The Tasting Kitchen

I was doing SO well and totally getting caught up on my blogging and THEN…I moved into a black frickin’ hole for a solid 2 weeks.  Some people say it’s totally refreshing to be off the grid for a while.  Those people are not just crazy, they are CUR-RAZY!  I burned through my month’s data plan in 4 days because all I had was my phone tethering me to the REAL world.  But not to worry dear readers, just because I lived in an internet dead zone doesn’t mean I my appetite died off too.  I have the food baby to prove it!Dinner with the Bear crew is turning out to be great fun these days.  We’re all slowing making that transition from overworked and underfed to underworked and overfed.  Buff Bear, Panda Bear, and Luau Bear are soon approaching the end to their terms of indentured servitude.  They will soon join the ranks of Farm Bear, Little Bear, and myself as gainfully employed citizens who get raped in taxes every year by good old Uncle Sam.  Welcome to adulthood!  I recommend easing the sting of reality with a tall glass of wine and new and delicious foods.

Gnocco Fritto salumi, burrata
I recently had a version of fried dough + cheese + cured meats at The Factory Kitchen.  I guess this was a do-it-yourself version.  I liked that the dough wasn’t sweet, like it was at The Factory Kitchen.  It was fun to have the meat and cheese this way, but honestly some crusty chewy bread is always a great option too.

 

 

Charcuterie lonza, chorizo

Tasty.

Brie de meaux cow, ile de france

Morbier cow, franche-comte, france

We asked the waiter to help us select the cheeses because we didn’t know much about cheeses, but I did pick the the comte.  The waiter said, “I like how the girl who says she knows nothing about cheeses pick a great cheese.”  What can I say?

Brussel Sprouts hazelnuts, dates

I think everyone was expecting roasted sprouts and not shaved raw sprouts.  Still tasty.

Mussels saffron cream, fennel

I’m used to mussels cooked in a light white wine base, but the cream was not too heavy here.  The saffron gave it a nice Spanish touch.

Oxtails ceci purée, coriander

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  I found the pairing of bread with the bean puree and stewed meats to be a bit heavy.  I enjoyed the oxtails on their own sans carbs.  Loved it!

Beets satsumas, pistachio aillade

Your run of the mill beet salad.  Nothing too memorable to praise or fault here.

Salt Roasted Branzino oregano, pine nuts

There was a huge lag with the next set of dishes.  While the conversation amongst our Bear crew is always fun and entertaining, we eventually noticed that maybe more than 30 minutes had passed before the rest of our food came out.  Not cool…but they ended up giving us dessert on the house!  The fish really won everyone over.  Branzino has to be one of the biggest NEVER FAIL fishes.  It’s not just never bad, its usually pretty darn good!

Porcini Crusted Hanger Steak funghi misti, aceto

Some did not thing much of the hanger steak, but I quite liked the savory char and the earthy mushrooms.  Something here was a tad oily though.

Spaghetti carbonara 

Little Bear really wanted the carbonara.  I’ve never been a fan of carbonara.  Too much cream, cheese, bacon though I guess that’s the best way to win over the majority of Americans.  I like a little more complexity in my pastas.  So I wouldn’t be the best judge of carbonara anything.  I will comment on the spaghetti being way too al dente, but some of my dining companions liked it that way.

Pappardelle lobster, smoked roe

I grew up with 2 siblings so I know how to share.  That doesn’t mean I like to share.  After chopping up the 2 little lobster claws into 6 pieces, there just wasn’t enough of it to enjoy.  The piece I did get was delicious.  Again, I didn’t like the texture of the pasta here.

Creste di Gallo calabrian sausage, breadcrumbs

I didn’t know what creste di gallo was when I ordered this.  I think we all just saw “sausage” and started salivating.  But I finally figured it out as I saw the shape of the pasta, which was shaped like the crest of a rooster.  This packed quite a bit of heat.  A hearty dish.

Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta 

I found it a bit odd that the selection of desserts were all chocolate/coffee based.  It felt a little unbalanced.  But for 6 people, 3 free desserts only seemed right even if they were similar.  Your standard chocolate custardy pudding thang.  Yummy chocolate tuile.

Bread Pudding All’Affogato vanilla caramel, pecans

This was hands down the best dessert of the night.  Great variety of textures and balance of sweets and good depth with the coffee.

Stroopwafel & Hot Chocolate cardamon, teeccino gelato

This was definitely not as fancy or exotic as it sounded.  I was expecting something as awesome as a smurf on a plate.  Sadly, it was just a big crispy waffle that you were supposed to dunk in the holt chocolate below.  It was a bit awkward to eat let alone share among 6.

Overall, Tasting Kitchen was good, but I was bothered that the pastas were beyond al dente.  I don’t think cooking them a few extra minutes would have created the texture I seek in a well made pasta.  I almost love any place that does a nice selection of cheeses and charcuteries.  The small plates and entrees were pretty solid.  I would still come back, but would not be expecting much from the pastas. Also, I would hope that during the spring and summer seasons, something fruity would find its way on the dessert menu. 

10 – You NEED to eat here

9 – Awesome!

8 – Very good

7 – Good 
6 – OK
5 – Average

4 – Not bad

3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT go here

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