A Night of Spanish Cuisine With Friends

23 Apr

Have you ever had one of those trips when you ate some of the best, most memorable food of your life and can’t stop thinking about it once you return home?

That’s precisely what happened to one of my best friends who traveled to Barcelona back in September. Since then, I’ve heard so many stories about the different restaurants she visited, the foods she got to try while she was there, and how much she wishes she could recreate them.

And then, she decided to do just that. Lucky for me, she invited me to come over for a taste of Spain. Enter, Spanish night:

I brought over some Rioja, since I do love to bring wine with me everywhere I go

As for the food, she recreated some of the tapas she loved from Spain, including a tomato salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives, bread and manchego cheese, papas fritas, garlic shrimp, tomato bread (not pictured below), and an Americanized fave – bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.

Here’s a look at the spread:

Manchego Cheese

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Tomato Salad

Papas Fritas

Garlic Shrimp

And here’s what the real versions from Spain looked like:

IMG_1822

tomato bread

My friend is a culinary wiz herself, so while I never have experienced the food in Spain, I can pretty much count on the fact that she did a great job at recreating these dishes!

Have you ever been somewhere where the food was unforgettable? Share below!

Spring Dinner at Max Londons

21 Apr

It’s no secret that I love the atmosphere at Max Londons. It’s comfortable, welcoming, and trendy. While my favorite spot is sitting at the bar or grabbing a table for brunch, I realized that I don’t often dine at Max Londons for dinner, and I needed to figure out why.

Max Londons Bar

The brunch menu is awesome. So many delicious options – I never get tired of it.

The dinner menu, in comparison, is rather limited. While there are plenty of menu items including salads, pizzas and pastas, if you’re looking for something else, you’re not going to find much outside of that.

Hey, for those summer nights when you’re looking for something light and want to share a small pizza and an appetizer, it’s perfect. But if you’re in the mood for a real hearty meal, it’s just not going to cut it unless you’re willing to spend the money.

The dining room is a good size, comfortable seating and usually dependable, polite waitstaff. They always bring over a cold bottle full of tap water for the table, which is great because you never have to worry about asking for more water.

Saratoga Olive Oil and Balsamic are also at every table, which makes my heart sing because those combined with the bread from Mrs. Londons is my favorite.

Moving back to the regular menu – since I’m obsessed with the chickpea polenta fries ($9.50), I decided it would be a crime not to write about them again.

photo 1(88)

Golden and crispy on the outside, the inside is creamy and satisfying. Well, usually. But this particular night they weren’t great. It was almost like there was something missing from the flavor of the fries, leaving it tasteless unless dipped in the black olive aioli.

The black olive aioli however, is great – it’s salty, it’s creamy, and just simply delicious. And luckily for the fries this time, it was their saving grace.

For my entree, I really didn’t feel like pizza or pasta, so I ordered the cajun rubbed trout with broccoli rabe and a wild rice medley ($23)

Trout

So I’ll just come out and say it – I’ve never had trout before, which is precisely why I ordered it. The fish itself, I didn’t love, but the spices and seasonings on the fish were really good. It had a kick of spice but mostly just warm spices cooled off with a bit of citrus. The taste I truly did enjoy, I just would have enjoyed it more on a better piece of fish.

Trout

The broccoli rabe was nicely roasted, and the wild rice ended up being my favorite part of the meal. The rice had a very complimentary flavor profile with the seasonings on the fish, and truly made the meal feel like a hearty dinner that kept me full for the rest of the night.

When it comes down to it, I think Max Londons is a great spot to hang out and grab drinks and food, but it completely depends on the type of meal you’re looking for. If you’re starving and you want something that’s going to fill you up for the night, you must order wisely or go somewhere else.

Another tip – I’ve found Max Londons to be pretty solid with their specials of the night. You must be willing to accept different flavors than you’re used to though, because they certainly don’t serve the run of the mill, generic food.

Class One at The Wine Bar: Awaken Your Senses

18 Apr

On Wednesday, April 16th, I participated in my very first wine tasting class at The Wine Bar. While it’s definitely not my first wine class, it was the first at The Wine Bar for me, and I was certainly in need of some vino to polish off this particular Wednesday.

Wine Class at The Wine Bar

Similar to the first wine class that was held at The Wishing Well, the class was a blind tasting, and while we could tell the colors of the actual wines, we had to use our senses to figure out what the wines actually were.

What was so incredibly interesting to me was the fact that there were so many things I learned in this class that I’m positive was taught in the class at The Wishing Well that I just didn’t pick up on… and brought me one step further in my knowledge and understanding of wine.

So back to it – the instructor, Joe Armstrong, really pushed us to use our eyes, our nose and finally, our taste buds. Sure, it can get frustrating not being able to take a sip of several glasses of wine sitting in front of you at first, but patience is a virtue, right?

We observed the colors of each glass against a white piece of paper to see how “cloudy” each wine was, the viscosity or the ring around the outside of the wine when you tilt the glass to a 45 degree angle, and tried to pinpoint the exact tint of each wine.

After observations, we smelled. Man oh man did we smell those wines. Each one was different, but the differences really came out as time progressed. I will say that I find roses the most challenging wine to understand. I want to understand them, I want to get them, but I just don’t.

Along with the roses we were presented with this beautiful appetizer, a piquillo pepper stuffed with chevre on top of an avocado crema with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Piquillo Pepper

Piquillo Pepper

The second round of wines were all red, which is more my thing. Again, we did the whole senses thing – first observing with our eyes, then our noses, and finally by tasting!

These reds were complex to say the least. They all threw me through a loop, and I was totally off in the end when it came to guessing which one was which. The biggest shocker? Where these 8 wines were from – Italy. I seriously NEVER would have guessed these were Italian wines, including the roses. And what’s even crazier is that each rose in order was from the same grower as the reds in order.

I’ve included the list of wines we tasted in order, from start to finish.

Roses:

  •  Vale reale carasuolo rosato 2013 (abruzzo)
  • Librandi ciro rosato 2013 (Calabria)
  • Mastroberardino lacrimarosa 2013 (campania)
  • Leone de castris “five roses” rosato 2013 (Puglia)

Reds:

  • Vale reale montepulciano d’abruzzo “vigneto di popoli” 2009 (abruzzo)
  • Librandi ciro rosso 2012 (Calabria)
  • Mastroberardino taurasi 2008 (campania)
  • Leone de castris salice salentino reserva 2010 (Puglia)

 

There are still 5 classes left in case you want to attend! Call today to make a reservation: (518) 584-8777

  • 4/23 Vin de Bordeaux
  • 4/30 Greek Wine Renaissance
  • 5/7 Vin Blanc d’Alsace
  • 5/14 Une Sconosciuti di Italia (Exploring the Italian
  • Unknown)
  • 5/21 Gastronomic Heaven (Food & Wine Pairing)

Wine Class Series at The Wine Bar

16 Apr

Wine classes are back in Saratoga, this time around at where else but The Wine Bar!

The Wine Bar will be offering a series of 6 wine classes, starting tonight, April 16th going through May 21st. Each class will be held from 6-9pm. Starting out with a blind tasting this evening, the series of classes were developed to allow your palate to grow and learn throughout the six weeks, ending the final class with food and wine pairings. YUM!

As many of you might recall, I recently did a series of wine classes held at The Wishing Well, and after many weeks of sipping down delicious wines, I certainly learned my fair share of information and techniques when it comes to drinking wine, buying wine, and pairing wine with food.

If you’re interested in signing up for a class at The Wine Bar, give them a call at (518) 584-8777.

Here’s some additional information and a list of the classes that will be held in the upcoming weeks:

Classes 1-5 include:
Lecture by Sommelier Joe Armstrong, 8 tastes of wine, 2 small plates, $30/class

Class 6 includes:
lecture, 9 wines, and 3 small plates, $60

Buy the whole series for $185

  • 4/16 Awaken Your Senses (a blind tasting)
  • 4/23 Vin de Bordeaux
  • 4/30 Greek Wine Renaissance
  • 5/7 Vin Blanc d’Alsace
  • 5/14 Une Sconosciuti di Italia (Exploring the Italian
  • Unknown)
  • 5/21 Gastronomic Heaven (Food & Wine Pairing)
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