Lucia

On a gorgeous July summer night in Dallas a few weeks ago, we stepped out and enjoyed a little celebratory dinner.  P1070676

The birthday girl got to decide on the spot for this occasion (a.k.a. yours truly), so we dined at Lucia, a tiny Italian nook in the middle of Bishop Arts where it takes WEEKS to get a reservation.

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Perhaps it was the promise of Italian food, or maybe it was just the mere fact that this place is so hard to get into, but whatever the reason, I had pretty high expectations of this place before walking in the door.

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We started with a few aperitivi, and before we knew it, a plate full of warm, soft bread was delivered to our table…

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Not a bad start, Lucia.  Well played.

Having properly kicked off our carbo-loading session, we placed an order of the Red Wattle Prosciutto with figs and arugula, which was a perfect combination of sweet, salty and peppery.  The prosciutto was perfectly savory, and when paired with a bite of the sweet fig and slightly bitter arugula, it made for a delectable flavor combo.

P1070659With high spirits and happy taste buds, we continued on, ordering a plate of the Cavatelli, with cannelini beans, more prosciutto (because why not!), and lumache (which, we learned that evening, was the word for snails in Italian).

P1070665It was AWESOME.  The pasta resembled gnocchi and offered a soft pillow-like texture that was quite enjoyable.  We quickly finished the plate and awaited our secondi.

AG had picked out the Texas Waygu coulotte, and I selected the Foie-Gras-stuffed Quail; both of us promising to share, of course. 🙂

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The Waygu coulotte was a perfect pink, and insanely juicy.  The flavor was just awesome, and when stacked on a fork with a generous scoop of cauliflower puree and salty cheese shavings… mmmm it made my day!

The quail, on the other hand…

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It looked beautiful on the plate, served with figs and gorgeously caramelized onions, but to be honest, it just didn’t tickle my fancy.

I don’t know if it was the Foie Gras, or simply that quail is not my thing after all, but I didn’t love it.  AG on the other hand, was happy to take on my plate and enjoyed every bite.  So perhaps it was just a personal taste-thing, but I wasn’t that impressed.

That being said though, the meal up until that point was awesome, and I will absolutely return and try out another dish.  Sometimes we all deserve second chances, no?

P1070675All in all, it was a lovely evening out with my favorite person, and definitely not a bad way to spend a birthday. 🙂

If you decide to check out Lucia, I’d recommend calling a month in advance to make a reservation.  Then after dinner, take a little stroll around the lovely foodie district that is Bishop Arts, because it’s worth a little look-see.  You can always finish the night off with some chocolates from Dude Sweet Chocolate next door, S’mores at Tillman’s Roadhouse, or a big slice of pie from Emporium Pies.

If you can’t tell, I’m feeling a lot of love right now for this food-filled neighborhood of Dallas!

Cheers!  xx

G

 

 

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FT33

Birthdays in this house are kind of a big deal.  I’ve always loved birthdays… anyone’s birthday.  It’s a great excuse to get together with some of your favorite people, and the fact that cake is part of the celebration is just icing on the… uh… cake!

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AG and I happen to share the same birth month, so June is pretty much the best month of the year.  It starts with celebrating AG and ends with my birthday, so it’s almost a straight month of birthday festivities.  And I’m not complaining.

This year we happened to be headed to Miami over AG’s birthday weekend (more to come on that trip!), so we decided to do a bit of our own celebrating a few days before, which of course involved food, because what else?!

I’d been hankering to try out a new Dallas spot that was getting quite a buzz – FT33.  We went on a gorgeous Wednesday and sat close enough to the big windows in the front to enjoy the amazing sunlight that was still pouring in after 7pm.  Ahhh I just love Dallas in the summer!

We perused the cocktail menu, which was nearly a foreign language – featuring beverages you surely wouldn’t fine elsewhere.  Truffled martini, anyone?

(Sorry for the grainy photos… I neglected to grab my camera on the way out the door, and was therefore stuck with my camera phone.  Fail.)wpid-img_20140604_205748.jpg

We weren’t quite that adventurous on this visit and opted for a Strawberry + Bourbon (for me), and a White Whiskey + Coconut (for him).  Both were delicious – the Strawberry was tangy with a gorgeous color, and the Coconut cocktail offered a very smooth, refreshing flavor that I could just suck down if provided an unlimited supply! 🙂

With beverages in-hand, we placed an order of Lamb Agnolotti, which pretty much resembled ravioli.  It was served with caramelized onions that when paired with the agnolotti, sang a sweet, sweet tune in your mouth. MmmmmMmmmm.

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Warm, fresh bread that was delivered to our table was put to good use, sopping up the delicious sauce that lingered when the pasta was gone.  I don’t think there was a drop left on that plate.  The bread didn’t make it very long, either!

We followed our first course up with our mains (and a replacement order of warm bread).  I ordered the Skate, which was served with a gorgeous hunk of pork belly, morels, and a dill sauce that pulled me right in.  I was quickly back to dipping anything I could, to get every bit of that saucy goodness!

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AG chose the Bavette, which was smothered in a Kentucky Bourbon soy sauce that made my knees weak.  I vowed instantly to get my hands on some of that Bourbon soy sauce, and have already placed an order on Amazon (in case you’re also interested). 🙂wpid-img_20140605_083151.jpg

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With happy bellies, we debated on getting dessert for a hot second, but as per usual, any self control was tossed aside… for this:
wpid-img_20140605_181152.jpgRocky Road, FT33 style – and boy, was it good!  I looked around for brioche or something to scoop up the last bits, but sadly this was the only area where FT33 lacked. Which, really, is probably better for my waistline anyways…

Just as we were paying the bill to leave, our lovely waitress popped over for one last surprise – a finishing touch on the meal that we would have have never expected:

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From the master chef himself!  🙂  We were humbled that he took the time to thank US, when we were the lucky ones who got to enjoy his amazing food!  This little detail only made me want to come back for more.

All in all, a delightfully memorable dinner to celebrate my favorite man! 🙂

Until next time, FT33…

Bon appétit!

-G

 

Rise No. 1

Happy Monday!  I hope you had an awesome weekend.  I must confess, I was a tad lazy this past weekend.  I went on a bit of a Breaking Bad binge, and worked my way through most of Season Two.  Let me just say… AHHHH!  IT’S SO GOOD!

I realize I’m WAY behind the times, but wow, I’m hooked.  Well, obviously, or I wouldn’t have spent nearly my entire weekend on my butt, watching Walt and Jesse continuously fumble and somehow manage to get away with not getting caught!  But I digress…

Somewhat recently, we had something to celebrate, so we indulged in a dinner out at a new spot (well, new to us…).  After returning from our trip to Paris last fall, and gushing over the amazing soufflés we consumed, a friend of ours suggested we check out Rise No. 1.

So, in an effort to pretend we were back in France for an evening, we decided to check it out, and see if this Dallas spot could measure up to those fluffy Parisian soufflés.

Upon entering the restaurant, you don’t quite feel like you’re in Paris.  It has a very rustic, woodsy-feel.  But after being seated at a little round table with French café chairs, you start to notice all the little details that collectively transport you right back to France.  Sadly, I did not manage to snap a good pic of the interior, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

Per the server’s suggestion, I started out with the “Marshmallow Soup,” which, in spite of the name, does not actually contain any marshmallows…

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A carrot-based soup, topped with pesto and mini-soufflés (a.k.a. the “marshmallows”), this soup had a bit more of a kick than I’d expected.  Being a wimp when it comes to spicy food, I was thankful for those mini-soufflés, which helped balance out the spice.

P1070029Both the flavor and the presentation of this dish were spectacular, in my opinion.  Those little soufflés sure did look like floating marshmallows, and added a little something special to my first course.

My dining companion decided to start with the French Onion Soup, which tasted like it was right out of Paris.

P1070027The flavor of the caramelized onion, complemented by the toasted bread and cheese on top, was spot-on, and kicked off the meal just right!

Along with our soups, we were served two mini-baguettes, which we of course used to dip and sop up the last few bites. 🙂

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Something that makes this spot unique is that flatware, linens, and dishware are all antique, eclectic items.  Wine and water are served in glasses made from recycled wine bottles.  Your napkin is actually an antique tea towel, and your knife and fork are unique pieces that are not likely to match at all.  All of these little details really add to the rustic atmosphere that this restaurant exudes, and I loved every bit of it.

Next, we moved on to the main event… the soufflés!

I decided to try out the Truffle Infused Mushroom, which upon being delivered to the table, filled my nose with the fabulous scent of truffle oil.

P1070039Once I dug in, the hint of truffle was balanced with a mixture of wild mushrooms.  The flavor was good, but I must admit, I expected more truffle flavor, considering the aroma of the dish.  The flavor took a backseat to the aroma, which was slightly disappointing.  Despite this, I managed to finish the entire thing, so clearly I wasn’t THAT upset about it. 🙂

AG went for the Jambon & Gruyère, which was truly excellent.

P1070036It was like biting into an airy, cheesy omelette.  The gruyère added both creaminess and rich flavor, which rounded out this dish nicely.  I mean really, when is ham and cheese ever a bad combination…?

Nearly full from those airy egg whites, we almost didn’t go for dessert…

…But then who were we kidding, we ALWAYS go for dessert!

We settled on the Bread Pudding soufflé, which made our eyes widen with lust when it was delivered to our table.

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It was served with a little pot of vanilla crème, which our server immediately poured into the center of our soufflé.

I tried to capture the moment, but the sweet soufflé quickly started to cave in, and so we frantically dug in!

P1070042Each bite was decadent, filled with the fluffiness of the soufflé, and topped off with the rich caramel sauce and sweet vanilla crème.  Both the texture and the flavor was perfect, and I was left dreaming about this dessert when I went to bed that night.

All in all, the experience was excellent, and I loved the authentic-ness of this place.  I will say the soufflés, while solid, were not as good as those which we tasted in Paris.  But really, how can you expect anything outside of that grand, glorious city to live up??

It satiated both my savory and sweet tooth, and allowed for a unique Dallas dining experience, so I’d absolutely return.  I recommend checking this place out if you live in Dallas, or next time you’re visiting the city!

Bon appétit!

-G

Libertine Brunch

We’ve been on a bit of a brunch kick as of late.  Dallas is absolutely a brunch-ing city, so there are infinite spots to try, and multiple variations of mimosas to consume.  It seems like every other weekend someone is organizing a Sunday outing to recover from the previous night and indulge in delectable dishes.

A few weeks ago, some of my favorite female friends decided it had been too long since we had all caught up, so we dragged ourselves out of bed on a Sunday morning (err… afternoon is probably more accurate), to try out the Libertine‘s brunch.

We were told upon arriving that there would be a bit of a wait, but much to our delight, after what felt like no time at all, we were swept away to a little nook in the restaurant.  We barely had time to order a round of their $2.50 champagne cocktails (a solid price for a solid beverage).

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After exploring the menu for a bit, we determined we just HAD to try their Blue Cheese Potato cakes.  Our kind waitress advised us to try them with a bit of Tabasco sauce, but as I am a total wimp when it comes to spicy foods, I actually preferred them without.

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While we waited for the “main event” to arrive, we gossiped and updated one another on recent happenings, and suddenly our plates appeared in front of us.  I had a hankering for something sweet, so I tried the Orange French Toast, which was topped with berries and fresh whipped cream.

P1060907 At first I had a hard time finding the orange flavor, but quickly realized I’d neglected the little pot of syrup and drizzled a healthy amount of what turned out to be orange-infused syrup over top.  Yum!

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My compatriots were served an order of the American Breakfast and the “World’s Greatest Sandwich.”  The American Breakfast was good but deemed average by our table.  I’d argue that bacon and eggs is always a good idea, but in this case, it lacked the something special to make it worth $10.

P1060898It was served with a yogurt parfait that delivered on looks but on taste, it too left something to be desired.P1060904

The sandwich, on the other hand, was solid.  I’m not sure I’d call it the “World’s Greatest,” but it was definitely a solid sandwich.

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Overall we were happy with our meals, and even happier with the company! 🙂

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I think next time I’d try their Crab Benedict, which looked just delicious, and pair it with those blue cheese-filled potato cakes.  Because who DOESN’T want to start their Sunday with cheesy potato goodness?  I sure do!

Cheers! xx

-G