Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dinner at Tapas 177 is anything but a boor...

Last night was a celebration dinner night, I shall be going to Honda and he shall be going to Toyota.

We went to Tapas 177 last night, a restaurant who has an amazing and innovative chef no doubt. Just reading the menu makes you say 'wow, that's a good idea' or 'never thought of that flavor combination before' I have never ever ever been disappointed with my meal at Tapas 177. The decor/ambiance is very lovely, earthy, muted and romantic. Due to this decadent and low lit venue though, I regret that I will have to do what I absolutely hate, write a post without pictures. I know, I am sorry, it can't be helped. I tried taking a picture with my little camera phone (that right there is half the problem Maria, all the photographers are saying), but they were far to dark and blurry. So I shall do my very best to use my words to describe last night's amazing dinner.

I started with a glass of Rioja, which was a deep red, rich, peppery, spicy, tasting of big red fruit, and he had his good old favorite drink standby, tequila and ginger ale. A toast to the Japanese automotive industry for hiring us as their newest engineers (clink). This is shear enjoyment. The walls are a lovely burnt reddish-brown stucco, lots of candles (votives on the table, sconces on the walls, large candle holders on top of empty wooden barrels and the bar), a brown silky cloth hides the ceiling from view, I am sitting on a comfy cushioned bench with pillows (I think restaurant's should explore the idea of lounging and eating more in depth, like the ancient Romans did), Nick sits across the table from me. Deep dark browns, reds, golds illuminated with all that candle light (no, or very minimal electric lighting).

We both began with the soup du jour, which was a Chicken Tortilla soup with Saffron Rice. It was really good, had a kick of spice, a good tomato-ey base, hearty vegetables, chicken, saffron rice, but no tortillas (I'm at loss, is tortilla soup supposed to have tortillas?). Well either way, it was really good and warming, especially with as freezing cold and brutally windy as it was last night.

Now, onto one of the most uniquely (in my opinion) flavored entrees ever. First off, I am looking at Tapas' menu, going through the wonderful choices, Pan Seared Ostrich , Venison Osso Bucco, Paella, Scallops, then it caught my eye. Texas Hill Wild Boar Chops. Now I am excited, I have never had wild boar before (something that isn't common in Kenya or America). Now your probably saying, but Maria, it's only a pig, you know pork, ham, bacon, pancetta, etc. Well yes, but it's a special pig, and here's why, Asterix and Obelix, the greatest comic book to ever be worth while to read (well, you can add Tintin in the greatest comic book ever category too). I spent my entire childhood reading Asterix comics, and I happen to own a lot of them, and they are definitely one of my fondest childhood memories. So what's the connection? Well, any and every time that Asterix and Obelix were hungry, a guest in someones home, or simply celebrating with the village the end of another great adventure, there would always, always, always be wild boar. And I always, always, always wanted to try wild boar since I was a kid, see what all the hype was about, why did Obelix dream of wild boar? So that being said, my entire childhood came flooding back to me at this celebration dinner when I saw wild boar on the menu.

So of course, I just had to order the wild boar. Oh won't my sister (who absolutely loves Asterix also) be so jealous of me! So I did. And it was amazing, I was not disappointed. Now I do need to be honest here, the wild boar did taste like pig, but really delicious pig. Basically like a really good pork chop. However, that wonderful chef at Tapas 177 had an amazing idea of how s/he was going to prepare it in such a way that it would still be momentous on this very occasion. Get ready for this flavor combination. Three 3oz. wild boar chops (chopplets!) grilled, with pesto, cheddar cheese, and a blueberry compote/reduction! Wow, let me say it again, pesto, cheddar, and blueberry! I have thrived on food that has not fit into the good old meat-n-potato category all my life, but this seemed to me a very odd but special combination. Now these chops were served on top of a very delicious mound of roasted garlic mashed/crumbled potatoes, with steam whole baby carrots that were lightly glazed (tasted good even though I'm not a cooked carrot person at all), and all of this was topped with shreds of leeks that were fried till crunchy.

The verdict, out of this world!!!! The boar chops were perfectly cooked, the pesto, cheddar, and blueberry compote were the perfect blend of sweet, salt, herb, everything. The potatoes and carrots were really good, I think this is a meal I shall definitely recreate at home. The blueberry compote really interested me, as it seemed to be not only blueberries turned into a sauce but it had soy sauce in it, which who-da-thunk? Blueberries and soy sauce- excellent combination, I shall have to experiment with this and get back to you all at a future date.

Anyways, dinner last night was very pleasurable, a true taste sensation. Nick had the pan seared salmon which was served with a really good spinach and Parmesan rice pilaf, grilled asparagus and topped off with tarragon citrus butter sauce.

We ended our dinner with a cappuccino and a latte. Once again a good dinner at Tapas 177 and I feel truly inspired to create dishes of new and unexpected flavor combinations. Now I must get back to writing my paper, if only I could write that paper the way I just wrote this post, I'd have it made!

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