Pretty Dishes

March 27, 2011, 12:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oh Pretty Dishes, how I have forsaken you! This gap has been the longest period of time without posting since I started this blog. It was not intentional disregard; the frenzy of life just kept getting in the way. Thankfully none of my excuses are tragic, or even all that displeasing, I’ve simply needed to step away for a short time. I’m here now, though, and trying to get back on track.

I am editing photos and composing new posts, so watch for a few new recipes in the next week. Sadly, I haven’t picked up my camera in too long, so I’m antsy to start that up again, especially now that the days are longer and the natural light is lingering into the dinner hour.

Speaking of dinner (that segue is a real stretch), I do want to comment on a recent meal. I couldn’t give greater acclaim to the one I had at Mario Batali’s Italian steakhouse, Carnevino, in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. It was my first time in town, and I was there to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Carnevino was selected as the special celebratory dinner spot, and it was an experience not to be forgotten. I have seen Batali on a television special here and there, and I know quite a bit about him, but this was my first time visiting one of his restaurants. I was completely blown away. I enjoyed the food so much I immediately started researching his various cookbooks to determine which one I should buy. I also daydream about my dinner there at least every other day.

It’s not so much that I was surprised about it being a great meal, I just wasn’t expecting it to be one of the best of my life. It was very obviously because the ingredients were of the most exceptional quality, because there wasn’t a lot to most of the dishes. They were all carefully prepared to highlight the inherent flavors of each ingredient, but the preparations and plating were not at all fussy, which made the food itself really shine. It reinforced the age-old adage that you don’t have to do much if you simply use the best ingredients at your disposal. It was really inspiring.

Do any of you own one of Batali’s cookbooks? If so, which one(s) do you recommend? And do you use it regularly?

In other news, I saw the first bunches of vibrant skinny asparagus at the market this weekend, and I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me. It took all my self-control to not snatch up four or five bunches and go crazy. I take advantage of the peak season every year by making countless soups, salads, and roasted sides featuring these tender stalks. I look forward to doing the same this spring.

Finally, I’m hosting book club at my house again in a few weeks, so I’m starting to formulate a menu of small bites to serve, as I did last year. The caramelized cashews were easy and quite the hit, so I’ll probably make them again, but I haven’t decided on anything else yet. Suggestions?

Thanks again for your patience while I was taking care of business, and stay tuned for more good stuff.

Update: I ended up going with Batali’s Molto Italiano based on glowing reviews, and I’m so very glad I did. It has a wonderful collection of recipes and is a gorgeous cookbook. I will report back with a review once I’ve given it a closer read.


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