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January 21, 2008

Calabrian Tasting Menu at L'Amante

Last Thursday, D. and I went to the first of L'Amante's special regional dinners. Here's a snippet about these dinners from my Side Dishes column:

"It's a good time for lovers of Italian cuisine. For the fifth year in a row, the well-traveled folks at L'Amante will help diners survive the coldest weeks of winter by offering them samples of food from sunnier climes. Each week, from January 14 through February 21, Chef Kevin Cleary will create a three-course menu to showcase the specialties of a particular Italian region. This year he's featuring Calabria, Trentino, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont and Tuscany. Dinners are $35 a person, with optional wine pairing, and are only available on week nights. Valentine's Day week is an exception: L'Amante will revert to its regular menu for the occasion."

The meal began with a trio of crisp, deep-fried eggplant balls in a spicy tomato sauce (tomatoes are used in many Calabrian dishes). The sauce was an excellent accompaniment, and the whole was lovely and flavorful.

Next up: orecchiette with broccoli rabe. Bitter foods are tough for me to handle, and broccoli rabe is pretty bitter. However, the pasta had a great texture and the rabe was a fetching bright green. And I still managed to eat the whole thing.

Our final dish was roast pork with fennel stuffing served with mashed potatoes and spinach. The pork was perfect: amazingly brown and crisp on the outside but cooked just right in the middle. The sides were delicious, too. This one definitely blew us away!

Can't wait 'til the next one!


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