forego a place with the name The Optimist?  The experience was true to its name – – very favorable indeed.  The Optimist is located in an old ham factory. Yes, a ham factory.  Not sure what goes on in a ham factory but what goes on in The Optimist is nothing short of brilliant.

Again we sampled much of what was on the menu:

CALGARY COCKTAIL:
Boyd & Blair potato vodka, clam juice, tomato, spices, “oystershire” sauce, up with celery salt

Smoked White Fish Chowder

Peel and Eat GA Shrimp, Come Back Sauce and Lemon

Crispy Long Beans, Sea Salt,  Buttermilk-Dill Mignonette

Fried Clam Roll, Kimchi Vinegar, House Pickles  (as my wife pointed out was reminiscent of Rhode Island-style fried calamari with vinegar peppers)

Fish and Chips, Ale Battered Haddock, Malt Vinegar Aioli

Corn Milk Hushpuppies, “beignet style,” Honey-Butter

Everything was subpurb!  This place was the perfect match between food and design.  And who would of thunk that there is an amazing seafood restaurant in land-locked Atlanta.

Until next time ATL…

My Bucket List Is Shrinking

Many people have a bucket list.  Some may take the time to meticulously write down the things they want to do before they die in great detail and take pleasure in crossing off each item as it has been completed.  Other’s bucket lists are more amorphous.  A collection of loosely developed ideas kept in the back of their minds.  My bucket list is a cross between the two.  There are certain ideas that I have and goals that I want to achieve in my life and then there are the concrete things that I need to do before I kick the bucket.  I have been fortunate to have completed some of the ‘must do” items on my list such as dining at Guy Savoy  and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, climbing the Great Wall of China (11 times), riding an elephant into the Thai jungle, eating a seven course snake dinner in Vietnam, chewing on crispy fried scorpions in Beijing, apprenticing in the best restaurant in the world, The Fat Duck in England, cooking for Julia Child’s birthday dinner in Maine, and “stage” at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville.  Also on my list is dinner at Patrick O’Connell’s famed Inn at Little Washington.  As of last night I am able to say that this item has been completed.

We left Philly, cheese steak in hand, around noon on Sunday and began making our way to Virginia. The majority of the ride was pretty uneventful and what we have come to expect over the last two plus weeks of traveling.  As we got closer to Virginia however, my anticipation (and anxiety) about dinner grew.  I first learned about Patrick O’Connell and the Inn at Little Washington after leaving Chef Allen’s restaurant in Aventura. I decided to head north for the summer to work in Maine at the Goose Cove Lodge.  The chef at the time, Robert Evans, had just completed a two year stint working at the Inn.  His experience was evident in the food we were cooking — precise, calculated and mindful of where the ingredients came from.  His technique was flawless and his approach to each ingredient was almost religious.  Ever since this time, I knew I had to visit this place.

We arrived at the hotel around 4:00 pm. We quickly changed and drove to the restaurant for our 5:30 pm (yes, 5:30 pm) reservation.  The drive was beautiful.  The Inn is located in Washington, Virginia, a tiny village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We drove through rolling hills, passed many farms, pumpkin patches, vineyards and wineries.  Finally, we reached our destination.

The Inn is stunning.  The outside looks like a colonial home complete with a two level front porch.  We entered and were taken aback by the beauty.  The interior is richly appointed with layers of elaborate wall paper and tapestries, antiques and comfortable, intimate seating areas.  The beautiful furnishings continue into the restaurant with luxurious damask table coverings, sparkling silverware and gorgeous china.  Everything worked effortlessly together but, as I will soon describe, could not over shine the dining experience.

We were quickly shown to our table which was located, not in the main dining room, but on a back porch overlooking the garden.  It was a beautiful room with a gorgeous view.   Although the dining room was full, we were the only ones on the porch.  Perhaps the fact that I told the maître d’ that we were bringing an infant had something to do with this (they really know what they are doing).  Or maybe it was due to the reservationist looking up my name to see that I was in the business, a detail that was pretty apparent by the “right this way Chef DeRosa”.

Nestled into a cozy corner, we opened the menu which was personalized with our names.  After reviewing the sumptuous offering, we decided on the “Gastronaut’s Menu.”  This ten course tasting menu was nothing short of amazing.  After a few amuse-bouche, the courses began.

Truffle Dusted Popcorn

A Tin of Sin: American Osetra Caviar with Peekytoe Crab and Cucumber Rillette

Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse: Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive, Citrus-Sake Gelee

Maine Day Boat Scallops Saûteed with Tomato Gnocchi, Capers, Brown Butter and Lemon

North Pacific Cod in an Asian Inspired Broth Perfumed with Ginger

Pappardelle Pasta with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Blenheim Apricots and Ribbons of Country Ham

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Wild Rice Pilaf, Seared Foie Gras and Caramelized Virginia Figs

Pineapple-Lemongrass Sorbet with Pink Peppercorn Granita

A Miniature Blueberry Crisp with Limoncello Pudding Cake and Berry Rapture Frozen Yogurt

Our more than helpful server precisely suggested wine pairings with each course which enhanced our experience.  As we ate our way through this spectacular menu we kept thinking that we had eaten our favorite bite until the next course was presented.  This is a dinner that I will not soon forget.

This amazing meal was toped off with a tour of the kitchen.  Having read about this kitchen for some time, I could picture it in my mind even before I entered.  As the manager escorted me through the dining room, I knew this would be a memorable moment.  The doors opened and I could hear opera coming from the hallway.  Yes, the kitchen was executing a full dinner service in harmony to classical music. I was introduced to Chef Stephen Lyons, the Executive Sous Chef, and my tour through the perfectly manicured heart of the restaurant began.  We chatted as if we knew each other for years:  food, ingredients, textures and flavors.  He asked me to come with him on the line to show me the mis en place, food, grills and ovens and how they write menus based on the brigade system.  As we progressed through the stations walking “behind” the young chefs, each one responded “oui chef” in concert, all thoroughly aware of their surroundings and our presence.  We continued discussing stories of life, children, living in small towns, working for celebrity chefs and laughed at common kitchen banter.  I was throughly impressed with the finesse of the young women chefs in “garde manger” and their expert handling of each plate.  It seemed as if the food danced it’s way onto the plates with careful precision.  Sometimes we forget that in a world driven by economics, people who are truly passionate about their craft are magical in their approach to perfection.

The team at the Inn at Little Washington are true masters of their craft.  From the friendly valet, to the smiles at reception, to the attentiveness each service staff displayed, to our knowledgable and overly patient server.  And the Pièce de résistance — the kitchen and their warm hospitable way of allowing a visiting chef to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Thank you for a memorable evening and an inspiring journey through your home…

To the City of Brotherly Love

Its cold, very cold.  The last few days in Rhode Island have been quite chilly by this Floridians standards.  In the low fifties and rainy for most of the time with a couple of days of brisk sunshine was about all I could take from a weather standpoint.  Although the weather sucked, it was sad to leave.  We packed so much in to this short stay my head is still spinning.  Introducing Isabela to family and friends, playing with Isabela’s cousin and future partner-in-crime, Sophia, visiting pumpkin patches and farm stands, family dinners, walks in the park, and something called the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo, were all great fun and concluded the Northern leg of the trip.  On Saturday morning, we packed the car and began the trip back down south to some warmer weather.

Initially, we thought we could make it from Rhode Island to Washington, Virginia in one day but after looking at a map we decided that this nine hour drive was not such a good idea, especially if it was to conclude with a two and a half hour dinner at the Inn at Little Washington.  A quick search on Apple Maps revealed that Philadelphia was roughly half way to Virginia.  Some juggling of reservations, tweeting with chef and owner Kevin Sbraga and a few spirited phone calls with Hotels.com later and we were booked.  Off to Philly we went with a reservation at Sbraga one of Esquire Magazines top 20 Best New Restaurants in 2012.

Philadelphia

As we all know, Philly is known for cheesesteaks *(As a NY Giants fan I will not comment on the EAGLES).  This oozy, cheesy, steak and cheese creation was on my mind as we left Rhode Island.  I began to think of the last time I was in Philly and what local place had the best cheesesteak.  Were we going to stop at Jim’s Steaks on South Street or Campo’s Deli on Market.  I had a few hours drive to decide.  I was also itching to try a more refined restaurant in Philly — Sbraga. Opened exactly on year ago (congratulations on your one year anniversary) Spraga is the namesake of Kevin Sbraga the winner of Top Chef Season 7.  I could not wait to sample this Modern American Restaurant.

Hotel Monaco

After checking in to the Hotel Monaco, we made our way to the restaurant for our 6:15 reservation.  Yes, we eat early these days to ensure that the little one doesn’t throw a fit while papa is devouring his goose liver. The table was ready upon our arrival and the staff accommodated our stroller.  A quick glance at the cocktail menu and I ordered the Knob Creek Rye, Doulin Rouge, Maple- Bacon.  This cocktail sounded, tasted and finished as expected — smoky, sweet and the perfect note to begin our dinner.   Mama had her nerve calming, traditional stroller pushing vodka and soda as we began our meal.

Octopus Deliciousness

First Course:

Venison- foie gras terrine with sweet and sour eggplant
Shrimp bisque, butternut, tapioca, popcorn

Second Course:
Pumpkin tortellini, escargot, tom ka gai
Octopus, pri pri, green beans, tapanade

Third Course:
Meatloaf, carrots hazelnut, crust mushrooms
Lamb, brussels sprouts, peanuts, corn porridge

After the third course, Isabela showed us who was boss and we made a quick exit taking our dessert to go.  Our server suggested which desserts would travel well and boxed them up for our departure.  Back to the hotel for the second half of the Gator game, Yankee Game and South Carolina and LSU SEC barnburner.  We put Isabela in her bassinet and finished our dessert.

We are now off to Virginia to cross one more thing off my bucket list — dinner at the Inn at Little Washington. But not before a quick stop at  Jim’s Philly Cheesesteak on the way out of town. Shhhhh, As I’m writing this neither Amy or Isabela are aware of this impromptu stop…