Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tapas Baby!

So my friends A&P came into town this week and we met up for dinner tonight. When I still lived in SF, A and I (along with a couple of other friends) formed a group called Gourmet Girls - the purpose of which was to get together once a month (or so) and eat good food (which often, though not always, the hostess cooked). There were a number of things that I was very sad about when I left SF, and leaving this group was easily in the top 10. The only good thing is that the group is so crazy about food (and me?) that they come to NY relatively often.

So tonight, we went for tapas. A spent a year in Spain during high school and loves Spanish food (works for me - as she's made at least one fabulous Spanish meal for me that year). We decided to try Casa Mono (Tia Pol is my usual choice for tapas, but I wasn't in the mood for standing and waiting for a table (even for the chorizo and chocolate) or for the hike over there - though there are many times when it really is worth all of that hassle, just not this week/month). Casa Mono - we didn't have reservations, but it seemed like we would be early enough that it would be fine. And ... it was.

A&P (great couple in a food blog, right) were there ahead of me (now, I know that I can be difficult, but the traffic in NY during the holidays is so bad that I'm sure it's not just me that it makes crazy ... completely bonkers - I was beginning to think that I would never get there). But then, A&P had gotten there before me and we got seated after only about 20 minutes (theoretically you can sit and wait at Bar Jamon, which is indeed cute and around the corner, but was in fact very full). The hostess was really nice - she seemed to like P (he is reasonably charming (might I even go so far as to say fairly charming)) and seated us pretty quickly (and she responded to my only marginally funny quip with a nice smile and a friendly comment - which is more than I can say for many of my friends and family).

We got the three end seats at the bar. Angelo was our waiter. He was also very nice and seemed okay with our attempts at humor/friendliness (P said that he was happy to hear that his seat got a free serving of 'that':

Angelo actually laughed. Not a bad start to the evening.

I have to say. The ham looked amazing. And yet, despite the desire to see Angelo cutting it. I wasn't quite in the mood for ham. And besides, we were sitting right there - and I figured that we'd see the show at some point

I don't want to say that I'm always right, but...

We then had to choose what to order, while we had bread with really good olive oil (for something like this I really like the oil that tastes like olives like this did) and I got a really nice Tempranillo (the cuarto thing is a bit annoying as a concept, but as a practice, it really is the perfect amount of wine).

A insisted on bread with tomato, which I was lukewarm on, but okayed - and which turned out to be absolutely fabulous (it's that bread with the big bite out of it on the plate)! I really can't explain why it was so much better than I anticipated. I insisted on the pimientos, which were also fabulous (though no one else was into them - A&P aren't huge spice food folks). And we got the pumpkin and goat cheese croquettes - which were nice. There was also a frisee salad (which I'm normally lukewarm on) with Manchego (which I love) and which was absolutely good.

Our second 'course' was skirt steak with marmalade (I could have eaten thousands of these - they were so good!), grilled scallions and bacalao croquettes (I love bacalao, but I like the one that's more like a dip, this one was a hunk of fish - and I wasn't such a huge fan, I mean, it was fine, but not what I was looking for)

At this point, I was reasonably full, but still in the mood for a sweet.

And so we ordered dessert. And drinks. Angelo recommended the Jerez for me - Hidalgo (I think it was an '03). I've had good sherrys and bad sherrys and so I was iffy, but he told me this was sweet and good - and that it would work with the dessert we had ordered. I tried a sip. And we had a winner! A ordered some special coffee that I can't remember. It totally worked for her.

And for dessert, we chose ... the Burnt Creme. I have to say, I'm a huge fan of burnt cream. (Though, people should stop trying to translate Creme Catalan and Creme Brulee into English - there are a class of things that should only be translated as ideas or concepts, never directly - though it does make me smile).

The little things on the side are basically beignets around bay leaves. They're not the easiest things to eat (you can't eat the bay leaf), but they are really yummy. Though not as good as the burnt creme!!!

Overall - thumbs up on Casa Mono. But definitely get the steak and burnt cream.


Post a Comment

<< Home