Monday, November 20, 2006

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 6


Dessert was cool, nice and simple. No, it was a chardonnay sorbet with a pineapple slice.

The slice was just a bit hard to cut with a spoon. Someone suggested that it could have been seared, which would have made it more tender and crunchy and warm, a great contrast to the sorbet. True, but easy to forgive. With a hot cup of decaf, it was a great closer.

Alex sat with us to bask in our praise and explain his choices. I was happy to hear that he had offered our meal to his guests all weekend and it was very popular. Some told him that they didn't even miss meat.

Not so many that he could offer a meatless meal all of the time, though. Too bad.

We slowly went our seperate ways. I couldn't even consider going out to our local concert. I had to lay down. Just as well, Scott came over to download his pictures that I have included.

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 5


Now I was located at the head of the head of the table in the most comfortable chair. That last seat, I now realized, was too close to the heater. I was ready for my nap.

To my dismay, I was presented with a deliscious dish -- porcini mushroom stuffed with chestnuts and chilis on a bed of soft braized spinich and chipotle aoli.

I begged for mercy. Some had to skip it altogether. Others wolfed it down.

Had this been the second dish, it might have been my favorite. In this position in the meal, it almost killed me.

Luckily, my table-mates distracted me with conversation about the CVS school, which needs work. I also learned about one of the first bio-metric lunch programs that protected kids from bullies. Cool.

I hated to let part of the dish be taken away, but I certainly didn't want to pass up dessert.

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 4


Now that we were relocated and rested, we were ready for the most original dish of the night, and another favorite. Organic buckwheat soba noodles were covered with sake-seared bok choy and ginger-honey carrots and topped with sweet tamari, cilantro, scallions, and cashews. It was chipotle spicey, sweet, beautiful and fantastic.

We were traeated to stories of near-death and invasive operations. Clearly time to change seats again.

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 3


After the staple appetizer of small red delisciousness, the first course was a scant cup of the finest acorn squash soup ever. It had a touch of black pepper and white truffle oil and must have been whipped to get it so light and airy. Many of us selected this as the finest creation of the day.

It was time for a glass of clean Pino Grigio that Ika chose. I nursed it through the meal. I knew that I had to pace myself through Alex's six-obsticle course.

The second course was a salad of crunchy roast fingerling potatoes, giant fava beans (barely subdued), roasted garlic and tomotoes with a gorganzola cream sauce that featured more cracked pepper and, I think, cardimum. It was a mercifully small serving of a very strong dish. This was another favorite.

Let it Grow Richie, in his first dinner with us, explained that many of the veggies featured here were being supplied by a local organic farmer, the carrots and bok choy, for sure. He also told us about his time with the Committee on Poetry, their farm, and it's sad current condition.

Scott then told the yang of us to exchange seats, and we were treated to a very simple salad of greens vinagrette. I was already stuffed, so it was a welcome respite.

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 2


Stacey and I hosted a warm-up at our place just up the street. Our dog attacked only one person. Not too bad.

While a couple of us retired to medical safe-haven, the rest headed off to dinner.

11.18.06 Alex & Ika 1


After a long wet summer, it's finally time to reconvene our eating group. Scott organized our second dinner at Alex & Ika's. We all know that their restaurant has finally been sold. The good news is that the buyer is It's All Good, Cherry Valley's health food store. So, for many of us, this is a goodbye dinner. They have plans, we hear, to build a new place just out of town. Let's hope so.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Alex & Ika Restaurant


Our third outing. Look at all the shiny, happy people! Holy cow, the food was good!

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the Hoffman Lane Bistro


Our second dinner was at the Hoffman Lane Bistro. Another great meal!

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Rose & Kettle Restaurant - Our very first outing


Our first meal was at the Rose & Kettle restaurant in the fall of '05. Six courses made us all full and stupidly happy!

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

VEG 1

Our first meal was at the Rose & Kettle - RK1. Here are my notes:

cocktail: rusty nail
Great to start off the evening with something special and delicious to sip and wind down after a busy day. I'm thinking that we might want to have chefs include drink suggestions. not to save money, but to make it even more interesting.

chickpea and nori
This is a great combo, the free-form warmed nori was a beautiful presentation -- but maybe take it just one step further: either with soy sauce, rice vinigar (or saki) and wasabi, or with mao, mustard, onion, white wine ...

spring roll with plumb sauce
The most beautiful to look at and the plumb sauce was fantastic (was that a grape?) -- the roll itself was very light, mostly noodles. Maybe something could have been added for more texture and a deep toasty flavor: grilled eggplant, sesame seeds, or increase balance of raw veggies: radishes, cuke, zuke, cabbage (maybe red cab), fennel, endive ...

something on toast
I don't remember what was on the toast (eggplant?). It was crunchy and great to eat and looked nice, but the conversation was even more interesting. Yummy little greens, too.

switch seats
Nice to have a break in the middle, change perspective

wine: pino grigio
Excellent, clean balance to a big meal

fava bean soup
Fresh and chunky, warm and tasty, and more toast was a great texture balance. Maybe just a bit too thick.

creamy mushrooms
This was perfect. very rich, wonderful to eat. the individual serving was pretty and just the right amount. my favorite.

seitan in cabbage with root veggies and tomato sauce
Pretty cabbage packets. I didn't like the filling very much -- rubbery in texture and indistinctive flavor. The veggies and sauce were both light and simple -- excellent.

chocolate dessert
Beautiful negative sandwich -- chocolate bun was rich, bittersweet and the cream filling was sweet, but not too sweet.

coffee
Great balance to rich dessert and digestive for the meal. decaf for me, thanks.

more:
Crucial to have one dish per course, rather than many things at a time.
Excellent mix of textures and densities, flavors and ethnicities, without doing too much in any one dish or ranging too far between dishes.
Great to talk to the chef after.


ideas:
consider beverages as part of the meal. recommend a cocktail, wine, non-al bev.
break in the middle to change seats was great, could have been even longer.
more pictures. I'll bring my camera next time.


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Saturday, May 13, 2006

5.11.06 Rose & Kettle 4


We finished it off with a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream, mint and a little rolled cookie.

This is what I love about the Rose: Clem doesn't try too hard. The dishes are creative, tasty, pretty and filling, but not unnecessarily complex.

5.11.06 Rose & Kettle 3

For an entree, we had a choice of veggie pot pie or spring roll and noodles.
Look at that pot pie -- it's a huge creamy bowl, featuring fiddle heads. Great tasting and so much fun to have a pretty hot bowl of dinner baked just for you.
The spring rolls were served with a very spicy tomato dipping sauce. Both excellent. The sauce with the rice vermicelli was clean and light, maybe soy, rice vinegar, water, along with something crunchy like hazelnuts, but it just ran right off the noodles so you really couldn't taste it without spooning it separately. It's nit picking, I know, but it didn't quite work for me. Not sure what I would have done differently. Certainly not as great as the pot pie.

The other table seemed to be having a good time. Something about a mother having taken a class from a father.

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5.11.06 Rose & Kettle 2



For the first course, we had a choice of soup or salad.
The soup was a great bowl of veggie broth, thick with greens, and big dollop of soft cheese. Almost a meal on its own.
The salad was a big mix of tasty greens from Sunset Hill Farm with an orange vinaigrette. It would have been nice to have just a little something added -- just one not-leaf thing like beets, fried green tomatoes, pine nuts …

We took a break and some switched tables.

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5.11.06 Rose & Kettle 1


Dinner number 4 was back in Cherry Valley.

We had planned on having our next meal at BOCES in Milford but didn't have a big enough crowd for them. They have a great program and we hope to set something up with them after the summer.
Clem at the R&K was nice enough to accommodate us at the last minute.
It was a fine turnout, 11 happy diners at two tables. After enjoying a drink at the bar, we took our seats and started in on some bread and olive oil.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 9


Was there room for dessert? Yeah.
I had coffee with my vanilla ice cream, red sauce, poached pear and mint served with almond cookies. Nice not to have to deal with a crust, good choice, and very pretty.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 8


But we weren't done! This spicy roast asparagus dish was great, maybe the best, but I was too full to enjoy it as much as I would have earlier. It included toasted sesame seeds mascarpone, chipotle, crispy fried onions, parika fruit and passion fruit -- a fun and surprising concoction, but too much for me after all of the other food.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 7






Now it was getting serious. We had another salady dish that I don't remember and didn't note at all -- I was too busy talking to my table mates.

The next dish was a risotto with fava beans mascarpone, pumpkin seed oil, roast tomato, pine nuts and porcini mushrooms. Very rich and filling. I was stuffed.


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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 6


Incredible salad with golden beet, fennel, roasted garlic and many other things with a balsamic vinaigrette. Fun hunting for different flavors and textures in different combinations. This is when I had to take out my pda to make notes. Looking at the photo, I forgot to note a number of ingredients -- lentils?
We paused at this point to consider our good fortune. There were too many of us to consider switching seats.
Our conversation drifted from Empire Falls, to parrots, to Senator Clinton.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 5


The Celery chipotle bisque was fantastic. Light, delicate, creamy, and a nice small serving. The spicy heat was a wonderful surprise.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 4

This is a regular appetizing treat here -- South African red pepper stuffed with almond, cream cheese, and finished with pumpkin seed oil.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 3


The bread and butter were soon delivered and all was well. Very crusty bread. Excellent.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 2


The olives were salty and the beer was St. Peter's organic. Both great.

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2.3.06 - Alex and Ika 1

The third VEG night was at this fine restaurant in Cherry Valley. The crowd that night was reported to be 22 -- a lot of people. I didn't get to talk to hardly anyone not at my table. There were also a few people not with our group enjoying dinner. One table of people I recognized from Glimmerglass Opera.

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First Post

This is the first post of this Blog.